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MMclimbhigh

An ode to Frenchman Coulee

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We were all there......... We loved Vantage. But, were disheartened to see folks, every morning, sneaking off behind the sage to conduct the morning business meeting. Those of us who really cared, used the tried-and-true blue bag method. Others simply used the really-bad-plan of covering up their waste with a rock. Our dogs would find said rock and push it aside to have a mid day snack. Mmmmm......

 

We pushed hard for a bathroom, raised some money, jumped through the necessary hoops and celebrated our success. But, the unforeseen has happened! Along with the nice, sanitary new restroom comes an entirely new set of problems. Chief complaint.........ridiculously insane overcrowding!!!!

 

Just because there is a place to take a shit in the morning, certainly doesn't mean that you can bring your entire family, neighbors and their families, friends on FaceBook, the stranger at the store, the weirdo at the rest stop and every other freakin' human being along with you to go 'climbing' at this great little place called Vantage! We've all dealt with the random crowds at the Coulee, but seriously folks, this is getting WAY out of hand. The place is simply being loved to death. There are idiots and their kids camping in every square inch of property to the South side of the Feathers. Hipsters, kids, dogs, gym climbers, college students, kids, wankers and wannabes busting the crust in every conceivable direction! What would normally only happen during a DMB concert at the gorge, now looks your everyday standard weekend at Frenchmans. The place is just disgustingly overcrowded. I've personally vowed to never return on a weekend. Although, I've recently been told, that the place was that crowded on a Tuesday in February. Full parking lots upper and lower. Crazy

 

We now need to start talking/thinking about regulating the camping at this magical place. The environment simply can't sustain that amount of humans. Maybe whittle down the number of campsites? Maybe charge for camping? Maybe open up some more camping in Echo Coulee? Maybe chop all the bolts and create a trad only area!?

 

Whatever the solution may be, we need to figure something out. The crowds are destructive, dangerous and seriously annoying. OK, I'll get off my soapbox now. But seriously folks, let's explore some ideas to help protect this fragile, beautiful environment! Long live Vantage!!

 

Peace,

MM

Edited by MMclimbhigh

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No need to apologize, in fact kudos for stepping up and saying something. With this region growing like it is, mass crowds are just the new normal, and it's only going to get more pronounced. Peer pressure is a strong motivator, so let's apply ourselves. We can encourage blue-bagging with signage and disposal options. We can encourage use the Ryegrass I-90 rest stops or George gas station. We can post The Pact prominently. We can camp elsewhere. It's tough to step forward when we're all trying to be chill, but if we don't we're going to lose something we value.

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if stalin couldn't convince folks to forsake capitalism, good luck getting dirty hippies to drop their dookies in a garbage bag :)

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I was out there a week ago. One other car..

 

 

Plenty of uncrowded walls if you so desire. Not the place to find solitude though.

 

BIG UPS to the WCC for the great crapper!

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No good solution to bathroom situation other than the crapper and suggesting blue bags when you catch perps with their pants down. Its like herding cats to tell people what to do with their bowels and other orifices.

 

Overcrowding usually fixes itself when the pleasure of the experience diminishes enough.

 

Plenty of rock away from the crowded areas. Avoid weekends, climb when its 40 or 90, start early or late. Camp and crap somewhere else. In other words do what most people don't do.

 

Good news is crowded parking means no breakins to your car. I've been broken into several times by local yokels when sparsely populated.

Edited by matt_warfield

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I pulled in on Sunday morning and was shocked at the amount of people and cars. I got lucky and grabbed a camping spot as someone was pulling out. While setting up camp I counted 34 and people hanging out at the Feathers and 2 people actually doing any climbing at any given time. We headed over to a less popular area and had a great time climbing.

 

I hate to say it but the campground is going down the path of the Scull Hollow campground. The amount of litter and broken glass in an indication of a need for change. I'm not a fan of regulation but after what I saw this weekend there needs to be some changes before the place gets shut down and turned into a day use only facility.

 

 

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Thank you ilookeddown: This is the response that I'm looking for. Yes, I love Vantage. I love climbing there. I've climbed well over 200 routes and absolutely love the setting. I'm not worried about the climbing crowd, there are always places to escape the crowds, i.e. Middle East Wall. I'm also very grateful for the WCC and their efforts. The bathroom is wonderful gift.

 

My concern is the camping situation. People are squeezed in tight and it's uncomfortable. With so many city folks and those new to climbing, the environment is getting trashed. Folks just wander around wherever they want and don't think of the damage they are creating. And what's up with the "need" to have a campfire? There has to be 45 fire rings or more in the area! Some fire rings are only 15' apart!

 

I think we need an established campground with designated sites. Yes, it would be a bummer to have to pay, but the Steppe environment would thank us! Imagine how peaceful and beautiful it would be to have Hidden Valley (JTree) type campground? Limit your stay to 14 days, flat tent sites, fire pits, picnic tables......

 

Let's do our part to save this amazing playground!

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I'm just not sure if a campground is warranted. Vantage is slammed at most two months out if 12, two days out of the week. It's Busy maybe for 4 months out of the year. The rest of the time, mid week and beyond it's blissfully tranquil.

 

It just seemed like heaven and earth were moved to get a latrine installed. I couldn't imagine the work and bureaucracy involved to get an entire campground in place.

 

Now if the "west side city folk" wanted to really help matters, maybe open a brew pub in George!

