Sierra Club Conservation Policies
Fixed Anchors in Wilderness
(1) Preserving and protecting wilderness values for future generations is the primary
purpose of wilderness. All other uses are subject to this primary purpose. All management
actions should enhance, rather than degrade, wilderness values as defined by the
Wilderness Act of 1964.
(2) Climbing, including the use of fixed anchors, is an historic and can be an
appropriate use of wilderness, consistent with the purposes of the Wilderness Act.
However, fixed anchors that cannot be placed or removed without altering the environment
were not specifically addressed during the passage of the Wilderness Act.
These should be
regulated as installations in wilderness; their use in wilderness may be authorized under
Section 4(c) of the Wilderness Act, which provides that installations can be allowed where
"necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the
purpose of this Act." Within designated wilderness areas, or areas otherwise
protected for their wilderness values, climbing, including the use of fixed anchors,
should be subject to the same standards as all other activities that are consistent with
the preservation of the wilderness character of these lands.
(3) Climbing, including the use of fixed anchors, should be addressed in wilderness
management plans, subject to public review, and managed as necessary to protect wilderness
resources. The full range of management options, including but not limited to resource
monitoring, voluntary use limits, restrictions, permitting, area-specific prohibitions,
and the establishment of Limits of Acceptable Change criteria for specific areas, should
be considered and implemented as necessary to protect wilderness character when regulating
climbing and the use of fixed anchors. Where climbing occurs, all relevant management
plans, informational signs and wilderness permits should address guidelines for climbing
and the use of fixed anchors.
(4) Site-specific wilderness management plans should include certain minimum
requirements for climbing. Climbing should not occur where fragile, rare, threatened, or
endangered plant or animal species may be impacted, where human presence may interfere
with essential wildlife behavioral patterns, where recreational activities may interfere
with religious or cultural values, or where it would compromise the scenic resource. Fixed
anchors should not be used where there is a removable equipment alternative.
visual impacts, slings and other removable equipment should be removed whenever and
wherever possible. The use of power drills is prohibited in wilderness areas. Any
alteration of rock should be prohibited, except as minimally necessary for the placement
of fixed anchors. Impacts from climbing on vegetation should be subject to Wilderness
regulations and the removal of vegetation should be prohibited
Adopted by the Board of Directors, May 9-10, 1998; amended November 17, 2000.