TOD ANDERSON, 49, is originally from Normal, Illinois, but a penchant for the abnormal (vertical) landed him in Golden, Colorado, where he labors to keep the crags safe when not managing multistate Medicare/Medicaid for Health and Human Services. If you’ve climbed at Clear Creek, Devil’s Head, or Boulder Canyon, you’ve likely clipped some of Anderson’s bolts or threaded his newly refurbished top anchors. In addition to his Anchor Replacement Initiative (ARI) work, Anderson has authored ca. 500 Colorado routes, always with safety in mind. “So many people take for granted that fi xed protection is in good repair without even taking a close look,” he says.
How did you get into putting up routes? By exploring Southeastern crags in the 1970s and ‘80s. We used to hike through Tennessee and do the whole ground-up trad thing. I was also in on Tallulah Gorge, Georgia, and Linville Gorge, North Carolina.
When drilling a new route, what factors do you consider? The rock defines the use of hardware. Some places have great continuous cracks and solid rock, and others have no viable passive protection but climbable features. Many situations lie somewhere between and require judgment on a case-by-case basis.
How do you reduce impact on fixed gear? I almost never toprope directly through the anchors. I also tighten loose bolts, since they’ll erode the placement holes less when tight.
What should visitors to popular sport areas beware? 1) Worn top anchors. See if the steel is deeply grooved. Post the condition info on the Internet, or better yet, replace the hardware yourself. And 2) loose protection bolts. Carry a wrench — a crescent is best since it adjusts to any bolt type — and tighten loose ones. Also, beware bolts that wobble after tightening — these should be replaced.
Where were the worst anchors you’ve replaced? The ones on Eiffel Tower, in Clear Creek, were worn more than halfway through. The biggest fear is of complete anchor failure.