Save Fixed Anchors in Wilderness
Warning; we are going to ask you for 10-20 minutes of your time with this important post. It is a brainfull, but your participation is paramount to keeping climbing as we know it.
This month, the National Park Service and National Forest Service have issued national draft climbing management guidance for public input that essentially prohibits fixed anchors (bolts, bail slings, pitons, fixed gear) in Wilderness Areas and wraps non-wilderness climbing management in unnecessary red tape. Your feedback is needed today via the NPS and USFS comment portals. This proposed language would affect every Wilderness climbing area across the country. For us in North Carolina, fixed anchors in Linville Gorge Wilderness Areas like Short Off, NC Wall, the Amphitheatre, Hawksbill, and much more will be on the chopping block. If this language is enacted, all bolts in these areas will be deemed as prohibited “installations” overnight.
The proposed fixed anchor language for non-wilderness Forest Service areas also will cause unnecessary confusion and burden local land managers with nuanced reviews of climbing areas. The National Forest already has the tools and great partners they need to manage climbing areas on their land, and this new proposed language surrounding fixed anchors will only confuse collaboration and management. NC non-wilderness areas affected include Whiteside, Looking Glass, Cedar Rock, Big Green, Table Rock, The Dump, and dozens of our most beloved crags between.
We want to clarify that we are not advocating for new sport routes in Wilderness areas, nor do we seek to add fixed anchors where removable protection is possible. But there are times when fixed anchors are essential for safety. Tens of thousands of climbers, including recreational climbers, guide services, military, church groups, and summer camps, rely on fixed anchors each year. We must change this proposed national language before it becomes law and threatens our ability to responsibly place and replace fixed anchors.
Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests released their 20 year Forest Plan this past year. Access Fund and CCC worked on to influence this Forest Plan for over a decade with dozens of partners, ensuring that climbing management was reasonable and sustainable for our National Forest and Wilderness Areas. If you submitted comments on this, thank you! Our local leaders within the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests have been great to work with and have aided our on-the-ground stewardship work in many ways. Our regional partnerships with the National Forests are strong and we do not see that changing. This newly proposed and unprecedented national guidance throws a wrench in our ability to manage local climbing areas, due to its new classification of fixed anchors as prohibited installations.
For a deep-dive 1 hour webinar recording with the Access Fund and American Alpine Club, watch here.
To submit your feedback, please use the Access Fund action alert tool here. Deadline is Jan 30. It will take a few minutes of your time, but is much needed: https://www.accessfund.org/action-alerts/stop-the-bolt-prohibition