New North Carolina Bouldering Area Opens Thanks to Access Fund


North Carolina climbers celebrate alongside the Access Fund today as a new bouldering area opens to the public in a climbing-starved area.

Climbing advocacy group the Access Fund announced this morning that a dense group of granite boulders will now open to all climbers. The Maibauer Boulders, about 90 minutes outside Charlotte, N.C., in the Brushy Mountains, previously perched on a hilltop on private land. But now, a collaborative effort between local climbers, the previous landowners, and Access Fund officials makes the area public.

Each party involved expressed satisfaction with the outcome. And the acquisition secured climbing access in an area of the state that was relatively empty of resources.

north carolina bouldering
(Image/Carolina Climbers Coalition)

An Access Success Story

The Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) worked hand in hand with the land’s prior owners, Merna Maibauer and Karl Hesse, on the transaction. When Maibauer and Hesse decided to sell the land, they found they wanted to find a buyer who would make conservation a priority. So, longtime local climber Jim Horton stepped in, arranging a meeting between the couple and the CCC.

They discussed the boulder field’s importance for recreational climbing and conservation and ultimately agreed on a conservation-oriented purchase.

“Merna Maibauer and I are a team that advocates for the environment,” Hesse said. “Merna helped to preserve these hills, big rocks, and woods that we love.”

Now, the CCC will do just that, after securing financial help from the Access Fund. The cluster of boulders sits within 32 acres of hardwood forest. Climbers started developing the first boulder problems in the area in the 1990s, thanks in part to Maibauer and Hesse’s inviting attitude.

Today, more than 100 known problems dot the ridgeline. The documented climbs range from V0-V9, with quality moderates clustered around the V3-V6 range.

“This prime granite bouldering area provides Carolina climbers with yet another unique winter destination,” said Mike Reardon, CCC Executive Director. “It is a landmark purchase for recreation and conservation in Alexander County and the greater Brushy Mountain range.”

Construction Begins; How to Help

Necessary construction will now take place at the Maibauer Boulders, including building a parking lot and new trails. The area will close during the construction period, and the CCC hopes to reopen it by winter 2022.

If you want to lend a hand, you can find scheduled volunteer days on the CCC’s events page. The organization also said it’s accepting donations to pay back the $135,000 it borrowed from the Access Fund. The conservation loan covers the purchase and development of the area and funds long-term stewardship and legal defense costs associated with owning it.

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