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Devils Tower Voluntary Ban


Original Post
rees labree · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 299

I'm curious what the 'Voluntary Ban' is for Devil's Tower. Not trying to start a debate or anything, just a little confused on the wording, especially regarding its purpose and who its from. Is this something that is enforced, strongly encouraged or requested and largely ignored?

EDIT: For future reference, based on the Access Fund article linked below (from Matthew Tangeman), about 75% of climbers respect this ban. Not suggesting anyone else does or does not respect the ban.
https://www.accessfund.org/news-and-events/news/climbers-honor-the-june-closure-at-devils-tower 

Weston Sandfort · · Denver, CO · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

This article explains it: outdoorjournal.com/climbing…

Matthew Tangeman · · Bellingham, WA · Joined May 2015 · Points: 200
https://www.accessfund.org/news-and-events/news/climbers-honor-the-june-closure-at-devils-tower

The tower is sacred to the Lakota people, and June in particular is a month of ceremonies honoring this. Some consider climbing on the tower to be desecrating a sacred site.

The closure is voluntary to give climbers the opportunity to show their respect for Lakota beliefs and lands. While no one will get you in legal trouble for climbing there in June, most would argue it's very disrespectful and they'd be right. There are 11 other months in the year and whole lot of other crags in the country.
Sean Peter · · IL · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 80

They switched it from a ban. Climbers are now boycotting it in June instead.

(Someone will give you a legitimate answer and a bunch of useful links to relevant articles on page 4 of this thread)

Edit : dang - too slow. Someone actually answered on page 1!

grog m · · Saltlakecity · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 70

Well this topic is a real shit storm. I recommend you go to the Devil's tower page on MP and read the comments if you want to know more.

In short - it is not constitutional to enforce a ban. Hence the 'voluntary ban'. Supporters of the ban can't answer a lot of critical questions:

1. The significance of the month of June (a Roman month).
2. Why climbers are the only user group called out when climbers may be the least impactful group. Furthermore, the very Native American lore of the tower involves Native Americans climbing the tower...
3. Tax dollars pay for the park for everyone to use. It is not possible to ban people from paying to share this resource.
4. Which Native American tribes and/or individuals specfically are against climbers? Because only SJW's from Boulder speak out against climbing there. The statement about the Lakota people above is false. There are 7 tribes that have historically visited the tower. 

I wouldn't be surprised if SJW's from boulder virtue signaled enough to get mandatory ban set up in the next 5 years.

Glowering · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 5

Largely adhered to. I think it's a good compromise. At Cave Rock at Lake Tahoe it would have been a good option as well when they were considering what to do about climbing there. I wrote to the Forest Service and said they should include it as an option to be considered and was given the brush off. They completely banned climbing there. So lame.

Buck Rio · · MN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 11
Glowering wrote: Largely adhered to. I think it's a good compromise. At Cave Rock at Lake Tahoe it would have been a good option as well when they were considering what to do about climbing there. I wrote to the Forest Service and said they should include it as an option to be considered and was given the brush off. They completely banned climbing there. So lame.

Wait, isn't there a road blasted out of the same rock?

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65

Never trust anyone who peppers their posts with “SJW” and “virtue signaling”. These terms are designed to shut down dialog, not to have any sort of meaningful discussion. 

Glowering · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 5
Buck Rio wrote:

Wait, isn't there a road blasted out of the same rock?

Yup. They were able to ban climbing at Cave Rock because they chose an arbitrary "historical period" which ended in the 70s. Sport climbing started there in the 80s.

The thing that bothers me most is not supporting the value that different user groups get out of the location. At Cave Rock I used to see 10-30 climbers at a time there, enjoying the location, keeping it clean, etc. I've gone there a couple times since the ban and there has never been a single person at the Cave. I would guess the tribe goes there a few important times a year and I'd have NO problem with not climbing on those days. But it's completely ridiculous to eliminate thousands of user/days of a highly valued use because someone who isn't even there may be offended.

I went to Devil's Tower in June once. No one was climbing but I did see about a half dozen native Americans with little shrines setup in various location burning stuff and making music. I think that's great they are using the Tower in the way they appreciate. I can see them being bothered by people climbing on it while they are worshiping. I'm not religious at all, but if that's what they believe I support their desire to do it as they see fit. Not climbing there for one month is a reasonable compromise IMO.

To me it's about respecting other people's beliefs and uses, and trying to compromise so everyone can do what they want in the way they want.
Sean Post · · Laguna Beach, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 24
Buck Rio wrote:

You show an enormous amount of white guilt...

Everybody's land was somebody else's land before it was theirs. Get over it.

And if you believe what you just wrote, you should NEVER climb the tower, because they think it is disrespectful to EVER climb on it, not just in June.

