News & Events

SMCC’s Statement on the Use of Permanent Draws, Project Draws, and Other Auxiliary Materials Installed and/or Abandoned by Individual Users

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.  

 

Note:

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. 

 

Definitions:

  • “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). 

Allenspur Access – Know Before You Go

Allenspur is unique among Southwest Montana climbing areas. While most of the climbing is on public (BLM) land, the only way to access it is to cross private land. In 2005 Southwest Montana Climbers Coalition negotiated a legal easement with one of the private landowners adjacent to Allenspur for climbers and other hikers to access the crag on a designated hiking trail. This easement remains in effect and we are working with the current landowners to ensure responsible and respectful public access through their property.

The map below shows where the SMCC easement across private property is located. Park in the public fishing access lot at Carters Bridge (do not block the private driveway), walk north up the driveway, and follow the marked and designated trail until you reach BLM land. When passing through private property stay on the designated trail, don’t litter, and help out by picking up any additional trash you find along the way.

Map courtesy of Joe Josephson

Aside from the SMCC easement, many climbers access Allenspur by walking up the East River road from Carters Bridge, crossing the fence on a small ladder, and cutting across a privately-owned field to head directly to the cliffs. This is also shown on the map.

 This access is provided by a different landowner than the property through which the SMCC easement passes, and access is allowed on a voluntary basis. This parcel of private property also includes the Main Cliff and Beach Ball area. The public holds no legal right to cross this field or climb at these two areas and the landowner can revoke access at any point. It is very kind of them to allow climbers to access Allenspur through their property, going so far as to set up the ladder so we can easily cross their fence, and allow climbing on their land. In order to maintain this access, climbers must behave responsibly and abide by their rules. First and foremost, stick to the signed trail and do not wander off-route across private land. Second, they ask that people not bring dogs through their property – this is not voluntary. Don’t bring your dog to Allenspur.  Finally, and this should go without saying – do not remove any of the signs marking the trail or noting private property.  

Climbing access to Allenspur depends on all of us behaving responsibly and respecting private landowners. If you are climbing at Allenspur please abide by the following rules:

  • Park at Carters Bridge and walk to the crag following designated trails
  • Leave your dog at home
  • Respect private property
  • Leave no trace – pack out your litter and any other trash you see
  • No campfires – Allenspur is dry and windy all year long

SMCC Stance on Manufacturing Holds:

The Southwest Montana Climbers Coalition opposes any intentional alteration of rock for the purpose of creating or enhancing holds. This includes gluing, chipping, and drilling. As a group that represents the climbing community, the SMCC contends that such actions degrade the reputations of climbers as a user group. By lessening our status with land managers and land owners, such behavior potentially threatens access. Through education and public pressure, we hope that this issue will not become a problem in our area.

On 5/30/19, SMCC posted photos on social media of manufactured holds at Allen Spur climbing area. The photos were provided by a concerned local climber. Almost immediately, the offender admitted to manufacturing holds and vowed to not do it again. This incident is a testament that such matters can be resolved and hopefully prevented through thoughtful and intelligent public discourse.

In the future, the SMCC recommends that climbers address differences of opinion about ethical questions (e.g., bolting, manufacturing, etc.) among themselves in an open, mature manner rather than encouraging or expecting the SMCC or land managers to resolve those differences.

Putting the (Climbing and Skiing) Public in Public Lands Event May 23rd at MAP Brewing in Bozeman

Join SMCC, along with Patagonia ambassador Anne Gilbert Chase on Thursday, May 23rd from 5-8pm at MAP Brewing in Bozeman, to learn how climbers and skiers can protect the public lands they love. Right now, we’re at an important moment in time for the Custer Gallatin National Forest (home to Hyalite Canyon, the Beartooth Mountains, and more) and your involvement in the current forest plan revision will influence the future of these places for generations to come. A majority of our climbing resources in SW Montana are within the bounds of the Custer Gallatin National Forest.59972228_10161667835695514_8948165835495571456_o.jpg
Need more motivation to show up? Patagonia has provided some sweet gear to give away AND is buying the beer! (while supplies last).
Thank you MAP Brewing Co. for hosting!

Hardware Replacement Program

The mission of SMCC is to secure, protect, and maintain climbing resources. To achieve such objectives, this all-volunteer organization encourages responsible stewardship for those that use the land, trails, and rock in southwest Montana. On the behalf of all climbers, SMCC volunteers negotiate with landowners, work with government land managers, and build and improve climbing trails.  These efforts are part of SMCC’s primary focus to ensure that climbers maintain a reputation of being responsible, self-maintaining users of public and private land.  Toward that end, SMCC is launching a new program in 2019 to replace potentially dangerous, permanent hardware on established climbing routes.

To initiate the program, SMCC received a grant from the Access Fund’s Anchor Replacement Fund.  SMCC has also received donations of hardware from local climbers.  At first, only the oldest, most worn and corroded bolts will be targeted. In the future, with additional donations of funds, hardware, and volunteer-hours, the program will expand and address hardware replacement on a larger scale.

The SMCC is you, acting as a member of an organized coalition of responsible climbers.  Through the donations of funds, hardware, and labor we all help to secure the future of climbing in southwest Montana.  Begin now by reporting an unsafe anchor or volunteering your time to help replace one.  Also, if you see an unsafe anchor and have the means and necessary experience to fix it, then fix it!

