The winter’s rainy weather forced the Israel National Parks Authority to close
the popular Ein Fara nature reserve on the outskirts of Jerusalem after a giant
boulder fell on the hiking path.
However, the INPA decided to close the
site only to rock climbers and continue to allow hikers in the area, despite the
fact that the INPA is still conducting surveys to determine if the site is safe
from additional rock fall.
Members of the Israel Climbing Club claim that
the move to bar climbers from the site is part of the INPA’s long-standing
distrust of the climbing community. Climbers flock to Ein Fara year-round as it
is one of the best places close to Jerusalem for outdoor rock
The area also has some of the most popular maayanot, or natural
springs in the Jerusalem area and is crowded with visitors.
make any sense – what fell is much closer to the [hiking] path than where we
climb,” said Yair Cohen, a committee member of the Israel Climbing Club. “There
is no connection with the climbers... it’s simply easier to close it to us than
to hikers because we’re a smaller group.”
INPA spokeswoman Tali Tenenbaum
said the rock fell after stormy weather that rocked the capital at the beginning
of January. It very rarely rains in the Ein Fara area, which is located in a
deep wadi slashed into the Judean Desert Hills.
“The danger is only at
the cliff in the northern part of the river, and not for hikers, and that is why
only part of the area was closed when a rock fell at the cliff a number of weeks
ago,” said Tenenbaum.
However, the area around the cliff that climbers
use is still open to hikers. Tenenbaum stressed that the “safety of visitors is
the most important thing to us.”
A geologist is currently surveying the
area to determine further risk.
Last week, an additional boulder fell in
the same area, which is located near the climbing area.
Cohen said the
INPA has a “built-in fear of climbing,” and considers rock climbing a dangerous
sport which harms nature, despite the precautions climbers take both in terms of
safety and their dedication to minimally impacting the nature
“It’s a reflex,” he said, “anytime something happens they close
it to climbers.”