High Desert Climbers Alliance replaces Smith Rock bolts, marks 40th anniversary of sport climbing’s birth

TERREBONNE, Ore. (KTVZ) — The High Desert Climbers Alliance is a nonprofit group of climbers who protect and expand climbing access trails in Central Oregon for sport climbing. And they were at it on Saturday, doing the maintenance work at Smith Rock, with more help than ever.

The group was originally formed in 2017. Once a month from October to May, the HDCA goes to Smith Rock State Park. During their trips to the park, the unit takes old bolts out of rock walls and replaces them with new ones, for public safety.    

During Saturday’s outing, re-bolting teacher Stephen Gladieux told NewsChannel 21, “We focus and pick our priorities different ways, often by the age of the protection of the bolts currently in the rock. Sometimes, people report dangerous, unsafe bolts, and we kind of prioritize and go through and try to hit whole section by whole section.”

Smith Rock State Park is the American birthplace for sport climbing, originally introduced in 1983. Adriana Boylan, one of the board members at HDCA, noted that the alliance is celebrating the important anniversary.

“We’re actually celebrating our 40-year anniversary this evening (Saturday) for the first bolts that were put in rock in North America happened here at Smith by Alan Watts 40 years ago,” she said.

For Boylan, dancing classes in college helped prepare her for sport climbing.

“I feel like rock climbing is like dancing on the wall, so it uses a lot of — especially at Smith Rock — there’s a lot of finesse and grace that goes into rock climbing.”

Not only is sport climbing one of the biggest outdoor activities in Central Oregon, the Climbers Alliance is starting to get a record number of volunteers willing to help in the re-bolting.

Gladieux celebrated the occasion, saying: “Today we have 16 volunteers out re-bolting, which is the most people we’ve ever had in a singe day. It’s great!”    

Alliance board member Tyler Gates says that other climbers…


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