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Jemez Cave (a.k.a. Crystal Cave) is [still] closed to climbing
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By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From Los Alamos, NM
Aug 25, 2014
Climbing at the Belvedere crag near Nago with a great view of the northern end of Lake Garda and the town of Torbole sul Garda below. June 2013.
As a reminder, the Jemez Cave (a.k.a. Crystal Cave) of New Mexico is still closed to climbing and public access. I'm told by a contact at the forest service that a few new bolts and project draws have gone in recently but I haven't verified this information personally.

If this is true, I'm personally pretty disappointed in the local climbing community. Physical barriers and signage at the cave make it obviously clear that the area is closed. I find it extremely selfish and disrespectful of a couple climbers to be placing new bolts, let alone climbing here. I lose a bit of faith in the climbing community when I hear about actions like this.

To be straight, I'm not an authority figure in this and I'm not trying to start a discussion here. I'm just another local climber but have a strong, vested interest in the future of climbing in New Mexico.
You can reply to this post calling me names or expounding on your distaste of the government but I I've heard most all of it before. If you don't agree with the closure, contact the Jemez Ranger district of the Santa Fe National Forest and/or the Jemez Pueblo to respectfully voice your concerns and opinion. The fact remains, the cave is closed. Please, regardless of your personal opinions on this closure, and for the sake of the climbing community, do not climb in the Jemez Cave anymore. Thank you.

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By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From Los Alamos, NM
Aug 25, 2014
Climbing at the Belvedere crag near Nago with a great view of the northern end of Lake Garda and the town of Torbole sul Garda below. June 2013.
No photos, unfortunately. I do really hope there are no new bolts--that's ludicrous. But as I understand it, all draws/chains were removed a year or so ago so any new project draws hanging is obvious and easy to document.
I hope to get the chance to get out there with the forest service soon to take a look. I'll post an update when/if that materializes.

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By Sir chuffs alot
Aug 26, 2014
Yes pictures. As an expert on the issue and someone who cares, without picture this is ridiculous and an insult to the climbing community. I seriously doubt that climbers left draws on an area fenced of by the Federal Government, which is right across the street from the agency supposed to patrol it. Yes the chains were taken down before the closure, but someone put project draws on Leprosy the day before the closure.


More than likely, the same organization and people who ordered the closure, and who haven't done any of the studies they said they would perform, also never went up to the cave, and they never took down the hanging draws from two years ago, when they issued a one year temporary closure. I mean, how did someone from the FS take down draws off a 5.13 with a mandatory v7 crux? Give me a name, I'll bet I know him.


Now that same organization finally noticed these draws when they walked right across the street and up to the cave that they were supposed to be caring for and researching for the last two years. Why? The FS needs to justify the archeological significance required to close a national recreation area; because religious beliefs are simply not enough according to our constitution. As for the timing? Well, the second year of their one year temporary closure for research is about to expire. I guess someone finally got a memo about that little fact and went up there. This really looks bad for the FS if those are the draws left up from two years ago.

Send me a picture of the draws and I can verify for sure.

After two years of careful attention on the issue, it's pretty clear to me what is going on, and at this point, it's not climbers causing the issues.

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By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From Los Alamos, NM
Aug 27, 2014
Climbing at the Belvedere crag near Nago with a great view of the northern end of Lake Garda and the town of Torbole sul Garda below. June 2013.
David Sahalie wrote:
To Jemez ranger dsitrict, all climbers are anonymous. Their report justifying the closure is full of outright lies to pacify the tribe. They could care less about climbers as a user group, and the AF is quite happy to throw them a bone of an area where less than 10 percent of the climbers can even pull onto the routes. If we are really, really good, the FS Jemez tribe will let us continue to climb in the Jemez, if not, they will make up more BS to shut down other areas for cultural and religious reasons. So, being anon makes perfect sense to me.

Having met with the Jemez RD staff regarding climbing in the Jemez in the past, and still having an open dialogue with folks from the district, I disagree with your opinion on this. It's my impression we climbers have a good and valued reputation with the folks at the Jemez RD and Santa Fe NF at large.
The cultural and religious significance of the Jemez Cave is, to me, fairly obvious and I cannot blame the pueblo for wanting to protect it. Furthermore, the style of the development at the cave was pretty tasteless even by my "avid climber and developer" standards which didn't help matters.
It's sounding like I may have an opportunity to meet with members of the Jemez RD this fall about the cave and the situation. If that materializes, I'll share any information I get.

