Red River Gorge Fixed Gear Ethics Initiative Successfully Raises Money to Replace 1000 Bolts (and How to Donate)

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In a very impressive fundraiser, the Red River Gorge Fixed Gear Ethics Initiative has raised enough money to subsidize the replacement of 1,000 bolts in the Red River Gorge. And there’s still plenty of time for more. If you’d like to donate to the improvement and maintenance of fixed gear in the Red, visit the Red River Gorge Fixed Gear Fund. The group is having great giveaways for donors every day until February 14.

From the Red River Gorge Fixed Gear Ethics Initiative:

The Red River Gorge is a world class sport climbing destination. Development has been occurring at an exponential pace over the past two decades with well over 2000 routes now. However, the majority of routes have been developed using zinc plated hardware. Unfortunately, due to the humid conditions and soft, mineral rich corbin sandstone many of these bolts are corroding and are in need of replacement.

Due to the large volume of aging sport climbs and the very few that choose to help, it is an ever growing struggle to keep pace with the needs for re-bolting.   With vast potential for even more development, it is critical that the cycle of new development with sub optimal materials followed by frequent re-bolting be immediately stopped.

Stainless steel glue-ins are commonly being used at many other crags across the United States now as a more sustainable option for new development.  But due to the steep nature that encompasses much of the Red, developing with stainless steel glue-ins is often not practical for new development.   The alternative to glue-ins is to use a stainless steel mechanical bolt.  However, the cost of these bolts are prohibitively expensive for developers as they can cost upwards three times as much as its zinc plated counterpart.

The Red River Gorge Fixed Gear Fund was created to facilitate a partnership between developers, climbers, industry, and non-profits to promote sustainable climbing in the Red River Gorge.   100% of your donation is used for improvement and maintenance of fixed gear in the Red.  This effort can be broken down into 4 separate funding initiatives.

1.) Community Subsidized Stainless Steel Fixed Gear for New DevelopmentCommunity donations are pooled with developer’s contribution to purchase stainless steel bolts. We offer both stainless steel expansion bolts and glue ins to developers at a reduced price that allows continued development with more sustainable materials. The RRG Fixed Gear is proud to have partnered with ClimbTech to provide us with the hardware required for new development. From November, 2013 to July, 2014 over  3000 stainless steel subsidized bolts have been purchased and distributed to developers. All bolts are placed at crags that have, or are expected to have public access and routes will follow a normal grade distribution that is common of the Red.

2.) Community Funded Stainless Steel Fixed Gear for Re-boltingMuch of the zinc-plated fixed gear in the Red River Gorge is well past it’s first decade of use and is showing it’s age. A group of a few dedicated developers have been willing to donate their time and effort to the critical enterprise of re-bolting routes. Until this year, the majority of the costs were the burden of those who chose to help out. Recently, we have been extremely fortunate to benefit from a partnership with the American Safe Climbing Association. They have been instrumental in providing materials for re-bolting including stainless steel bolts (ClimbTech Wave Glue-ins), epoxy, brushes, bits, and patching glue.  However, there are additional costs incurred in re-bolting including chain and quick links for anchors that are now being supported by the Fixed Gear Fund.

3.) PermadrawsPermadraws are also considered to be fixed gear in the Red. It is understandable that people have differing opinions as to how and if these should be used in the Red River Gorge. However, history has shown that dangerously sharp aluminum carabiners will pop up in the absence of permadraws. It is also important to recognize that permadraws are also anything but and they too will wear, albeit about ten times slower than their aluminum counterpart. It is also understood that not every climber benefits from the existence of permadraws. Due to this, we will keep funding for permadraws completely separate from the general Fixed Gear Fund. Specific campaigns will solicit for permadraw funding and will be supported to the extent that the community chooses.  This gear will be placed as sparingly as possible, on a case by case basis.

4.) Fixed Gear for Community PurchaseWe have purchased a few basic items that the community can purchase at the Red River Rockhouse to assist with the inevitable wear of fixed gear.  9/16″ combination wrenches are available so that people can attempt to tighten down loose bolts. Additionally 3/8″ quicklinks and ClimbTech steel oval carabiners are for sale for anchor maintenance. Any modest proceeds from the sale are put back into the Fixed Gear Fund. //