I am a product of the US Military, I KNOW how people treat each other outside of your delusional bubble. Human beings drop fire on each other, intentionally starve entire populations to clear the land of "others" and generally behave shitty.

So don't lecture me.

Sounds like you haven't even donated your keyboard to support our troops but ok

Steve Tarnowski · · Aztec, NM · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 15

Anyone interested in this topic might want to read the 10th Circuit case brought by climbers challenging the voluntary closure - Bear Lodge Multiple Use Association v Babbitt (1999).

Some more legal commentary that discusses the case and gives a more in-depth overview of the issues here from Allison Dussias, Professor at the New England School of Law.

It doesn't take too much digging to answer some of the questions "supporters of the ban can't answer"

curt86iroc · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 69
Buck Rio wrote:

You show an enormous amount of white guilt...

Everybody's land was somebody else's land before it was theirs. Get over it.

And if you believe what you just wrote, you should NEVER climb the tower, because they think it is disrespectful to EVER climb on it, not just in June.

I am a product of the US Military, I KNOW how people treat each other outside of your delusional bubble. Human beings drop fire on each other, intentionally starve entire populations to clear the land of "others" and generally behave shitty.

So don't lecture me.

hmmm makes sense now...

GDavis Davis · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 10

What makes sense?

rees labree · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 299
grog m wrote: Well this topic is a real shit storm. I recommend you go to the Devil's tower page on MP and read the comments if you want to know more.

In short - it is not constitutional to enforce a ban. Hence the 'voluntary ban'. Supporters of the ban can't answer a lot of critical questions:

1. The significance of the month of June (a Roman month).
2. Why climbers are the only user group called out when climbers may be the least impactful group. Furthermore, the very Native American lore of the tower involves Native Americans climbing the tower...
3. Tax dollars pay for the park for everyone to use. It is not possible to ban people from paying to share this resource.
4. Which Native American tribes and/or individuals specfically are against climbers? Because only SJW's from Boulder speak out against climbing there. The statement about the Lakota people above is false. There are 7 tribes that have historically visited the tower. 

I wouldn't be surprised if SJW's from boulder virtue signaled enough to get mandatory ban set up in the next 5 years.

lol yeah

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

The real question is how much of this older thread will be repeated in this current one? Kind of like the recurring crag dog threads.

https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/112893285/devils-tower-in-june-22-years-after-the-voluntary-june-closure-started-what-do-p?page=17#ForumMessage-114582375

grog m · · Saltlakecity · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 70
Marc801 C wrote: Never trust anyone who peppers their posts with “SJW” and “virtue signaling”. These terms are designed to shut down dialog, not to have any sort of meaningful discussion. 

Do you have anything useful to contribute to the discussion? 

curt86iroc · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 69
GDavis Davis wrote: What makes sense?

My east coast sarcasm must not be coming through thick enough :)

Ben Pellerin · · Spaceship Earth · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 0
Buck Rio wrote:

You show an enormous amount of white guilt...

Everybody's land was somebody else's land before it was theirs. Get over it.

And if you believe what you just wrote, you should NEVER climb the tower, because they think it is disrespectful to EVER climb on it, not just in June.

I am a product of the US Military, I KNOW how people treat each other outside of your delusional bubble. Human beings drop fire on each other, intentionally starve entire populations to clear the land of "others" and generally behave shitty.

So don't lecture me.

  • Internet tough guy! No one cares about your military service that was your choice. I'd tell you what I really think but it would violate rule #1. 

Matthew Tangeman · · Bellingham, WA · Joined May 2015 · Points: 200
Buck Rio wrote:

But the fact is, I don't respect their religion (or any religion).  Based on the way many of them live IRL, they don't have much respect for it either.

It's also not just about you, it reflects back on the climbing community as a whole. Given the growing community and at times tenuous access situations across the country, it's probably in everyone's favor to show a little understanding. If you don't care about that, then so be it.

Cron · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 55
FrankPS wrote: The real question is how much of this older thread will be repeated in this current one? Kind of like the recurring crag dog threads.

https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/112893285/devils-tower-in-june-22-years-after-the-voluntary-june-closure-started-what-do-p?page=17#ForumMessage-114582375

If people actually searched the forums (or Google) for the answers to their questions I estimate we would see a 90% drop in forum topic posts. Then what would we “talk” about?  


MP is like a shitty remake of Groundhog Day.
mnjsan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 619
Andy Novak wrote:

Oh and Grog, didn't you used to use your real name?  And actually contribute? Now it seems you just chime in to be a dick. Whats up with that?

How was he being a dick?  How did he not contribute?  He just has a different opinion then you.


His post was actually well though out and contained some useful data.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Wyoming, Montana, Dakotas
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