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Road cut ice - legality
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By Gokul
Jan 20, 2014
At the "summit"

I feel like I've asked this question before but couldn't find the post, so here goes:

Can anyone confirm or deny the legality of climbing ice that forms on road-cuts off a highway? I think it's legal, from past experience and a foggy recollection of some discussion on the matter. Is there some state or local law or other case-law that settles the question? Are there any limitations (narrow shoulder, for instance?). Any information is helpful.

There's a handful of moderately tall (by midwest standards) road-cuts scattered around Southern Wisconsin have have some nice lines on them right now.


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By DoesNotCare
From Heaven
Jan 20, 2014
Are you Chicken, or fishy?

I can think one way to find out!

Maybe you can get some orange helmets and coveralls that say MidWest Department of Transit to wear while climbing, then the cops will think you are working for the man???


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By Peter Jackson
From Rumney, NH
Jan 20, 2014
Just in case the two big belay anchors aren't obvious enough for you, here is where to find the belay station.

Where I live, it's generally illegal, with a couple of exceptions.

If you want to know for sure, ask a State Trooper.


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By D.Buffum
Jan 20, 2014
Orgasm Direct, Devil's Lake, 5.11a  c. 2008

All uses of the words "shoulder" and "highway" in the Wisconsin Statutes:

docs.legis.wi.gov/search/results?q=highway+shoulder&filter=d>>>

All uses of the words "shoulder" and "highway" in the Wisconsin Administrative Code:

docs.legis.wi.gov/search/results?q=shoulder+highway&filter=d>>>

Have fun!


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By george wilkey
From travelers rest sc
Jan 20, 2014
me

the legality depends on your local highway dept. they own the right of way and therefore have the ability to determine what is and is not allowed there. you can talk to them and after getting passed around to five different people they will tell you its not allowed. whether or not they enforce it is another story.

the best thing to do is go climb and see if anyone stops you. prob only get a warning the first time anyway.


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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Jan 20, 2014
Bocan

It's usually illegal on highways due to the fact that it's either a distraction to drivers or of course a danger to you being parked on the side of the road.

CO will even have signs that say "no stopping or climbing".


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By Steve Williams
From Denver, CO
Jan 20, 2014

I don't know if it was illegal then, but I did climb
some road cut ice in Pennsylvania back in 1975 or so. . .


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By Trav W.
Jan 20, 2014

I know down here in North Carolina road cut ice is the most popular due to its accessibility. Those road either have a large shoulder (Winding Stair Gap), little traffic (highway 215), or are on closed roads (ie Blue Ridge Parkway).


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By Woodchuck ATC
Jan 20, 2014
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008

Everything fun outdoors in winter is illegal in Illinos, so I'd forget it if that's where you saw the ice. Same goes really for most road cuts that look good for rock climbing too. I'm sure the reason for both is: 1)danger of you knocking down rock or ice that could hit traffic..and 2) you are a distractiont to drivers (and could cause an accident as they illegally take pics and text while driving). Can't win around here. IF it is on some back road, not a highway, away from view and traffic, you might have a better chance of giving it a try. AND if it's worth the climb, POST up Pics here of your victory.


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By Gokul
Jan 20, 2014
At the "summit"

The stuff I'm talking about is quite a ways back from the shoulder, and there's no way falling ice can get on the pavement. We climbed at dusk today, in fading light, and rapped off in the dark. But there's more of it nearby and it would be nice to get on it without having to wait for the cover of darkness. Also, I think the billboard near the exit is a bigger distraction than some climbers on the road-cut, but that's only an uneducated guess. Didn't need to park on the shoulder either; the ice is only about a half mile from an exit.

It was a little too dark for pictures - I'll get some when I go back in better light.


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By Woodchuck ATC
Jan 20, 2014
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008

Partially hidden and night time climbs under headlamps? Sounds like you got most of your problems already taken care of! Go for it!!


