Volunteers work to fix rock climbing danger

Posted at 11:15 PM, Mar 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-13 01:15:53-05

They're supposed to protect climbers during a fall, but a growing number of climbing bolts are going bad. And experts say it's only a matter of time before someone gets hurt or killed.

"You put your life in danger by clipping a bolt that is not up to bar. And it's very easy to do," longtime Valley climber Manuel Rangel said.

Because of the growing danger, Rangel is on a mission to replace as many of the aging bolts as he can.

"You'll die. That is the ultimate danger. You could die if a bolt failed," Rangel said.

Climbing bolts are a form of protection drilled into solid rock. If a climber falls, the bolt keeps a climber from hitting the ground by helping stop a rope attached to the climber.

The problem is that many of the bolts, which were placed in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, don't measure up to today's safety standards.

Modern bolts are several inches long, while older climbing bolts are usually half an inch or smaller.

"My children are climbing now, and I feel compelled to add something to a sport that I have enjoyed for so long," Rangel said.

Thanks to a grant from the American Safe Climbing Association, climbers like Rangel have begun a massive bolt replacement effort across the United States.

New bolts have been added to popular climbs on Camelback Mountain and at Queen Creek.

Rangel admits he still has a long way to go. Along with others, Rangel has replaced bolts on nearly 20 climbs. According to the Mountain Project website, there are more than 2,200 climbs in Central Arizona alone.

Rangel says he is looking for volunteers to help him install new bolts across the Valley.

"I'm always looking for help, so if you want to join me let's go out and do it," he said.

Anyone interested in helping can contact the American Safe Climbing Association by clicking here.