Aging Anchors - Petzl Takes Action
The future of climbing depends on local communities that care about safeguarding their climbing areas — maintaining access and safety from all angles.
November 7 2022
@ Caleb Timmerman
Why Take Action Now?
The increased popularity of climbing has not only brought on the premature aging of fixed hardware, but also other obstacles like: excessive erosion, human waste, and impacted parking. It’s taking an extensive toll on underdeveloped climbing areas, causing some of them to become unsafe or even closed to climbing entirely. The future of climbing depends on local communities that care about safeguarding their climbing areas — maintaining access and safety from all angles.
Petzl is working closely with the dedicated people of the Access Fund and local climbing organizations (LCOs). Together, we hope to create awareness, generate funding, and share technical expertise to sustain those climbing areas that need help the most. We believe this is a great first step toward creating a better future for climbing. That’s why we are introducing REBOLT TRIP.
REBOLT TRIP 2022
REBOLT TRIP is a service-oriented initiative focused on raising funds, educating, and equipping volunteers with the tools they need to maintain and replace aging anchors across the US and Canada.
This is about more than swapping out bad bolts for good ones, building some trails, and hosting a fundraiser. It’s a seed we hope to plant in the minds of all those concerned with the future of climbing. It's a movement towards building a more active community around self-management of our local climbing areas.
The first ever REBOLT TRIP will take place this fall in Chattanooga, TN. Petzl will work alongside the Access Fund and the Southeastern Climber’s Coalition and support these organizations in their efforts to maintain local climbing areas.
@ Caleb Timmerman
Southern Stewardship with the Southeastern Climber's Coalition
Stewardship is a buzz word when it comes to maintaining climbing areas. In fact, when you Google ‘stewardship’, the dictionary example sentence reads:
"responsible stewardship of our public lands"
As climbers, how are we taking care of these places —public or otherwise?
I sat down with Kate Hanes, Stewardship Director for the Southeastern Climbers Coaltion (SCC), to get some background about southern stewardship and the past and future of climbing access in the Southeast.
Can you tell me a little bit about what you do for the SCC?
“We have a particularly large region, three whole states…each area kinda comes with its one unique stewardship challenges. We have a lot of climbing areas that fall on private land and each land-owner has a different set of access needs, so there’s a relational aspect to it…
…There’s also an education piece…so that we can communicate to climbers what the rules and regulations are of each particular area. Every area has different requirements.”
One of the biggest facets of Kate’s work with the SCC is trail-building and trail maintenance:
“Probably the biggest portion of my work is trail maintenance…As you probably know a lot of climber approach trails are user created, they’re not necessarily a well-designed trail in a lot of instances… we are dealing with drainage and erosion in areas that are steep…we do trash removal and graffiti removal as well.”
What are some access issues that may be unique to the South?
“SCC has had a lot of success with getting official approval for climbing in state parks here in Tennessee…there are a lot of places out West that have had climbing protected for longer…You never know who is going to purchase climbing areas and own them and that’s why we’ve actually had to rise up and purchase climbing areas…you just never know when these areas are going to go up for sale…That private land piece is what’s really unique to the South.”
Can you talk a little bit about some of the work you and your organization will be doing specifically around REBOLT TRIP?
“One of our larger needs is an area that we recently purchased, Woodcock Cove…it’s kind of a difficult and rugged property. We could really use this support in this next phase of work, kind of connecting a couple of the walls along the cliff line and continuing to build out that cliff line trail. We are going to be working with the Access Fund team to do some technical trail building.
And it’s really an advantage to have the technical skills and support…It’s allowing us to be forward-thinking and actually build trails that are well designed from the start, so we don’t have to do so much trail maintenance down the line.
Similar to if we put high-quality hardware into the wall, then we won’t have to replace it in a few years. It’s an investment in the infrastructure…We’re grateful to Petzl for giving us the choice to put the funds where we need them…it’s really nice to be able to tackle multiple projects during one week and make that impact a little bit larger.”
The whole goal for REBOLT TRIP is giving local climbing organizations, like the SCC, the support they need to improve their home crags. The first stop for REBOLT TRIP in 2022 will be Chattanooga, Tennessee.
@ Caleb Timmerman
The state of Tennessee is home to more than 3,000 sport routes, boulders, and trad climbs spread across dozens of areas. A driving force behind maintaining crags in Tennessee is the Southeastern Climber’s Coalition (SCC). They have nearly 1,000 dues-paying members and serve thousands more. To date, they have protected more than 760 acres of land for climbing, and successfully purchased 11 climbing areas.
