Devils Tower Voluntary June Closure: What are your thoughts?


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Trad climber
santa cruz, ca
Topic Author's Original Post - May 12, 2017 - 08:13am PT
Devils Tower in June22 years after the voluntary June closure startedWhat do people think now?

You might ask yourself… that old issue? Haven’t we hashed and re-hashed this topic to death in previous threads. Does this issue even matter anymore?

The answer is… YES – the issue is still as relevant and current as it was 22 years ago. Yes, it has been talked about on the forums. I started this thread because there is a lot of inaccurate information out there and the issue still needs to be talked about because the numbers of climbers in June HAVE been increasing throughout the years. The bottom line is if climbers continue to be unable to self-regulate, the Climbing Management Plan (CMP) requires the National Park Service (NPS) to consider more restrictive mitigations.

Here are some of the FACTS:

22 years ago Devils Tower National Monument finalized a climbing management plan (CMP) that hinged around a voluntary climbing closure in June. This voluntary closure was a compromise that was reached by a work group that included American Indian and climbing community representatives. The NPS is required by the climbing management plan to monitor the number of climbers in June, and address any proportional increase in June climbing by taking steps to keep June climbing numbers low. The first and simplest step is through outreach and education, thus this message and conversation.
Climber’s compliance with the June closure ensures that climbers continue to enjoy a largely self-regulatory climbing environment at the Tower. If June climbing numbers continue to increase, proportionally, the National Park Service is required to consider more restrictive mitigations if necessary. Per the CMP, the definition of success with the voluntary June closure is:

• A FULLY successful voluntary closure is that no climbers choose to climb in June.
• Any year in which the number of June climbers decreases compared to the previous year is considered successful (proportionally).

• Any year in which there is no change or an increase in June climbers is considered unsuccessful.

In short, the National Park Service and Devils Tower needs your help to keep things in balance. It is the climbing community’s responsibility to uphold their end of the agreement embodied in the CMP. You can help do this by talking to your friends about the issue, writing your thoughts, comments, and questions here on this forum, and most importantly not climbing in June and not encouraging others to climb in June.
I am happy to answer any questions that you have about the reasons for the voluntary closure, and I encourage open discussion on the issue. You can also visit the NPS website for more information:

Lucas Barth
Devils Tower Climbing Ranger

Trad climber
greater Boss Angeles area
May 12, 2017 - 08:18am PT
"What do voluntary mean?"

-Darren Hambrick

Trad climber
santa cruz, ca
Topic Author's Reply - May 12, 2017 - 08:20am PT
Voluntary means that you make a conscious decision not to climb in June.


Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
May 12, 2017 - 08:22am PT
'Voluntary' is not in the Millennials' vocabulary or, to be fair, most other Americans'.

Social climber
May 12, 2017 - 09:00am PT
If the ultimate goal is no climbing in June why not just make it mandatory instead of voluntary and save all the trouble of outreach and education? Is it because a mandatory closure would likely result in first amendment (establishment clause) litigation?
Jon Beck

Trad climber
May 12, 2017 - 09:02am PT
It is a voluntary closure because of constitutional issues, separation of church and state. A forced closure would put the NPS in the postition of promoting a religion.
the Fet

May 12, 2017 - 09:16am PT
An escalating series of actions seen in order

1. Online shaming of June climbers
2. Parking lot shaming
3. Obscenities yelled at base of climbs
4. Vehicles vandalized
5. BB guns at base of climbs
6. Pile their gear up and sh#t on it
7. Years of lies in print and online

Joking of course.

Trad climber
Orem, Utah
May 12, 2017 - 09:30am PT
Why not a closure for everyone not just climbers? The trail around the tower is very high, very close to where Native Americans make their prayer offerings. The roar of Harleys in an out of the park is even worse.

The Park service has singled out climbers because they are a relatively small group to force a token closure on. Close it for all non-natives or no one.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
May 12, 2017 - 09:34am PT
^^^^ HEAR, HEAR!

