October 29, 2016

Redefining Access

An abridged version of the speech Shelma Jun gave at the Access Fund's 25th Anniversary Dinner on October 22, 2016, on the next 25 years of climbing advocacy. 

Like many newer climbers, I learned to climb at a gym in the city with no idea or knowledge of the magical places that climbing could and would take me. I still remember how I felt the first time I climbed a route outside. The movement, the exposure, the fear and the inimitable communing with the rock itself… I was hooked.

Gunks_ChrisVultaggio
Shelma Jun at the Gunks | © Chris Vultaggio

I’m lucky to have found amazing mentors – experienced climbers willing to take the time to teach me not only about the technical side of climbing, but mentors who wanted to share the roots of climbing – the history, the ethics, the stories of the men and women who discovered and developed climbing areas, what drove them and how that was connected to me. As I progressed, I found equally stoked climbers, eager to explore, excel and push their mental and physical limits. We supported, challenged and inspired each other, learning from close calls, celebrating summits and commiserating failures over whiskey and dreams of new objectives. Damn, climbing is awesome!

Despite all of this, I still felt unsure whether the climbing community was my “home.” As an immigrant woman of color, I felt that the predominantly white male climbing community at the crag and as portrayed by climbing media did not represent me. I loved climbing but felt disconnected and began to seek something more.

I‘m fortunate to have met some amazing ladies in NYC. We all have our hustles as designers, community planners, artists, riggers, photographers and more but what brought us together was the bond of being women who love climbing. I started Flash Foxy as an instagram account with a simple goal – share photos of the girlcrew with the hope of spreading stoke and inspiring ladies to go out and get theirs.

WCF_ColetteMcInerney
2016 Women's Climbing Festival in Bishop, CA. February 2016 | © Colette McInerney

The initial couple of likes turned into thousands of followers. Emails, messages and comments followed – women looking for more female partners where they lived, women wanting to transition into the outdoors but unsure of how to take that first step, and well, women just searching for something more relatable to them within climbing. It was then that I realized that this search for a different space in the climbing community was not unique to me and it was this that ultimately led me to create the Women’s Climbing Festival.

Climbing is changing and growing at a rapid pace. 97 new climbing gyms were built in the past three years, with a total of 388 gyms at the end of 2015. A recent survey of over 1,500 climbers found 78.9% of respondents reporting that they’ve been climbing for less than five years. As a result, climbing is facing a mentorship gap – the ratio of available and relevant mentors to new climbers seeking mentors is now skewed strongly to the side of the latter. So how do we ensure that as new gym climbers transition into the outdoors, they are equipped with the technical knowledge and stewardship principles so important to keeping climbing areas safe and open?

As climbing grows and grows in urban areas, you’re also seeing more women, people of color and queer folks who love climbing… future lifers. Within New York City alone, there are groups for queer climbers, climbers of color, adaptive climbers and women climbers. We’re searching for a space within climbing that feels comfortable, supportive and relatable to us. How do we shift climbing media and culture to accurately reflect the changing demographic of climbing?

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2016 Women's Climbing Festival in Bishop, CA. February 2016 | © Lizzie Meyer

So… what does this have to do with the Access Fund? When it comes to the idea of “access” and barriers to “access,” the Access Fund has historically recognized the barriers to be the physical gates closing off a climbing area.

As we look forward to the next 25 years of climbing advocacy, I’d like to challenge the Access Fund and our climbing community to consider expanding what we define as “barriers to access.” Could it include representation in climbing media and industry, the breakdown of our traditional mentorship model, high cost of gear, travel and free time or even a cultural disconnect from the outdoors? And if these are the true barriers that our climbing community now faces, does Access Fund need to grow or change as an organization to address those needs?

The climbing community is truly an amazing one filled with passionate, driven caring folks and I’m so happy to be a part of it. I’m confident our community is strong enough to look honestly and critically at ourselves and work towards making climbing as accessible as possible to anyone who loves climbing!

