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Bear Ears National Monument Under Attack!

I can't remember when I first heard about Indian Creek, but I know that it had entered legendary status in my psyche long before I first showed up there in May of 2009. I had barely learned how to hand jam, the technique that makes crack climbing go from being nearly impossible to not much harder than climbing a flight of stairs (if your hand fits in it just right). 

Most of the area in this photograph would lose Monument status under the new reduction. On the right (the climbing area "Cliffs of Insanity" and on the left, the remote "The Wall" Crag) This area would be opened up for oil and gas leasing.

For climbers worldwide it has become known as the destination to go to for crack climbers. But there is so much more to it than just a crack climbing area. 

Rosa Tran climbing the classic route 'Wavy Gravy.'

It is the ancestral and cultural homelands to American Indians, it is ranch land, it is the gateway to Canyonlands National Park. It is a place of solitude and freedom, free of many permanent structures, little pavement, or noisy machinery... At least for now.

A cliffside ruins that would be removed from Monument status with the new ruling.

But for some, this land is just another quick dollar, a drop of oil in the tank, a momentary boost to the economy in the form of drilling, energy, and mineral extraction. 

And if President Trump has his way, the spirit of this place will be forever altered. Oil and gas leasing will be allowed to but up right next to current climbing areas and cultural sites.

Native American made Petroglyph.

Climber made petroglyph, marking the route 'Luxury Liner'. First climbed by Earl Wiggins in 1976, the route was climbed before camming devices and was led entirely with hexes. Anyone that has climbed this route can imagine how difficult and terrifying that must have been. The popular route is now known simply as 'SuperCrack!'

Jeffrey Snider climbing on the route 'Anunnaki.'

Part of Indian Creek is encompassed in the Bear's Ears National Monument, which was created through the Antiquities Act by President Barack Obama on December 28, 2016. 

Leading up to Bears Ears designation as a National Monument climbers and tribes worked together for the common goal of protecting these important lands. Now, these lands are vulnerable to looting, grave robbing, fossil fuel development, and uranium mining.

The reservoir with South and North Sixshooter Peaks on the left.

A ruins in an area that would lose Monument status near Indian Creek.

A room inside a ruins that would lose it's Monument status under Trumps ruling.

Scarcely one year after the designation of Bears Ears, and for the first time in history, a President, has decreased the size of a National Monument. It has been decreased, although nearly 3 million Americans spoke up in favor of keeping the monument as is during a public comment period about proposed reductions. 

Do our voices not matter?

Sunset in Indian Creek country.

Rosa Tran climbing the iconic and much photographed route 'Scarface' in Indian Creek.

There is no precedent for reducing or removing National Monuments. And many believe that it should take an act of Congress to do so.

Several organizations are preparing to sue the President for his illegal actions, including climber advocacy group The Access Fund, Patagonia, The Hopi, Zuni, Ute, Mountain Ute, and The Navajo Nation.

This self portrait is from my first visit in Indian Creek in 2009. A long exposure photograph where I only stood in front of the camera for part of the exposure.

Just as I appear to disappear, so does Bears Ears National Monument. 

President Trump's proclamation #9681 has reduced Bears Ears National Monument by 85% and will also reduce Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by about 50%. If this proclamation is allowed to stand it will set a dangerous precedent for public lands all over the United States. 

You can donate to the cause and help offset the costs of the impending legal battle here: http://bearsearscoalition.org/

Moods of Mato Tipila

Mato Tipila, or Devils Tower National Monument, was my home for the last two summers. As a Climbing Ranger for the National Park Service, it was a dream job.

 As a photographer, the Tower is an iconic image. Mato Tipila has many moods, from a grey looming hulk, to a glowing golden giant. There is a place known as the Joyner Ridge that provides some of the best views of the Tower. I would often race up there when a rainbow appeared or during a lightning storm, full moon, or new moon. I hope you enjoy these images from those two summers.