RIVER RANT: Fencing off south side rock wall at Belle Isle?

The rocks on the south side are not bouldered and there is no safety equipment and rope holds in placeA man was transported by MedFlight to VCU Medical Center on February 27 with serious injuries after falling about 25 feet while rock climbing on the south side of Belle Isle.

Rescue workers at Belle Isle - Credit: Andrew PhinneyThe rocks on the south side are not bouldered and there is no safety equipment and rope holds in place. That has prompted some people to suggest that the rocks in this area of Belle Isle need to be fenced off and for people to be blocked from access. Park manager Ralph White is not in favor of that suggestion.

Rescue workers at Belle Isle - Credit: Andrew Phinney“It did not involve recreational climbing,” White said during a James River Outdoor Coalition meeting two days after the man fell. “The rocks are part of the natural environment and the appeal of Belle Isle.” He said he is opposed to any structural changes in that area and the rocky area should remain as it is. Park-goers should be aware of the dangers and proceed with caution.

What do you think? Is fencing off this rock face or any other potentially dangerous places in the James River Park the best practice?


6 responses to “RIVER RANT: Fencing off south side rock wall at Belle Isle?

  1. A resounding “Hell no!” from me… true living entails risk. I’m tired of us having to live in an overly sanitized, fenced off, warning signed, litigation happy society. The James River Park system, as Ralph White envisioned it, is an escape from that idiocy. It’s nature, it’s real, and it can be dangerous if you aren’t conscientious and careful . I don’t think I ever hear anyone recommend fencing off the James River when an unfortunate swimming or kayaking accident occurs. Same should apply here.

  2. Don’t fence it off! It has been my experience people get hurt much worse trying to get around fenced off areas. Put up a sign stating its danger and let people proceed at their own risk. If they choose to be a thrill seeker let them. Stop blocking off part of our nature we should get to enjoy because someone got hurt. It is part of life.

  3. We can’t idiot proof everything. Who are the “some people” who are suggesting this boneheaded idea??

  4. No fences. Fences are ugly and encourage fools to try to get around them. And they have to be paid for and maintained. I’m opposed to more signage too. It seems obvious to me that climbing rocks can be dangerous. And I’m not all that smart.

  5. Way too many fences and concrete already!! In the same way deer and other wild life is being crammed into smaller and smaller living areas, people are too. Let’s keep areas open and free of ugly steel and concrete structures as much as possible.

  6. I heard that he wasn’t injured climbing, that he was up on top of the island, went off a trail, sat on something (a branch?) which broke, causing him to fall down the rockface. Accidents happen on and off trails.

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