WCF_SashaTurrentineBy Shelma Jun
Shelma is the founder of Flash Foxy and creator of the Women's Climbing Festival. A California native currently based in Brooklyn, Shelma's writing has appeared in Climbing Magazine, Outside Online and other publications.  

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August 29, 2016

Pictogram: Organizing Your Gear

This pictogram series provides simple and engaging guidance on how our behaviors can impact the climbing environment. We encourage local climbing organizations, gyms, and other organizations to use these pictograms to help raise awareness of how to reduce our impact when climbing outdoors. Pick and choose the issues most relevant to your local climbing area. Download the files below and use these pictograms:

  • In your social media outreach
  • On your blog
  • In an e-newsletter
  • On your website

The base of cliffs and boulders receive significant impact from regular use. Minimize impacts to soil and vegetation by keeping your gear organized and placed on durable surfaces near the base of the rock.

Organizing Your Gear

August 16, 2016

Navigating Access at City Rocks and Castle Rocks

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 8.31.09 AMThe internationally renowned climbing at City of Rocks and Castle

Rocks in Southern Idaho sits amidst a patchwork of complicated land

ownership and historical and cultural resources. Climbing in this region

dates back to the 1960s, with varying levels of legal access.

Today, climbing access and regulations in the region vary greatly and can be

tricky for climbers to navigate, as the boundary between land ownership is

not always clear. Use the provided table and map to help guide your access

decisions. Access Fund is actively working with all four land managers on climbing management strategies.Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 8.30.50 AM

August 03, 2016

The Inside Scoop: Smith Rock

If you’re like most climbers, you pour over guidebooks for weeks or even months when planning a climbing trip. You educate yourself on routes, descents, gear, and camping. But what about the local ethics, issues, and challenges at your destination crag? Part of being a responsible climber is knowing how to tread lightly—both socially and environmentally. In the Inside Scoop series, we connect you with local climbing access leaders at some of the country’s top climbing destinations for valuable insight into local ethics and issues.

Smith Rock OR (Spring Thing) IMG_1242

Destination: Smith Rock, OR

Local expert: Ian Caldwell, Board Member, Smith Rock Group

What challenges does the Smith Rock climbing community face now? The word is out about Smith Rock. While climbing visitors have increased at a moderate rate, hiking activity has gone through the roof over the last two years. Most weekends in spring and fall, the parking lot is completely full and you have to walk a mile just to get to the park. This increased use has affected trails and hillsides.

Got any beta on parking? On weekends in the spring and fall, it is best to arrive before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m. to find parking. The park is actively working to create an overflow parking lot in a grass field, which would be used only when the rest of the parking is full.

How crowded does the climbing at Smith get? We do see overcrowding on the easier routes. When temps are cooler and the days are shorter, climbers tend to stay in the main areas. You can avoid the heavy crowds by heading to the Backside, Marsupials, or the Student Wall. It’s a bit more walking to get there, but only a fraction of the time you will spend waiting in line at the more popular areas.

What’s the camping situation? The Bivy site in the park has walk-in tent sites and showers. Park staff just installed a charging station for phones, laptops, etc. These sites fill up quickly on busy weekends. Keep in mind that you can’t sleep in your vehicle at the Bivy site. Skull Hollow Campground is about 10 miles east on United States Forest Service (USFS) land and is better for camping in your rig.

What’s the best way to dispose of human waste at Smith? Smith Rock has a number of composting toilets, and park staff does an awesome job at keeping them clean and removing the waste. You’d be blown away by how much effort the rangers put into managing these toilets—use them!

How is the relationship between climbers and the land managers? Pretty good. Climbing is fully accepted at Smith Rock. The park is going to be working on a Master Plan that will govern all recreation uses in the park. Climbers will be very involved in the planning process, and we expect a good outcome. We also host an annual Spring Thing event with the park. We sit down with park staff and determine different projects to work on. The park can only get so much done, but we can go in and blitz a ton of projects in a single day. This year, we had 260 volunteers and we helped purchase about $4,000 in materials such as pressure-treated wood and rebar to build steps.

