|Hyalite Canyon Ice Climbing Update, MT|
In February the Southwestern Montana Climbers Coalition http://montanaclimbers.org appealed a USFS decision in the Gallatin Travel Management Plan that significantly restricts ice climbing access in Hyalite Canyon.
The USFS decision would install a gate in lower Hyalite Canyon effectively turning what were day climbs into at least an overnight endeavor that most climbers wouldnt do, especially those without snowmobiles. The SMCC appeal, which seeks to eliminate the gate proposal and identify a long terms access solution, is supported by the backcountry skiing community, statewide politicians and community leaders, the motorized community, and basically every other interest group. Access Fund assistance in support of the SMCC included reviewing their USFS appeal, and assistance with lobbying strategy and Congressional meetings in both Montana and Washington, DC.
A recent resolution conference between the SMCC and USFS offered a 4-point proposal: (1) prioritize plowing on the Hyalite Road; (2) work with ice climbers and other groups to determine standards for when it would be appropriate to gate the road; (3) re-route a snowmobile alternative for accessing backcountry ice routes; and (4) hold off implementing the part of the travel plan affecting ice climbers until #2 and #3 are in place. As a result of this compromise proposal the SMCC agreed to not file for judicial review as long as the good faith conversations and negotiations are moving forward between climbers and the USFS. The SMCC will not, however, withdraw its appeal prior to an acceptable settlement.