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Cave Rock open for rock climbers

Greg Risling

A precarious matter over scaling Cave Rock has left avid rock climbers dangling for several months wondering when they can return to the granite slab.

The U.S. Forest Service announced Friday that “technical” rock climbing at Cave Rock will be allowed only by using existing fixed anchors.

Rock climbers are prohibited from installing new anchors in the Cave Rock area. The new forest order, effective immediately, supersedes the February decision barring the use of rock climbing equipment.

The Forest Service closed the popular rock climbing destination earlier this year after Washoe Tribe members said the area – which they claim to be a spiritual gift – is sacred to them and should be preserved. Tribe representatives said that rock climbing equipment pounded into the rock’s face contributes to the collective destruction of the site. Rock climbers rebutted the tribe’s defense by saying that trash and graffiti were at the rock prior to their arrival.

Brian Wallace, chairman of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Cave Rock is used by tribal elders as a commune today and according to Washoe history, the hallowed ground was worthy of the tribe’s religious leaders.

“I have received considerable public input on the subject of climbing at Cave Rock,” said acting Forest Supervisor for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Juan Palma. “I recognize that the public must be made aware of the Forest Service’s obligations regarding the protection of heritage resources.”

The partial order, which prohibits any activity that damages or defaces the surface of the rock, is still in effect to December 31. Anyone in violation of the added wording can be fined up to $5,000.

The Forest Service plans to release a long-term management plan for Cave Rock by December, which rock-climbing fanatics and the Washoe Tribe are contributing to.

Palma said that the order, while not well-received by some, has been abided by rock climbers.

“I appreciate the high level of compliance the original closure order received,” he said. “Out of respect to the tribe, I encourage climbers to continue to avoid Cave Rock even though climbing is not prohibited.”


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