Want to Remove Graffiti? MAC Needs Your Help

If you have climbed anywhere in the Mid Atlantic, chances are you’ve seen graffiti at the rock. In urban climbing areas around Washington and Baltimore, graffiti is a common source of damage to rocks.

In the last year alone, Mid Atlantic Climbers has helped remove graffiti at the following locations: Rocks State Park, Ilchester at Patapsco State Park, Carderock, Northwest Branch and Sugarloaf. With the work of volunteers at Adopt-a-Crags, MAC has made significant progress in removing graffiti from these locations.

The volunteer efforts have also been strongly supported by park rangers and land managers, who often don’t have enough volunteers to do work like this.

Park rangers at most locations have provide Taginator, a bio-degradable chemical that has proven to be quite effective at removing graffiti from rock. Volunteers were briefed on safety protocols at the start of our events. They used gloves, mask and protective eye wear while working.

Despite those efforts, there is still more graffiti to be removed, especially at areas like Northwest Branch where entire boulder problems have been covered over.

MAC is looking for volunteers to form a graffiti removal task force specifically at Northwest Branch. If you are willing to volunteer a few hours a month to work on it, email info@midatlanticclimbers.org. Training and all materials will be provided.


Posted in Uncategorized

MAC Volunteers Donate more than 1,000 Hours of Service to Climbing Community in 2013

This fall, Mid Atlantic Climbers took a bold step towards making a broader impact at area crags by planning a record five events for the season. In addition to hosting more events than typical, MAC is also thrilled to announce that with our volunteers help, we have surpassed a record of 1,000 volunteer hours this year. Mid Atlantic Climbers Volunteers Tamping

Each event hosted record numbers of volunteers and were made possible through the commitment and service demonstrated by MAC volunteers, whether they were new volunteers or veterans.

Adopt a Crags are the Access Fund’s signature stewardship program designed to unite climbing communities and land managers with the goal of conserving local climbing areas. MAC has hosted Adopt a Crags in the area for more than 10 years, and each event has not only given volunteers the opportunity to give back to the land but also built strong and sustainable relationships between climbers and land managers.

At each event, the list of projects were varied, but the completion of each one resulted in reduced human impact and an opportunity to give back to the places where climbers recreate. From making trail improvements to laying mulch to removing graffiti, MAC volunteers have worked tirelessly to complete every project and contributed valuable time and effort towards keeping our crags beautiful.

AEdwin Removing Grafittind besides working hard at events, MAC volunteers have helped represent the face of the climbing community in the Washington, D.C. area. At every trail cleanup, park officials always remark at how conscientious, skilled, and responsible MAC volunteers are. We often hear that the kinds of projects we accomplish at our Adopt a Crags never would have been possible without the hard work and commitment of our fantastic volunteers.

It is because of your hard work and your efforts to care for local crags that we continue to have good relationships with land managers. Thanks again for all your hard work this fall! We’re looking forward to one more event at Sugarloaf and are already planning for the 2014 season.

If you have suggestions for future events or would like to help plan an Adopt a Crag, email info@midatlanticclimbers.org.


Posted in Uncategorized

Mid-Season Update: Great Turnout at Fall Events

Volunteers at Great Falls

This fall, Mid Atlantic Climbers planned a record five adopt-a-crags. After three events, we’ve had a record number of volunteers out.

The season’s third event was held this past weekend at Great Falls National Park in Virginia. This was MAC’s 11th event at the park and, despite the federal government being shut down until the Thursday prior, we were still able to hold the event.

Volunteers at Great Falls

On Saturday, a total of 22 volunteers spent a Saturday morning closing a social trail in the northern section of the park. Social trails are trails that are not established or maintained by the park system. Usually those who visit the park create them as a shortcut between trails or they are created by a large volume of foot traffic. Especially in parks like Great Falls, social trails can damage native plant species and cause unnecessary environmental impact. The trail MAC volunteers closed was used as a shortcut between two trails that were roughly 300 feet apart.

After finishing up the trail work, volunteers enjoyed a cookout sponsored by Solid Rock Climbers for Christ. Many volunteers also received prizes in the raffle. Some also stayed for a workshop on Leave No Trace principles.

Photos of the event can be seen on our Facebook page.

We have two more events this fall, including Northwest Branch on November 9 and Sugarloaf on November 30. To register for either event, go here.

Thanks to all of our volunteers who have come out so far this season! We hope to see you at our last two events of the year.

Posted in Adopt-a-Crag, climbing, Uncategorized

The Effect of Government Shutdown on Climbing

We’re starting the second week of the government shutdown, with no resolution in sight.  Approximately 800,000 civilian employees are furloughed.  The effects are being felt across the nation in many aspects of life.  All of our national parks have been closed, the park website shut down, until the matter has been resolved. In a show of poetic irony, the timing of this shutdown comes on the 123rd anniversary of Yosemite National Park.  Apparently, climbers on El Cap were allowed to finish their climbs (I guess it’s a bit hard to get them off the wall).

