Access To Hyalite Canyon Ice Climbing In Jeopardy


By Emily Stifler

The new Gallatin National Forest travel plan severely threatens access to the world-class ice climbing in Hyalite Canyon near Bozeman, Montana. The plan closes and gates Hyalite Canyon road, the only reasonable access road to the ice climbing, between January 1 and May 15. This decision effectively reduces a 5-month ice climbing season to five weeks, eliminates 77% of all ice climbing and over 92% of the beginner and intermediate climbs in the Bozeman area.
How you can help:

1. Take a 5 minute survey
The Southwestern Montana Climbers Coalitions and First Ascent Press have created an online survey for all ice climbers. The results of this survey will help in policy arguments for access to ice climbing resources in other areas, as well. The survey can be accessed at www.hyalitecanyon.com or directly at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?A=167794934E65415

We encourage all who are interested in ice climbing to take a few moments to complete the simple survey even if you have not visited Hyalite. No sign up or registration is required and your responses protected by secure encryption. The data will provide extremely useful, if not necessary, information to present our situation to the Forest Service regarding the adopted Gallatin National Forest Travel Plan.

2. Write a letter to the Editor of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle has already published a number of letters from local and non-local climbers that has had an amazing effect on local politicians. Ice climbers now have at least one city and one county commissioner attending meetings. A well constructed, short letter to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle ([email protected]) urging Supervisor Heath to reconsider her decision to gate Hyalite Road and open 3 miles of road for winter access that will save over 140 ice climbs, from the climbers across the country will be useful in applying local political pressure.

3. Stay informed
For more information, recent discussions and updates go to www.montanaice.com/forums.

Background information:
This final plan, entitled 7M, is the culmination of more than four years of discussion, public comment periods, private meetings, letters to the editor, and ongoing debates and arguments among user groups.

7M designates the road beyond the gate for "family oriented cross-country skiing," and leaves ice climbers with two choices for access after December 31: a lengthy backcountry ski, or a circuitous, ungroomed, remote snowmobile route that experienced, local sled-heads call advanced and difficult riding.

The Southwest Montana Climbers Coalition (SMCC), the Access Fund, First Ascent Press and many other concerned individuals and businesses are currently working hard to explore the options to protect this climbing access.

These groups may need to launch an administrative appeal to the Forest Service, and need more statistics on ice climbing use in Hyalite Canyon. The more climbers take the survey, the more accurate and effective the data will be.