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Who will pay for our crags to be upgraded with quality hardware?

Original Post
dave bingham · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2007 · Points: 52

We climbers enjoy a somewhat unique situation where we happily climb routes established by people who paid for the hardware out of their own pockets. As someone who’s placed a lot of bolts, I attest that most folks who create routes do so for the love of doing it and don’t think much about the cost. At least for first ascents…

But what about replacing all those non-stainless steep bolts, corroding at uneven rates around the country? Thanks to people like Greg Barnes with the ASCA, many classic routes and crags have been upgraded. The Access Fund, with support from industry groups and others are also doing great work supporting the many Local Climbing Organizations that are starting the massive the process of replacing hardware.

But will these efforts, which rely mostly on volunteer labor, be enough to replace and maintain the hundreds of thousands of bolts out there?

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530

The short answer? No, they won't. I worked to rebolt much of Red Rock's sport crags and probably only managed 5-10% of them in the three years I was really active, something on the order of 300 bolts.

There are more productive areas, but they are the exception, not the rule.

I'm curious to see what the state of the nation's sport crags will be like in 25 years. I suspect that the popular ones will be full equipped with stainless glue-ins, and the not so popular ones will be left to languish until someone 're-discovers' them and works to get donations to fix them up.

CThornton · · Boise · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 66

With aging hardware and climbing's increasing popularity there's going to be a greater need for rebolting projects, but I'm hopeful that with more people climbing we'll also see more donations for the ASCA, Access Fund, and other climber advocacy groups. I think we have somewhat of a shared responsibility to maintain fixed hardware and access and that includes donating both time and money to rebolting projects. However, as a broke-ass student I have little of either to offer at the moment.

Ultimately, I'm hopeful the problem will be solved (or at least mitigated) by promoting a culture of volunteerism. Sure, a lot of us will be freeloaders. (like me) However, considering how many bolts we clip in our climbing careers, donating 20 or 50 bucks every now and then really isn't much and that would go a long way toward funding bolt replacement and I think it's important to stress that point to people.
Thanks for all the great work you've done Dave.

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 350

Just a question, though. If you regularly donate to some fund, would it lower the likelihood of helping?

Poor college students (and old ladies) may not have money, but, if we (collectively) have time to climb, maybe we might have time to help rebolt? Or, is it better if only a few do that job?

It would be nice to be able to drop a few bucks in a box when each of us climbs, but that seems pretty hard to make theft proof. And, then, who is responsible for it and getting the job done?

Dave, we were just over scouting out Massacre Rocks when you were doing your book signing in Boise last week, and this is just what we were discussing there. The big ticket places like COR will be taken care of, but there wasn't even a cow trail over on the stuff above the river, let alone any other climbers. Given that a lot went up in the 80's and 90's, it definitely gave us pause. I think you are right, the less known spots will take "discovering".

Best, Helen

And yes, Dave, thanks for all you've done for Idaho climbing!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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