Petzl has partnered with Access Pan America through a grant from the Petzl Foundation.  Access Pan America is a newly established organization dedicated to protecting climbing access across the Americas.  It will be the first and only organization of its kind, bringing together activists, access leaders and influencers, and land managers from several countries to unify efforts toward climbing conservation for the entire Western Hemisphere.

The inaugural Access Pan America meeting will be held in Squamish, British Columbia (B.C.) during the Squamish Mountain Festival, August 12th-16th, 2009.   The Petzl Foundation has made an early commitment to provide travel scholarships for access ambassadors from Latin America to participate in the initial forum.  The inaugural meeting will serve to address: assessment of climbing access and the climbing environment in all of the Americas; work to create a Western Hemisphere access support network or central organization; a consensus, commitment, and road map for keeping climbing areas open and protecting the climbing environment in all the Western Hemisphere.

“Conservation and climbing access are two issues central to the mission of the Petzl Foundation,” said Paul Petzl, founder of Petzl and its foundation.  “Access Pan America is an effort that matches our goals of preserving climbing areas for all to enjoy, not just climbers, but all who appreciate nature and our natural environments”.

As the sport of climbing grows globally, access to climbing areas are increasingly threatened, as government policies, private land owners, development, even war and banditry restrict access and threaten environments crucial to the future of climbing.  In the Americas, climbing in Northern Mexico is currently threatened by development, while Brazil, with vast expanses of mountains and stone, holds a greater number of closed climbing areas than the U.S. and Canada combined.  In Argentina, climbing on Aconcagua may be restricted to guided climbing for the majority of the year.

“We’ve seen such great success from the organized efforts of climbers, and we have learned that in order to secure the freedom to climb and protect sensitive environments requires all the tools of advocacy; stewardship, conservation, grassroots activism, climber education, and, at times, land acquisition,” said Armando Menocal, founder of Access Pan America.         

Access America has already been embraced with commitment to participate from the Access Fund, the American Alpine Club, the B.C.-based Access Society.  The meeting is expected to draw participants from Central America, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, and the United States.