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By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From Los Alamos, NM
Aug 27, 2014
Climbing at the Belvedere crag near Nago with a great view of the northern end of Lake Garda and the town of Torbole sul Garda below. June 2013.
Excellent, the name-calling and insults are finally coming!

Yes, I've checked it out (not that that matters!) It was entertaining but whatever. Definitely not in the league of Rifle, RRG and Maple though. Those areas are different, in my mind, in that they are massive and known for climbing with local climbing coalitions having worked hard with land management entities to manage and balance climbing activities.
Also, other areas don't use colored tape on the fixed chains to distinguished routes from each other. That's pretty silly and adds to the already gnarly visual impact of fixed chains. The permadraws in the Jemez cave weren't for groundfall protection, they were for convenience. With my stick clip I could hang every draw in that cave.

I'm not sure where you get your historical facts about the cave's history but they're different than what I've heard.

Edit to add: I guess if there's another point I'm making in this thread, beyond the simple reminder that the cave is still closed to climbing, it's that I think climbers could have been more low profile with this cave development and perhaps it wouldn't have ended up high on the radar of the Jemez Pueblo. Water under the bridge now, though.

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By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From Los Alamos, NM
Aug 27, 2014
Climbing at the Belvedere crag near Nago with a great view of the northern end of Lake Garda and the town of Torbole sul Garda below. June 2013.
You're right, you didn't call me any names, damn it! No, I'm not easily insulted and I can handle any internet tough guy business thrown at me. I've been in the internet forum business a while. Furthermore, I'm going to go out on a limb and say my personality is pretty well-suited for representing the climbing user group.

Living in Los Alamos, I couldn't make it to the Stone Age meeting in 2012, unfortunately. But I've been a part of other conference calls with Bryan, and others, on this subject as well as attending other forest service meetings to represent the climbing user group so my facts are pretty straight, IMO. We all have a tendency to hear what we want to hear or to mold facts a bit to fit our views so we're both wrong I suppose.

I agree with you that climbers (and other user groups) don't need to ask permission to place bolts on public lands and this is an excellent freedom enjoyed by climbers. But we can all work to be as low-profile as possible, especially in climbing areas close to highways and/or visited by "the general public."

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By Owen Summerscales
From Los Alamos, NM
Aug 27, 2014
Gerle creek at loon lake
I don't want to inflame an already inflamed conversation here, but I am curious - do non-climbers really notice the difference between low key sport climbing development (minimal bolting, camouflaged hangers) and "over developed" sites? (ie. perma draws, grid bolting, color coded gym style clips)

I am not a sport climber nor a native to this part of the world, and have no idea about this, but it seems to me that there isn't really that much difference between these two situations.

And is this really the divisive issue?

If the cave had been 5 miles down a FS dirt road, is it likely that it would still be open regardless of development style? Probably.

Seems to me like it is yet another example of conflict between native peoples culture and american's. Its just a very minor one that can be conceded to natives as a token gift.

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By Sir chuffs alot
Aug 27, 2014
George Perkins wrote:
Sir chuffs alot: You'd have more credibility if you posted with your name, especially if you're going to claim to be an expert and have relevant information... while you're simultaneously asking others to provide you with a name of the "crushing (or stick-clip-wielding?) climber who works at the FS" and photos?? Maybe you could go with Jason and talk to the FS rangers about it and set them straight? It sounds like your perspective could be useful, but it's much less so when it's anonymous. Keep on chuffing.



I asked for pictures because I can verify if those draws were left up from two years ago. Wouldn't that be the most reasonable solution to this accusation that people are climbing there?

I was at the meetings about the closure, have called and spoken to the FS, all the while not being anonymous. Every interaction I have had at this point has been negative and dismissive. Why would I make myself a target on the internet? I have been trying to be part of this discussion since the beginning so any help accessing the real discussion would be appreciated.