Any words of wisdom for folks visiting Smith for the first time? Remember that there are a lot of people at Smith Rock—climbers, hikers, bikers, anglers, birdwatchers, horseback riders. Consider how your actions will affect others. Dogs off leash, excessive yelling, radios, large groups, and going off trail all have huge impacts and are frowned upon by locals.

What projects are you currently working on at Smith? We are starting to deal with aging anchors. Plated steel will last around 20-30 years at Smith, depending on how much moisture they see. Most of the bolting from the 80s is right at that 30-year mark. The American Safe Climbing Association (ASCA) has been helping by providing bolts and glue for replacement. Smith Rock Group has started installing steel carabiners at anchors for convenience, speed in cleaning routes, and safety. These efforts take a tremendous amount of funds and volunteer labor, and we will be taking more of a lead role in collecting funds and replacing bolts.

How can folks support Smith Rock Group? Visit our website www. smithrockgroup.org for volunteer opportunities or to donate. 

July 15, 2016

5 Benchmarks for LCO Health

Keeping climbing areas open is the kind of work that’s never done. That’s why it’s so important for your local climbing organization (LCO) to have operations that set you up for success instead of holding you back. Here are 5 benchmarks that will create a solid foundation for your LCO.

Running a Local Climbing Organization

  • Transparency - Show your community and donors that you’re accomplishing your mission and using their funds responsibly by publishing your annual IRS tax filings, producing an annual report, and hosting at least one annual public meeting.
  • Continuity – Ensure the long-term success of your LCO by bringing in new blood and sharing the knowledge and relationships that make your organization successful. Term-limits in the bylaws are a good way to pass the torch, relieve volunteers, and bring in new talent. Board orientations and trainings also ensure knowledge is passed down from one board member to another. Institutionalize these practices in your bylaws and make them tradition.
  • Planning - Strategic plans, stewardship plans, fundraising plans—sounds like a bureaucratic nightmare, right? Not necessarily. A simple written plan for the next 3 years for your LCO, for a climbing area, or for a fundraising event keeps your LCO on track, helps your board and the public know where you’re going, and gives you a way to measure progress. They can also help you get grants. Plans don’t have to be written in stone; you can change based on input or need.
  • Consistency - Whether it’s board meetings, partnerships with land managers, trail days, fundraising events or marketing, consistency is essential. A common mistake is hosting an Adopt a Crag, then scrapping it for next year because turnout was low. Wrong. Do it again: consistency compounds success across the board. If you want access, but are told no, show up and (respectfully) ask again next year. If you’re fundraising, never stop asking. And with marketing, tell your story over and over and over so the public knows the good work you’re doing. Whatever it is, don’t stop until you’re certain it’s useless.
  • Measurement - Knowledge is power when it comes to climbing advocacy. Cliché, but true. How many boulders or cliffs are “in your care”? Have you mapped them? Where and how many bolts have you replaced? Who are the landowners and managers? Inventory, track and measure your work to make your LCO stronger and more effective.

Questions? We're here to help. Reach out to us anytime at localsupport@accessfund.org.

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June 10, 2016

5 Things to Know Before You Climb in the Alpine

Alpine
As the weather heats up, many of us will be heading into the alpine to get our climbing fix in cooler temperatures. The alpine zone, typically occurring above consistent tree line, is characterized by rocky talus slopes, dwarfed trees, and highly sensitive vegetation. The alpine environment is one of the most fragile places we climb. Shorter growing seasons, limited soil, and fragile plant life make it especially important for us to tread lightly and reduce our impact. As an increasing number of climbers are heading into the alpine, land managers have growing concerns and are paying close attention.

Here are 5 things to keep in mind before you head into the alpine on your next climbing adventure.