To kick off the first ever REBOLT TRIP, Petzl is teaming up with the Access Fund and the Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) to address the aging anchors in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area. In conjunction with the SCC volunteers, Petzl will help rebolt thirty routes (roughly 300 bolts) at the Foster Falls and Denny Cove crags over the course of five days. In addition to providing fixed hardware, the Access Fund’s Conservation Team is also leading efforts to coordinate local trail restoration work at Woodcock Cove, contributing to other aspects of local climbing area maintenance.
Petzl and the Access Fund will also be providing SCC volunteers with training on best practices regarding bolt removal and recommending tools and techniques for accessing these types of terrain. Petzl will be donating $38,000 worth of Petzl equipment to the SCC rebolting crews. REBOLT CHATTANOOGA will run from November 12th through the 18th, preceded by a retail fundraiser and carnival benefiting the SCC.
Petzl is teaming up with a few of their retailers in the Southeast to provide the climbing community a convenient way to donate money to the SCC’s efforts to replace the aging anchors in the Southeast.
During September and October, 10% of all Petzl sales from participating retailers is being donated directly to the Southeastern Climber’s Coalition. Participating retailers include: are: High Point Climbing & Fitness; Travel Country Outfitters; Rock Creek Outfitters; Cumberland Transit; The Riveter; Bill Jackson’s; Inner Peaks; Triangle Rock Club; and The Climb Gyms.
Following the Retail Fundraiser, Petzl and High Point Climbing and Fitness will provide an entertaining way for the community to raise additional funds for the cause. They’ll be hosting a Climbers Carnival on Nov 12th from 5-10pm at the High Point downtown Chattanooga facility where community members can come and play climberized carnival games. All proceeds of the carnival — raffles, games, merch, etc. — will go towards supporting the SCC’s mission of preserving southeastern climbing areas.
In addition, all climbers attending the carnival will be able to enter for a chance to participate in the Pro-Am challenge with all participants winning prize packs. The select few that participate in the Pro-Am challenge will have a chance to climb alongside their favorite Petzl sponsored climbers. Each invidual who participates in the competition will receive a Petzl gear prize ($500 each for first place, $250 for second).
SCC Route Developer Training and Equipment Donations
In addition to the fundraisers, Petzl Technical Institute and Access Fund staff will provide 8-10 hours of training to the volunteer rebolters, as well providing all equipment necessary (bolts, drill bits, rope systems, harnesses, helmets and rope access hardware, etc.). Rope system training will include work at height techniques (ascending, descending, etc) for anchor replacement, as well as self and partner rescue. Anchor maintenance training will include hole-for-hole replacement techniques including bolt removal and proper bolt installation.
Rebolting Foster Falls and Denny Cove
From November 14th - 18th, volunteer rebolters will work with Petzl, the SCC, and the Access Fund to refurbish two crags in the Chattanooga areas of Foster Falls and Denny Cove. Aging hardware, a humid climate, and extremely high traffic make these areas the perfect candidates for rebolting efforts.
In addition to rebolting efforts, the Access Fund’s Conservation Team will work with volunteers to sustainably build and restore local climbing trails at Woodcock Cove. This may seem out of line with an initiative focused on fixed hardware; however, as we mentioned earlier, reBOLT Trip is not all about bolts. The trail work service project will happen November 14th - 18th at Woodcock Cove, starting at 9:00 am CDT each day.
@ Caleb Timmerman
Where is the next REBOLT TRIP?
It’s up to you.
At the start of 2023, we will be accepting applications to come to your local area and help you and your local climbing organization to rebolt and refresh your crags. Keep your eyese peeled for a link later this year for you to nominate your local area and donate to your local climbing access organization.
We will be posting updates and stories from REBOLT Chattanooga. You can follow along with us on Facebook.
Disclaimer: Petzl does not represent or guarantee that climbing environments with fixed Petzl hardware are safe and free of risk. Before climbing with any fixed hardware, every climber must conduct their own safety risk inspection and assessment for hazards, including without limitation, product wear and tear; faulty installation; insufficient or improper maintenance; unstable or deteriorated rock; broken, corroded, used, worn-out products; and appropriate product selection. You are responsible for your own actions and decisions when climbing. Failure to conduct proper inspections and to use Petzl products according to Petzl technical information and instructions for use may result in severe injury or death. See Petzl product technical information found on www.petzl.com.