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By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From Los Alamos, NM
Aug 28, 2014
Climbing at the Belvedere crag near Nago with a great view of the northern end of Lake Garda and the town of Torbole sul Garda below. June 2013.
Re: Pictures, if I get out there I'll take some photos. It would be great to get that sorted out, Mr. Chuffs. Also, if I'm contacted about any further discussions/meetings, I'd love for others to be involved to get a different perspective on the matter. Make no mistake, I'm not going out of my way to be THE spokesperson for all climbers on this matter. I simply enjoy being involved and have a strong passion for climbing in my home state. I'll contact you via personal message if anything comes to fruition. Are you in NM? Your history with this issue and perspective on the situation sounds valuable.

Also, Sir Chuffs, I don't feel like I'm being divisive here and I'm not sure how my comments are hurting the climbing community. Can you be more specific? The fact is the cave is still closed and I feel we, as climbers, need to respect that no matter our personal opinions on the matter. I was given information (not yet verified by me) that it appears climbing activities have been taking place in the cave still. If true, those kinds of actions will hurt the climbing community much more than anything I can say here. I have a hard time believing this is true and I hope we can do our best to dispel the misinformation.

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By Jeremy Aslaksen
From Albuquerque, NM
Aug 28, 2014
Three Strikes.


1) On the National Register of Historic Places

2) Perma draws, grid bolting, color coded gym style clips

3) Closed for business


This joint was way to high visibility for it to stay open.

Owen is correct in stating that if it was 5 miles down a dirt road it wouldn't be a problem.

Shame because it was a cool cave.

JA

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By Sir chuffs alot
Aug 28, 2014
Jason Halladay wrote:
Also, Sir Chuffs, I don't feel like I'm being divisive here and I'm not sure how my comments are hurting the climbing community. Can you be more specific?.


I agree we should dispel, but when you blame the climbing community for something that is probably the fault of the FS, it looks as if we don't know what is going on, we are divided, and we will be easy to pick apart. Divide and conquer baby!

The fact of the matter is that this cave is considered sacred by the natives, as is most the united states, including Yosemite, Joshua tree, Zion, your home, and on and on. This is an important fact. I do not blame the Natives for being pissed about being conquered and robbed, but I do cherish our public lands.

This closure is about what begun by the Spanish in the 1600's, and was completed by the Federal government in the 1930's . Now climbers are the most convenient way for the FS, who was supposed to protect that area for the last fifty years, to pass the buck. When you talk about esoteric styles, you only are hurting the cause, dividing the population, and giving the people who are actually responsible for not protecting this site a way out of their own irresponsibility.

This closure was not about tape, but about the way the west was won, and it ain't pretty. The question is, how much needs to be given back and what precedent is being set. As a New Mexican, you must already know that every tribe wants as much back of their land as they can get, and who blames them?


To you this cave is a hovel, and to me and others it is sacred, but what if this closure is the beginning and not the end of this conversation?


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By Michael Wheat
Sep 2, 2014
Sorry if I'm missing something but the "IMPLEMENTATION" section of the document states:

"This Order shall be in effect when signed and shall remain in effect until rescinded or until until one year following the effective date, whichever occurs first."


So it's been one year, this seems to mean that the closure is no longer in effect. Did I read that correctly? Was there a different closure order issued other than this one?

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By Sir chuffs alot
Sep 4, 2014
Yes that is what it says, and it was the job of the FS to complete this in one year, but they did not.

I called and asked.

They were dismissive and said that they extended the temporary closure for one year.

That year is now up.

Now, they did it again.

At this point, the conclusion is obvious:

The FS failed miserably to protect a site that had archeological significance for several years. To insulate themselves to the effects of their failure, they have selected a sacrificial lamb, sport climbers. The amount of climbers willing to sacrifice such a spectacular area is beyond belief and is truly a shame to the climbing community, NM crag, and the Access Fund. A lawyer for the Access Fund admitted that because it was a recreational area a case could be made, but they admitted they have a history of losing and refused to make that case. Weather it is because these climbers disagree with ethics, are jealous, or are scared, it doesn't matter, the response has been ridiculous.

Although sport climbers broke no laws and did nothing wrong, it is much easier for the FS to point at sport climbers then to address the real issue: incompetence at patrolling an area right across the street from FS headquarters, an area that the FS supposed to protect but did not.

