Advice for best way to remove lichen and moss


Original Post
grant N · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 3

I have been climbing at an area in Virginia, hidden valley. It was closed for a long time and is now open. 

I see what looks like it large feature that makes me think that the general area of this section of wall has the potential for an awesome route.

The problem is that the rock face is covered with alot of lichen and a little moss. I dont want to damage the rock in my effort to remove it. I also figure that there will be multiple sizes of things I will need to use.

What do people use  or have had success with for removing lichen? 

David Gibbs · · Ottawa, ON · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 6

What type of rock?  The usual solution is wire brushes and scrubbing, but if the rock is especially soft, this may not be great.

grant N · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 3

I am not sure the type of rock but it feels like a cross between sandstone and granite

Allen Sanderson · · Oootah · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,115

Before you start I would suggest that you contact the Carolina Climbers Coalition for some guidance. They and the Access Fund put in a lot of work and money on getting the area opened back up. http://carolinaclimbers.org/hidden-valley.html . Though it has been several years since that happened (2014) I am sure there are still issues being worked out. 

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0
Allen Sanderson wrote:

Before you start I would suggest that you contact the Carolina Climbers Coalition for some guidance. They and the Access Fund put in a lot of work and money on getting the area opened back up. http://carolinaclimbers.org/hidden-valley.html . Though it has been several years since that happened (2014) I am sure there are still issues being worked out. 

Agreed. Someone going whole hog on creating new routes without regard to any plans or rules that have been put in place could get it shut down. Contact them for advise on how to proceed. They can probably tell you what type of rock it is too. 

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136

First of all, do your research regarding access and potential rules and regulations before taking any action. Access issues aside, though, here is my suggestion:

For removing dirt, dust, and lichen I will use broom to get large areas and then ones of those little evolv brushes (I think the bristles are nylon) to brush individual holds that look promising. I also bring a little blow tube to blow away the last little bits that the brush doesn't get when I'm done with a section and moving down. I'd imagine the dirt and lichen might be a bit thicker out there on the east coast so you might need something more heavy duty. 

For moss, I've found that a light touch with a little trowel works nicely. Just don't go crazy and scar the rock.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 9,691

Nut removal / nut-pick tool often works nicely for getting moss + other vegetation out of cracks and behind flakes (features you want to expose more "positively" so can use them as holds for climbing).

I've heard that what we now call "nut removal" tools were invented and used by early USA climbers on serious multi-pitch Trad routes -- _before_ protection by using Nuts got started.
They used them for cleaning holds.

Get less-expensive heavy nut tools, since the hook/pick gets worn down. Then need to get another one.

Ken

MClay · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 685

To the OP's question...is a wire brush considered acceptable on granite? I've been curious about this myself in developing a granite bouldering area.

Josh Lipko · · Charlotte · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 5

The rock is sandstone, not sure what kind.  Please take the advice given and contact the CCC before developing new routes there.

http://carolinaclimbers.org/contact

Jon Nelson · · Bellingham, WA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 4,445
MClay wrote:

To the OP's question...is a wire brush considered acceptable on granite? I've been curious about this myself in developing a granite bouldering area.

Yes. On Pacific Northwest granite, a wire brush is essentially mandatory. 

The best are ones have a narrow head (e.g., can get partly into a finger crack) and relatively small bristle area (so you can more easily apply pressure), but not densely packed bristles. The standard ones at generic hardware stores are more tiring to use and don't get into small corners.

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 15

so this place was closed for a long time and now its open. sounds like a delicate access issue?  peel a bunch of  moss and it gets closed again. sounds like a great idea..........

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 15

as a general rule if a climb is covered in moss I leave it alone. Lichen is dry. often when you clean lichen yiou end up with a gem. usualy when you clean moss you end up with a perpetually wet bag of poo. 

Brian Payst · · Carrboro,NC · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 0

A lot of lichen and moss at Hidden Valley likely means the area stays wet for prolonged periods and that's why there are no routes on that section of the cliff.  The sandstone there can be soft in spots and if you're not careful you can damage the rock while cleaning. While the new route guidelines at HV are pretty open we do ask that people looking to develop new routes minimize the impact of those routes on the vegetation, which doesn't sound like the case here. It also sounds like you don't have a lot of route development experience? There are a lot of routes for you to climb at HV before looking into putting up new ones.

