Climbing led us to conservation—Conservacion Patagonica traces its roots back to Doug and Yvon’s 1968 expedition to climb Fitzroy—so we leapt at Brooklyn Boulders Somerville’s offer to host us at their newest project. On June 18th, BKB Somerville invited a big crowd of climbers, outdoorspeople, conservationists, and friends to their still-under-construction climbing gym in Somerville, MA.
As they put it, their vision is to create a “hybrid climbing facility built on the premise that physicality stimulates innovation and creativity.” In addition to 38,000 square feet of excellent climbing terrain, the facility will contain yoga studios, startup offices, and areas for art exhibitions, music, and other events. BKB’s Jesse Levin invited us as part of an exploration of how the facility can link the climbing community to non-profit work. We hoped to encourage climbers to link their love of wild rocky places with work to protect them. Judging by the energy and impact of this event, BKB Somerville will represent more than an ordinary climbing gym.
Kris Tompkins told the story of “how we got started:” from early years of mountaineering expeditions and piton-crafting at Chouinard Equipment through a life-change from business to conservation in the early 1990s.
With photos and videos to back her up, she took guests on a tour throughout the Southern Cone, from the temperate rainforests of Pumalin Park to the savannah grasslands of Ibera.
Next, Nadine Lehner illustrated the process of creating the future Patagonia National Park, and encouraged the audience to visit, volunteer, and try their hand at some of the Chacabuco Valley’s own boulder problems.
A lively session of Q & A followed, with participants eager to learn more about the status of the HidroAysen mega-dam project (good news—presidential candidate Michele Bachelet just expressed her disapproval) and the political process of park creation.
Afterwards, everyone explored the vast facility, where route-setting is well underway.
Special thanks are due to Clover Food Labs, Peak Organic Brewery, Mother Juice – all of whom catered the their delectable creations to the masses.
We appreciate their hospitality, and hope to make it back to climb once the gym is open, beginning in July!