You are here

Lake Mead National Recreation Area Mulling Climbing Options In Wilderness Areas


Three public meetings have been scheduled for next week to discuss preliminary alternatives and climbing management options for wilderness areas at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

The meetings will be held from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. at the following locations:

March 18, Mohave Community College, Room 2, 3400 Arizona 95, Bullhead City, Ariz.

March 19, Boulder City Library, 701 Adams Blvd., Boulder City, Nev.

March 21, James Gibson Library, 100 W Lake Mead Pkwy., Henderson, Nev.

The National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management revised the wilderness management plan / environmental impact statement to address concerns expressed by American Indian tribes and climbers regarding the use of the Spirit Mountain and Bridge Canyon wilderness areas.

Under alternative A, no action would be taken. The agencies would continue to provide minimal management of the eight wilderness areas as has been the case since the wilderness areas were established in 2002. The agencies would not change access to or within the wilderness areas and dispersed access would continue.

Under alternative B, improved access and additional day and overnight use opportunities would be available at most of the wilderness areas, particularly Bridge Canyon, Spirit Mountain and Pinto Valley, and about 25 miles of routes would be designated in wilderness areas.

Under alternative C, new trailheads would be established at several wilderness boundaries; about 44 miles of routes would be designated in wilderness areas. Dispersed use would continue to be encouraged, while the establishment of maintenance of official routes would concentrate use in some areas.

In both alternatives B and C, resource management would primarily focus on restoration of disturbed areas, long-term inventory and monitoring, and mitigation of disturbances by people where appropriate.

Also under consideration are climbing management options, such as using removable anchors; prohibiting new, intensively bolted routes; prohibiting power drills and applying setbacks from cultural resources.

The document will be available at all meetings and is available for review online at this site. Comments may be submitted via the website. Written comments should be mailed to Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Wilderness Management Plan, National Park Service, Denver Service Center, c/o Greg Jarvis, P.O. Box 25287, Denver, Colo. 80225. Comments must be received by April 12, 2013.


Rock climbers were fighting off an effort in 1997 to ban rock climbing in Wilderness that involved fixed anchors. One hopes they succeeded. Reading the testimony from a member of the rock-climbing advocacy group The Access Fund, one realizes that we mountain bikers are not alone in facing continual efforts to impose or maintain absurd restrictions on human-powered travel in Wilderness. See pages 210-216 of this document:

But on the other hand, permanent fixed anchors on popular routes may leave such a collection of scrap metal that the route is seriously defaced. Even within the climbing community there is considerable disagreement on the subject. Many climbers believe that fixed anchors make routes too easy and are just for climbers who are not skilled enough to prepare routes for themselves.

Note that this hearing record is from 1997. A lot has changed since then. NPS climbing policies are generally pretty relaxed. Here are a couple of links that might help.

Climbing and other use restrictions for Arches:

And here is a page containing links to climbing and other use regulations in most parks regarding use of fixed bolts and other uses:

"Also under consideration are climbing management options, such as using removable anchors; prohibiting new, intensively bolted routes; prohibiting power drills and applying setbacks from cultural resources."
(Bolting is a substitute for climbing, ...jus'sayin')

Climb Clean! Climb Free! Preserve The Vertical Wilderness!

How many here have ever placed a piton, nut, chock, hex and/or cam?

So a disappearing reservoir for beer-swilling powerboaters has designated Wilderness, but "crown jewels" like Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon have none? That is truly LAME.

The climbing concessions here at Mount Rainier are allowed to fix ladders across crevasses, but then, this is a 'wilderness' where the use of chainsaws and helicopters is commonplace.

"This confusing duplicity is nothing new. The National Park Service (NPS) did not support the inclusion of national parks in the Wilderness System when the Act was signed in 1964 and the agency has never demonstrated a commitment to the Act. NPS Historian Richard Sellers has written: "Although many of the National Park Service’s rank and file enthusiastically supported the wilderness bill, the bureau’s leadership seems to have drifted from outright opposition to reluctant neutrality." The NPS has made this shift by conveniently writing inordinate flexibility into its management standards."

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide