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.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Jun 29, 2010 - 04:38pm PT
Dustonian, would you object if they were going to close the RRG for a month. I am sure there were Native Americans living there and found that area sacred as well. I am sure that is probably true for every big rock in the lower 48. Why not advocate to close all crags on a voluntary basis out of respect. Also if I remember right the climbing ban was not voluntary when first proposed and it prohibited guiding during June and that was one of the reasons why it was faught in court. I think it is easy to advocate for this in someone elses backyard.
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Jun 29, 2010 - 06:55pm PT
I personally don't mind a voluntary closure. It still means I can climb in June if I want to without getting arrested and it provides a workable compromise for all concerned. What I find laughable is that Native Americans make these claims that certain cliffs, towers, areas are sacred to their religion and then violate their own words. For instance: climbing on the Totem Pole and other towers in Monument Valley are said to be sacred and off limits to climbers but the Totem Pole and a few others have been used in commercials. What's sacred? MONEY! The Native American's are just so hypocritical in what they say and then in what they do.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jun 29, 2010 - 07:00pm PT
You mean they are NOT going to put a casino on the summit??
crunch

Social climber
CO
Jun 29, 2010 - 07:06pm PT
I'd disagree BoulderJac.

They're not hypocritical, just conflicted.

Some Navajos would like to see all and every bit of significant rock closed. Others, more concerned with day to day survival in our anglo society, would like to see more income and visitation.

Sometimes the more traditional Navajos win the day, other times pragmatic concerns win out. This conflict and to-and-fro is true in relation to all kinds of land use issues on the Navajo reservation, not just climbing.
Captain...or Skully

Big Wall climber
Transporter Room 2
Jun 29, 2010 - 07:14pm PT
Right on, Steve....The Voice of Reason.
Whew.
Larry

Trad climber
Bisbee
Jun 29, 2010 - 07:24pm PT
If it's a voluntary closure, there's really nothing to lift, is there?
Dave

Mountain climber
the ANTI-fresno
Jun 29, 2010 - 07:58pm PT
"I'd disagree BoulderJac.

They're not hypocritical, just conflicted.

Some Navajos would like to see all and every bit of significant rock closed. Others, more concerned with day to day survival in our anglo society, would like to see more income and visitation."

Conflicted, huh. I don't think so - whether its Devil's Tower, Cave Rock, or a little hill in the middle of Nevada or California, these things seem to only become "sacred" when money is involved or it is suddenly in the local tribe's interest for it to be sacred. Ceremonial site? Yeah, ya haven't had a ceremony there in a hundred years - now all of a sudden we see prayer baskets? BS. Cave Rock dismantled - same thing. Sacred my ass.
Matt

Trad climber
primordial soup
Jun 29, 2010 - 10:18pm PT
what's more, my understanding of the Cave Rock issue was their belief that WOMEN touching the rock somehow drained it's power...


freedom of mysogyny?
sweet...
pazreal

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 29, 2010 - 10:28pm PT
The RRG has numerous areas that are closed due to the discovery of native sites that were used for shelter and cooking due to their overhanging nature. I believe they are closed indefinitely and that's fine by me. Plenty of rock elsewhere.
onarunning

Trad climber
Duluth, MN
Jun 29, 2010 - 11:27pm PT
I had a class called "American Indian Experience: 1900-Present" a semester ago. We watched an interesting, and a little biased, film called "In the Light of Reverence." Check it out.

After the movie, our class had a discussion on why climbing is permanently banned at Mount Rushmore, but is allowed at Devils Tower. While not a perfect comparison, it was entertaining to listen to a bunch of non-climbers discuss the ban. Nobody argued that climbers should be banned, perhaps all year round. My hunch is that the discussion would be different if everyone was to be banned from the area. My professor talked about climbers "banging in hooks," no doubt talking about climbers pounding pitons.

While nothing will probably change the mind of staunch traditionalists within the tribes, climbers still need to be much more aware in general of how we are perceived in the greater world. Perhaps my young and progressive professor might have a different perspective if she was aware of what clean climbing is. Maybe the tower could have a chalk ban, like the north shore of Minnesota, too.

