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Brian Prax on Dialectric Breakdown, Hyalite Canyon, Montana. Hyalite is one of the country’s finest venues for ice climbing, but access is threatened by a new Forest Service plan, which would close and gate the road into the Canyon between January 1 and May 15 and designate it for “family-oriented cross country skiing.” Feedback from climbers regarding the plan can influence the outcome. [Photo] Joe Josephson

It’s time for Montana ice climbers to pull their gloves off–not while climbing frozen waterfalls, but in the fight to retain access to Hyalite Canyon. Slated to go into effect in 2008, the Gallatin National Forest’s new travel plan would close and gate the road between January 1 and May 15 and designate it for “family-oriented cross country skiing,” effectively reducing a five-month ice climbing season to six to eight weeks.

In an early January meeting, Forest Service officials turned down climbers’ requests to make changes to the travel plan outside a formal appeal process and said sternly, climbers have “the responsibility to prove [the Forest Service] wrong. And we don’t want to be wrong.”

Joe Josephson, author of the local ice guidebook Winter Dance, said that over the past four years Montana climbers and the Southwest Montana Climbing Coalition (SMCC) have been “working in good faith to educate the Forest Service about the value of Hyalite ice climbing. And they’ve ignored us.”

With assistance from The Access Fund, high-profile locals such as Josephson, Pat Callis and Conrad Anker have filed official appeals, but Montana ice climbers still need legal and financial help. More information and ways to contribute can be found at:

First Ascent Press: Here you can fill out a survey that will help save access to Hyalite Canyon.

The Access Fund

Montana Ice