Climbing plan for Red Rock: Don’t repeat Garden mistakes
When Red Rock Canyon Open Space opens Oct. 29, its designated rock-climbing routes near the old sandstone quarry are
likely to be quite popular… but not in a harmful way.
A group of local climbing specialists have been working to apply lessons they've learned from the Garden of the Gods - which has scarcely a vertical rock anymore which has not been pockmarked with some kind of climbing bolt.
Bob Hostetler, who represented the rock-climbing community during City Parks' public master plan meetings for Red Rock Canyon this year, explained the route-creation efforts at the October meeting of the Friends of Red Rock Canyon and during a presentation of the new area for the Westside Pioneer and interested volunteers this week.
The mere fact of a designated area is significant, he pointed out. Whereas the Garden is wide open to climbers - with an estimated 300 routes having been set up at different times - Red Rock will be limited for the time being to just the quarry area and the 70-some routes that Hostetler and his team have created there.
Many of the routes will share the same anchor points, according to Brian Shelton, owner of Front Range Climbing, who has been working with Hostetler, Stewart Green and City Parks employee Ric Geiman in planning the routes and rules.
Based on an informal agreement with the city, there's a one-year moratorium on new routes. A committee of climbers will be formed during the coming year to talk about the possibility of adding routes, Hostetler said.
Another policy by Hostetler's group has been to stop the routes just short of the tops of rocks, to prevent scarring from ropes being dragged over the top.
A guide that will list and define all the allowed routes is being written by Green, a long-time area outdoors author. These guides will be made available to climbers. Signage at Red Rock Canyon will tell climbers they need to sign up at the Garden of the Gods.
Although some climbers may find such policies constrictive, Hostetler said it seemed wiser to start with tighter rules because it will be easier to loosen rules once the park opens than to tighten them.
Pains are even being taken regarding the type and appearance of the bolts used for rope attachments on routes. “At the Garden of the Gods, there's a variety of bolts,” said Hostetler, who retired a few years ago from his business, the American Telecasting Company. “One place even has a railroad spike.”
By contrast, at Red Rock Canyon, we”re using long, quality bolts that go in deep,” he said.
To prevent routes from being an eyesore, Shelton said he has been making sure to camouflage any bolts with spray paint to keep them from being noticed by casual passersby. Another effort will be made to make sure no climbing paraphernalia, primarily webbing, is left behind.
Climbers should be pleased by the quality of the climbs they will have at Red Rock. Although almost none of the sandstone is vertical, its smooth, slab-like surface presents a challenge to find hand-holds, Shelton noted.
The difficulty will range from the very simple “Never Ever” wall (for neophytes who have never, ever climbed) to numerous rope-required routes between 5.4 and 5.13. The hardest level in the world is a 5.15b or c, Hostetler said.
To access the climbing area (after the opening), people will park in the lot at Highway 24 and walk up the road into Red Rock Canyon. Signage should provide direction to the general area. Routes are on both sides of the valley.
Westside Pioneer article