I personally will respect the ban, if only out of respect for a culture than has survived a genocide by our government. It's true that the Lakota and the other tribes have a political agenda, and the Devil's Tower ban plays into it. This doesn't bother me at all. Whether we want to recognize it or not, we owe them whatever we can give them, and I'll be happy to give up the month of June.
Bschmitz

Ice climber
mountain view
Jun 30, 2010 - 11:39am PT
You obviously havenít been there. There are very few sport routes on the tower. I am not sure if I have ever been able to spot chalk from the trail or even the the base of a climbÖ.maybe on broken tree or new wave. There is a ton of climbing all over Mount Rushmore area, you just cant climb up the faces.

What I really want to discuss is why a thousand Harleys can roll through but trying to get one day where we can use power drills to replace existing anchors canít happen? I guess the park service thinks that if they have a policy that leads to less climbers then that is good for them???????


Bryan Schmitz
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jun 30, 2010 - 12:47pm PT
Bryan,
end run on the regs.

Get them to recognize routes as "steep trails". Then get erstwhile bolt replacers designated under the VIP (volunteers in the parks) program as volunteer trail builders who are permitted to use power tools in trail building.
If they whine about the drill noise let them listen to a hand drilling by comparison (orders of magnitude longer noise period).
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jun 30, 2010 - 02:21pm PT
When it comes to telling people who disagree with you that they shouldn't speak up, well,....













I disagree.

(There. I said it!)
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Jun 30, 2010 - 03:36pm PT
What is the feeling about people that choose to climb during that month? I know people that have done great things for the native american communtity but still choose to climb there in June. I just feel that it is very easy for people that don't live here to be suppostive of something that affects them very little. In my case it is by far the closest trad crag and I have chose to climb there a couple of times in June in the many years that this voluntary ban has been in affect. To the park services credit I was not made to feel uncomfortable for doing so. I do feel that if the same process took place in areas with more population such as Yosemite, the Gunks, RMNP, ect. the outcry would be huge and I think the outcry was big here when this took place the first time, but there were not places tolike this forum to discuss it as easily. I think that this case will be used in the future to use as a precident to close other areas in the future. I was also asked to sign on to the court case fighting it when it was proposed as a mandatory ban and chose not to participate due to some of the language in the paper work seemed racial to me. I feel the voluntary ban is fine if that is how it stays, but I also feel a dangerous precident was set that could be used in many other climbing areas. Also I think the premice of this thread was wrong from the start I don't think the policy is stoping it is just the end of June.
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
Jun 30, 2010 - 04:00pm PT
As I mentioned when I went through locals told me it's voluntary and if they were driving through with it being there one chance to climb there they would. I chose not to thinking I'd be back, but that was 8 years ago LOL. But I know I'll get there some day. They also said if a guide got a client they'd climb because they would need the money.

I agree with them. I wouldn't say you are an ass if you climbed there once in a while or on a road trip, but I think if you climbed every day on the most visible routes with a ghetto blaster it would be a dick move.

I think it's a great compromise and I wouldn't mind if it's a precedent for my local areas. Much better than Cave Rock where they shut down ALL climbing, when a volutary ban at certain times would have been a good compromise IMO. As I mentioned the FS refused to include it as a possible alternative in their report even though it was suggested. I think this was because they banned climbing based on lies, saying it was about historical use / resource protection, but it was banned because some Washoe complained and they knew that wouldn't pass constitutional muster to ban climbing for religous reasons.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jun 30, 2010 - 04:09pm PT
A friend of mine guided there.

A poor precedent and a chilling effect on his livelihood.
I'm just not buying that the sentiment is based entirely on religion.
And even if it was how can we accommodate ALL religions on public land?
onarunning

Trad climber
Duluth, MN
Jun 30, 2010 - 09:13pm PT
Haha yes I have been there. I agree you can't see chalk from the trails around the tower. However, the natives realize you are smearing stuff that doesn't belong on the tower, and for better or worse it's them that we need to meet in the middle.

I think the comparison between Mount Rushmore and Devils Tower was meant to suggest that most Americans understand a ban on climbing on the actual faces at Mount Rushmore. They are unique and mean something. Just like Devils Tower for the natives. Saying that there is a bunch of other climbs around Mount Rushmore to do instead is counterproductive. They could suggest you find a hand crack elsewhere.
rick d

climber
ol pueblo, az
Jun 30, 2010 - 09:39pm PT
what about a January closure?

