New Climbing Management Plan for Jefferson County, CO

Earlier this month, Jefferson County Open Space (JeffCo) in Colorado released its Final Climbing Management Guideline (CMG) that will govern climbing in Clear Creek Canyon, Mt. Lindo, North Table Mountain and other JeffCo-managed climbing areas. The county released a draft of its CMG in November with little public input, alarming many local climbers with proposed regulations that would unnecessarily encumber climbing access, route development and threaten access to this well known Colorado climbing area. In response, JeffCo officials initiated an abbreviated public process and solicited input from the Access Fund and local climbers.

The final CMG is an improvement from the earlier draft. Notably, the raptor closure area is less expansive than originally proposed, and will affect Bumbling Stock, Stumbling Block, Skinny Legs, Blonde Formation, Fault Caves, Ghost Crag, Highlander, Tetanus Garden, and Evil crags. The closure period is set for February 1 to July 31; however, JeffCo has committed to ongoing monitoring to track nest occupation and fledging behavior so that closures can be lifted once the nests are no longer occupied. We consider this a major improvement in Colorado climbing access and government relations.

The CMG also embraces our recommended standard for all new fixed hardware: All bolts, hangers, and chains shall be assembled from like metals, of stainless steel or titanium (except when added to pre-existing, non-stainless installations; in such instances like metals shall be used). All bolts shall be minimum 3/8” in diameter. All bolts and hangers shall be strength rated by the manufacturer to withstand 25kN ultimate shear load and 20kN ultimate tension load. This should help prevent unnecessary accidents, preserving access.

During the public comment period, Access Fund advocated for unhindered replacement of bad bolts. However, the CMG maintains that permits will be required for installing, replacing, and removing all bolts in Jefferson County.

In subsequent documentation, JeffCo has indicated that “...qualified individuals apply to become approved “re-bolters” and replace substandard hardware as it is found, then report the hardware replacement back to JCOS within three business days.”

Route developers are required to submit an application for new routes prior to bolting. The applications will be reviewed by the Fixed Hardware Review Committee, and JeffCo is currently accepting applications for volunteer to serve on the committee. We encourage interested members of the climbing community to apply.

For now, anyone interested in replacing bad bolts or developing a new route should email Jefferson County at: [email protected] for application details.

While many positive changes were implemented in the new CMG, there are still some areas of concern. Access Fund will continue to work with JeffCo and the Fixed Hardware Committee to ensure that raptor closures are managed fairly and that aging and unsafe bolts can be replaced. Hopefully this positive relationship will continue and Colorado access to climbing will be a priority to Jefferson County.

Photo: Clear Creek Canyon by D. Scott Clark.