Climbing ban considered at Cave Rock
Some of the hardest rock climbing routes in North America — and the biggest concentration of hard routes at Lake Tahoe — may soon be closed at Cave Rock.
The U.S. Forest Service, which oversees the property, is changing its management plan to emphasize preservation over rock climbing. Putting up new routes at Cave Rock has been banned since 1997.
The Access Fund, a nonprofit agency based in Boulder, Colo., opposes the ban, and says a compromise that would allow climbing to continue still needs consideration.
The final plan will be released in two to three months, Forest Service officials said this week.
Officials with the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit say they are acting based on comments received by the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office.
Those entities say fixed rock-climbing equipment adversely affects the property as a historic and cultural resource. By allowing rock climbing to continue, they claim, the Forest Service violates its own Forest Plan and guidelines set by the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1996, Cave Rock became eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places as a “traditional cultural property.”
The new plan “will be pieces and parts that people already had a chance to comment on. It’s not a wholly new idea,” Maribeth Gustafson, forest supervisor for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, said.
The original plan called for continued rock climbing with the removal of some routes, mostly for health and safety reasons stemming from the nearby roadway.
The alternatives now being reviewed include a phase-out in three to six years or an immediate halt to rock climbing.
Gustafson added that she can’t disclose details of the final plan until it is released. The draft plan is available for review at the Forest Service station at 870 Emerald Bay Road.
“Climbers from all over the world know about Cave Rock and go there because it has some of the most difficult climbs in the nation,” said Paul Minault, an attorney with the Access Fund. “We would be willing to modify climbing use in any reasonable way to show respect to the tribe and the tribe’s value of the rock.”
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