In response to the National Park Service’s recent draft proposal to prohibit guided climbing in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), and Representative Scott Tipton (R-CO) recently urged the National Park Service to reconsider the proposal.
In a joint letter written by Udall, Bennet and Baucus the Senators wrote, “While most climbers in the park choose not to climb with a guide, many do utilize guides, and we believe that given the extremely challenging nature of climbing in the Black Canyon, the option to climb with a guide should be available.” This sentiment was reinforced by Rep. Tipton, who wrote in his letter, “…if adopted, the Proposal will reduce opportunities for safe, facilitated wilderness recreation and education not only at the Black Canyon but also in other areas of our country’s great National Park System.” Betsy Winter, Executive Director for the AMGA, applauded the congressional intervention and renewed the organization’s request for a suitable Wilderness management plan.
“The AMGA is grateful for the support of Senators Udall, Bennet, Baucus and Rep. Tipton, and shares their goal to protect the unique wilderness character of the Black Canyon. Like our partners in Congress, the AMGA believes that sound wilderness management policy for the Black Canyon does not require elimination of a service that enhances safety, enjoyment, and personal growth for the countless visitors that choose to partner with a licensed guide when enjoying the legendary vertical challenges found only in the Black Canyon. Consequently, the AMGA looks forward to working with our partners in Congress and in the National Park Service to ensure that visitors to the Black Canyon continue to have access to guided climbing in 2012 and beyond.
While the proposal to eliminate guided climbing access in the Black Canyon is still on the table, I am very encouraged by the support and attention our Senators and Congressmen have given to this very important issue. By far, this is one of the most consequential proposals our profession has faced, due to the potential negative impacts it could have on AMGA membership and the mountain guiding community at large. The AMGA and our constituents, therefore thank the members of Congress for taking notice of the concerns expressed by the climbing and guiding profession, and look forward to working with the National Park Service to reverse their draft proposal.”