NPS allows fixed anchors in wilderness


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 1 - 20 of total 36 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Original Post - May 15, 2013 - 12:34pm PT
From the access fund twitter feed

@accessfund: Breaking News: After decades of AF work, the NPS issued final national policy authorizing fixed anchors in wilderness

Big Wall climber
san jose, ca
May 15, 2013 - 12:34pm PT
Great news!!!

If you want to read the whole document, the climbing section starts on page 15.

Trad climber
May 15, 2013 - 12:35pm PT

Trad climber
May 15, 2013 - 12:37pm PT
Someone tell the BLM.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
May 15, 2013 - 12:44pm PT
The establishment of bolt-intensive face climbs is considered incompatible with wilderness preservation and management due to the concentration of human activity which they support, and the types and levels of impacts associated with such routes. Climbing management strategies will address ways to control, and in some cases reduce, the number of fixed anchors to protect the park's wilderness resources or to preserve the "untrammeled," "undeveloped," and "outstanding opportunities for solitude" qualities of the park's wilderness character.

+1 for that.

Trad climber
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
May 15, 2013 - 03:45pm PT
Looks to me like a double edge sword. On one hand they are authorizing fixed anchors, on the other it looks to be clearly opening the door (and stating that in fact they may soon be) looking into issuing some sort of permit system to place new fixed anchors or even chop a bolt.

I just read through it quickly and am sure I don't fully understand the the wording and potential implementation, but it was enough to raise a brow. Not only for bolting, but seems to me like it's further allowing an open door to more control from the park service over completely shutting entire climbing areas down should they feel it necessary, in their eye.

Would somebody who knows more about this, please explain. Looks spooky to me.

Trad climber
the middle of CA
May 15, 2013 - 03:53pm PT
There is already a permit system in place for placing bolts in Sequoia & Kings Canyon, and I think there has been for a while in Yosemite too. Nobody has ever applied for a bolting permit, so that system works for me so far!
Alan Rubin

May 15, 2013 - 04:04pm PT
Salamanizer, They already have the power and ability to shut down climbing areas, and such restrictions, fortunately usually fairly limited, have been put in place in various NPS administrated properties,and not only in designated wilderness sections either. What this policy, which has been a long time goal of the Access Fund, does is interpret the language of the governing Wilderness Act to allow the use of fixed anchors, a manmade intrusion and therefore presumptively not appropriate,at least to some extent, in officially designated wilderness areas. This was far from an obvious outcome, and we could well have been faced with an outright ban on such anchors--which could even have included such things as rap slings, which obviously would have had a very negative impact on our ability to climb on the many mountains and crags in such areas.Sure there is a preference against intensely bolted areas within designated wilderness, but the policy leaves this to be dealt with on a case-to-case basis---surely much better than an across the board prohibition.

Social climber
May 15, 2013 - 04:17pm PT
Unfortunately it's still not an obvious outcome because the order may be litigated. There are definitely groups out there that fight what they perceive as any concession made to a user group in wilderness areas.

Traditionally cases have involved commercial operations but I guarantee the idea that climbers can leave permanent fixtures in designated wilderness rubs some folks the wrong way.


Trad climber
Las Vegas
May 15, 2013 - 04:20pm PT

Yes all Hail the Federal Government where would we be with out them.
Lord knows the States can't govern or regulate themselves on a state by state basis.

I am sorry I have to rant !

Yes this is good news, sort of like the guy that shoots you in the shoulder handing you a bandage... Such a nice guy !
Alan Rubin

May 15, 2013 - 04:34pm PT
Trundlebum--I don't want to get into an all too typical ST "discussion", even if this one is very much climbing-related, but if controlling the lands that make up most of our national parks and monuments was left up to the individual states then most of the places we now climb would long ago have been reduced to mine tailings. Just sayin...

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
May 15, 2013 - 04:38pm PT
Wow! I see this as excellent progress.

Trad climber
Reno, NV
May 15, 2013 - 04:59pm PT
Definitely a good step forward and I like the overall theme of the policy but the ambiguity of the language (in the whole report for that matter) seems to leave a lot of the discretion up to the Director of any given park. A concerning part is that damage to or removal of any vegetation at the base or ON the route is prohibited. I find this to be a near impossibility. Seems if they feel that their specific wilderness is being degraded by climbers they can shut down regardless of how bolting is being done.

Good overall, keep them sportos out of the wilderness but allow a sketchy pitch to have fixed pro and bolt upgrading to existing routes (just don't disturb the lichen, it's hundred of years old!)
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
May 15, 2013 - 05:25pm PT
Let 'em know at Lake Mead NRA.

Bunch o' mank yankers!

Social climber
May 15, 2013 - 06:24pm PT
The NPS have always had a complex mandate: to allow recreation while preserving. These contradict each other.

It makes sense that climbing as an activity is given some respect, it is an old-established activity, human powered, fit right on with allowing recreation that does not develop or damage the resource.

In this sense, bolts are fine because they are essential equipment, required for climbers to operate in safety. They are also, traditionally, a last resort, seldom seen.

It also makes sense that sport climbing or similar intensive bolting, is not allowed. Sport climbing is a new sport, it (pretty much) relies on power equipment, also the bolt are no longer a last resort but are used intensively.

There's a huge gray area between old-style trad and sport, especially in granite slab places like Joshua Tree. Up to us to play by the spirit, not just the letter of this ruling.

Sorry, don't know what's up with the lake Mead guys...

Trad climber
May 15, 2013 - 06:31pm PT
The NPS have always had a complex mandate: to allow recreation while preserving. These contradict each other.

Kinda like the old rights vs responsibilities debate, only all we seem to hear about now is the rights portion.

I read through the notice and I think they did a good job walking that line.

May 15, 2013 - 06:41pm PT
NPS allows fixed anchors in wilderness

How does that work?

Anchors are already there.

There's trees and rocks.

Did NPS remove all the trees and rocks and now put them back?

the Fet

May 15, 2013 - 06:48pm PT
Werner, they are talking about allowing these anchors:

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
May 15, 2013 - 07:15pm PT
Yo crunch,
hope yer trip is gud.

Talked to Jimmy today. Things look good. The accountant has the books.
Greg Barnes

May 15, 2013 - 07:18pm PT
Well done Access Fund!

No one will get everything they want, it's called compromise. But one result could simply be "no fixed anchors in Wilderness" and order the (unenforceable but they wouldn't care) removal of all fixed anchors, be it sling, piton, bolt, or nut.

Let's not forget that the bolting ban attempt in Joshua Tree in the late '90s was simply because a group of hikers wanted to find some way to get all the climbers off the rocks because they didn't like to see climbers on rocks...bolts were just an excuse. That fringe is still out there, just as there is a fringe in the climbing community who would love to see everything sport bolted, even cracks...
Messages 1 - 20 of total 36 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews