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Zion 2012 Spring Cliff Closures
Submitted By: John McNamee on Feb 17, 2012

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February 17, 2012
For Immediate Release
David Eaker 435 772-7811
Backcountry Information 435 772-0170

Zion National Park Announces Schedule of Climbing Closures
Climbing routes on cliffs used by nesting Peregrine Falcons in Zion National Park will be temporarily closed beginning March 1, 2012, in order to protect the nesting success of this bird which is in recovery from “endangered species” status. The closing date is based on analysis of information collected from 2001-2011 regarding the peregrines’ arrival time to their nesting cliffs in the park.

The following cliffs will be closed to climbing beginning March 1, 2012: Angels Landing, Cable Mountain, The Great White Throne (beyond single- and double-pitched climbs), Isaac (in Court of the Patriarchs), The Sentinel, Mountain of the Sun, North Twin Brother, Tunnel Wall, The East Temple, Mount Spry, The Streaked Wall, Mount Kinesava, and the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek. All other cliffs will remain open to climbing.

Park biologists will monitor the nesting activity of Peregrine Falcons in the park throughout the 2012 breeding season. Cliffs that have been closed but are not being used by nesting peregrines this year, will be reopened when nest sites have been determined, typically by late April or early May. Those cliffs being used this year will be monitored until the chicks fledge, usually in late July, and then will be reopened to climbing.

Zion National Park is home to a high concentration of breeding Peregrine Falcons each spring and summer. These magnificent birds of prey were listed as an “endangered species” in 1970 under the Endangered Species Act. Their decline was primarily due to pesticides like DDT, which caused the female to lay thin-shelled eggs that were easily broken, killing the developing embryo inside. Thanks to the U.S. ban on DDT in 1972 as well as the success of captive breeding programs, peregrine populations recovered across North America and the species was delisted in 1999. Zion National Park has been and continues to be an important sanctuary for peregrines and other species. Even when peregrine populations were plummeting elsewhere, they continued to successfully nest and raise their young on the tall cliffs found in the park.

For up-to-date information on the status and maps of the closed climbing cliffs, please check the Zion National Park website at Climbers are responsible for checking the specific maps of the closed areas. The website will be continuously updated as cliffs are reopened.

Press Release

Comments on Zion 2012 Spring Cliff Closures Add Comment
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 20, 2012
By Jason Haas
Feb 22, 2012
This doesn't include Moonlight Buttress, does it?
By Matt Desenberg
From: North Berwick, ME
Feb 22, 2012
That's what I was wondering...
By DallinH
From: Utah
Feb 22, 2012
Nope. Don't know that it ever has.
By John McNamee
From: Littleton, CO
Feb 23, 2012
ML is open.
By Jason Haas
Feb 23, 2012
great, thanks for the clarification
By Angela Mabe
From: Flagstaff,AZ
Feb 24, 2012
What about smashmouth on The Confluence? Just need some clarity before we head out.
Thanks in advance :)
By Caleb Padgett
From: Rockville, utah
Feb 26, 2012
Smashmouth and everything in the confluence area is open to climbing. Routes on the tunnel wall including the kung fu theatre get closed though, these are the wall you hike past when approaching confluence.
By Dennis
Feb 29, 2012
Does this include Iron Messiah? Thanks1
By Michael Schneiter
From: Glenwood Springs, CO
Feb 29, 2012
Iron Messiah is not closed.
By shakey
Mar 7, 2012
Does anyone know if the Cowboy Ridge on Mt. Kinesava is closed? the map makes it look like its only the routes on the wall (
By Trevor
From: Cottonwood Heights, UT
Mar 9, 2012
the Tunnel Wall Closure INCLUDES the Headache (as it does every year). However, people still climb that route more than any route in Zion (including during the closure). Please pay attention folks.
By Caleb Padgett
From: Rockville, utah
Mar 10, 2012
Actually Trevor that is not correct. The Headache and routes on Ataxia Tower stay open. This has been verified by me through both biologists and rangers that work for the park.
By Trevor
From: Cottonwood Heights, UT
Mar 12, 2012
Seems like we are getting mixed messages and sorry if I am adding to any confusion, but regarding the headache, See the BOLD text below:

Hello Trevor,

Thank you for your comments and request for clarification about the climbing cliff closures at Zion. It is always great to see how concerned the climbing community is about complying with closures to protect the nesting peregrine falcons. In return, we monitor the peregrine falcons vigilantly and reopen cliffs to climbing as soon as possible. This year,our webmasters have designated multiple backup people for the primary webpage updater, in order to ensure that changes will be posted on the webpage without delay when the primary updater is not available (in past years, there was only one designated backup person).

Due to multiple requests for clarification from people planning to climb routes at Zion this season, we have removed the photographs from the webpage. We also created some individual maps to improve clarity. Throughout the course of this summer, we will update and supplement our photos to better reflect the full extent of closure areas. It is our intent to facilitate planning climbing trips to Zion during the peregrine falcon breeding season.

Please look at the current maps on the webpage to answer the bulk of your questions. Megamahedral is open, as is Cowboy Ridge. Both are just outside their respective boundary closures. We can post that on the webpage. I also noticed that the webpage no longer mentions that Ataxia Tower (AKA Ashtar Command) is open; I will get that remedied. As the webpage map shows, everything on the Tunnel West/Tunnel Wall from the hairpin turn to just beyond the west tunnel entrance is closed - except for Ataxia Tower. This means that the Headache Area is closed. I am not sure where the Kung Fu Theater area is - if it is west of the hairpin turn, it is open.

Regarding East Temple, the closure boundaries marked on the map are based on biological principles, rather than on actual climbing use. This is because climbing routes can change over time, with new branches and even new routes appearing, and popularity changing. Because we monitor the peregrine falcons, we know what areas are significant to their reproductive success, and can change closure boundaries if we detect changes in bird use of an area. We are less up-to-date on changes in the climbing routes, so it's easier to use what we know to inform the closure boundaries.

Claire Crow
Wildlife Program Manager
Zion National Park
Springdale, UT 84767
By Cassie
Mar 27, 2012
Hi, I'm a wildlife biologist at Zion and have recently been put in charge of the climbing closures at the park. The email that was recently posted from my supervisor, Claire Crow, did contain an error concerning the Headache Area. She welcomes any questions that you may have for her (, as do I ( I would like to address some popular climbing areas that there seems to be some confusion about. The following routes/areas stay OPEN throughout the closure period: Moonlight Buttress, the Confluence Area (including Smashmouth), Iron Messiah, Cowboy Ridge, the Headache Area, Ataxia Tower, and the Kung Fu Theatre. I hope this clears things up a bit. Thank you.
By Eric J
From: Western slope, CO
Mar 30, 2012
John M,
Looks like Desert Shield should be open. How's May looking for you?
By Josh Higgins
Apr 16, 2012
Cassie, I work with a climbing access group here in San Diego. We actively work with the local national forest to help spread the word about closures. It may help you to contact local climbers and have them "translate" the closures into boundaries that climbers can identify based on route names and routes in guidebooks. Perhaps you guys could work with a local climbing access group, if there is one, to mitigate confusion? It works great here! I'd like to say that it's great how friendly Zion NP seems to be to climbers, from my experience.
By steve lindsay
Apr 20, 2012
Excelent thread. Thanks. I again have faith in humanity to work together.

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