ST. GEORGE — Day-use climbing in Zion National Park is set to resume Friday after months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Facebook post from the Zion Climbing Coalition, a community-founded climbing organization dedicated to helping climbers better support the Southern Utah areas they love to climb in, praised officials at Zion National Park for working to allow access to the climbing areas while continuing to manage the risks and health concerns of the pandemic.
Coalition vice president Robby Brower told St. George News they feel really good about the reopening of the climbing routes and are grateful to park staff for being good partners in balancing the management of outdoor recreation access along with health risks.
“We feel really good about it,” Brower said. “It is a good outcome with the park.”
While climbing routes in all parts of the park that are currently accessible will open Friday, Supervisory Park Ranger Andrew Fitzgerald said climbers who wish to access the Main Canyon Scenic Drive will need to purchase a shuttle ticket, reserve space on a commercial shuttle, bike or walk into the canyon.
All other climbing areas will only require the park entrance fee to access, Fitzgerald said.
Brower encouraged the climbing community to be mindful of risks and to do everything possible to minimize potential exposure to and the spread of the coronavirus by wearing a mask and be mindful of social distancing on the shuttle or when in close proximity to other park guests.
Fitzgerald echoed Brower and said the park does encourage mask-wearing and social distancing as much as possible.
Though there is inherent risk in the sport of climbing, the coalition cautioned the climbing community to continue to climb within their skill set.
Climbers were also asked to be good stewards of the park and respect any and all wildlife-related closures that may be in effect.
According to a post from Zion National Park, climbing routes in the park where nesting peregrine falcons are found are closed every year on March 1 and reopened after careful monitoring of nesting activity at the site, usually by late July.
Fitzgerald was unsure whether there were any active wildlife climbing closures heading into Friday but did not believe there were.
As climbing resumes in the park, Fitzgerald said access is limited to day-use climbs. Any climb that lasts longer than 24 hours requires a permit, and the park is still not issuing overnight permits for climbing or backcountry hiking.
Recreational climber and Southern Utah resident Spencer Ricks said he is excited to get back to Zion to do some climbs in the fall as well as some canyoneering adventures.
“I’m happy it’s being reopened. I may be interested in returning to Zion this fall to do a few short climbs, but I’m hoping the Zion backcountry and canyoneering routes open soon as well.”
A full list of park-specific climbing regulations can be found here.
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