  1. Stashing pads and gear is illegal in most places and hurts wildlife. We get it. Alpine approaches can be arduous. If you’re projecting, hauling all that gear is a drag. But stashing gear is not worth the price we’ll all pay for access if a land manager finds it (and trust us, they are looking). It’s also not worth the hit to your wallet or the health of wildlife if hungry marmots eat it. Mountain goats, marmots, and other wild critters crave salt, and they will munch on your sweaty pad, giving them an unhealthy mix of synthetic fibers and human salt.
  2. Thin alpine soil lacks the micro-organisms needed to biodegrade human waste properly. If you don’t know how to pack out your own poop in a bag, it is time you learned. Bag systems like RESTOP or Cleanwaste WAG Bags seal up tight with virtually no stink or nasty factor. Pack out that TP as well.
  3. Plant species in the alpine will take decades to restore if trampled. Don’t pile on a bunch of extra crash pads, and be extra careful where you place your pads and gear. Limit group size to minimize your impact. When traveling off trail, stick to durable surfaces like rock or talus slopes so you aren’t crushing sensitive plants.
  4. Many alpine areas require permits. Do your research ahead of time. Many remote, backcountry areas in alpine environments have a permit system to limit the number of visitors in a particular area due to its sensitivity.
  5. Marmots, pikas, and bears all want to steal your lunch. Unless you want your favorite boulder field patrolled by hungry bears, take care to store your food so that critters can’t get into it. Hang your food, pack out trash and food waste, and use a bear canister where recommended by land managers. Improperly stored food will attract wild critters, leading to food conditioning and increases in human-wildlife encounters.

The alpine environment can be one of the most spectacular places to climb. Thanks for doing your part to take care of this sensitive environment and ensure we don’t lose access.

May 12, 2016

Deputies or Outlaws: The Future of Fixed Anchors

By Jeff Achey, Contributing editor for Climbing Magazine and Creative Director at Wolverine Publishing

Standing below a superb crag in the Nevada hills, I scoped the climb above me—a nice line of pockets, runnels, and big modern bolts…each with a pale swath of zinc streaking the blue limestone. Kinda sad. Stainless is expensive, and developers at most US crags pay for hardware out of their own pockets—a scenario that has led to tens of thousands of non-stainless anchors being placed at crags across the nation, especially in the “arid” West, where conventional wisdom has held that they are just fine. This crag was obviously loved and respected by its local developers, but typical of most newish sport crags I’ve visited there was still a hodgepodge of hardware, some stainless, some inexpensive zinc-plated.

Standing below that climb, I considered my own bolting history. Drilled angles and Star-Drives on desert towers in the 1980s. “Modern” 3/8” zinc-plated sleeve bolts (supplemented by assorted fixed pins and hardware-store funk) on my first sport climbs in the 1990s. Lots of 1/2” Rawls in the 2000s, also plated steel. Most recently, 3/8” stainless-steel wedge bolts, my go-to standard for the local crags, affordable but still not the very best. Yes, I have definitely improved my game in the 35 years I’ve been bolting, but I have to admit that over the years I’d been responsible for a daunting number of sub-standard anchors. Many of these had already been upgraded and replaced by other climbers.

It’s partly because of people like me that the Access Fund organizes its “Future of Fixed Anchors” conferences, to take on big questions like plated vs. stainless and “best practices” for equipping in general. This spring the conference, sponsored by Petzl, a company that has been extremely active in the hardware-upgrade movement, convened at the Bonnie Springs resort, a quirky, convenient venue only a few miles from Red Rocks, where the annual RR Rendezvous was going on simultaneously. It struck me as somehow appropriate that the event was held at a Wild West resort and theme park—and on April Fool’s Day.

FFA 2 Conference

As 60-odd bolt geeks and local climbing organization reps from across the country discussed minutia, outside the theme-park staff was staging a mock hanging. A rogue outlaw argued his case, but ultimately, inevitably, received his frontier justice. He had his reasons for his misbehavior, citing other citizens’ misdeeds, his impoverished circumstances, etc., but in the end, a jury of his peers found him guilty. No one got strung up in the conference inside, but if you counted yourself as a renegade or libertarian in the equipping community, you could not miss the message that the times were a-changing.