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By Blake Cazier
From duluth MN
Jan 21, 2014

a few roadside on HWY 61 northshore have been climbed afterdark - illegal


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By mark felber
From Frisco, CO,USA
Jan 21, 2014

I've seen one road cut with a "no parking or climbing" sign next to it here in Colorado (I-70 eastbound, just west of Georgetown). The shoulder is rather narrow in that spot, and the belayer would have to stand on the paved shoulder, where a texting driver could take him out in a heartbeat. Any rockfall or icefall could very easily end up in the travel lane. A few miles east of there (just west of Idaho Springs, north side of the highway) is an ice flow that is just as visible to traffic as the first one, but it's just far enough off the road that there's no possibility of rockfall or icefall landing on the roadway. No signs here, and I've seen climbers on it at least twice. I'm pretty sure CDOT would put up "no climbing" signs there if they could, but they haven't. So I'm guessing that, as long as you're not parking, climbing or belaying on the right of way for that road, there's not much the highway department or the police can do.

You could always call whichever law enforcement agency has jurisdiction over that road (state police, county sheriff, etc.), and ask them about the legality of climbing on roadcuts. Try not to be too specific about the location, though, just in case they want to put up "no climbing" signs.


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By akafaultline
Jan 21, 2014

up here in alaska, some of the easiest (the easiest) approaches are right by the road-on the shoulder. Some of the climbs are are literally nearly a arms length to the road. Literally 5 second approach on some of the climbs. Ive had police drive by me without saying a word. Some of the climbs are owned by the railroad too.


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By Doug Hemken
Administrator
Jan 22, 2014
On Everleigh Club Crack.  Photo by Burt Lindquist.

Looking through the Admin Code, I don't see where it is disallowed. You should scan through the Statutes. If hunters and berry-pickers are allowed to cross the areas beyond the shoulders, ice climbers should be no problem.

The only explicit exclusion on state land that I am aware of is state natural areas.

Note there is something in the Admin Code that suggests roadway "islands" are restricted. Not totally sure how that's defined.


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By JohnnyG
Jan 22, 2014

Oh, I've been busted for it. On Rt 89 in NH. I was soloing around on some shorter ice flows in a mild snowstorm. Snowplow driver sees my pack, stops, picks it up and starts walking back to the truck.

"Hey," I yell at him. He stops, looks around, and keeps walking.

"Hey, that's my pack." He looks around again. But doesn't see me because I'm 20 feet up the ice. He's baffled, but resumes walking.

"Hey, I'm up here, on the ice. That's my pack." Then he notices me. Says something like what the f are doing up there, you can't be there. Drops my pack and drives off.

I climb down, grab my pack, and head back to my car, a few hundred yards down the highway. Just as I'm about to jump over the guardrail back to my car, a trooper pulls up.

"You the guy who's been climbing the ice?"

"Yes."

"Get in." Then he really lays into me, going on about what if he had to call my parents about me being hit by a car or a plow on the interstate and all. Obviously he had some baggage. (I don't envy his job). No ticket for me. But a pretty stiff verbal warning.


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By JohnnyG
Jan 22, 2014

I've also gotten away with it. Climbed a ~100' flow on Rt 89 in the middle of the day, midweek. Again on Rt 89.

It's one of the nicest lines in NH.


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By D.Buffum
Jan 25, 2014
Orgasm Direct, Devil's Lake, 5.11a  c. 2008

Gokul, the ice is in this year. Why not just come to Wyalusing with us tomorrow, and forget these silly road cuts?


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By Gokul
Jan 25, 2014
At the "summit"

I'm working half-day tomorrow, but Wyalusing is in the plans for next weekend.


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By robrobrobrob
Jan 26, 2014

Back when I live in Pennsylvania ice was at a premium, and we felt some road cut ice was in play. Specifically a road cut south of York/Lancaster. It was pretty far back from the road, and not much chance of being hit by drivers or dropping ice to the travel lanes. We never got busted despite seeing several police type vehicles.

