The new Gallatin National Forest travel plan severely threatens access to the world-class ice climbing in Hyalite Canyon near Bozeman, Montana. Any climbers interested in this area can help by taking the short, secure survey posted on www.hyalitecanyon.com.
The adopted plan is slated to go into effect in 2008, and will close and gate the road between January 1 and May 15. This will severely restrict ice climbing access and effectively reduce a 5-month ice climbing season to six to eight weeks, depending on seasonal conditions.
This final plan, entitled 7M, is the culmination of more than four years of discussion, public comment periods, private meetings, letters to the editor, and ongoing debates and arguments among user groups.
7M designates the road beyond the gate for "family oriented cross-country skiing," and leaves ice climbers with two choices for access after December 31: a lengthy backcountry ski, or a circuitous, ungroomed, remote snowmobile route that experienced, local sled-heads call “advanced and difficult riding.”
The Southwest Montana Climbers Coalition (SMCC), the Access Fund, First Ascent Press and many other concerned individuals and businesses are currently working hard to explore the options to protect this climbing access.
These groups may need to launch an administrative appeal to the Forest Service, and need more statistics on ice climbing use in Hyalite Canyon. The more climbers take this survey, the more accurate and effective the data will be.