Access Fund Executive Director Brady Robinson and Stewardship Director Ty Tyler gave the kick-off, starting with some good news: the scare of fixed anchors being completely banned in designated Wilderness is pretty much over. OK, not completely over, but climbing in Wilderness, along with its need for at least occasional fixed anchors, has become generally accepted by land managers at the highest levels. That said, however, in the wake of that official recognition has come more visibility and some specific rules—more and more of them. Placing bolts on public lands, Robinson noted, is a public act. With climbing now fully on the public radar, policies will come. Given that fact, Robinson stressed that climbers need to come together and set our own fixed-hardware standards. If we don’t, someone will set them for us. Soon.

What followed was a 9-5 day of presentations and discussion, with only a few short breaks, during one of which I sat on the saloon steps and viewed the mock hanging. Topics ran the gamut, from liability risks that may (or may not) face local climbing organizations that take on anchor replacement, to financing and fundraising, to hand drilling, to crag facelift organizing, to bolt-removal techniques, to success stories of partnering with land management.

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 10.24.00 AM

In summary, I think it’s fair to say that everyone left the conference with a deeper understanding of the challenges, both technical and political, as well a sense that fixed anchors constitute a huge issue for climbers that’s only getting bigger. Perhaps the key message was that the equipping of American crags is now very much on the radar, and the days of self-regulation are slowly but surely going the way of the buffalo. It’s up to us whether climbers become the deputies or the outlaws.  

FFA 2 Group Shot

Here are a few of my key takeaways:

  • We have two main eras of bad bolts to deal with: the 1960s/1970s hardware on “Golden Age” traditional climbs, and, more problematically, the massive amount of rusting hardware from the sport-climbing revolution of the 1990s.
  • Bolt replacement is a huge and important challenge, but getting better, longer-lasting hardware in the rock the first time is obviously the best way forward. Ian Kirk, head of the Red River Gorge Fixed Anchor Initiative in Kentucky, has pioneered a model for subsidizing stainless-steel hardware for first ascents by allowing the local climbing community to share the cost of doing it right the first time. As those of us immersed in the activity know all too well, equipping new routes is partly a public service, partly a neurotic addiction, so subsidizing first ascents can have both good and bad consequences, that must be somehow managed.
  • There is a growing cadre of bolt-replacement specialists dedicated to “the cult of the original bolt hole.” Greg German, a climber and guitar maker from Boulder, is pioneering state of the art old-bolt extraction techniques and tools. German and a few others, including Geir Hundal from Tucson, have devised custom tools and methods to extract almost any type of old bolt and re-use the hole for replacement hardware. These guys’ ingenuity, skill, and commitment to re-use was frankly quite stunning. Oversize buttonheads, 1/2-inch sleeve bolts, beefy wedge bolts, you name it—all were pulled from the test blocks by these tenacious extractors (and even some notably unskilled volunteers) with their simple yet ingenious tools. The Access Fund hopes to make some of these tools available to LCOs—keep an eye on their website for progress on this initiative, or better yet, donate to the cause.
  • The UIAA is on the brink of releasing “materials standards” that will recommend that all bolts at outdoor climbing areas should be stainless steel or better. In a nutshell, what this means is that all zinc-plated bolt installations will suddenly be out of compliance with “best practice” standards. The online forums in the US will no doubt continue to rage about the technical pros and cons of stainless vs plated, but these discussions are now pretty much beside the point. Any land management agency looking for materials standards for climbing anchors has only the UIAA document to reference. Plated-steel climbing anchors must become a thing of the past.

Access Fund has made some videos and resources from the conference available online. Check them out.

April 20, 2016

Inside Scoop: Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree_R Tyler Gross

If you’re like most climbers, you pore over guidebooks for weeks or even months when planning a climbing trip. You educate yourself on routes, descents, gear, and camping. But what about the local ethics, issues, and challenges at your destination crag? Part of being a responsible climber is knowing how to tread lightly—both socially and environmentally. In the Inside Scoop series, we connect you with local climbing access leaders at some of the country’s top climbing destinations for valuable insight into local ethics and issues.

