Rock/Creek and Chaco Commit to Raising $5000 to Reopen Climbing Area to Community

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Chaco teams up with specialty outdoor retailer, Rock/Creek, to raise $5000 for the acquisition of a climbing area near Steele, AL. The area, once treasured by climbers, has been closed to the public for over 20 years. Rock/Creek and Chaco look to aid in the purchase of the land to once again grant access to the community. Talented filmmaker Josh Fowler and photographer Andrew Kornylak donated their time to produce a video introduction to the Steele story.

Historical photo of Gus Fontenot, Southeastern Climbers Coalition board member, climbing the Monopoly Arete in Steele, AL, over 20 years ago.

We have 120 days to raise all the funds, so we're teaming up with Rock/Creek and Chaco to make that happen.

Independent outdoor retailer Rock/Creek and specialty footwear manufacturer Chaco have partnered with the Southeastern Climbers Coalition to raise $5,000 toward the purchase of a long-closed climbing crag in Steele, AL. A portion of the proceeds from every Chaco Performance Sandal sale at Rock/Creek from now until Earth Day will be donated to this effort. Talented filmmaker Josh Fowler and photographer Andrew Kornylak donated their time to produce a video introduction to the Steele story. The film is currently posted online: http://www.rockcreek.com/steele/ .

As the movie explains, in 1987, too many climbers wore a path through a landowner's tomato field near Steele, AL. The landowner closed the access down, and a popular climbing area was lost. But a grassroots coalition vowed to one day regain access to Steele.

"We've been working on this project for a little over 8 years now without much success... luckily this past fall, we talked to the right landowner at the right time," explains Southeastern Climbers Coalition president Brad McLeod. "We have 120 days to raise all the funds, so we're teaming up with Rock/Creek and Chaco to make that happen."

Chad Wykle, Chaco Sandals sales rep and long-time defender of climbing access, elaborates: "As soon as we found out about this project, both Chaco and Rock/Creek literally jumped at the chance to work again with the SCC. Chaco as a company, has had a long 20 year history of making incredible footwear for the outdoor consumer. In that 20 years, we have also been committed to the core, to protecting and preserving our natural resources."

Rock/Creek co-owner and Signal Mountain resident Dawson Wheeler explains why Rock/Creek would take on a project like this: "Rock/Creek has taken a position a number of years ago that we want to leave a legacy behind. What we want to be able to look back to is our neighbors. 'How did we impact our neighbors and how did we impact our community at large? ' and you can look back and go, 'See this area; Chaco paid for this area to be here.' This is building ownership and it's also what we should do."

About Rock/Creek:
Rock/Creek, member of the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, is an independent specialty outdoor retailer based in Chattanooga, TN. Rock/Creek was named 2009 Online Retailer of the Year by Backpacker Magazine and SNEWS and was listed as a Top 25 Retailer by Outdoor Business for 2008 and 2009. Along with its online shops, RockCreek.com and ClimbingGear.com, Rock/Creek provides quality outdoor clothing and gear for a host of activities including kayaking, rock climbing, camping, hiking, trail running, and adventure racing. Rock/Creek is committed to making a positive impact on the environment. For this reason, it uses outdoor retail as a platform to encourage outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship and to improve public access to the backcountry. Rock/Creek supports worthy nonprofits such as the Southeastern Climbers' Coalition and the Wilderness Trail Running Association. For related articles on Rock/Creek, visit http://www.rockcreek.com/media/ .

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