The Kinnaird Bluffs are up for sale and one organization is trying to raise the money to buy them for the community.
The Climbers’ Access Society of BC (CASBC) has started a Go Raise Funds campaign to collect the $57,000 needed to buy the property the bluffs are located on, before somebody else does.
Vince Hempsall, Kootenay director of CASBC, says the concern is that a private property owner would no longer allow climbers access to the bluffs.
“A person comes along, purchases the property and then puts a big ‘Do not trespass’ sign on it,” he says.
The current property owner has allowed climbers to access the property and agreed to take down an advertisement for the property, to give the CASBC time to raise money.
Another concern raised by the CASBC on the Go Raise Funds page is that someone could buy the bluffs and then extract the granite from them, but Hempsall says they’ve since discovered that current zoning would make that very difficult to do.
“That said, it is beautiful rock, and if someone wanted to work hard enough and had enough money, they could theoretically change the zoning,” he says.
So far the campaign has raised $2,115 on the Go Raise Funds page, but people can also donate through the CASBC website, and Hempsall is still waiting to hear back from the treasurer to find out how much has been raised through the site.
Once the Kinnaird Bluffs have been purchased by the CASBC, they will be donated as a public park.
“I just spoke to a lawyer and we’re drafting a contract wherein the private entity (CASBC) could make an offer, with a contract in place that stipulates that we’re going to donate it as public land,” Hempsall explains.
The bluffs have been a regional climbing spot for over half a century.
“People have been rocking climbing on the Kinnaird Bluffs since the 1950s,” says Hempsall. “It was traditionally a training ground for mountaineers. People would hit those bluffs, going rock climbing up them, and then take the skills that they learned there and go to the Valhallas with them or the Bugaboos.”
The site has since become a destination within itself and there is a large climbing community within the West Kootenays that access the bluffs to practice and climb. Hempsall himself has been climbing the Kinnarid Bluffs since he moved to the area ten years ago.
The CASBC is a non-profit organization that works to make sure climbers have access to cliffs and climbing areas around the province. CASBC does trail building, organizes work parties and retrofits hardware on cliffs, among other things.
“A large part of it is just making sure, from a legal perspective, that we have access to different locations,” says Hempsall.
Those who would like to contribute to the Go Raise Funds campaign can do so at goraisefunds.com/projects/save-kinnaird-bluffs-rock-climbing-area-in-bc.