Climbers Reminded to Practice Leave No Trace Ethics

Date: 9/17/2008

The following is a press release from Rocky Mountain National Park, CO. The park has had problems with a number of boulderers stashing pads in the park. Pad stashing in National Parks is illegal and could potentially affect climbing access.

The Access Fund operates with the understanding that climbers, by their very nature, care about the natural environments in which they climb. The Access Fund urges all climbers to practice Leave No Trace principles and carry everything out that they carry in - including their pads.

Rocky Mountain National Park News Release September 2, 2008

Climbers Reminded to Practice Leave No Trace Ethics

Rocky Mountain National Park has always been known for an abundance of spectacular alpine rock climbing and mountaineering. Recently, bouldering has also become popular in the park and boulders in Chaos Canyon and near Emerald Lake have become frequent destinations for climbers.

As more and more climbers come to the park to boulder, impacts to the park's natural resources increase. For example, crash pads are frequently left behind so they dont have to be carried back and forth from the trailhead to the bouldering areas. Sometimes these pads are chewed by marmots and rodents, resulting in small pieces of foam littering the area and offering up an unhealthy diet for wild animals. Fortunately, most climbers who recreate in Rocky Mountain National Park minimize their impacts by practicing Leave No Trace Ethics. However, an increasing number are leaving crash pads stashed under and around the boulders, resulting in problems such as the one noted above. During a patrol last summer, rangers found more than 25 pads hidden in the Chaos Canyon area alone. Last week, rangers collected nine pads in one day. Rocky Mountain National Parks backcountry is managed as wilderness. Leaving these pads is illegal.

Issues of concern arent limited to bouldering areas. Several years ago rangers removed nearly four hundred pounds of trash, old slings, abandoned rope, abandoned food caches, and other items left behind by climbers on the east face of Longs Peak.

Rangers hope that users will take more responsibility toward maintaining a natural, wilderness setting by carrying their crash pads to and from bouldering areas and by removing other inappropriate items at the conclusion of each trip. If not, items will be confiscated and owners could risk costly fines. According to Chief Ranger Mark Magnuson, responsible stewardship of public lands is necessary for all user groups, helping to ensure the freest possible access and appropriate recreational use consistent with long-term preservation of park resources. Adhering to the principles of Leave No Trace is one way to help accomplish this.