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Access PanAm: Climbing’s First International Access Group

Access PanAm members in front of the Chief, Squamish, Canada, during the organization’s inaugural meeting in August. Access PanAm is the first international climbing access group; they hope to support local groups throughout the Americas. [Photo] Kika Bradford

Access PanAm, an international organization dedicated to protecting climbing access throughout the Western hemisphere, held their inaugural meeting August 12-16 in Canada at Squamish Mountain Festival. The group is the first multinational climbing access organization and proposes “to be a network of resources, organizers, and communications to foster the process of local climbers’ organizations.”

Representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Mexico and the United States attended the August meeting. They named Kika Bradford as part-time executive director and formed a steering committee of volunteer activists from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Spain and the United States.

Access PanAm hopes to improve climber relations and the general climbing environment in countries throughout Central and South America, particularly Brazil, Cuba and Mexico. Access activists in Latin America often face a dizzying web of mining and energy companies, disputed ownership and even gang activity.

Increasing access concerns throughout the Americas spurred the organization’s formation earlier this year.

President of the group, and a major force behind its formation, Armando Menocal (also Co-founder of the Access Fund) said an “international approach will require different tactics than a national approach… The issues vary, but they have a common core. No one solution fits. It will be up to local climbers to solve local problems. Our basic mission is to support local climber initiatives.”

Menocal added that “sometimes the most important thing for a local organizer is just knowing that they aren’t alone.”

The group’s primary objective is to dissuade damming projects in Chile’s Valle Cochamo, the featured Area Profile in Alpinist 23. Legally unprotected, the massive valley is home to some of the world’s longest granite rock climbs. Chile’s Conservacion Cochamo is the leading local organization in this fight. Access PanAm will lend support by forging connections with media groups, advising on fund-raising tactics and providing a media plan to increase international awareness.

Learn more about Access PanAm at their website,

Sources: Armando Menocal, Daniel Seeliger,,

Inside an Access PanAm meeting. [Photo] Kika Bradford