An updated climbing closure is in effect after Peregrine Falcons were observed in nesting behavior on the southeast face of the Tower.
Aggressive falcon activity, such as dive-bombing climbers on Meadows-to-Summit, the route most climbers take to reach the summit, was reported to Rangers. For the safety of climbers and to protect the nesting falcons, a modified temporary closure is in effect.
Climbing routes on the southeast face and the southeast edges of the Tower’s summit, including the east side of the Meadows and the Standard Meadows Finish are closed. Any route that ends in the Meadows must summit via Bailey Direct, or rappel via Bon Homme or Meadows.
The climbing route closure involves 41 routes between Uncle Remus Dirty Vegetable Garden and Belle Fourche Buttress. Over one hundred climbing routes on the Tower remain open.
“The closure is implemented not only to protect the birds, but to protect climbers, as falcons are known to defensively dive in order to protect their nests,” said Nancy Stimson, Acting Superintendent.
“The presence of climbers near or above falcon nests can be distressing to parent birds and disturbance from climbing activities may force falcons to abandon eggs or chicks.”
Climbers are asked to report any defensive falcon behavior to park staff. Park biologists will monitor falcon activity, and the closure area may be moved, extended or rescinded depending on nesting and fledgling activity.
Climbing routes will remain closed until the young falcons fledge and are no longer dependent on the nest location. Peregrine falcons have successfully nested on the Tower for the last three seasons, and have used a different eyrie site each year.
“The closure is strictly enforced. All climbers are required to register at the Climbing Registration Office or kiosk before beginning their ascent,” said Joe Stiver, Acting Chief Ranger.