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Guided Climbing Threatened in our National Parks

Engaged in Climbing
September 24, 2011
Moab rock climbing; a year-round affair!
December 3, 2011

In their October newletter, the AMGA highlights some of the issues (and what we as a climbing community can do about them), revolving around the attempt by the National Park Service to ban commercial guiding in The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.  In addition to The Black, the NPS is also attempting to reduce by almost 40% the amount of commercial guiding on Denali.

Essentially, the National Park Service is placing the rights of the independent climber ABOVE the rights of those who would choose to hire the services of a professional guide.  In our view, both user groups should be afforded equal treatment and rights by the National Park Service, Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management.

Please take the time to read further and find out what you can do about it!

Comments due for The Black Canyon NP on October 27.

Comments due for Denali NP on October 31.

National Parks Access Threatened – Important Call to Action!

**************Comments DUE Saturday, 10/27********************

We are deeply concerned about the current threat to guiding access in our country’s National Park System. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park wants to completely ban guided climbing, which has a 50-year history in this unique climbing venue. This proposed ban does not only impact this incredible park in Colorado. This is a national threat, which could set a debilitating precedent for guided climbing in National Parks across the country. If you care about preserving wilderness guided climbing access in venues such as Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Rocky Mountain National Park, New River Gorge and other important guiding venues, please read on.

The Black Canyon Backcountry Management Plan wants to ban guiding because “guided climbing does not support the goal for the inner canyon zone of providing a visitor experience that is challenging, self-reliant, and adventurous.” The NPS is making an uncanny argument for why guided climbing is no longer necessary in the Park. Your clients, friends and fellow climbers (who are not guides) need to submit comments to the Park. We have been told that the Park has already heard from guides, and what they really need are comments from the general public and clients.

What can you do now?

1. Email your client list, friends and fellow climbers today urging them to submit a comment by Oct. 27th. Use Facebook, your website, blog and any other communication vehicles to get the word out to your clients.

2. See below for a sample email to your clients, friends and fellow climbers.

It’s in all of our interests to raise awareness and take action on this important issue today. The deadline for comments is Thursday, October 27th. Thank you for supporting the future of the profession in the U.S.

For more information, visit


The National Park Service wants to ban guided climbing and prohibit members of the public from being able to climb with a professional guide in one of our country’s most adventurous wilderness climbing areas. This is a national threat, which could set a debilitating precedent for guided climbing access in National Parks across the country. We are requesting your urgent support to help preserve guided climbing access in the Black Canyon as well as in other National Parks the U.S.

Here is how you can help:

Send an email to [email protected] today using the talking points below. Our goal is to have 500 people (who are not guides) contact Ken Stahlnecker opposing the Park’s plan to ban guided climbing in the Black Canyon and urging the Park to preserve guiding climbing access in this unique venue.

Dear Ken Stahlnecker,
Chief, Resource Stewardship and Science
National Park Service,
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

I am writing to urge you to keep guided climbing access available to the American public. Along with Yosemite National Park and Red Rocks National Conservation Area, the Black Canyon is one of only a few climbing venues in the country offering big wall climbing opportunities. There is often a scarcity of willing and adequate climbing partners to tackle the bold and remote terrain of the Black. Because climbing requires a team of two unless one is free soloing, my options for experiencing this unique wilderness area will be substantially reduced or eliminated altogether if guided climbing is banned in the Inner Canyon Zone.

Having the option to climb with a professional guide is necessary for me to be able to experience the vertical wilderness in the Black Canyon. Partnering with a professional guide will enhance my opportunity for an experience of adventure, challenge and self-reliance. I see no difference between climbing with a professional guide and climbing with a non-guide partner who happens to be stronger or more experienced than me. It is not uncommon for climbing partners to be of varying levels of experience. Climbing successfully in the Black always requires the self-reliance, commitment and personal fortitude of both climbing partners regardless of their varying experience levels.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide my opinion on this important matter.