MICHAEL MOORE - Fighting back a tide of Red Rock spinners

Michael Moore: Keep Your Powder Dry (5.12b), The Trophy, Red Rock, NV. Photo by Michael Chaffin

Michael Moore: Keep Your Powder Dry (5.12b), The Trophy, Red Rock, NV. Photo by Michael Chaffin

“I realized a year ago that Red Rock needed work, since nearly every bolt I clipped was spinning, missing, and/or hanging out,” says the Las Vegas high-school English teacher Michael Moore, 38. An Anchor Replacement Initiative (ARI) volunteer since, Moore lives near Red Rock National Conservation Area, where he says many an original, 1980s/early 1990s Calico Hills face route has fallen into disrepair. The Texas native began climbing at Enchanted Rock, near Austin, staying with his passion through grad school in Flagstaff, Arizona, a teaching stint in Houston, and now Las Vegas for the last eight years. He’s upgraded seven routes on Red Rock’s soft Aztec sandstone — the first was the Black Corridor’s Nightmare on Crude Street (5.10c/d).

What in the Calico Hills needs upgrading? Pretty much all the original routes in the Black Corridor. The Gallery needs some love, and The Trophy is in dire need, too. Some routes are missing bolts completely. The Trophy’s next on my list.

What kind of new hardware do you put in? Three-by-half-inch stainless Powers bolts, and FIXE or Petzl hangers.

Tell me about the Calico Hills worst of the worst. The Trophy has some bolts hanging out, Pet Shop Boys has a scary second bolt, and Twilight of a Champion is missing a starting bolt or two. Some of the scariest are the old hangers that look to be rusted bed-frame steel. Also, anchor chains on a Black Corridor route had the bottom link nearly rubbed through due to toproping/lowering.

What’s been your longest day replacing bolts? Eight hours or so. Removing bolts is a pain — I don’t have a great method. It’s rewarding to hear strangers say thanks or offer to help.

Why is the ARI important right now? Because it allows climbing communities to police their routes. Hardware is expensive, so having an organization promote route safety and longevity contributes to the longevity and safety of climbing.

What should folks look for in a bad bolt at Red Rock? Excessive rust, sleeves sticking out, spinning hangers, bolts that wiggle, missing hangers, worn chains/anchors. The climate is so dry that stainless-steel hardware should last a long time. All the older 3/8” stuff should probably be replaced.