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Peru with Mountain Madness

Outer Space on Snow Creek Wall Rock Climbing Re-Opened

For those of you that have climbed in Leav­en­worth, WA the clas­sic Out­er Space is a well-known objec­tive. Moun­tain Mad­ness clients and guides alike con­sid­er this among the best routes in the 5.8−5.9 range, with split­ter cracks and airy faces the norm. Due the a nest­ing pere­grine fal­con pair the wall was closed, but has recent­ly been re-opened. For a report from Janet Mil­lard, wildlife biol­o­gists, read below;

Hi every­one,

The climb­ing clo­sure on the main part of the Snow Creek Wall will be lift­ed ear­ly this year, due to the suc­cess­ful fledg­ing of chicks ear­li­er this week. Climbers will be wel­come back on the entire wall July 15th.

Even though the chicks fledged on July 7, we are not allow­ing climb­ing in the clo­sure area until July 15. This will give the chicks time to fin­ish devel­op­ment of pectoral/​flight mus­cles and flight feath­ers. They are still very weak fliers at this time. They don’t fly very well until about 10 days after their first flight off of their hatching/​rearing ledge. Dur­ing those 10 days the par­ents need to keep track of the young so they know where to bring food (the chicks’ scream­ing helps the par­ents find them). After about 10 days the young are suf­fi­cient­ly strong enough to start chas­ing their par­ents around, beg­ging for food. The young con­tin­ue to chase the par­ents, either until the par­ents dri­ve them away, or the adults begin fall migra­tion — about 5 – 6 weeks post-fledg­ing. The young, hav­ing been aban­doned” final­ly get the hint after a while and migrate too.

Right now the chicks are most­ly walk­ing around, hop­ping and flap­ping from ledge to ledge. It takes them until about 10 days post-fledg­ing to real­ly get the hang of fly­ing, main­ly because their flight feath­ers and pec­toral mus­cles are still devel­op­ing. In this time, they are like­ly to be perch­ing any­where on the wall that strikes their fan­cy or looks safe to land as they’re run­ning out of gas. This means they could be on any ledge, tree, or snag on any climb­ing route in the clo­sure area, exhaust­ed (or pos­si­bly feed­ing), as you approach. And until the young are strong enough to safe­ly avoid any unwant­ed encoun­ters, we’re not sure how the par­ents will react to peo­ple climb­ing up towards their vul­ner­a­ble chicks.

Around 15 – 25 days post-fledg­ing the chicks gain pow­ered flight” and will aggres­sive­ly chase their par­ents to beg for food — even if the par­ent is active­ly hunt­ing or engag­ing in ter­ri­to­r­i­al defense. For those of you new to the SCW in a post-fledg­ing envi­ron­ment, the air show can be quite spec­tac­u­lar, and noisy! In past years we’ve observed many close fly-bys to climbers on the wall but have not wit­nessed any aggres­sion — if you expe­ri­ence any we would like to know about it.

The wall is being opened after only 8 days post-fledg­ing, part­ly because of the lack of dis­tur­bance they’ve enjoyed so far. The par­ents have been able to hunt and deliv­er food with­out human dis­trac­tion, and the chicks feed and exer­cise in rel­a­tive com­fort and safe­ty. The oth­er rea­son is that we antic­i­pate most of the climber traf­fic will arrive next week­end (10−11 days post fledg­ing), and a mid-week/low traf­fic open­ing seemed like a good way to rein­tro­duce climbers to the birds.

A sin­cere thank you to the climb­ing com­mu­ni­ty for sup­port­ing the clo­sure and ensur­ing anoth­er suc­cess­ful year for this pair!”

Janet Mil­lard, Wildlife Bio Tech
Wenatchee Riv­er RD
(for­mer­ly known as Lake Wenatchee & Leav­en­worth RD)
509−548−2559 (VoIP)