Rangers worry that the gym-to-outside transition for climbers is threatening the ecology of parks.
Maybe the elevation is going to their heads, but the Associated Press reports that some rock climbers aren’t being so kind to the terrain they’re scaling, and are leaving litter scattered all over Yosemite National Park.
The increasingly popular sport is attracting climbers to parks all over the country in droves, but the impact of those pilgrimages has become obvious, if not obnoxious. According to writer Garance Burke, volunteers picked up more than 900 pounds of abandoned ropes, toilet paper, and wrappers in Yosemite this past September.
Longtime climbers speculate that it’s the influx of novices heading to the park. There have been reported thefts and even people drilling into the rocks with power drills. The AP reports:
“There are lots of people out cruising around the woods looking for really fun boulders to climb on,” said Phil Powers, executive director of the Golden, Colorado-based American Alpine Club. “But one of the biggest concerns that we have is that gym-to-outside transition.”
Problems are also cropping up in California’s Joshua Tree National Park, where rangers have found boulders covered in holes and stakes, and in Arches National Park in Utah, which banned slacklining last year and no longer permits climbing on any arch named on a topographical map of the park.
Some parks are looking to work with climbers to find a balance (no pun intended). In the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, officials have proposed putting a ten-year cap on the number of anchors and bolts put in the rock face, to discourage novice climbers from drilling in their gear. And in Yosemite, rangers are working with eco-friendly climbers to rebuild trails and remove garbage, and offering Sunday morning meetings about responsible climbing and “leave no trace” ideals.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Our take—respect the earth you’re treading on. In fact, leave the area better than you found it. A huge aspect of climbing is connecting with nature…and if you’re destroying that, you’re ruining both a sport and our Mother Earth for the future generations to come.
What’s your take? Let us know in the comments.