Walking into your home to find the door ripped off its hinges, broken glass covering the floor, and some of your valuables missing would be tragic. For climbers, this was the feeling as they walked up to their favorite bouldering routes in Little Cottonwood Canyon last week.
On Oct. 30, Jimmy Keithley, a local climber, and his children walked up to a project they were working on to find holds smashed off of famous bouldering routes like Twisted [V4] and Lance’s Dihedral [V6]. Ten total boulders were damaged, affecting 20 boulder problems up Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Julia Geisler, executive director of Salt Lake Climber’s Alliance, said vandalism in climbing areas is a recurring problem, and it is becoming more frequent.
“This is part of a greater problem that is happening in Little Cottonwood. Vandalism in general is really high,” she said. “There’s tons of graffiti, trash, and fire rings that we’re constantly cleaning up.”
While these crimes are common, Geisler said this is the first known act of deliberately tampering with bouldering holds. These rocks were likely damaged by a crow bar or hammer.
Geisler and the SLCA do not know who damaged the climbing holds, but they say this does not reflect the normal behavior of climbers, who tend to care for the places they climb.
While changed forever, these climbs are still doable. Some have found these climbs to be even easier. Other vandalism, such as graffiti, makes damage irreversible because the graffiti ruins the friction needed to grip the rock.
That’s why the alliance rallies over 350 climbers to complete 1,000 hours of volunteer work during their Adopt a Crag events, picking up trash and cleaning graffiti off their rocks.
“This is your land. It’s here for all of us to enjoy,” Geisler said. “Make an effort to come out and clean up.” Geisler also suggests that people report vandalism whenever they see it.
This weekend, Salt Lake Climber’s Alliance will host a graffiti removal project. They will meet at the Little Cottonwood Canyon Park and Ride at 9 a.m. on Saturday. All are welcome to attend.
Bouldering Routes affected:
Standard Overhang (V3), Isabelle’s (V5), Superfly (V8), Barfly (V8), Pro Series (V11), Baldy (V5), Smiley Right (V4), Mr. Smiley (V6), Butt Trumpet (V8), Twisted (V4), Copperhead(V10), Lance’s Dihedral (V6), Hug (V8), All Thumbs (V10), and Cronin’s Slab (V2), among others.
Photo courtesy of Tommy Chandler
Corrected from: Geisler and other members of the Salt Lake Climber’s Alliance want everyone to know that this was not a climber who damaged these rocks. They are still not sure who did it, but they assume the crime was committed by an unstable individual.