Access Fund Stance

Credit Photo Courtesy of:
© Irene Yee

Irresponsible climbing

From time to time climbers have debated, sometimes publicly, the removal of fixed anchors on climbing routes ("chopping"), and the creation or enhancement of holds ("chipping"). The Access Fund makes this statement to clarify its position on these issues.

Placing Bolts
The Access Fund recognizes that bolt safety anchors have been used as climbing protection for over sixty years, and believes that bolts should generally be allowed where climbing is permitted. However, the Access Fund recognizes that the use of bolts may impact the natural resource. Collectively such impacts may have a significant effect on natural or social values. For this reason the Access Fund strongly encourages climbers to place bolts discreetly and in a manner appropriate to local climbing tradition. The Access Fund opposes climbers placing bolts in violation of law.

Removing Bolts
The Access Fund believes that once bolts have been placed they should not be removed unless there is compelling evidence that the bolts in question have caused or will cause adverse impacts to natural resource values or will threaten access. Removing bolts often results in significant damage to the climbing resource and can be dangerous. The Access Fund opposes individual climbers taking unilateral action on bolt removal without the support of a majority of the local climbing community or a directive from a land agency.

Manufacturing Holds
The Access Fund opposes intentional alteration of the rock by gluing or chipping for the purpose of creating or enhancing holds. We believe such actions degrade the climbing resource, eliminate challenges for future generations of climbers, and threaten access.

Climber-to-Climber Disputes
In disputes over bolting, chipping, and gluing the Access Fund advocates a balance between climbing opportunities and protection of natural, cultural, and philosophical values associated with the outdoors. Climbers should address differences of opinion about where and to what extent bolts should be placed among themselves, rather than encouraging or expecting land managers or politicians to resolve those differences through law or public policy.

Recreation fees

Land managers commonly use recreation fees to pay for public land infrastructure and services. However, recreation fees are often unfair, arbitrary, and inconsistently applied. Recreation fees may unfairly target recreational users who desire no administrative support and whose use has negligible impacts on public lands. Fees charged to backcountry users may not benefit the backcountry, but instead pay for front-country facilities such as visitor centers, campgrounds, and picnic areas.
The Access Fund believes that:

  • Recreation fees on public lands are appropriate in some situations, such as where services are provided or agency budgets are substantially burdened by recreational users.
  • We oppose charging recreation fees for access to backcountry sites where administrative support is neither required nor desired by recreational users, and where recreation impacts do not significantly impact agency budgets or degrade the environment.

Climbing and Cultural Resources

The Access Fund advocates for land management policies that support climbing access and conservation on public lands. We support the protection of cultural resources and Native American heritage, and recognize that public land managers must balance recreational access with resource protection which sometimes may include restrictions to protect cultural resource values.

The Access Fund supports management decisions based on a thorough understanding of public use patterns and their effects on known and identifiable cultural resources. The use of baseline data and public involvement (with due regard to the protection of confidential tribal information) is critical to making informed management decisions that protect these resources and allow public access.