National Park Service Authorizes Fixed Anchors in Wilderness


5/17/13 - The National Park Service has released a decision regarding fixed anchors in Wilderness. The policy, called Director's Order #41, manages the use of fixed anchors in wilderness areas, including in major climbing areas like Yosemite, Grand Teton, Zion, Joshua Tree, and Canyonlands national parks.

The Access Fund released a statement: "The NPS included many of the specific provisions Access Fund advocated for during our 20+ years of work on this issue, such as programmatic authorizations (which allow new bolts by zone, not just case-by-case permitting for individual routes/bolts) and interim fixed anchor permitting prior to the establishment of dedicated climbing management plans. We are still analyzing the new policy, but first impressions are that this direction is good for both wilderness climbers and NPS managers... Stay tuned for more in-depth analysis in the near future."

A copy of the new policy is available for viewing here.

In Climbing's March issue (no. 313), Jeff Achey wrote about the history of this controversial policy, which dates back to 1964, when Congress passed the Wilderness Act to protect about 110 million acres in the country. In 1988, Arizona briefly banned bolts, which led to the U.S. Forest Service to intervene to study the issue in 1990. Eight years later, the Forest Service expanded the ban, and since, negotiations have amounted to little conclusions about where fixed bolts are acceptable. Read the comprehensive and fascinating account here.