Harleys should be banned from all parks, but we digress.

Social climber
Mountain View/Boulder
May 12, 2017 - 10:01am PT
Yes, the voluntary closure only affects one user group and that is climbers. All other user groups are unaffected. It doesn't seem fair to close the monument to just one user group regardless of which group that is. All user groups should be affected. Why not just close the monument to everyone but Native Americans who are practising their religion there?

Grey Matter
May 12, 2017 - 01:44pm PT
What are the ranked most common motivations of those who still climb there in June? Rank them by percent:
- Don't care at all about respecting the restriction.
- Didn't know about it and can't easily change plans.
- Knew about it but this was the only time they could travel there.


Trad climber
Atlanta, GA
Topic Author's Reply - May 12, 2017 - 02:10pm PT
The closure is voluntary because the climbing community (in 1994) insisted that it could self regulate and that it would prefer this option over a mandatory closure. By climbing community, I mean those that were a part of the making of the Climbing Management Plan, which were local climbers, local climbing organizations, and the Access Fund.

The closure was implemented not on religious grounds, but to respect the tower as a cultural resource important to native american people.

Climbing is perceived by some American Indians as in direct conflict with the Tower as a sacred site. One of the key elements of the Climbing Management Plan is balancing the validity of perspectives and uses by native americans and climbers. The voluntary closure includes all Monument visitors above the Tower loop trail, not just rock climbers.

There are many visitors that enjoy recreating above the tower loop trail (scrambling in the boulders etc..)These visitors are also affected by the June closure.

Trad climber
Kalispell, Montana
May 12, 2017 - 02:12pm PT
Exactly what Clock said. Close it to everyone then. Because I believe the average climber has a whole hell of lot more respect for the tower than the flock loads of gawking tourists running around, shouting there way around the tower.

Close it to all but the native members, whoever that may be, but why single out climbing activities?


Jon Beck

Trad climber
May 12, 2017 - 02:15pm PT
There is no climbing closure

Trad climber
The state of confusion
May 12, 2017 - 02:38pm PT
Climb somewhere else in June!

The Granite State.
May 12, 2017 - 02:47pm PT
What's the premise for the closure?

If it were nesting Peregrines, I would think that it would be mandatory.


Ice climber
Pomfert VT
May 12, 2017 - 02:54pm PT
The tower is a holy place to me. we brought an offering and climbed in june. the guides were all working. the tour busses were doing their thing. The tourists were doing their thing. F you and the horse you rode in on if you want the tower Only closed to climbers.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
May 12, 2017 - 04:47pm PT
I lived an hour away for over twenty years and I think it worked fine even though I did not and still don't think climbers should be singled out. Climber numbers have been historically low for most or all of those 22 years in what may be the best month to climb there. Not too hot spring rainyness let's up a little and the days are long. I only climbed there a handful of times in June over the years usually only when climbers from out of town were around. The black hills has a phenomenal amount of rock and there are other things to do but we should not have to

It is a slippery slope if and could becoming to a crag near you if this is set as manfitiry closure.Also it is true that people of all sorts have climbed in June. This includes guides, rangers, clients, people. It is d great place.
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
May 12, 2017 - 04:59pm PT
It still astonishes me how some in the climbing community can be so tone deaf.

It DOESN'T just affect climbers.

Climbers ASKED for this.
I'm grateful that the NPS and Indian Nations allowed this to happen, and kept their side of the bargain over the decades.

Thanks for the reminder. If my brothers and sisters of the Climbing community are insistent on violating this, I fully favor banning climbing there 100% of the time. If the children can't play nice, go to another playground.
Bob Harrington

Bishop, California
May 12, 2017 - 05:20pm PT
Luquitos, since success is defined in terms of change in numbers of June climbers from one year to the next, I'm curious what those numbers are. What are the trends in the number of people climbing in June, and how does June compare to other months?
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