Facebook post by Great Falls Park on the closure due to the government shutdown.

Facebook post by Great Falls Park on the closure due to the government shutdown.

According to a post on Rock and Ice, 3,266 National Park Service employees are exempt from the shutdown, but a total of 88 percent of the agency is furloughed. Some groups are protesting the closure of parks, including a group started called Occupy Yosemite. The group is encouraging normal season use of the wilderness despite the shutdown. Outside Online reported Monday that several groups either picketed or broke through the gates at some parks.

What Can I Do?

In the near short term, there is very little most of us can do but wait it out.  However, if you haven’t already, write to Congress and tell them what you think.  The Access Fund has provided climbers with a great starting point for this.

Where Can I Climb?

As we mentioned, all national parks are closed and anyone caught in the park during this closure could be considered trespassing.  National forests are still open, but facilities that need to be run are closed.  Of course, private parks are not affected by this shutdown.  State and local parks will most likely be open.  Below is a list of climbing areas near us.

Closed To Climbing

  • Carderock
  • Great Falls Park
  • Little Stony Man
  • Old Rag

Open to Climbing

  • Annapolis Rocks
  • Buzzard Rock
  • Franklin Gorge
  • Northwest Branch
  • Safe Harbor
  • Sugarloaf
  • Talking Headwall
  • Gretna
  • Patapsco State Park

Has the government shutdown affected your climbing plans? Have you gone elsewhere to climb instead?  

Posted in Uncategorized

Tired, sore, and covered in dirt

Volunteers wait for mulch at the base of the cliff at Carderock during September's adopt-a-crag.

Tired, sore, and covered in dirt. Great way to spend a beautiful Saturday no? I’d say so.

As a volunteer and group leader at last Saturday’s Carderock Adopt-A-Crag event, my experience can be easily summed up by the above, but that’s not terribly interesting.

I showed up early (about 8 am), and exhausted after a long night of climbing the day prior, to help the MAC prep for the expected heavy turnout. After about 30 minutes of registration, heavy caffeination, and some fantastic free donuts and bread, we were ready to go.

Volunteers wait for mulch at the base of the cliff at Carderock during September's adopt-a-crag.

Volunteers wait for mulch at the base of the cliff at Carderock during September’s adopt-a-crag.

The event had enough attendees to split off into several project groups, and I was put in charge of taking a group out to brush the social trails in the area. If you don’t recall, social trails are unofficial access trails climbers and hikers stamp through the woods to get from A to B, instead of using the official trail. (These are NOT GOOD for the preservation of the area, so don’t do this!)

There were two groups of about 5-6 people each handling this task, so the whole project only took a little over an hour. We covered up practically every inch of social trail with almost more dead lumber than we knew what to do with, at one point wresting a heavy, dead log free with an axe and  a burly team shoulder-carry (that was the highlight of the day, I must admit).

Suddenly finding ourselves at a loss for something to do due owing to our unexpectedly ruthless efficiency, we all took turns rotating in with the wheelbarrow/mulching crew (I avoided graffiti removal due to inadequate clothing and a gross dislike of chemical burns). It’s about as straightforward as it sounds. You fill a wheelbarrow with mulch, wheel it to the cliff, and let the dumping crew send it over the side. For the record, only the mulch went over the cliff.

Eventually, I found myself with neither a branch nor a barrow in my hands, but a pitchfork….and standing atop a pile of mulch. Surprisingly, the pile didn’t seem to be any smaller than it had been when we started at 9 am. But after some good shuffling (and the return of several wheelbarrows from the base of the cliff), the steaming mulch when from zero to gone in about 15 minutes, with the help of a flurry of pitchforks (don’t worry, no one was hurt!).

Volunteers working hard shoveling mulch.

Volunteers working hard shoveling mulch.


When it was all gone, the time finally arrived to gorge ourselves (or at least myself), on grilled burgers and dogs courtesy of Earth Treks. Then there was the raffle, but unlike last year I didn’t win anything. Naturally I’ll be trying again at Great Falls on October 19.

All told, we had almost eighty volunteers show up to help keep Carderock clean and climbable. In a sold day’s work, we laid 53 cubic yards of mulch, cleaned up all of the social trails in the area, and removed some ugly graffiti that had been a blemish on the site since the winter.

And we can continue to keep Carderock up and running if we get this kind of support not just once a year, but every day we’re at the crag. But if you can only make it once a year, it really is a great way to spend a Saturday.

This post was written by Travis Senor, MAC Volunteer and Chesapeake and Ohio National Historical Park Carderock Canal Steward. 

To see more photos from the event, go to our Facebook page.

Posted in Adopt-a-Crag, climbing, Uncategorized