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AAC Policy Positions

Adopted by the AAC board, October 9, 2009

Fixed Anchors in Wilderness

Read about the Club's advocacy efforts regarding climbing policies in Wilderness on Inclined, the AAC Blog.

The Wilderness climbing experience is unique, providing opportunities for solitude and unconfined recreation. Climbing and the use of fixed anchors is a historical use of Wilderness that is compatible with the Wilderness Act. Fixed anchors are necessary for safe Wilderness climbing when descending from a summit, ascending a route when no other anchors are available, and to respond to an emergency. Fixed anchors are also resource protection tools which can minimize climbing impacts. The American Alpine Club supports the following:

  • Some level of fixed anchor use must be allowed wherever climbing is allowed. The appropriate level of use should be established on an area-by-area basis.
  • The use of fixed anchors, if properly managed, will not degrade Wilderness resources and values. We support the ban on power drills in Wilderness and actively promote the concept that bolts are a “tool of last resort.”
  • Consistent with local management plans, climbers should bear the responsibility for determining when and where to place safety anchors.
  • We oppose moratoriums on fixed anchor placements pending the establishment of new authorization processes. Climbers should be allowed to place and replace fixed anchors until management processes to authorize fixed anchors are established.
  • We support the establishment of a national formal policy that governs the management of fixed anchors in Wilderness.

Climbing and Cliff-Nesting Raptors

DSCF3043.jpegClimbers and raptors sometimes share the same cliffs. Land managers are legally obligated to protect the nesting sites of threatened or endangered raptors. The American Alpine Club supports reasonable climbing closures to protect raptor habitat and the timely removal of those restrictions if raptors fail to nest. We provide access to the country’s most comprehensive list of raptor restrictions to inform the climbing community. However, some restrictions are inconsistently applied, are not supported by best available science, or lack adequate legal justification resulting in unreasonable public land closures.

The American Alpine Club believes the following:

  • Climbers should respect restrictions to protect nesting raptors. Climbers have a good record of supporting raptor restrictions. Continued compliance is critical in developing and maintaining good relations with resource managers.
  • It is the responsibility of all climbers to stay informed of closures.
  • In areas where climbing is unreasonably restricted, land manages should be challenged so that closures are consistently enforced, designed through best management practices, and supported by applicable laws and policies.

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 American Alpine Club believes the following:

  • 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.
  • The unit that collects recreation fees should retain them, allowing visitors to see their dollars at work.