So, now a couple of climbers are requesting a report on their two year closure:
don't hold your breath for a response.

For a recreation area, they don't seem too concerned about the users involved, and with this update, it seems that they are not even paying attention.

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By Michael Wheat
Sep 8, 2014
Interesting that signage would override a written proclamation (assuming another one hasn't been issued). I can see how climbers could be confused by the verbiage on the closure order posted by David Sahalie, and the signage posted at the crag.. It would be easy to assume that the signage was outdated and hasn't been removed, given the pace at which the FS seems to operate.

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By Bryan Pletta
Sep 9, 2014
I just spoke with the recreation officer from the Jemez Ranger Station and confirmed that the area is indeed under a continued temporary closure order. Violation of the closure could result in a maximum $5000 fine. When first closed 2.5 years ago the duration of the closure was for one year which happens to be the maximum duration of a temporary closure order. It has been renewed twice since the original order and is likely to be renewed annually until the Forest Service updates their management plan for the area.

The archaeologists from Bandolier have investigated the site and drafted a report which is still waiting to be finalized. No word on when the report or management plan might be completed and available for public review. Things don't always move at lightning speed in our federal government. The draft report has identified many artifacts at the site both in disturbed and in unexcavated areas. Given the status of the cave on the National Register of Historic Places, the presence of artifacts, and the desire of Jemez Pueblo to rebury the infant remains that were removed during the time of the original excavation, it is unlikely that the area will ever be open to climbing in the future. This happens to be one of those battles that is just not worth fighting and we should probably all move on. Continued violation of the closure area will only serve to strain relations with the Forest Service and could adversely impact management decisions at other climbing areas within the District.

Bryan Pletta
NM CRAG

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By Paul Davidson
Sep 9, 2014
+1^

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By Cultivating Mass
Sep 9, 2014
Leading on the only "fair means" rack.
Fuck tha po lease. Just sayin'.

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By Tzilla Rapdrilla
Sep 10, 2014
The efforts to address this situation are commendable and the patience and perseverance of those within NMCRAG in dealing with an intractable government bureaucracy are noteworthy, there are a few things to consider when looking forward:
1) Giving up on this situation sets precedence for other areas. This one comes on top of other ridiculous closures like Cave Rock where the tribes weren’t concerned when the highway was bored through the crag, but later the huge archaeological preservation need was perverted into a basis to close the area to just climbers. In Idaho, the BLM is attempting to use the potential existence of arrow heads in the dirt as an archaeological reason to close climbing areas there. Under that faulty logic the entire United States would be closed. Each one of these BS closures needs to be opposed.
2) Why is closure to climbing the only option? In very popular climbing caves in Europe that contain archaeological resources, like the Cova Gran at Santa Linya, climbing is still allowed and the areas that need protection from climbers are covered by plywood platforms.
3) The USFS works for ALL US taxpayers, the land belongs to ALL of us, and closing the land to support the preferences of one small group is just plain wrong.
4) Temporary closures have a one year limit for a reason, that they should expire. Multiple rolling temporary closures or baseless closures are just unaccountable government bureaucrats not doing their job. Why should climbers be cooperative with such an unreasonable government agency?

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By Cultivating Mass
Sep 10, 2014
Leading on the only "fair means" rack.
I completely agree with you.^^^^

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By Eric Whitbeck
Sep 11, 2014
Why do all the people who identify themselves and who are well known in the local community have one perspective and all the anonymous posters have another?

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By djkyote
Sep 11, 2014
My name is anonymous, but most people know who I am by now. I went to several of the meetings including the one with the FS and tribe. I do agree that this particular situation may be unwinnable, but I agree with Tzilla that if we let this go without a peep, what is next?!

I hadnt seen the full closure order until now, and the fact that they can say climbers chipped hand and footholds shows they dont understand basic geology. Basically, they can say whatever they want to justify a 'temporary' closure on a legal federal document withno recourse from the user group. They are judge and jury, with no voice or defense from climbers possible. To me, this is very disconcerting for any type of climbing, anywhere in the state. One would think a Access Fund lawyer would jump on this statement and make them prove it.