Destination: JOSHUA TREE, CA
Local expert: DAVE PYLMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FRIENDS OF JOSHUA TREE

What challenges does the Joshua Tree climbing community face?
Our proximity to large urban climber populations can make it difficult to keep traditional ethics in a national park environment.

How would you characterize the local ethics at Joshua Tree?
Since the 1970s, a trad ethic has prevailed at Joshua Tree, and locals have a minimalist attitude toward bolting. For example, if you can walk or scramble off a formation, don’t install rap rings or chain anchors. This is true even on popular formations throughout the park and may catch some climbers by surprise. Visitors are encouraged to embrace the adventure of climbing at Joshua Tree and respect the ethic to leave no trace.

Are there any threats to climbing access or any major access issues?
Not currently. A few years ago, some rogue climbers grid bolted and “enhanced” a crag called Underground Chasm, which sits in a designated Wilderness area within the park. There also were damaged trees and stashed gear. All of this was in violation of the park’s Wilderness climbing policies. The park service led an investigation into the violations, and for a while it looked like we could lose access. The Friends of Joshua Tree have worked for decades to establish a positive relationship with the park, and egregious Wilderness violations by a few rogue climbers almost jeopardized access to Joshua Tree Wilderness for all of us.

How is the relationship between climbers and land managers now?
Cooperation between climbers and land managers at Joshua Tree National Park is at an all-time high. We have an official memorandum of agreement that establishes a partnership with the park. We also host a regular climbers coffee with park staff, have donated a search and rescue vehicle to the park, and host the annual Climb Smart event to mitigate climber impacts. However, there are still awareness and perception gaps around regulations for Wilderness bolting, particularly from new climbers to the area.

What are the regulations for Wilderness bolting?
Fixed anchors may be replaced, anchor for anchor, in Wilderness. A permit is required to place new fixed anchors in Wilderness. All anchors in Wilderness must be placed with a hand drill. You can request a permit application by calling 760-367-5545. The Friends of Joshua Tree are currently working with the park on a new simplified permit process that will shorten the length of time from application to approval.

What’s the best way to dispose of human waste at Joshua Tree?
Use the vault toilets or pack it out in a bag system like RESTOP. Pretty simple. Desert soil does not biodegrade human waste, so it’s not appropriate to dig a cat hole.

What’s the camping situation in Joshua Tree?
The park has great camping. If you arrive midweek, you’ll usually be able to get a site, even during the peak season (October through May). If you arrive on a weekend, you’ll want a plan B—the dry lake bed north of Highway 62, Section 6, or Joshua Tree Lakes Campground are good options.

Any final words of wisdom for folks visiting Joshua Tree for the first time?
The ratings are a bit sandbagged. Stay on designated trails so that you don’t tread on cryptobiotic soils—they anchor plant life throughout the ecosystem. Look for wildlife in the early dawn and dusk hours, and don’t forget your camera!

How can people support Friends of Joshua Tree?
Many ways! Donate time, money, or both. Engage with us on social media and share content about climbing at Joshua Tree. You can connect with us at www.friendsofjosh.org.

Photo courtesy of ©R. Tyler Gross

April 05, 2016

Get to Know Public Land Agencies

As the public land heist heats up in Congress, we encourage climbers to get to know federal land management agencies and how they approach climbing management. After all, almost 60% of the peaks, crags, and boulders in this country on America’s public, federally managed lands. Each agency has a unique mission and a slightly different approach to managing climbing. All three agencies—National Park Service (NPS), US Forest Service (USFS), and Bureau of Land Management (BLM)—regard climbing as an appropriate activity on the condition that it does not substantially impact natural resources, cultural sites, traditional values, Wilderness character, and other users’ experiences. That said, none of these agencies have explicit, overarching, national-level guidelines for climbing management (with the exception of climbing in Wilderness). Each management area (e.g., Yosemite National Park) is responsible for developing regulations based on its staff’s interpretation of national policies, its agency’s mission, special designations, natural resource conditions, public input, and precedent.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.19.44 AMNATIONAL PARK SERVICE