 

And nice send Sol! In the rain no less!

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I stopped by on Monday afternoon on the way back from Idaho to let the kids run around in the sunshine and scramble through the cleft. The stench of human urine was overpowering.

 

People, please pee in the toilet too.

 

 

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Imagine how peaceful and beautiful it would be to have Hidden Valley (JTree) type campground? Limit your stay to 14 days, flat tent sites, fire pits, picnic tables......

 

Let's do our part to save this amazing playground!

 

I don't think it will ever be like Hidden Valley. JT is a national park, it has rangers, garbage service and water at the gate near the ranger station and a budget. The only enforcement I've ever seen there over the years at Vantage is the WA State fish and wildlife that drive by and the WA State Patrol officers that sat down at the boat launch all last summer keeping people out of the water while the river level was low.

 

Look how hard it was to just get a shitter put in. Getting anyone to come out for enforcement or provide any type of service seems unlikely. I do like that it is free and unregulated. The issue seem to be that the users just don't seem to care. The camp area is already trashed so what does it matter attitude has set in.

 

 

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Regulation sucks. A WCC clean-up event/party/raffle and some added signage would be good first steps.

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How about an all-out ban on overnight camping from March 1 through the end of April? There are official campgrounds in the general area (Quincy, Wenatchee, etc) where climbers can stay if they want to make a weekend out of it, considering the length and expensr of travel from Seattle/PDX/Vancouver BC/Spokane). Seems to me a camping ban would be a lot easier to enforce than clean camping regulations.

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I'm not sure where I'm going with this? My intention wasn't to get people fired up and angry. I'm simply looking at getting a positive/productive conversation going about the overcrowded campground situation. Banning camping altogether is not the solution! Vantage is one of the few precious places where one can set up camp, climb till their tendons and rock shoes blow out, and never have to move their car. It is truly special. I don't like regulation either, but I'd certainly pay a few bucks to spend the night in a quiet, clean campground. Over my 15 years of climbing there, I can remember so many peaceful, beautiful nights with coyotes walking right through camp. Now, a smart coyote, wouldn't come within a mile of the place. Unless, of course, they love the sound of car doors slamming all hours of the night and day!

 

.......what to do? I'm afraid that opening up more camping lower down in Echo Coulee would just create more damage and destruction. I know that the Fish and Wildlife folks don't have enough money or resources to enforce the area. I know that it would take a substantial amount of money and effort to create a campground. I know that Vantage isn't overcrowded the whole year........

 

I like the idea of a clean up party/more signage approach. What were to happen if we barricade off some of the rouge campsites? There used to be about 15-20 good, usable campsites. Now there can easily be 60 or more cars/camps in the area. How 'bout we build a bigger parking lot and make it a walk-in only camp area?

 

Long story short.......It hurts me to see the damage that we've created. Myself included. Frenchman Coulee needs our help and I'd love to do what I can to return it to a cleaner, natural and more sustainable environment.

 

Sorry if I've offended anyone.

 

Peace,

MM

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A camping ban between March and May would give the other WA crags time to dry out, thereby allowing better distribution of climbers throughout WA instead of everyone converging on the one crag that's dry and climbable in that time frame.

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Was the area this crowded last winter? Maybe the problem will go away (or diminish significantly) when there's more snow in the mountains. When you can't ski you go rock climbing. When the ski season ends, it's often too hot to climb there. Just a theory...

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I agree with Skoog, this winter is incredibly bizarre and I don't think any policy decisions should be made based on it. granted, I haven't been out there this year yet.

 

Part of what i love about the place is it's unregulated, primitive nature. a real campground or a camping closure would be a tragedy.

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oh_coulee_reduced.JPG

Of course we have a poop:problem, the spring and summer the place gets trashed then the winter storms come and clean it out, bury your poop or do it in a isolated place and the sun and dry weather will dry it out and turn it back to the earth.

Contacting government agency's is just not representing everyone and to limit climbers is just not fair to all.

 

Climbing access advocate :wave:

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Is there another crag in the US that has heavy use in spring and fall, that also rests on public land? It seems like there ought to be some precedent set for managing this type of crowding.

 

But as I think of it, in my limited experience, I cannot think of an area exactly like Vantage. It might be a great laboratory for experimenting with new and creative solutions to over-crowding.

 

I've always thought walk-in camping would be cool at Vantage, but it would obviously need to be regulated.

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Is there another crag in the US that has heavy use in spring and fall, that also rests on public land?

 

Absolutely none

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Grant County doesn't want the land because they hate everybody from outside Grant Co. except when a check is being written. WDFW isn't in the campground business, and State Parks can't afford what they already own.

 

A sticky wicket that.

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Is there another crag in the US that has heavy use in spring and fall, that also rests on public land?

 

Absolutely none

 

some of the camping at Banks lake is regulated by fish + wildlife, but most of the traffic is from boaters, not climbers. It does stay pretty busy from spring to fall. And they check for camping and parking permits way more diligently than at Vantage.

 

And if you count Methow valley, too. http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/public_conduct_rules/designated_campgrounds.pdf

 

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The best experience I had at vantage was when my buddy and I were sitting in our car finishing our coffee and getting ready to get out and rack up, when some folks roll up towing a boat. A group of people get out and start getting the boat ready and the three girls in the group were just wearing bikini bottoms and pasties.

 

We ended up sitting around and drinking coffee for a little bit longer that day.

 

 

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