Devils Tower Lifts Temporary Climbing Closure

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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 28, 2010 - 03:26pm PT
Devils Tower National Monument announces the lifting of the June 2010 voluntary climbing closure starting July 1, 2010

Devils Tower National Monument Superintendent Dorothy FireCloud announces the lifting of the June Voluntary Climbing Closure effective Thursday July 1, 2010. The 1995 Devils Tower National Monument Climbing Management Plan established an annual voluntary closure for all climbing routes on the Tower out of respect for traditional cultural activities of American Indians. The voluntary closure has been implemented each June since 1996, and has proven successful: the average number of climbers in June has seen an 85% reduction. The National Park Service appreciates the efforts of those climbers who choose to observe the closure.

American Indians have long regarded the Tower as a sacred site, and many feel that recreational climbing desecrates the Tower. Traditional cultural activities occur at the park throughout the year; however, June is an especially significant time when many ceremonies take place.

The 1995 Climbing Management Plan provides direction for managing climbing activity in order to protect natural and cultural resources on and around the Tower. That plan was updated in 2006, in order to address issues of resource protection, climber education, and climber safety. Both plans, as well as updated closure information, can be found at www.nps.gov/deto.

For further information, please contact the monumentís Chief of Resource Management, Mark Biel, at (307) 467-5283 ext 212.
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Jun 28, 2010 - 03:58pm PT
I really wanted the Access Fund to fight this ban when it was put in place in 1995. Of all the groups who visit Devil's Tower, only climbers were singled out for a ban. Unfortunately, the AF decided not to fight this ban and it is, for me, a big disappointment. The AF usually does top-notch work, but in this instance, they really dropped the ball.

Bruce
Jingy

Social climber
Nowhere
Jun 28, 2010 - 04:04pm PT
good news...
thanks Chris
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Jun 28, 2010 - 04:20pm PT
This voluntary ban is great. It respects all users, but of course not everyone will be happy with the compromise. I can give up 1 month a year. It really pissed me off that the Forest Circus refused to explore this as an option for Cave Rock in Tahoe even though I wrote to them suggesting it.
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Jun 28, 2010 - 04:49pm PT
Coz,

I am serious. I would have supported closing Devil's Tower National Monument completely during the month of June. The closure as it stands now only affects climbers and not hikers, etc. who also use Devil's Tower National Monument. Only climbers were affected by the ban. All other user groups were not affected. That's the part I don't like.

If you are going to make a statement about respecting the heritage of the American Indians then to be truly meaningful everyone who comes to Devil's Tower National Monument, and not just climbers, should participate.

Bruce
MTucker

Ice climber
Arizona
Jun 28, 2010 - 04:54pm PT
The closure is VOLUNTARY!!! It is not a true closure and does not have legal ramifications. YOU get to choose if you want to climb or not!!

"During June, the NPS asks climbers to voluntarily refrain from climbing on the Tower and hikers to voluntarily refrain from scrambling within the inside of the Tower Trail Loop."

It is a good PR thing to respect others though. It could have been an official closure.
MTucker

Ice climber
Arizona
Jun 28, 2010 - 04:57pm PT
The closure is natural over on July 1st. That is until next year. The voluntary closure has not gone away. It is doing such a good job.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jun 28, 2010 - 04:57pm PT
coz,
I'm a first generation american, and my people have had their population severely depleted far more recently, but if their belief system also included banning certain freedom loving activities on land that doesn't belong to them then I would disavow their right to do so.

The AF didn't drop the ball. They deliberately fumbled it for political reasons.

I really doubt that native americans are so down on climbing. I think that they are down on who's climbing and, again for political reasons, they are merely asserting themselves.

If we bend over backwards to accommodate one cultural special interest then we have to accommodate them all,.. can't be done.

And for those who say it is just one month a year try climbing DT November through April.
ionlyski

Trad climber
Kalispell, Montana
Jun 28, 2010 - 04:58pm PT
I'm with Bruce. And yes, I'm way on the side of the American Indian natives. In fact I don't think anything we do for them can ever replace the culture we destoyed. However, it's the tourists and the developments to support the tourist at Devil's Tower which are the real infringement on native traditions. We when were there in May I could scarcely find any peace, due to the constant roar of motorized wheelbarrows hauling load after load of ashpalt and equipment. That's right, they have now paved the trail around the circumfrence along with all the little platforms and other crap they build for the tourists comfort. It's a freak show.

I would support a total ban on Tower visits for the month of June and leave it for the native Americans. It makes no sense to just ban the climbers who tend to respect the geological wonder far more than the visiting tourists.

Arne
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Jun 28, 2010 - 05:07pm PT
They are not asking for climbers to stay away, they are asking for people not to climb it! They are asking for hikers not to scramble on it. They are asking us to respect the native americans who don't want people on the tower. The needles are pretty close and a good alternative in June.

