Next time you pick up litter at the crag, think of Micah Rush, a Casper, Wyoming, firefighter, rescue/climbing instructor, guide, Anchor Replacement Initiative (ARI) volunteer, and organizer of the 307 (Wyoming) Bouldering Series. That’s because Rush et al. once spent 12 hours hauling a jettisoned dumpster 300 feet from his beloved Fremont Canyon. It’s also here and at nearby Dome Rock that Rush; his wife, Kelly; Eric Christensen; and Colby Frontiero have logged mad hours updating hardware, replacing, estimates Rush, “99 percent of Fremont’s bad bolts.”
Rush, with his brother, started climbing 15 years ago, armed only with a how-to book and an army-surplus rope. He served his Fremont apprenticeship under Kevin Sibkie and the late routesmith Pat Parmenter. “I feel a sense of ownership,” says Rush, “and a responsibility to carry on Pat’s legacy of caring for the canyon.”
When did you realize Fremont’s fixed gear needed updating? In 2006, on the four-pitch 5.12a Orion. Atop the second pitch, I came upon rickety, quarter-inch-bolt anchors. When I pull-tested them, one bolt blew out completely! From that day on, I told myself I wouldn’t stop till all of Fremont’s bad bolts were replaced.
Do you consult with Fremont’s old guard about your ARI work? I try to maintain the same ethics that pioneers like Steve Petro, Steve Bechtel, Arno Ilgner, and Parmenter established. It’s important to let FA parties know about the upgrades. These days, we’re putting in 3” bolts with stainless-steel Petzl hangers.
And the worst old bolts you’ve seen? Buttonheads, which can break under body weight! Removing them is ridiculously easy — some have only a few threads holding them. I’ll take the old gear to the gym, because new climbers often trust these anchors when they should be aware of how bad they really are.
What’s been most rewarding? Whether I’m bolting or hauling out dumpsters, my ‘blue-collar’ workdays leave me feeling tired yet refreshed, and happy to have given back to the canyon that’s given me so much.