I think my best day there was a Sunday, we were practicing making anchors for the second pitch, when some buggys crest the hill. The first bunch of buggys go by and we figure church must have gotten out. Maybe 5 minutes later a buggy crests the hill and they are absolutely BLASTING Mettalica. They pull up at the bottom of our climb and 4 teen boys get out and ask what we are doing. We talk back and forth a bit, they really want to give ice climbing a try.... But they need to get home before their parents come by, if we are here on a week day can they jump on rope with us. We said sure , and they jump back into the buggy and head down the road.... Trailing smoke because they were hot boxing the thing. They stop again and one kid jumps out and says "if our parents stop... Don't tell then about the music!"

About 5 min later another buggy came by... But they didn't stop.


Road cut climbing can be a cultiural experience.


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By Woodchuck ATC
Jan 26, 2014
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008

Not just roadcuts...watch for neighborhood opportunities too! Wicked cold here in midwest right now. Years ago, we had a water pipe in school garden burst and spray water up in the air onto a building over a whole weekend. When I got to school on Monday, I found a total 12 ft. high ice climb against the brick and windows of my classroom....So next day I came in an hour early and brought my tools, and scaled the ice without being caught by the principal. A first and only ascent. Another building I saw down the street that year had an overflow downspout and gutter system that left a 2 story ice tower in place, about 5 ft wide. Wanted to get on that one too, but it was too visible to public and highway view.
Massive fire in Chicago a couple years ago in deep cold, and fire dept. spraying down fire left huge ice formations by next morning over a 4 story skeleton of a building. Sneaking in and trying an ascent would have been awesome,,,but knowing Chicago police it probably meant a severe beating, having your tools taken away, and a few nights in county jail where you would have met your new 'boyfriend' within the first hour.


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By Juggler
Jan 27, 2014
Ice at SR

D.Buffum wrote:
Gokul, the ice is in this year. Why not just come to Wyalusing with us tomorrow, and forget these silly road cuts?



We were just there and did not see you..... you don't mean Mi Ice Fest wknd????


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By Warbonnet
From Utah and Cambodia
Jan 27, 2014
FA "Unfinished Business" 5.11cR Wind River range, Wyoming. Beta photo in this album

My buddies and I, climbing within 100 feet of the road, were issued a citation by a State trooper for "disturbing the peace" because several motorists had pulled over in a turnout no less (not even the curb side) to watch. When we went to court, the judge oohed and awed over the photos that our friend had taken and dismissed the case, admonishing the trooper to "get back to less dangerous & less exhilarating activities" (something like that). But the lesson was learned: if a trooper wants to find a reason to bust you, he/she will (usually; some are very cool men/women).

I think most States have a great deal of latitude when it comes to the definition of "State Property" or "State Rights of Way". I think climbers are on the losing end of circumstances if the issue is forced.


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By Warbonnet
From Utah and Cambodia
Jan 27, 2014
FA "Unfinished Business" 5.11cR Wind River range, Wyoming. Beta photo in this album

I think the other risk taken is whether the property is on private v. public land. Our experience is that the private property owners (unless in agreement with TAF) tend to be more uppity (rightly or wrongly) due to fears of liability.


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By Greg D
From Here
Jan 28, 2014
Out of the blue.  Photo by Mike W. <br />

Warbonnet wrote:
But the lesson was learned: if a trooper wants to find a reason to bust you, he/she will (usually; some are very cool men/women).


No, you didn't learn the lesson. Certainly, there is an astonishing amount of law, statutes and regulations that a policeman may try to invoke. But, if they wrote you a citation that the judge found unenforceable for some reason, then you weren't actually breaking any law. Hello!

Btw, they are very cool because this is part of their training. It makes it easier for people to accept their offers and cooperate.

Warbonnet wrote:
I think most States have a great deal of latitude when it comes to the definition of "State Property" or "State Rights of Way". I think climbers are on the losing end of circumstances if the issue is forced.


States don't have any latitude here. The property lines are defined. Stand up for yourself. The police are not here to protect you.

The only rights you have are the rights you know you have and are willing to protect.


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By D.Buffum
Jan 28, 2014
Orgasm Direct, Devil's Lake, 5.11a  c. 2008

Juggler wrote:
We were just there and did not see you..... you don't mean Mi Ice Fest wknd????


We changed plans and went to Devil's Nose. Poor choice, it turns out, since there's no ice in at Devil's Nose right now.


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