[b]December 23, 2005[/b] The Southwest Montana Climbers? Coalition (SMCC) and the overwhelming majority of local climbers resoundingly condemn the construction and use of an illegal cabin in Hyalite Canyon. Upper Hyalite Canyon affords exceptional opportunities for ice climbing that are simply not found elsewhere, and it has been a regional center of climbing activity for decades. The importance of Hyalite to the climbing community cannot be overstated, and no responsible climber should do anything to jeopardize the privilege of climbing in this unique area. In response to this incident, the SMCC has drafted a letter to Gallatin National Forest administrators that expresses the local climbing community's disapproval of the cabin-builders' actions. The letter extends an offer to assist the Bozeman Ranger District with the removal of the cabin and its contents from the public land. The text of this letter, or a link to it, will be posted on this site at a later date. The SMCC is a group of rock, ice and alpine climbers who have come together to protect, promote and ensure responsible climbing throughout SW Montana. An important SMCC function is to take a leadership role in promoting the climbing community's good standing with land managers. This can be accomplished by demonstrating that climbers are, on the whole, first-rate stewards who are committed to the care and responsible use of their climbing areas. Assuming this role necessitates that we be willing to clean up the messes that result when less responsible climbers run astray. The illegal cabin incident emphasizes the need for an organization like the SMCC to respond to concerns of public land managers. While many, if not most climbers, balk at any organization, something like the SMCC is an inevitable result of increasing climber numbers. In short, climbers can no longer fly under the radar. Without intervention, incidents that negatively impact the climbing community's credibility will increase with climber numbers. Montana climbers must try to prevent them but be prepared to deal with those that occur in a swift and constructive manner. The SMCC is working to promote the interests of climbers on several fronts, not just Hyalite ice access. Contrary to what some believe, however, the SMCC is not involved in developing new climbing areas. Moreover, the SMCC does not promote or censure a particular brand of climbing style or ethic. Arguments over ethics and style have embroiled the climbing community for decades, and we may have been better off had we worried more about access to and care of local climbing areas. In an effort to remain focused on finding positive solutions to access issues, the SMCC will not become officially involved in these debates. There are many access issues that Montana climbers must face in the very near future. If you are a dissatisfied member or non-member that does not like the direction the SMCC is taking on important matters, you are cordially invited to work with your fellow climbers to tailor the SMCC more to your own concerns and liking. In the meantime, the SMCC and climbers at large need to address the damages caused by the Hyalite incident, then put this behind us and move on toward a brighter future. Thank you. Tom Kalakay Executive Director Southwest Montana Climber?s Coalition [b]How to join the SMCC[/b] Print out the SMCC Membership form! [url]http://montanaclimbers.org/pdf/smcc-signup-form.pdf[/url] or join immediately online at: [url]http://firstascentpress.com/buy-now.php?item_id=4[/url] Happy climbing!