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Hidden Valley, VA Access....again
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By jesco
Aug 22, 2012
Hangdoggin Narcissus...until next time.
I start this topic every couple years and it inevitably goes nowhere but I thought I'd ask in case there have been any new developments.

I grew up in Abingdon and picked up climbing in College. On a trip home one summer I learned that a local had put up an insane amount of sport routes on amazing sandstone outside of town near Hidden Valley Lake. It was open to the public for a while until people started leaving trash and crap (literally) everywhere. At that point in time, the cliff was "closed" to the public.

Here's the issue, and its a sensitive one (i've been asked to take down posts about this before). The couple who developed the area and subsequently closed the cliff doesn't actually own the property on which the cliff lies (I pulled the property plats around the cliff). They own a small portion of land the access trail to the cliff crosses but the developed sport routes are actually well west of their property. Up until this point, it has been general knowledge by local climbers that they own the whole cliff. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries who manages the Hidden Valley Wildlife Management Area believes they own the cliff and are open to developing it for climbers however they need a property survey of the area to confirm which they don't have the money for (quoted a couple hundred thousand dollars which sounds wicked high).

I called the local access fund a while back and they were no help. They weren't willing to do any legwork to help solve the issue.

Local climbers have generally respected the closing and I have a lot of respect for the developers.......but how can you close a cliff that's on land you don't own even if you developed it? Its clear that the developers would like to keep this area to themselves, but the sport climbing here is unbelievable and the DGIF is open to letting climbers in. Sticky situation eh? Any local Access Fund or Southeastern Climber folks willing to take this on?

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By manoftheson
Jan 4, 2013
Glad to see someone else interested in this place. A good friend of mine used to climb at Hidden Valley before it was closed. He may have even had a rudimentary guide to the routes (I'll have to ask to confirm.) He said it was some of the best sport he had done. We went over there in 2008 to try to get some more information but kept hitting dead ends as well. I would love to see this place opened up if possible. It's a great location for sure. Surely there are some more people that know some information about this place.

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By Jacob Neathawk
From Nederland, CO
Jan 4, 2013
+1 for hidden valley access.

This is too big of a resource to be hoarded by one "landowner". I wonder if another approach trail could be worked out? I climbed here a decent amount when i lived in boone and thought it was about the best day tripable sport climbing available. I also wonder it was even climbers that trashed the place.

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By Delete Account
Jan 4, 2013
Jesco-

A few thoughts that might help. I am not a lawyer so what folllows is only advice.

The reason that the survey has such a high price tag is the type of survey. An ALTA survey may be required. These can be involved and may require hours of research on property owners surrounding the park.

landsurveyors.com/resources/de...

Second, if you still doubt the $100,000 pricetag, inquire with the parks department about who they services they might retain for a survey like this. These services would prabably be retained by an request for proposal (RFP). But you could ask for a prequalified land surveyors bid list.

Then you could call the likely land surveyors and ask for general price information. What thier estimate would be for such a exhaustive survey.

If you still felt motivated, perhaps start a non-profit foundation to raise the money for the survey.

irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profit...

Crazier ideas have worked!

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By Jess Daddio 1
Jun 27, 2014
Hey gang -

I know this is way after the fact, but I just wanted to add some two cents to this issue and see if I may be able to help and/or at least stir up a little fire, if you will.

I am the travel editor for Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine and am familiar with the Hidden Valley climbing access issue. I graduated from Emory & Henry College down the road a little over a year ago, and we were always bummed that we were literally only getting a small percentage of available climbing in and around Hidden Valley. After looking at a map, my friends and I agreed that there is no way the landowner can make claim to the cliff face. True, he might own the land that you would be required to walk on to get to the rock, but the cliff face itself is (by our assumptions) free and open to the public to climb at will.

Now, as the travel editor for this southeast-based adventure magazine, it's my job to find stories, write articles, and shoot photo and video to accompany those stories. I would love to dive into this issue and get a wide range in opinions/facts/interviews/etc. I can't remember the name of the landowner but have met him once or twice while climbing and would like to see if he'd be interested in at least talking to me about the issue and his history.

If anyone has any leads on this I'd love to at least open up the dialogue between the parties involved and see if we can't facilitate some sort of progress.

Thanks for your time. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.
Jess Daddio
jess@blueridgeoutdoors.com
blueridgeoutdoors.com
liveoutsideandplay.com
540-247-0998

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By Cultivating Mass
Jun 30, 2014
Leading on the only "fair means" rack.
Bump.

