New Hope for Twin Sisters Climbing Access?

Date: 5/13/2011

The National Park Service (NPS) has begun the general management planning process for the City of Rocks National Reserve. Of particular interest to climbers is whether the NPS will reconsider the controversial closure of the Twin Sisters formation.

As an interim phase to the planning process, the NPS recently issued some preliminary alternatives for its General Management Plan (GMP), and is accepting public comments. These alternatives will become more defined when the draft GMP is released in 2012, so this comment phase is perhaps the best opportunity for the public to shape the plan alternatives, including those favorable to climbing and conservation, before planners become invested in their management scenarios.

This planning process is likely to be the last opportunity that the climbing community will have for the next 20 years to advocate for Twin Sisters climbing access. While park planners for the City of Rocks might revisit this Twin Sisters restriction in an ongoing unrelated climbing plan, the NPS has told the Access Fund and Congress that this general management planning process is where the Twin Sisters climbing restriction will be re-evaluated.

In the past, the Access Fund has asked for obvious compromises for Twin Sisters such as allowing climbing only during the months when historic pioneer wagons didn’t travel through the area (and contemporary history devotees rarely visit), but cultural resource managers at the NPS have consistently rejected even the most limited climbing opportunities at Twin Sisters.

The Access Fund is working with our network of climbing activists in Idaho to generate individual comments, as well as a sign-on letter that we will circulate before the June 1 comment deadline. Stay tuned to Access Fund e-news for your opportunity to influence this process!

For more history on this issue, see here and here.