June is a prime month. I have seen a number of closures for freaking birds (Rockfellow, Summit Crags, Granite Mountain etc), non existent sheep (table mtn etc), war dead (Devil's Den), private lands (Bolus, Carefree, Governor's Stables), and simple outright like Chiracahua's.

meanwhile no one wants to claim shiatholes like Virgin River Gorge as a native american homestead.

and the prayer schmackateria showing up late in the game (at the Tower, on Babo etc) what a bunch of crap.

touchy feely BS
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jun 30, 2010 - 09:39pm PT
Thank you Frank. You have done good work.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Jun 30, 2010 - 10:55pm PT
If it means anything I think we should be able to climb on Mt. Rushmore too. What are we going to do to it that tons of dynomite has not already done. And there are some of the biggest faces in the Needles on Mt. Rushmore. Once again the park service at Mt. Rushmore seems to be very pro climbing, but there are some of the most beautiful cracks in the needles on the part that is closed. Mt. Rushmore is the big chunk of rock in the distance.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jun 30, 2010 - 11:00pm PT
Rushmore must've been a cool crag.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jun 30, 2010 - 11:01pm PT
Anyone have shots of it before it was defaced?
TKingsbury

Trad climber
MT
Jun 30, 2010 - 11:15pm PT
the before (from a quick google search)...looks cool!

Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jun 30, 2010 - 11:17pm PT
I'd hit that!
TKingsbury

Trad climber
MT
Jun 30, 2010 - 11:23pm PT
as would I!

I was looking for an 'after' from a similar angle...but this one seemed pretty cool


EDIT: is that an OW roof next to Lincoln?!^^^
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jul 1, 2010 - 12:56am PT
The John Wilkes Booth approach pitch?
blahblah

Gym climber
Boulder
Jul 1, 2010 - 01:05am PT
All you hypocritical A-hoes who support a climbing ban because some Indians are in favor of it should get your cracker-white asses back to Europe or Canada or wherever they came from. After all, that's what at least some Indians want, right?

If you say your religion forbids people from engaging in a healthy, legal activity in one of the best places to do it at the best time to do it, you can take your religion and shove it. I don't really expect any of you to care about my silly, primitive, superstitions beliefs, and I don't care about yours.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jul 1, 2010 - 01:15am PT
Does the Booth approach have a Boston Corbett finish?
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Jul 7, 2010 - 02:08pm PT
I think George is crying because the park service wont let us climb on any of these sweet cracks. Much of the wall on the right gets closed periodically due to "increased terrorist threat" or something. Like what is a climber going to do to Mt. Rushmore that tons of dynomite has not already done. Oh yeah I guess we could hang a banner which could affect access, thanks a lot greenpeace.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/08/AR2009070802246.html
Avituro

climber
Idaho
Jan 27, 2015 - 01:30pm PT
Climbing at Devil's Tower in June is a selfish thing. Some say, "Well they don't ban everyone, just climbers. So I"m not following it." Well, that's not the point. The point is you're not a Harley rider. You're a climber, and you represent all of us when you decide to climb there in June. We decided that surplus land from Native Americans belonged to us when we made some national parks. We settled for offering the tribes money, but this offended them more than anything. This was also the same philosophy that allowed us to board Native American children in schools to take them from their "savage culture" and indoctrinate them into a more "civilized culture."

Not climbing for one month for respect of a people's way of life because they hold these practices sacred is just one small thing you can do to not only show respect, but to show climbers are a cut above the rest of recreational users. I've been climbing my entire adult life, and my best friends are all climbers. Not one of them will climb Devil's Tower in June. It's a respect thing. It's a culture thing.

Ultimately, it's your choice. When you choose to climb, I would say it's advocating your right to be "that type of climber." However, "that type of climber" doesn't represent me, my friends and the people I respect in the climbing world.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Denver, Colorado
Jan 27, 2015 - 03:22pm PT
Back in the 70s there was supposedly a plot by AIM to blow up Mt. Rushmore. Police pulled over a motor home owned by actor Marlon Brando, which was used by AIM. It was full of dynamite, mechanical watches turned into timers, firearms with obliterated serial numbers, etc. AIM was being disrupted by the FBI at the time, and I have always thought it was a set up. As Judi Bari famously said, you can always tell who the FBI infiltrator is. He's the one who can get the dynamite. But, the Indians will never win, go to a reservation if you want to see poverty and despair.
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