Thanks to everyone for pointing the OP towards the CCC resources for advice, we appreciate it!

ICTOAN Bond · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 0
Nick Goldsmith wrote:

as a general rule if a climb is covered in moss I leave it alone. Lichen is dry. often when you clean lichen yiou end up with a gem. usualy when you clean moss you end up with a perpetually wet bag of poo. 

If you don't clean Moss you basically would never have a place to climb in the PNW. At least the coastal regions. :p 

There's more than a few boulders that get completely swallowed every year by Moss.

Dom · · New Brunswick Canada · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 1,075

BLEACH. 

That's what they did at Clifton in Maine. Was granite though..

Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 551

You need a quiver of tools depending on the severity of the job. Push brooms, shovels, brushes of all varities, screwdriver, baby mightybar.....Home Depot stocks a wide variety of good brushes. Grout brushes work really well as they are very stiff. I also regularly use the HDX hand brush(from HomeDepot). Welding gloves work well for when you are making the broad strokes of first uncovering a wall. Typlically, in the NW, I will do a cursory cleaning if the moss/dirt/lichen are thick and then come back a day or two later to let things dry out a bit, then I will get down to the nitty gritty detailed stuff. 

 I for one don't think wire brushes are all that much more useful than a stout synthetic brush. I know some people use them in the NW but I have managed without.

Tim Lutz · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 0
eli poss wrote:

First of all, do your research regarding access and potential rules and regulations before taking any action. Access issues aside, though, here is my suggestion:

For removing dirt, dust, and lichen I will use broom to get large areas and then ones of those little evolv brushes (I think the bristles are nylon) to brush individual holds that look promising. I also bring a little blow tube to blow away the last little bits that the brush doesn't get when I'm done with a section and moving down. I'd imagine the dirt and lichen might be a bit thicker out there on the east coast so you might need something more heavy duty. 

For moss, I've found that a light touch with a little trowel works nicely. Just don't go crazy and scar the rock.

exactly, remember this rule of thumb: green: nuke it, brown or grey: let not they tool touch or it shall be chipping!!!

Muscrat · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 3,040

The OP question is best way to remove lichen and moss.

#1 is the SPID corn brush. I have brushed many thousand feet of routes (damn, that makes me wonder about my sanity!). This is THE brush. Everyone, without exception, who uses this once goes and buys them. Really.

Now some preaching: Realize that lichen is a very slow growing life form, and that some lichen 'patches' some lichenologists (yes, there are lichenologists!) consider the oldest living structures. (They are not plants, but some sort of symbiotic life form with algae). 

All that said, be judicious with your scraping. As i stated above, i have scraped many a route, but i attempt to keep it within reason.

AND DO NOT USE CHEMICALS. Including bleach. Please.

grant N · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 3
Thank you Muscat for actually providing a helpful answer to my question and offering some advice. I thought I would get a lot more tips tricks and useful suggestions and not just preached at.
Muscrat wrote:

The OP question is best way to remove lichen and moss.

#1 is the SPID corn brush. I have brushed many thousand feet of routes (damn, that makes me wonder about my sanity!). This is THE brush. Everyone, without exception, who uses this once goes and buys them. Really.

Now some preaching: Realize that lichen is a very slow growing life form, and that some lichen 'patches' some lichenologists (yes, there are lichenologists!) consider the oldest living structures. (They are not plants, but some sort of symbiotic life form with algae). 

All that said, be judicious with your scraping. As i stated above, i have scraped many a route, but i attempt to keep it within reason.

AND DO NOT USE CHEMICALS. Including bleach. Please.

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 15

I have cleaned pleanty of rtoutes.  the north east is not exactly a dry climate. I will say that when a rock is covered with thick green moss I won't touch it.   1. that shit looks cool.

2. that shit grows for a reason. I'st fckin wet there most of the time. 3. there is other shit to climb that is not green with moss.   My mission in new routing is to only put up stellar routes. End of story.   I have done a few that I regret but  that probobly won't happen again. 

Scott Baird · · Hagerstown, MD · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 80
grant N wrote:

 Actually, Brian Payst probably gave you the most helpful advice to your inquiry.  Muscrat's was just the most direct.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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