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By Ian Stewart
Jun 30, 2014
Is there any way to get to the climbing without trespassing on private land?

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By amoses
From Abingdon, Va
Jul 1, 2014
I've been living in Abingdon for the past 4 years and would certainly love to see the place opened back up. I don't want to trespass on the man's land or in any other way deliberately piss him off, but if the cliff is on state land, he doesn't have a right to keep it to himself. If there are folks interested in organizing to try to resolve access, I'll gladly do what I can to help. If a survey is necessary, the Access Fund may be able to help with a loan or grant. Surveying the property boundary adjacent to the cliff shouldn't cost that much. I can try to get some estimates if someone can give me the location of the furthest climbs from the road.

If someone can put together a GIS image with topo lines and property boundaries and maybe mark the developed section of cliff, I think that would be helpful for the discussion and may also convince more people to get involved.

I should also note that I've heard rumors that he's thinking about opening access back up, so the first step should be to contact the owner and talk to him about the situation.

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By JVB Project
Jul 1, 2014
People trashed the place, spray paint, shit on the trails etc and that is why is closed.

They not only own the cliff, but also a huge swath of the mountain on both sides of the road.

These are very private, Appalachian people. Dude will be out there with a shot gun if he finds strangers on the cliff. When he says closed, he means it.

The access fund has been put in direct contact with the owners very recently. Don't hold your breath.

Give it time.

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By Cultivating Mass
Jul 1, 2014
Leading on the only "fair means" rack.
Give it time to what? And last I checked, Koma and Jineen were culturally the furthest thing from some 12-gauge toting "Appalachians".

The spray paint, shit, etc, all happened after the parking lot was built. Koma and Jineen may or may not own the land, that remains to be seen, but what is obvious and endlessly glossed over is that local rednecks aka "Appalachians" were the ones who were tailgating the new parking lot, stumbling down the trail breaking bottles, tagging the place up, and rather than accept that he was going to have to deal with a set of problems from a non-climber user group (other than the fisherman further down the same road), Koma got Butthurt and blamed all this on climbers.

If I were close enough to be able to make the trip, I'd go talk to Koma myself. If someone wants to put me in touch with him, I'm happy to talk reality with him. I started climbing there more than a decade ago and will continue to laugh off ill-informed Deliverance-type warnings about the place. Koma was a badass climber with the firmest handshake I've ever experienced, he obviously loves the place very much. That doesn't mean he owns the place, literally or otherwise.

The "give it time" argument is so weak I'm going to suggest that you apply it to posting on the Internet, bathing, and paying your taxes. Makes about as much sense in all those cases as well. Talk-action=0.

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By JVB Project
Jul 1, 2014
Excellent job dropping names and helping them to keep the place as they wish. If they wanted it open, it would be open. You obviously know them very well and respect their wishes.

Their lives have changed a lot since 10 years ago.

As I said, they have had conversations with the access fund. Give it time.

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By Cultivating Mass
Jul 1, 2014
Leading on the only "fair means" rack.
Name-dropping, huh? Guess I should just give it time. But with names. That I drop.

I am not trading dumpling recipes with them or anything, but I notice you don't disagree with anything I said above specifically. Man, I learned to climb there. Derek and Koma showed us around and helped keep us from killing ourselves, we used to deck out with frequency. Never stick clipped a bolt up there, never will. I remember the first time I realized the big block I was pulling on was held on with Sika, the first time a classic climb fell down after a really rainy spring (Dollar Bill, 5.9), the first .12 I led on mank micro nuts, skipping the bolts to prove some silly point.

I love hidden valley and think that "hurry up and wait" is not a valid response. It's been closed for a decade now.

How long do you think Koma can keep people off of someone else's land?

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By amoses
From Abingdon, Va
Jul 2, 2014
After some discussion with a gentleman from the access fund, I've decided to remove my previous post. It sounds like the map I posted from the county GIS was off a bit, and potential legal access is more complicated than it looked. I was impressed by the amount of work they have already put into working out access for HV, and I'm hopeful they will get it worked out. So considering that, I won't be attempting to access any of the climbing there even if I can do it on state land, and I hope everyone else will refrain from doing anything to piss off the surrounding land owners.

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By jesco
Jul 2, 2014
Hangdoggin Narcissus...until next time.
Thanks amoses. The good news is there are ACTUAL discussions happening right now concerning access by several organizations. This has been a long time coming. Zappatista - I feel your pain. I hope everyone will keep their distance (whether you feel it to be fair or not) until there is some sort of finality to this process.....good or bad.

