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;
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)