SMCC discourages the use of all equipment and material that is auxiliary to the permanently affixed metal safety hardware, which includes: bolts, bolt hangers, and/or rappel and lower-off anchors.
Such equipment and material includes: “perma” or permanent draws; project draws; tat, or slings or cord used for temporary rappels; or other equipment or tools installed or cached by individuals for personal use.
The use of said equipment and materials threatens access in the following ways:
- On public lands administered by the US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, abandonment of personal property is in violation of 36 CFR §261.10(e). Similarly, abandonment of personal property is prohibited on public lands administered by the Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, under 43 CFR §8365.1-2(b). Therefore, leaving personal equipment should be considered in violation of the laws surrounding use of public lands.
- Hanging temporary or “permanent” materials have frequently been cited as being an eyesore to the non-climbers who share public lands with the climbing community. Climbing hardware is seen as being a non-natural addition, and a potential distraction to users who are visiting to experience nature.
- In areas with special cultural significance for Indigenous People, climbing hardware and/or materials may be considered offensive.
- Equipment installed on the permanently affixed hardware is susceptible to higher failure rates and shorter lifespan. In some cases, its wear and subsequent failure has caused catastrophic injury and/or death.
- The SMCC does not have a plan to replace or remove worn or abandoned equipment. It is therefore unclear who will accept the responsibility of caretaking. This leads to a scenario where abandoned equipment, such as perma draws, are more likely to become worn and potentially fail.
The SMCC has no plan to remove or replace abandoned equipment (e.g., perma draws, project draws, tat, or slings or cord used for temporary rappels) from local crags, nor does SMCC promote the theft or removal of personal gear from a route. The SMCC recommends that climbers address differences of opinion about these practices among themselves in an open, mature manner with a primary focus on protecting access to climbing.
Recommended Best Practice
SMCC encourages the climbing public to adopt a strategy to help promote continued access and safety in Southwest Montana’s natural climbing resources:
- Do not leave any personal equipment on any climbing or rappel route, unless it is for a warranted safety concern;
- Leaving “project” draws up for an extended amount of time is strongly discouraged as this is in violation of Federal regulations;
- Before leaving materials at the crag, the situation should be considered appropriately and with care, and with the consideration that to leave such materials is a threat to future access. The community must act as a whole in an appropriate manner to ensure continued access.
- “Perma” draw – a clipping unit (constructed of any material) that is intended to remain affixed to the bolt hanger(s) of a route in perpetuity. Also known as a “fixed” draw.
- Project draw – a clipping unit (constructed of any material) that is installed by an individual with the intention to remain on a route until the user removes them at their discretion.
- Tat – short for “tattered.” Abandoned hardware (usually sling or rope material).