Monday, August 04, 2008

My e-mail to Falcon Guides

"Dear Sir/Madam –
Your company is preparing to release Bob Horan’s “Bouldering Colorado”, a guidebook aiming to more comprehensively cover the outstanding bouldering opportunities found throughout Colorado. While I applaud the idea, it is with great disappointment that I learned that any of the bouldering contained in The Mount Evans Wilderness Area will be included and I hope Falcon will consider removing the section covering Mount Evans’ Area A or any other area located within the Wilderness Area.
Wilderness Areas are secluded spots, miles from roads and development of any kind. They are a place people go to get away, to enjoy the grandeur of the wild, which isn’t easy to do these days. In addition, the Northern Colorado Climbing Coalition has determined that officials for the management agencies in the Mount Evans drainage were not informed, consulted with or otherwise told of the upcoming guidebook’s release. Finally, access to the bouldering opportunities around Mount Evans is tenuous at best at this time. Local climbers are in the process of building relationships with the aforementioned land managers and release of this guidebook may irreparably damage those efforts. In addition, officials for the Wilderness Area are currently assessing spots already suffering climbing-associated impacts in an effort to get ahead of the curve and begin to assess ways we may give of our time to mitigate and/or reduce those impacts.
According to language contained within The Wilderness Act of 1964, Wilderness Areas “… shall be administered for the use and enjoyment of the American people in such manner that will leave them unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness, and so as to provide for the protection of these areas, the preservation of their wilderness character, and for the gathering and dissemination of information regarding their use and enjoyment as wilderness.” Recreation in Wilderness Areas is expected to be wild and dispersed. Release of this guidebook will certainly increase the total number of climber-days spent inside the boundaries of the Mount Evans Wilderness Area. More climber-days each season means more impacts. With a little logic, it’s easy to see that that more impacts means more administration by officials charged with managing the Mount Evans Wilderness Area.
I have spent close to 100 days inside the boundaries of the Mount Evans Wilderness Area - all without a guide - enjoying the bouldering opportunities that exist within its confines. A guide is unnecessary and by bringing more climbers, who will spent time hunting for the areas and problems not covered by Horan’s guide, social trails and other impacts will multiply.
At a minimum, please consider postponing inclusion of any bouldering found within the confines of the Mount Evans Wilderness Area until a later date. The other major publishers (Sharp End & Wolverine) have responsibly passed on their inclusion in upcoming guidebooks and responsible boulderers hope Falcon will do the same. It is the only choice, as closure of the bouldering areas within The Mount Evans Wilderness Area may be the unacceptable consequence of releasing Bouldering Colorado in its current form.

Warm regards,
Chip Phillips


chuffer said...


"Dear Mr. Philips,

Thanks so much for sharing your concerns about the inclusion of some of Mt. Evans’ bouldering problems in our forthcoming Bouldering Colorado guide.

Bob Horan, the author of this book and a number of other climbing guides for Falcon, has long promoted low-impact bouldering and climbing and has taken this same approach with his newest book, including ethics and low-impact use information throughout. He was careful not to include in his book any areas that are closed and recognizes that bouldering in wilderness areas such as Mt. Evans is both a legal and an appropriate activity.

If I might ask, given your concerns for this area, have you decided not to climb there any longer yourself? Wouldn’t your presence there, even if only in a small way, have some amount of impact on the area as well? I wonder how you might justify your time spent climbing in this area, but not someone else’s. Certainly, publishing this information in a guidebook will expose Mt. Evans to more climbers, but not all of those who read this book will come to Mt. Evans. And for many of those who do, they will be better armed with good, responsible information on where to climb and how to do so in a low-impact way.

As a company that has, for nearly thirty years, published many hundreds of guidebooks for climbing, bouldering, mountain biking, paddling, hiking, and other activities, we’re sensitive to the issues you bring up, and we take the responsibility of publishing this type of information very seriously. One thing we’ve noticed over the years, for instance, is that publishing information in a guidebook about legitimate climbing areas, mountain bike trails, etc., often HELPS during later negotiations with land managers because it establishes these areas or trails as places with a history of use by climbers and/or other trail users. This is frequently an important consideration with government agencies when deciding to maintain or further allow access. So while there might be a fear that publishing information about a certain trail or climbing area will be detrimental, often the exact opposite occurs.

Nevertheless, it is too late for us to do anything about including areas on Mt. Evans or any place, for that matter, in the forthcoming edition of Bouldering Colorado. This book went to the printer back in May and we’re simply waiting now for the books to arrive in our warehouse.

When the book does release, please feel free to give it a thorough review and let me know if you have any further comments or concerns.

Thanks once again for taking the time to share your concerns.

Best regards,


Executive Editor
Globe Pequot Press / FalconGuides

tel: 434.244.0876 fax: 434.244.5039"

Peter Beal said...

By the way Chip I never got a response from Falcon so I'm a little jealous. I like how the editor implied you're a hypocrite. Nice one...