In the southeast, many climbing areas sit on private land, and access can be tenuous — or nonexistent — depending on the landowner’s relationship with climbers. When the land surrounding Rumbling Bald, a North Carolina bouldering Mecca, came up for sale, it likely would have been sold to a developer, who would likely have vastly different ideas for it that climbers would. Fortunately, local climbers stepped up, and with the help of OR partner The Access Fund and the Carolina Climbers Coalition, put down a down payment on the land, preserving access for now. “If we hadn’t bought this, a very real possibility is that there could be a million-dollar trophy home sitting in the middle of these world-class boulders — and no climbers enjoying them forever,” says Zachary Lesch-Huie.

For more information, check out The Access Fund.