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By Morlais
From Kingsport
Sep 5, 2014
NC Climb
Heard over the weekend this issue may be getting close to being resolved.... The personal reasons this area was closed for has nothing to do with the area being trashed ..... Had to do with something more sinister...


Hopefully we will be able to access the area again soon....

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By Cultivating Mass
Sep 5, 2014
Leading on the only "fair means" rack.
What's the skinny? You're saying that the dew dew in the sign in box had nothing to do with it?

Puzzlement...

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By manoftheson
Sep 8, 2014
How do you know for certain that the cliffs are not on his property? If you've got something that shows this it would be helpful to this process of getting access for everyone.

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By Brian Payst
Sep 8, 2014
grayson highlands
Although I hesitate to post and get called an "in person", since this is coming up again, I'll chime in. The cliff base and bottom access are privately owned by a number of people on 5 tracts of land that span the length of the cliff on both sides of the road. The upper part above the cliff is owned and managed by the State of Virginia (and requires a day use fee unless you have a hunting, boating or fishing permit in VA). This is all available in public land records. Given that hanging belays at HV are kind of silly, you would be trespassing if you were at the cliff currently. People who claim otherwise are simply incorrect.

As has been posted already in this thread and in another, there are efforts underway to try to restore access for climbers to the cliff. However, those things take time and things like trespassing on private property can make a land owner much less inclined to allow legal access. Often times, access negotiations are just not suited for Internet forums due to their very nature. Kind of like spraying about poaching cliffs should be.

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By Cultivating Mass
Sep 9, 2014
Leading on the only "fair means" rack.
Brian, where did you get your info on the land ownership and property lines?

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By Alexander Blum
From Charlotte, NC
Sep 9, 2014
Just a guess, but:

Brian Payst wrote:
This is all available in public land records.

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By amoses
From Abingdon, Va
Sep 10, 2014
I had previously posted and later deleted an image from the Washington Co GIS. The topo and satelite image overlay made it look like the state land border was just below the cliffline once you got beyond Jeanean's property. After some discussion with Brian, I learned that they have surveyed the property line and it is higher than it appears and the cliff crosses into several other properties. Public records tell you where the property lines are in relation to benchmarks, but you need a survey to know how they relate to the cliff.

Maybe I'm the unreasonable one, but it seems like if these Carolina guys are putting a lot of work into opening a cliff so convenient to us SWVA guys, staying away for a while is a pretty small price to pay.

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By Cultivating Mass
Sep 10, 2014
Leading on the only "fair means" rack.
Define "a while". Koma has had the area closed for at least a decade. Isn't that enough?

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By Brian Payst
Sep 11, 2014
grayson highlands
It's private property, he could keep it closed forever if he wants to. That's just the nature of rock on private land, you don't have a right to trespass on someone's property to climb. I will say that things are moving in the right direction, more so than they have in the last 10 years and we're hoping to be able to make some announcements in the next couple of months if all goes well.

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By manoftheson
Sep 11, 2014
This is my soapbox moment for the day. I seriously hope people can stay off of private land while access is being worked out. People who trespass selfishly risk screwing up any chance that we'll all get to climb there someday. Those who are tempted to trespass and climb there anyway, DON'T. Those who are already trespassing there, please STOP. I know it sucks that we can't climb there but just because it exists doesn't make us entitled to access to it. It's private land, which has been verified by several parties, and it's the landowners' right to refuse or allow whatever access they choose. This doesn't just apply to Hidden Valley. Think about how what you do affects others, and maybe the landowners might do the same and realize they can open it up.

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By mustardtiger
5 days ago
IDK
The problem arises when you have a property that is closed to climbing and there is not a chance of it opening again. That's when climbers take matters into their own hands. After ten years they have good reason to doubt it will ever open again. The same issue is about to start happening with roadside at the red. Except at the red they are making people pay a guide to climb.

In my opinion this is a proper case of landowners behind dicks. I understand landowners getting mad because of disrespect but when you have hoards of climbers willing to help clean it up and improve it then take advantage of that. If you say it's because of disrespect but don't allow others to help you then your a dick.

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By Alexander Blum
From Charlotte, NC
5 days ago
No one (that I know) really cares if you go. Discreetly. The problem is bragging about it on the internet. That's stupid.

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