UKC

John Sherman, a UK mining company and the closure of a climbing area

Being paid to climb, to find new climbing areas and develop them must be the ultimate climbing job. John Sherman, inventor of the bouldering V scale, and a climbing celebrity has just landed such a job, but some people in the climbing world are not happy. Sherman is working, through a third party, for a global mining conglomerate Rio Tinto who plan to mine for copper at the Queen’s Creek climbing area in Arizona, long home to the Phoenix Bouldering Competition.
Rio Tinto, with its main offices in England and Australia, has discovered a rich deposit of high-grade copper 6,000ft under what many regard as the epicenter of Arizona climbing with its extensive bouldering and roped climbing. Rio Tinto plan to underground mine the copper using a technique known as block caving.
Curt Shannon, a local climber who has been involved with publicising Rio Tinto’s plans said, “every existing rock climbing and bouldering area thus far developed at Oak Flat will be off limits to all recreational access if this mine is opened.”
John Sherman’s job is to identify and develop unexplored climbing areas to replace the loss of Queen‚s Creek when it is shut down by the mining. This has irked some locals who have been prospecting the area for new climbing opportunities for many years and see it as just so much hyperbole to veil the real reason why Sherman has been employed, as a public relations consultant to put a climber-friendly face on a company that will close a climbing area.
Meanwhile local climbers have set up Friends Of Queen Creek who are heavily involved in trying to maintain Oak Creek as a multi-use recreational area. The climbers advocacy group, the Access Fund are involved as are several other climbing and conservation groups including the Sierra Club.


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