Special Note:

The SMCC policy is to maintain the original style in which a route was established.  First ascensionists will be given the opportunity to decide whether or not their route should be altered.  The SMCC also does not promote the addition of hardware (i.e., lead bolts) to existing climbs that would alter bolt spacing or replace the need to place gear (e.g., nuts, cams, etc.).

The SMCC will not provide funds or hardware for new route development.  However, SMCC does recommend that new route development use only climbing industry accepted stainless steel bolts and anchors in order to extend their usable lifespan and prevent premature replacement efforts in the future.

Through its Hardware Replacement Program, the SMCC’s aim is to provide resources and training opportunities that will assist in mitigating potentially dangerous hardware on established routes. The SMCC does not undertake or assume a responsibility to insure that any fixed hardware is strong, properly placed or safe. It is each climber’s responsibility to evaluate routes and make all decisions incident to climbing them, to climb safely, and to inspect and make individual decisions regarding the safety and reliability of fixed anchors.

A primary goal of this program is to help mitigate the risk of an area being closed because of a climbing accident.  You can help by using this link to report an unsafe anchor or volunteering your time to help replace one: https://forms.gle/JxEcqvRG7DWYSCRf8

9th Annual Butte Bouldering Bash Oct. 13

The 9th Annual Butte Bouldering Bash
Benefiting the Southwest Montana Climbers Coalition
Presented by: The American Alpine Club (Montana Section)
October 13th 2018
The Trailer Boulders
Butte, Montana

COME OUT AND ENJOY:
– Bouldering in Superbia, The Druthers & Trailer Boulders
350+ problems
– Bouldering Competition
Registration starts at 8am
Competition from 10am-4pm
– Raffle
– Films from Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival: Best of the Fest Tour
Films start at sundown
– Food, Fun & Community

Cost: $40

for more information visit: http://www.montanabouldering.com/p/9th-annual-butte-bouldering-bash.html

https://www.facebook.com/events/344111146333775/?ref=br_rs

Revenue Flats Cleanup September 29

Join SMCC and the BLM for the 3rd annual Revenue Flats Clean Up Saturday, September 29. We’ll be picking up trash and cleaning out fire rings around the campsites and crags at Revenue Flats.

The clean up will be from 9 am until noon. The BLM will be providing work gloves and trash bags. Free day passes to a national park and free T-shirts for participants42456422_1137558496427022_4103951262620319744_o.

SMCC members who want to carpool should meet at Spire at 7:45.
Otherwise, meet us, and the BLM, at the first left-hand turn after entering into public lands when approaching Revenue Flats area from the Norris side. The BLM will put up signs directing folks to the meeting location.

Link to map showing meeting location
https://goo.gl/maps/3amN5YAvE6P2

Congress Must Work to Make LWCF Funding Permanent

As published in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Sept. 11, 2018. By Tom Kalakay, SMCC President and Executive Director.

We are on the brink of losing one of America’s most popular, and successful, conservation programs. From city parks to state parks, fishing access sites to climbing areas, the Land and Water Conservation Fund is critical source of funding for outdoor recreation. Here in Montana, our $7.1 billion outdoor recreation economy depends on access to public lands and quality recreation infrastructure, and LWCF dollars help to pay for both.

However, unless Congress acts before Sept. 30, the Land and Water Conservation Fund will expire.

An excellent example of LWCF dollars helping to increase public access for outdoor recreation is just east of town, on Bozeman Pass. Climbers have enjoyed the cliffs above Bozeman Pass for decades but for many years access was uncertain or prohibited. That uncertainty changed in 2007, when money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund helped to secure access to climbing areas at Bozeman Pass as part of a multi-agency, multi-partner effort to purchase land and easements on both sides of the interstate. This project protected wildlife habitat and benefited a wide range of outdoor recreation users. It resulted in the popular Chestnut Mountain Trail and public access for hiking, biking, and hunting as well as climbing.

The Southwest Montana Climbers Coalition was a critical partner in this effort, constructing both the Rocky Canyon and Frog Rock climbing access trails.

As executive director of the Southwest Montana Climbers Coalition it’s important to me that Congress fully fund and permanently authorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. By doing so, they will protect a source of funding that assures public access to outdoor recreation. I’m counting on Senators Daines and Tester and Rep. Gianforte to make sure Congress doesn’t forget, and lose, LWCF before Sept. 30.

Bozeman Rock Climbing Festival September 8, 2018

Hosted by Montana Alpine Guides with assistance from the SMCC, American Alpine Club – Montana Chapter, and Lockhorn Cider House.

A full day of clinics, social gatherings, and a slide show.

Learn to Climb – Community Gathering – FREE presentations
8am-3 pm, Climbing Clinics: Intro, Trad, Multi-Pitch, Partner Rescue
5-8 pm, Happy Hour and Gathering: – $1.50 off at Lockhorn Cider
8pm, FREE Climbing Film: Cirque of the Unlcimbabables

DETAILS: https://www.mtalpine.com/rock-climbing/rock-climbing-courses/bozeman-rock-climbing-festival/

Facebook event page