Approximately 13% of climbing in America is on NPS land. The National Park Service’s mission is to preserve the parks for the enjoyment of future generations. The National Park Service is less centralized than the other federal land agencies. Each park unit acts relatively autonomously, with the park superintendent acting as the CEO. All national parks use the same planning handbook and management policy guidelines, but each park’s implementation style is unique. National parks typically celebrate climbing—visit the Grand Teton National Park visitor center to see a great climbing exhibit or attend a climber coffee at Yosemite, Joshua Tree, or Obed. However, climbing can also be heavily regulated to protect natural resources or Wilderness character. Try to hand-drill a much needed rappel bolt in North Cascades National Park Wilderness and you could end up with a hefty fine (we are working hard to change this policy).

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.21.23 AMUNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE

The USFS manages the most climbing, approximately 34%, of any land management agency. The USFS tries to balance the health, diversity, and productivity of its forests with recreation opportunities. The USFS acknowledges the economic and social benefits of outdoor recreation activities like climbing. While there are nearly 10,000 climbing sites on USFS land, only two national forests have standalone climbing management plans. This speaks to the agency’s relatively hands-off approach to climbing management. However, when necessary, the USFS can be quick to restrict climbing access and fixed anchors. For example, the USFS is the only agency to have banned fixed anchors in all its Wilderness areas—although, the ban only lasted a few months before pressure from climbers resulted in a reversal. There are many well-developed climbing areas in national forests that are not known to USFS district managers. Given the increasing popularity of climbing, Access Fund expects a marked increase in USFS climbing regulations and restrictions in the upcoming years as many national forests become aware of climbing areas and revise their forest management plans. Access Fund is involved in these revision processes to shape the future of USFS climbing management.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.21.11 AMBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

The Bureau of Land Management manages approximately 10% of America’s climbing. The BLM has a multiple-use mission and manages its 245 million acres for resource extraction, livestock grazing, recreation, and timber harvesting. The agency manages some of its vast expanses of remote land in the western U.S. for both developed and dispersed forms of recreation. For the most part, climbing is loosely regulated on BLM land, with the exception of designated Wilderness areas and Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs). Oddly, fixed anchors are generally allowed in Wilderness areas (some require authorization) but essentially prohibited in Wilderness Study Areas, which are areas being considered for a Wilderness designation.

All three land agencies generally manage climbing in designated Wilderness areas with tighter regulations in order to adhere to the Wilderness Act mandates for solitude, primitive recreation, and non-motorized tools. While these guidelines differ across the agencies, motorized drills and bolt-intensive climbing are generally prohibited in federally designated Wilderness areas.

March 30, 2016

THIS LAND IS OUR LAND: Climbing on Public Lands

Almost 60% of the peaks, crags, and boulders in this country are on America’s public, federally managed lands. These public lands are our birthright and are a cornerstone of the uniquely American climbing experience.

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Access Fund is deeply engaged in the legislative and administrative processes that determine our ability to access and climb on public lands. And right now a battle is underway in Congress over whether the federal government should continue to manage these lands for the public or hand them over to state governments, which could sell them to private entities. The federal government safeguards, manages, and protects our iconic landscapes for future generations. And while federal land agencies (U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management) are far from perfect when it comes to managing recreation and conserving natural resources, they steward our lands through public process. Twenty-five years of experience has shown us that climbers experience much greater uncertainty when attempting to maintain climbing access on land that is not federally managed.

Take a look at some of our most iconic climbing areas on federally managed public lands. While the debate in Congress is currently focused on public lands in the western United States, any federal land transfer legislation could set a dangerous precedent across the nation. Visit  www.protectourpubliclands.org for information on states that are considering federal land transfer legislation.

We also encourage climbers to get to know our public land agencies.

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*This list does not represent all special regulations for climbing in these areas. Always check online for a full list of climbing-related regulations or consult the local land manager.

Photo: Red Rocks, NV | © Merrick Ales