This remarkable desert recreation area is a long way from the nearest rest stop. The area is used by hundreds of climbers on busy weekends during the Spring and Fall climbing season, and concert goers headed for the Gorge Amphitheater also camp here during the Summer concert season. Other users visit here too: it was featured in a guidebook for popular hikes with children and it has been the site of at least one geocache.
This area is popular in large part because it is a unique bit of desert landscape and easily accessible because it is close to Interstate 90. It is also a fragile area. The desert environment does not support rapid decay of human waste and toilet paper left under rocks or even on the surface; human waste presents not only an unsightly mess but an environmental threat.
History of this Effort:
Climbers have sought a toilet facility here for years (decades, really). The Department of Fish and Wildlife, which manages the area, has no budget for new facilities and, until 2012, was hesitant to encourage us to raise money for this project.
In February 2012 representatives of the Washington Climbers Coalition, the American Alpine Club and the Mountaineers met with Fish and Wildlife personnel on site and reached an agreement that the Department would support the project if we could fund it.
In March 2012 we used funds donated by the former Frenchman Coulee Climbers Coalition to hire a team to undertake a cultural resource survey. This is required prior to development activity on State land. The result indicated there were no cultural artifacts or remains on the site and the project could proceed.
In April 2012 we had a septic designer survey the site. An Excavator dug holes at each of four sites to determine the feasibility of holding a vault toilet. Those four sites include two in or near the current Sunshine Wall access trail parking, and two near the camping area on the south side of the Feathers.
The results of this investigation allowed us to downward revise our prior estimate of project cost.
In May 2012 we formally kicked off the fund raising campaign and in June 2013 we met our fund raising goal of $50,000.00.
Permitting and project planning continued through Fall 2013 and, on February 21, 2014, the toilet opened for public use.
The Washington Climbers Coalition works to keep Washington climbing vibrant by working with climbers, land managers and property owners on climbing issues, to educate climbers about legal, environmental and resource concerns, and promoting climber stewardship of our cliffs and boulders.