Montana Public Radio

Western Montana Climbers Coalition

Cars fill a parking lot at Snowbowl mountain April 01,2020. Guidelines for safe recreation during the coronavirus pandemic include social distancing and toning down the risks in order to protect first responders and preserve hospital beds.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

According to a 2018 report from Headwaters Economics, nearly 90 percent of Montanans participate in outdoor recreation for physical and mental well-being. But safety concerns amid the novel coronavirus outbreak are complicating how people get outside.

A climber in Lost Horse Canyon in the Bitterroot National Forest.
Courtesy Damien Powledge

The Bitterroot National Forest banned the creation of new, bolted rock climbing routes earlier this month, forcing climbers and conservationists to contemplate the future of the sport in the area.

In so-called “sport climbing,” climbers clip ropes into small bolts fixed in the rock to keep from falling too far should they slip off as they ascend.