Evaluating Visual Impacts of Near-View Rock Climbing Scenes


  • Christopher D. Jones


Fixed-anchors, visual preference, visual impacts, climbing management plans.


In light of recent management proposals to increase bans of fixed-climbing anchors, this study examines visual impacts of rock climbing in Rock Canyon Park of Provo, Utah. Visitor responses to photo-based measures of visual preference were obtained during on-site interviews. Undergraduate research assistants distributed a series of questionnaires during the summer of 2001. Questionnaires corresponded to digital photos taken systematically across the cliffs. One hundred fortythree respondents rated a series of 16 photos for visual preference on 5- point Likert-type scales. Three a priori hypotheses were tested to evaluate visual impacts of rock climbing: (1) Preference for photos containing evidence of fixed-anchors would not be significantly higher than preference for photos without evidence of fixed-anchors; (2) Photos containing evidence of climbing chalk would not be significantly less preferred than photos containing little or no evidence of chalk; and (3) Being a climber or nonclimber would not significantly determine whether visual preference of scenes containing evidence of rock climbing was significantly higher than visual preference of scenes containing no evidence of rock climbing. Results suggested that proposed park and forest area regulations to eliminate fixed-anchors on the basis of visual impact might be unfounded as evidenced by the finding of no significant differences between an anchors only factor and an anchors and chalk excluded factor. In addition, gymnastic chalk was found to have no significant visual impact upon ratings of cliff environments in Rock Canyon. Climbers’ ratings of visual preference for photos containing evidence of rock climbing were not significantly different from non-climbers. Overall, the results suggest that rock climbing has little significant visual impact upon cliff environments in Rock Canyon. Thus, climbing management plans, stating that fixed-anchors create a significant visual impact, appear to be unfounded.





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