I went through in June not knowing about the closure. The locals told me it was voluntary I could still climb, but I chose not to. I respect the compromise that was reached.
Bschmitz

Ice climber
mountain view
Jun 28, 2010 - 05:26pm PT
I CLIMB THERE IN JUNE

If you are going to ban anyone: ban the harley's and the motor homes as well. but this would bnever happen, becasue they are just too much $$$$$ for the park.

Another thing: when I first started going to DT, I loved seeing prayer baskets that were a work of art. Handmade and full of color. You know what I have been seeing the last two years: dirty socks and plastic walk mart bags......for all the hoopala you would expect them not to treat it like a dump.

bryan schmitz
Mungeradomas

Gym climber
Deep State of Philosophical Mind Bending
Jun 28, 2010 - 05:48pm PT
It makes no sense to just ban the climbers who tend to respect the geological wonder far more than the visiting tourists

Not for nothing here, but to say that a Tourist qualitatively doesn't respect the geological wonder as much as climbers is probably a bit a stretch. Just becuase we gain more recreational time from it is not the same as qualitative appreciation for its geological wonder.

On the same hand, is the notion that somehow Native American use of the DT supercedes climbers is also a qualitative judgment. It's a formation that I think climbers have an undeniable spiritual connection to.

As a thought experiment: imagine having DT closed to all other visitors while climbers used the month of September to perform their ritual ascensions?
bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Jun 28, 2010 - 06:21pm PT
Coz,

I don't understand why you think we are off base. I am all for respecting the heritage of the American Indians. I don't climb at Devil's Tower in June. I just don't understand why the ban, voluntary or not, only affects climbers. There is no ban, voluntary or not, for any other group of people who visit Devil's Tower in June.

I think the AF should have pushed for the voluntary closure to have been put in place for all those who visited the monument. Allowing climbers to be singled out as a distinct group for the ban set, IMHO, a dangerous precedent for the potential for similar bans at other National Parks and Monuments.

Bruce
MQ

Social climber
salt lake city
Jun 28, 2010 - 07:44pm PT
Bryan - I'm curious as to when you saw the prayer baskets? I spent a bit of time at the Tower in the late 70's, 80's and into the 90's but never saw any trace of Native ceremony until just as the lawsuit preceding the ban was begun. When I was through there last in the late 90's I was tripping all over prayer trees and tobacco ties, figuratively speaking. Where were they prior to the ban? I have always believed the Tower was a test-piece for the tribes to get back areas that would present a greater legal challenge...ie Black Hills, Tetons or Yellowstone. Those areas hold way more significance for the Tribes. If I were still climbing at the Tower, I would climb in June, regardless.
Bschmitz

Ice climber
mountain view
Jun 29, 2010 - 12:13pm PT
I guess I first saw them around summer of 2004. I would notice them higher up the scree fields like at the base of the west face and over by broken tree. They would be hand stichted and very beautful, you could tell that a tremendous amount of time and thought went into preparing the prayer baskets. However, these last two summers I have spent a considerable amount of time staying at Franks, close to a month each summer. No longer are there any prayer baskets near the base, or very few. Most are no along the paved trail hung on small bushes and are old socks tied off with a rubber band or a wal mart bag with fishing line tieing it off. These are in plain veiw right off the trail. What kind of message is that sending? What kind of message does the native american commmunity want to send with such a statement. The truth is that I pick up garbage when i am at the tower.

Wal mart bags and dirty socks are garbage.

Bryan Schmitz
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Jun 29, 2010 - 01:11pm PT
I bet Yosemite is sacred to some tribes, how about a month long voluntary ban there.
Doug Hemken

climber
Madison, WI
Jun 29, 2010 - 01:59pm PT
I think Fet is right, the NPS asks *everyone* to stay below the boulder fields during June.

I like Mungeradomas' suggestion: May is rock climber month, June is Native American month, July is Harley month, and August is motor home month. Sept - April belong to Frank.

It seems to me that the prayer bundles have been making their way higher and higher over the last 5-10 years. I guess the Native Americans are thankful for the climbers' access trails.
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Jun 29, 2010 - 02:01pm PT
Yosemite Valley voluntary ban... I vote for August.
LB4USC

Trad climber
Long Beach
Jun 29, 2010 - 02:42pm PT
As a member of the dirtbag tribe, May is a month of Valley worship...okay, and October My tribe honors the spirit of the Valley by ascending higher. An incredible amount of prayer and soul searching have occurred during these ascents, especially at cruxes or runouts. We ask that tourons respect these sacred periods.
dustonian

climber
RRG
Jun 29, 2010 - 03:17pm PT
What a bunch of as#@&%es. You want the AF to contest a one-month VOLUNTARY closure for Native American rituals? To what end? Just to prove how selfish and rapacious our white-boy sport really is? Please don't speak for all of us when you voice your unfortunate, over-entitled opinions. In fact, for the good of everyone--don't voice them at all.
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