Rifle, Colorado


One of Colorado's most famous crags got its annual facelift with help from the Anchor Replacement Initiative, as bolts and anchors were replaced on 33 routes in August. Rifle Mountain Park’s roadside crags boast about 400 routes and thousands of visitors each year, emphasizing the importance of safe gear. Rifle Mountain Park Clean-Up Day started about 15 years ago as a low-key event: Everyone got a trash bag and was rewarded with a cookout. It’s evolved into a major effort: replacing anchors and bolts, building benches and bridges, and expanding the trail system. Next year, the event will include a bolting clinic. Here, event co-organizer Dave Pegg answers a few questions about the Rifle Clean-Up.

How might people use this as a model for other major rebolting efforts? It doesn’t take much, just a group of people who are passionate about a local climbing area. Identify some worthy projects. Pick a day where instead of going climbing, everyone in the group volunteers to do some work. Talk to the Access Fund about organizations and groups like ARI who might be able to help provide affordable hardware.

Why is anchor replacement important, especially in Rifle? Rifle is very popular, and the routes—and equipment—see a lot of traffic. The area was originally developed in the early 1990s. The hardware that went in back then wasn’t particularly good, and it’s coming to the end of its safe lifespan. Rifle Mountain Park is also unique in that it is owned by the city of Rifle, Colorado. This means safety is especially important. One serious accident could put climbing access in jeopardy.

Where were some of the worst bolts? Sam Elias removed a bolt on the classic route Rendez-Spew in the Arsenal with his fingers. The heads of bolts on Easy Skankin’ and Merry Maids snapped off with a small turn of a wrench. Jeff Achey pulled out the first bolt on Guilt Parade by simply hooking it with his hammer and tugging.