BLM's Climbing Program
Public lands managed by the BLM provide some of the finest recreational climbing opportunities in the US. Some sort of climbing – sport climbing, traditional climbing, bouldering, mountaineering or canyoneering, occurs in most of BLM’s field offices. A few BLM climbing areas have gained national or even international reputations, including Red Rocks National Conservation Area
near Las Vegas NV, Indian Creek
in Monticello Field Office, Utah, and the Tableland Bouldering area
in the Bishop Field Office, CA. For information about other climbing opportunities on public lands, contact the local BLM office.
Know Your Climbing Area
What are the regulations and the ethical practices of the area you plan to climb? The answers should be part of anyone's pre-climb research. Some of the questions you should ask yourself include:
Where is the access? Is there a designated trail to the climbing area? Is it on public or private land? Where can I park my car? Get information from the local BLM office, guidebooks, online sources, the local climbing shops or your climbing buddies.
What is the color of the rock? Climbers are just one user of an area, and we want to consider our visual impact. The color of the area's rock will influence what color chalk we use, as unsightly chalk marks detract from the visual experience of the next user. Since climbing areas are often highly visible to others, rock color will also influence what color clothing we wear and even what color of rope we use.
What is the site's climbing ethic? Research whether or not there are site-specific guidelines about climbing free, using removable protection or leaving marks on rocks.
Are there seasonal wildlife closures? Some climbing areas are closed periodically to protect nesting birds or other local wildlife. Find this out BEFORE you've driven to the site.
What about vegetation? Climbing activity has an impact on the plants and soils at the bottom and top of a climb, as well as on cliff-dwelling plants. The Access Fund identifies 6 zones impacted by a typical climb. Some areas have highly sensitive vegetation, while others have fewer concerns. Climbers should minimize their impact on vegetation at all times, but be aware of site-specific issues as well.
BLM maintains a strong partnership with the Access Fund, a non-profit advocacy group that works with federal, state and local officials; local climbing organizations; and land managers to develop and guide climbing management policies for public and private lands. The Access Fund hosts two excellent websites: www.accessfund.org , a general resource for climbers, and www.climbingmanagement.org a site now in development that will provide good information for organizations that manage climbing.