|By Jess Daddio 1
Jun 27, 2014
Hey guys -
Jess Daddio here with Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine. As I was in the process of brainstorming yesterday about potential story ideas for future issues of the magazine, I remembered the Hidden Valley climbing area in southwest Virginia and the issues of access with Koma. As an Emory & Henry College graduate, Hidden Valley was one of our go-to climbing areas and it's a crime shame that that cliff has been closed off for so many years. I understand there is a lot of controversy and politics involved in the issue of climbing access here, but I'm dedicated to re-opening up the dialogue (or can of worms, if you will) to get the missing pieces of the puzzle together and hopefully make some headway on this climbing area. There is a huge push for an outdoor recreation initiative in southwest Virginia right now which means there may be some money available to help us get to the bottom of this.
What I'm looking for right now are a few things:
- accounts from climbers who climbed at Hidden Valley before it was closed off
- the history of Hidden Valley and the development of climbing there
- good maps
I understand that, in undertaking this topic, I will likely encounter a good deal of resistance from Komo and potentially other members of the climbing community, but I feel it is an important issue that I would be more than happy to help rally troops to get to the root of. My thought is to write an article on Hidden Valley in a completely impartial manner - I simply want our readers to know the facts, the history, the information and first-hand accounts that I know are floating around out there. Eventually I would like to talk to Komo himself, but I'd like to have my figurative guns loaded before I make that leap.
Please feel free to contact me via phone, email, or through this forum with any comments, questions, responses, or concerns. I will appreciate any and all feedback and would like to make this as comprehensive as possible.
Jun 30, 2014
Jess, I am 100% behind you on this. I learned to climb at Hidden Valley, it is a pretty amazing place and my understanding of the story of ownership, closing it to climbing, etc, makes it seem ridiculous that it was ever closed.
You will hear a lot of BS about who owns the cliffs, the access, etc. Bottom line is that Koma built a parking lot, someone took a deuce in his sign in box, Koma thinks it was climbers who did it, that's absurd, Koma closes access to "his" cliff, it's a huge bummer and probably illegal but no one's gone the full 9 and established other access to the cliffs and/or whether he had any legal right to ban climbing there in the first place. Drunk local kids probably still tailgate and smash bottles in that swanky new parking lot which in my opinion caused 99% of the trouble, attracting a lot more attention than the area could handle.
One consideration if it is reopened is that a lot of the hardware used to install the routes is now total shit, it will be best served by having a huge ASCA glue-in effort as well as some sort of publication of the original hand-drawn guide.
Any talk about "conservation" by Koma should be countered by mentioning hanging toilet seats from bolts on the wall, Godzilla toys, and the wisdom of having super high first bolts everywhere which necessitated giant stick clips stashed at every major concentration of routes.
Oh, and the place was held together with sika. Don't forget that natural beauty. Don't mistake my black humor-I love Hidden Valley dearly. Just have no tolerance for the happy horseshit and hypocrisy that existed around there. If you can talk to Derek, he was the most knowledgeable and rational local I knew, as well as a hell of a strong climber.