Giving Back to Climbing

Climbing is an inherently selfish pursuit, but that doesn’t mean it always has to be. There are a number of ways to give back to the community and to the sport that has probably given you some of the best experiences of your life. A few thoughts on ways you can help make the climbing world a better place.

Get Involved With a Youth Climbing Team

When it comes to climbing, perhaps the most selfless thing you can do is to pass on your knowledge and experiences to others so they can hopefully enjoy it as much as you have. Getting involved with a climbing team can be a great way to do this. Maybe you can be a full time coach, but it doesn’t have to be that big. Perhaps you could give a technique clinic, or talk about big wall climbing, or any number of things they maybe haven’t been exposed to that you happen to specialize in. There are numerous opportunities here, and in the end you’ll broaden their horizons that much more. And who knows, maybe you’ll inspire the next Tommy Caldwell.

Do Some Trail Work

As climbing gets more and more popular, our crags are getting loved to death. More people means more impact, and the trails and base areas at cliffs often need a little maintenance to prevent erosion and keep them in good condition. Local climbing groups tend to organize these events in conjunction with the appropriate land managers, and it’s a great way to spend the day helping out and meeting other climbers. Even if you don’t go to a formal event, you can always take the extra 15 minutes before leaving the cliff to shore up some stone work that is coming apart, or block off a side trail that is getting too eroded. A little bit goes a long way.

Help At a Comp

Climbing comps can be a great social gathering where everyone comes together to have a good time pushing themselves hard. Comps can be a lot of work to organize, and often volunteers are needed to help with a variety of tasks. Next time you hear of a comp in your town, maybe sit this one out to see if you can help everybody else have a good time.

Set Routes at Your Local Gym

Maybe you live in Boulder, and you can climb at the best crag in Colorado year round, where the route setting is almost as good as nature intended it. For the rest of us less fortunate souls, chances are you climb at a smaller local facility, which may not always have fresh routes every 3 weeks. Good routesetters are hard to come by, and most gym managers will welcome the extra help, especially if you are volunteering your time for free. That being said, not everybody is good at setting routes (i’ll just make the holds smaller and put them farther apart!), but most will have something unique to contribute in this area.

Bolt Routes at Your Local Choss Pile

Putting up sport climbs is hard work. You can spend a whole day working out where the bolts should go, cleaning holds, and trundling choss, while your friends are out there getting in pitch after pitch. In the end, however, you are creating more climbing for the community to enjoy, and there are few who wont appreciate your efforts. Obviously you should only do this if you have the proper skills/experience or an appropriate mentor.

Replace Old Hardware

Most of our sport crags are hitting that 30 year mark where the hardware is in need of upgrading, and it’s no small task. At last year’s Rifle Clean Up, it was impressive to see how many people got in on the anchor upgrading. Over the course of one day, numerous routes were improved so that others could safely continue to enjoy them. As with the previous item, make sure you know what you are doing or go with someone who does.

Got any others that we missed?

2 Responses to Giving Back to Climbing

  1. Pingback: Indian Creek Volunteer Work Day : Splitter Choss

  2. We are always looking for volunteer work in Arizona. Check out Southwest Climbing We do Stewardship programs each month in our local areas. Learn to update fixed anchors, build trails, and support your wild areas.

    Traxler January 3, 2012 at 2:44 am
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