Climbing During Covid 19

Well…allot has changed this year, both in our personal lives and in our climbing lives. Now that we are finally able to start crawling out of your holes and getting back to climbing, the Tieton is a great place to go to fondle some rock and enjoy the wild beauty of the outdoors. But with so many crags scattered over several miles it can be challenging to know who manages the land you plan to climb on, and what the guidelines for use currently are. Especially with things changing so quickly.

Here is a basic cheat sheet for the area. If things aren’t clear or you have any questions let me know.

The crags in the lower canyon from Royal Columns to the Cave and Frenchman Coulee (Vantage) are on WDFW managed land and these are their guidelines.

Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) 

Guidelines for #ResponsibleRecreation

Before you go

  • Check what’s open. While many state-managed land destinations are open for day-use, other local, tribal, and federal land may still be closed.
  • Opt for day trips close to home. Overnight stays are not permitted.
  • Stay with immediate household members only. Recreation with those outside of your household creates new avenues for virus transmission.
  • Come prepared. Visitors may find reduced or limited restroom services as staff begin the process to reopen facilities at wildlife areas and water access sites. You are advised to bring your own soap, water, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper, as well as a mask or bandanna to cover your nose and mouth.
  • Enjoy the outdoors when healthy. If you have symptoms of fever, coughing, or shortness of breath, save your outdoor adventure for another day.

When you get there

  • Avoid crowds. Be prepared to go somewhere else or come back another time if your destination looks crowded.
  • Practice physical distancing. Keep six feet between you and those outside your immediate household. Launch one boat at a time to give others enough space to launch safely. Leave at least one parking space between your vehicle and the vehicle next to you. Trailer your boat in the same way.
  • Wash your hands often. Keep up on personal hygiene and bring your own water, soap, and hand sanitizer with you.
  • Pack out what you pack in. Take any garbage with you, including disposable gloves and masks.

The crags located West of the Cave are on Forest Service land and these are the guidelines

Forest Service Land (FS)

Is camping allowed?

  • Yes, in dispersed areas, NOT in developed areas.

How do I know the difference between developed and dispersed?

  • When you park and say “this looks like a nice place to camp”, look around, do you see any man made improvements? Picnic tables, fire rings, toilets? If so, that is a developed site and is currently closed.

What services are still offered?

  • We currently have all toilets and trash services closed. We simply can not meet the CDC guidelines for sanitation between visitors. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE go prepared to care for those issues yourself. I have photos of many areas where the ground is literally covered in trash and human waste. No effort to pack out trash, no efforts to bury waste. As a lover of our timbered lands this is quite frustrating to me. Take a garbage bag. Pack out your trash, pack out someone else’s trash. Bury your waste and toilet paper properly. (far from a water source, at least 6” deep) or better yet, bag it and remove it from the forest with you. The next person visiting that site didn’t go there to see someone else’s waste and trash.

Are trails and crags open?

  • Yes. Please respect the fact that many are still carrying a higher than normal moisture content and are more fragile than they will be in a month. Also please remember that we can’t field work crews to do normal trail maintenance. You might encounter more washouts, fallen trees or other issues than normal.

Can I camp/stay in the forest for the whole Stay at Home order time ?

  • While we understand that the woods are a great place to stay and remain sane, the 14 day maximum stay limit is still in effect.

If trailheads are closed but trails are open, where do I park?

  • Please park as well clear of travel paths as possible and please respect others and leave them room to pull out.

A Final Note

It seems like things are going pretty good as the state begins to reopen activities, but there has definitely been some concern about climbers not following guidelines. As always the best way to improve access for climbers is to show other groups and Land Managers that we are a responsible user group. Please be courteous and think of others. Keep spacing appropriate, take home your trash! (including your cliff bar wrappers, and used tape) and If you see someone damaging a resource, please consider intervening. I am NOT asking you to put yourself in harms way, just to speak up and challenge others to behave responsibly and protect our resources.

also here is a link from the Washington Climbers Coalition COVID-19 and WA Climbing