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By Eric Whitbeck
Sep 11, 2014
DJ,
Fair enough, and by going to a meeting you are doing more than 99%. I know this forum has no real relevance, but what do you guys expect to gain with anonymous postings. I do know who you are so it is different with you in the same way it is with DTP, but only for people who know you guys. I just don't get the self righteous rant from someone not willing to show themselves. I never went to the cave cause it is not my preferred style of climbing, but closing any area sucks so I sympathize. However, for the cats who go to meetings, you are the only hope and if you go to meetings and post anonymously at least understand most people see your rants as sort of pointless because of the nature of the internet. Some folks are just bored and looking to join a debate to fuel the fire. I hate to ask the obvious question: was the area chipped? Hope not and good luck.

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By Sir chuffs alot
Sep 11, 2014
Eric Whitbeck wrote:
DJ, Fair enough, and by going to a meeting you are doing more than 99%. I know this forum has no real relevance, but what do you guys expect to gain with anonymous postings. I do know who you are so it is different with you in the same way it is with DTP, but only for people who know you guys. I just don't get the self righteous rant from someone not willing to show themselves. I never went to the cave cause it is not my preferred style of climbing, but closing any area sucks so I sympathize. However, for the cats who go to meetings, you are the only hope and if you go to meetings and post anonymously at least understand most people see your rants as sort of pointless because of the nature of the internet. Some folks are just bored and looking to join a debate to fuel the fire. I hate to ask the obvious question: was the area chipped? Hope not and good luck.


What do you hope to gain by inflaming the thread? You are not adding any information to the situation so I have to ask.

I went to that meeting too, and you were not there. If you have nothing real to say, please say nothing. You insistence that I am anonymous is ridiculous and is beside the point. My info is either conceptual or public record; you are only trying to cause a fight. I am answering the op's question with the only real information available. I assure you, at the next meeting I will be the same person you have known for over ten years, and you will not be there because you do not care about it. Some people really do care about this place, and you do not. Please stop trying to cause division within the climbing community.

The area was not chipped, that is a lie, just like people are still climbing there.

It's pretty obvious that the FS is making a case against climbers with every new lie they spin.

George Perkins wrote:
Bryan P., Thanks for talking to the rec. officer and getting the straight story, and for sharing what you'd found out. I can appreciate the perspective that there are probably better goals for NM climbers to focus on. I'm appreciative of the efforts NMCRAG has put toward this and other climbing causes in NM, please don't get discouraged by the anonymous complainers.



So basically, the facts he repeated are exactly what I said, but his tone fits your agenda?

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By Eric Whitbeck
Sep 11, 2014
I am not trying to inflame the thread. If that was the case I would say something inflammatory like "who cares about a lame cave," but I am not. My question was serious, I don't understand why people go to a public meeting but refuse to make public statements on the internet. I know DJ and respect his opinion. I may know you as well, but have no idea who chuffs alot is. You could be some teenage kid in Boston that just posts on forums. I am not accusing anyone of chipping, I just asked. I also sympathize with the people who like the cave. As I stated, getting an area closed sucks. In short, my question is why be anonymous? Your statements are considered by many to be more valid if there is a real person out there making them, especially one who is known in the local community.

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By Eric Whitbeck
Sep 11, 2014
Fine think what you want. I don't care, but I wish you guys luck in the issue and am just suggesting that if you want more local support, abandon the anonymous posting. If Paul Davidson posts something I will take it seriously and if he posts something that I disagree with I will take a lot more time to think about it than if it is posted by someone named climbshard because I respect him as a person and a climber. How are your observations of the situation supposed to be valid if no one knows who you are or if you are even involved rather than just bored at work? If that is inflammatory, you have some seriously thin skin.

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By Jeremy Aslaksen
From Albuquerque, NM
Sep 12, 2014
...I wish you guys luck in the issue and am just suggesting that if you want more local support, abandon the anonymous posting.


Anonymous posters = Trolls


If you wish to be taken seriously I would recommend using your real name.

You guys must be worried about your aspiring political careers or something?

Witness protection maybe?

Another thing...maybe don't grid bolt, color code and perma draw a whole cave that can be seen from the road. Just an idea.

Best of luck turning this around as nobody wants to see ANY areas closed.


Jeremy Aslaksen

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