Climbing & hiking access threatened on the Eastern Slopes, in particular the Ghost River

Banff Park boundary at Devil's Gap

The Climbers Access Society of Alberta (CASA) has been working hard for the last several years to maintain and re-instate motorized access into the Ghost River area. Currently, vehicular access is allowed as far as the Banff Park boundary at Devil’s Gap and Junction 39 on the Ghost River on a year-round basis, allowing access farther west from December 1 to March 31 annually.

The Advisory Committee, advising the government on the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan, appears to be proposing that the Ghost River Valley, with all of its world class ice and rock climbs, be designated a “primitive recreation” zone. This means that motorized access to ice and rock climbing staging areas and to random camping locations will not be allowed. Many other ice, rock and mountain climbing areas along the Eastern Slopes may also be impacted if the Advisory Committee’s recommendations are accepted. It is possible that nobody will be able to drive beyond the base of the Big Hill. Hikers will not be able to drive to the Blackrock Mountain trailhead.

Climbers and hikers are being lumped in with a small number of rogue off-highway vehicle users who don’t stick to the designated OHV trails. We need to stress to the government that our priority is having reasonable vehicular access to our climbs and hikes, and we are not out to tear up the land.

There is a government survey for the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan that you can fill out and submit by December 21. It is a huge survey (more than 200 questions!). The Climbers Access Society has provided a summary of the pertinent questions you need to answer in order to help maintain access to the Ghost River and other areas along the Eastern Slopes.

For those of you who have not filled one in, the survey can be found here. Only a few more days left to have your say.

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