Dan Levison - Restoring Boulder's Flatirons

Photo by Sue Levison

Photo by Sue Levison

When one thinks of the resplendent Flatirons rising over Boulder, Colorado, sport climbing isn’t necessarily the first discipline that pops into the mind. However, there are many classic sport routes strewn about those hills, and Boulder local Dan Levison is helping to make sure they’re safe to climb. Levison, originally from Pennsylvania, has been climbing for more than two decades. Currently working as a personal trainer at the Boulder Rock Club, Levison spends his days juggling his family, trail running, and helping his clients get into great shape. For the past 15 years, he’s been bolting routes, and he likes to give back to the community by re-equipping ancient hardware. “It’s a good feeling to prolong a classic route’s life,” Levison says, “so it’s safe and people can enjoy it.”

Why is it important to replace old hardware? A lot of routes have horrendous fi xed hardware. Sometimes the bolts are in poor shape: corroded, bent, rusted—they’ve taken a lot of abuse. Bolting started in the late 1980s, so we’re looking at 20 to 25 years that the hardware has been in. Factor in the traffic the routes get, and it’s the perfect storm of route failure. We’re coming into a time when we’ll see more and more hardware failures.

How can people voice concern over particular rusted anchors? A good voice for community is the online forums, like Mountainproject.com. It’s a great way to ask for someone with experience to go up and get the old hardware out, and put the new hardware in.

What about people who want to get more hands-on involvement? Shadow someone with experience; I almost always bring a helper. Bolting is a touchy subject, though, and people don’t want to see another guy with a power drill running around. It’s something that needs to be approached tactfully, but it’s great to have more people around with that skill set. You want to be careful and think it through. You have to know what you’re doing, and it’s exhausting. Few people sign up for that reason.