Local rock climbers clear hurdle - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Local rock climbers clear hurdle

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

For the past 19 months, much of Oahu's prime rock climbing sites have been shut down.  The closings happened after a 12-year old girl was hit on the head and critically injured by a falling rock at Mokuleia.

Now, outdoor enthusiasts are hoping to get them re-opened.  SB 1007 HD1 addresses and makes permanent liability protections for the state, and puts responsibility on climbers.

"It does not absolve the state of all its liability, it still has to maintain its trail systems, but it does extend also the responsibility to the people using the mountains to take care of themselves" said Debora Halbert, who is a climbing advocate.

"It protects the state, and it balances the interest of attorneys and public officials that want to keep the public safe" said Mike Richardson of Climb Aloha.

In 2012, the state settled a civil lawsuit in the death of two hikers on Kauai.  The settlement cost $15.4 million.

"I mean it's easy to understand how they would feel about liability" said Mike Bishop of Climb Aloha.  He in turn, hopes lawmakers understand how he feels about rock climbing.

"It's almost like a religious experience for us, it gives us an opportunity to get out in nature, experience something that's awe inspiring, beautiful, frightening, rewarding and challenging.  It becomes a lifestyle".

The act was passed by the Senate in the previous legislative session, and would face a House vote if it advances that far.  It passed a judiciary committee vote Thursday.

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