Pilot Mountain Rebolting Complete

From Bill Webster:

On March 8, 2015 I worked with Alberto Luna to replace the anchors on Black and Blue Velvet. I believe that work completes the Pilot Mountain project that was started about three years ago. I believe that the work has transformed the cliff in many ways. Gone are the scary, old, rusty bolts and pins. New sport routes were added. Many new top rope anchors were set. If I missed something please let me know and I’ll be happy to go back and fix the problem.

The purpose of this communication is to thank everyone who helped make the project a success.  First and foremost I want to thank the staff at Pilot Mountain State Park, especially Superintendent Matt Windsor. Matt had the vision to recognize that a cooperative venture would meet several important goals. From his perspective adding new top anchors and sport routes was a huge step toward protecting the park’s vegetation. Top rope anchors take the stress off of the root systems of the park’s cliff top trees.  New routes throughout the cliff helped spread out use, which also help preserve vegetation at the base of the cliff. It is sometimes not easy for land managers to look beyond traditional methods. In a way it may seem a bit counter intuitive to add hardware to a cliff in order to preserve it. In this case Matt recognized that his park was the most heavily used climbing destination in the state of North Carolina and that something needed to be done to minimize the impacts of that use. I believe that the results of the work are already paying off. The number of people top roping off of trees has diminished so much that is a rare sight. (If you see someone using a tree instead of a nearby bolted anchor please politely explain why they shouldn’t and ask them to switch to an anchor.) In addition, people are clearly more spread out then they used to be.

I want to thank the Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) for supporting the effort. The CCC provided the institutional support, the first set of bolts (via the ASCA), and helped spread the word through the organization’s website. Without the CCC the work would have been far more difficult.

Thanks to the people who physically helped with the project. I especially want to thank Sarah Wolfe who endured many days of drilling when I know that she would rather have been climbing. Sarah drilled, squirted glue, hammered in bolts, and provided excellent ideas on locations for new bolt placement. In addition, she organized the trail relocation work day that diverted hiker traffic around the Black Rain area. Finally she organized the work day after the big fire. The park didn’t want to open the cliff until dead trees, loose rock, etc. were removed from the cliff edge. This was accomplished in one long tiring day. If you see Sarah out and about take the time to thank her.

Brian Payst helped out in both his role as CCC president and in setting and replacing the bolts on several routes. Thank you Brian for all of your hard work to make North Carolina an example of best practices for climber advocacy.

I would like very much to thank Lloyd Ramsey for his tremendous assistance early in the project. He would wait for me every weekend and help hoof the drill, batteries, hammer, and bolts to the cliff. He gave great advice and always lifted my spirits with his enthusiasm when the work was hard. Sadly I am unable to thank him. Most of you know that Lloyd passed away from a fatal fall at Pilot. He was a good man.

I want to thank everyone in the climbing community who came up to me and said “thank you”. Many times the sheer size of the project, all the extra weight of the gear, my aging body, and the lack of actual climbing was making me feel a little overwhelmed. That’s when the appreciation of the climbing community helped so much. Over the past few years hundreds of people took the time to express their appreciation.

Finally I want to thank those who donated money to make it work. I received over $2,000, mostly from small individual donations. In the spirit of transparency I would like everyone who donated to know how their money was spent. Funds were spent in the following order: bolts and hangers, new battery for the drill (expensive!), drill bits, and epoxy. On days when I went to Pilot and just worked on the project I used some of the funds for gas. I live in Chapel Hill and the cliff is about 1.5 hours away. On days when I also climbed I used my own funds for gas. If anyone has more detailed questions about the finances let me know.

Thanks everyone for the support and enjoy!