American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

American Safe Climbing Association, Activity Report, 1999-2002

  • Notes
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2003

American Safe Climbing Association

Activity report, 1999-2002. The American Safe Climbing Association (ASCA) replaces bad bolts and anchors throughout the United States. Conceived by veteran Yosemite guide Steve Sutton in 1995, the ASCA was incorporated in 1998 by Chris McNamara, and is a 501(c)(3) non-prof- it. This is the second report to the AAJ (the first in AAJ 1999). In 2002 the AAC awarded the ASCA a $500 Lyman Spitzer grant; a $2,000 Lyman Spitzer grant in 1998 was one of the key factors assisting the establishment of the ASCA.

The ASCA has replaced over 3,500 bolts in the U.S. since its formation in late 1997. The original hole is almost always re-used after the original bolt is removed, and many extra bolts are removed, especially on wall climbs where bolts have proliferated. Camouflaged stainless steel bolts and hangers, coupled with rap rings instead of brightly colored webbing, reduce visual impact while restoring bolts to a standard that should not rust or require frequent replacement in the future. Replacement work is typically done on rappel where possible. However, on long routes in Yosemite, Red Rocks, Zion, and elsewhere, replacement work is usually done ground-up. Typically, the route is led on the old gear, then replaced by the follower or on rappel after the lead. Often just a few key lead and anchor bolts are replaced by a fast-moving team. More bolt-intensive routes are commonly done by a party of three, sometimes using fixed lines for multiple days of work.

Aging bolts have been replaced, in approximate order of the amount of replacement work, in Yosemite Valley, Red Rocks National Conservation Area, Tuolumne Meadows, Joshua Tree National Park, Calaveras Dome, Owens River Gorge, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Pinnacles National Monument, Indian Creek, Courtright Reservoir, Smith Rock, Tahquitz/Suicide, Mt. Lemmon, Grand Teton National Park, Rumney, Zion National Park, Tollhouse Rock, Rocky Mountain National Park, Eldorado Canyon, the Flatirons, the Needles of California, and many other local crags.

Further details on many other areas, and hundreds of replaced routes, can be found at The ASCA is entirely volunteer and struggles yearly to afford top-qual- ity stainless steel hardware used in replacing deteriorating bolts. Donations are always helpful. ASCA, PO Box 1814, Bishop, CA 93515;; phone: (650) 843-1473.

Greg Barnes and Chris McNamara, American Safe Climbing Association

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