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Court Upholds Climbing Ban At Lake Tahoe’s Cave Rock

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Rock climbers have lost their hold on Cave Rock, a popular climbing site on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe. The Ninth Circuit allowed the U.S. Forest Service to ban climbing at Cave Rock because climbers defaced a natural rock formation of religious, cultural and historical significance.

The Washoe people consider it a sacred site, archaeologists and ethnographers study it, settlers used it as a travel corridor, and Highway 50 carries Tahoe's tourists through its tunnels. The Access Fund, a climbing advocacy group, claimed the decision to single out climbers from the hikers, fishers and sightseers who still enjoy Cave Rock was arbitrary and capricious. But the circuit said the Forest Service relied on extensive evidence that climbing harms the rock. Since the late 1980s, climbers have drilled permanent bolts into the rock, spattered it with graffiti, added a masonry floor and arranged rock seating in the cave, among other things.

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