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BWCAW Ethics
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Dec 24, 2013
I thought I'd throw this out there since I'm seeing more people interested in climbing in the BWCA on MP. I love the BWCA (hell, I use it in my MP user name) and would hate to see damage done by climbers that would take decades if not centuries to undo. Due to the very fragile ecosystem and short growing season it takes a LONG time for lichen, trees, fish...everything, to recoup any loses. What I'm wondering is if the climbing community can establish some voluntary rules to climbing in the BWCA, similar to how people avoid Devil's Tower at certain times of the year and stay away from routes due to raptor nesting.

My vote is for the following: No chalk, no bolts and no cleaning. Maybe this seems harsh, but I really believe it is necessary for the long term enjoyment of an amazing area. If you want to climb, climb it dirty and try not to do any damage. Maybe it'll raise the difficulty on a few climbs, but why not?

Thoughts? Additions? Disagreements?
bwcasnap
From Minneapolis, MN
Joined Nov 12, 2012
6 points
Dec 25, 2013
the frozen topout during a winter ascent
What is BWCA?

Edit: Nevermind. Always google first, then ask if you still can't find out.
Nick Zmyewski
From Newark, Delaware
Joined Jun 2, 2011
132 points
Dec 25, 2013
Picacho
How are we gonna be able to find the routes then? Especially in the blizzard? saguaro sandy
Joined Oct 12, 2013
140 points
Administrator
Dec 25, 2013
This problem haunted my dreams for 6 years after f...
I have looked and have not ever found where climbing is prohibited in the BWCA. Let's keep it that way. My thoughts on the matter here:

mountainproject.com/v/bcs-wild...
Chris treggE
From Madison, WI
Joined May 25, 2007
9,229 points
Dec 25, 2013
the man was smart
xmas ethics day

bwcasnap, did you think bringing this to international attention would help?
T Roper
From VA,NM,UT,CT,MA
Joined Mar 31, 2006
1,057 points
Dec 25, 2013
Chris treggE wrote:
I have looked and have not ever found where climbing is prohibited in the BWCA. Let's keep it that way. My thoughts on the matter here: mountainproject.com/v/bcs-wild...


Yes, I agree. I don't think it needs to be prohibited. Very minimal impact is what I'm after. It seems from your link above you agree.

MJ, did I or do I? I don't understand.
bwcasnap
From Minneapolis, MN
Joined Nov 12, 2012
6 points
Dec 25, 2013
I live in Ely, so know this area. The ethics you're proposing are standard practice up here, meaning all over the North Shore including Section 13, Carlton, Shovel Point and Palisade. When Outward Bound used to bring students to climbing sites in the BWCAW, no chalk-no bolts-no cleaning was the rule. Since my husband used to be a Rock Tech for OB up here, he knows where all those sites were/are. Trust me, you'd never know they'd been touched. The trails have grown back, the lichen is healthy; all is well.

Furthermore, as you know, no climbing area in the BW is easily accessible. Lugging climbing gear in to any place is going to require a whole extra pack in the canoe, which also means carrying it across every portage.

And since there are no established climbing areas (except BC's Wilderness Challenge), would-be climbers are necessarily exploring with the very real possibility of coming up empty after expending a lot of effort. BC's is at one very far-flung end of the BWCAW.

Lastly, every agency that issues a permit up here (the Forest Service and about 2 dozen outfitters) is required to show a Leave No Trace video to every single person who buys said permit. It doesn't mention climbing, but does talk about not disturbing vegetation including lichen, rocks, etc. The connections are mutton-headedly obvious.

The additional difficulties imposed on climbers by "climbing dirty" are the things that make climbing an Adventure. If somebody doesn't care to deal with those situations, there are plenty of established, easily accessible climbing areas out there.
flynn
Joined Feb 9, 2002
86 points


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