When was the last time you were out climbing and clipped a bolt that the hanger spun? Or maybe you got to an anchor and one of the quick links was opened just a little bit. You may have thought to yourself,”Self, that can’t be good”. Maybe you tried to tighten it by hand and thought, like Rockman did, “Someone should do something about this bolt”. Rockman can honestly say he was missing something about how things get in the climbing world, to think someone else should do something. The person that needs to do something is the person who sees the problem.
Rockman’s epiphany came when he met a climber named Terry Kindred, an outspoken southern climber and member of Team Suck, a group of folks that climbed, played and rebolted routes together. Terry wasn’t full of a lot tact, but he called them like he saw them. He was not afraid to come up to a climber and tell them what they were doing wrong. He had a sense of responsibility to the climbing world and he did not want anyone to mess it up (he used other words). Terry and the rest of Team Suck spent a lot of time and money replacing bolts in the Red River Gorge, and still do (without Terry). Replacing bolts is pretty unglamorous, it doesn’t get your name in the guide book like bolting new lines does, but when that new line’s bolts aren’t so new any more most RRG climbers should be grateful for Team Suck. Terry would proselytize almost as much as he climbed or screwed around. The thing Rockman remembers most about his rants was: We are responsible for the world of climbing, not someone else. He would go on about reading kiosks at the trail head, parking in the right area, packing out your climbing tape, obeying closures, following land owners rules and host of other really simple things. Most climbers can’t, won’t or shouldn’t be replacing bolts, but we should do what we can when we can. Thankfully Team Suck does a great job with bolt replacement in the Red River Gorge.
Terry died in 2006, and while Rockman didn’t know Terry well, he still felt his loss. Rockman feels as though the climbing community needed some like Terry to give us a wake up. To tell us what should obvious. So as spring draws near and you start putting you climbing gear together, throw a simple 9/16″ (or adjustable) wrench in your pack. When you come across a loose bolt tighten it down. Not because Rockman said so, not because Terry would have told to do so, because it is the least you can do for the sport.
In The Spirit Of Adventure,
P.S. Terry and the rest of Team Suck have a “How to Climb” section on their website. If you go to their website you can read a lot of fascinating Terryoids (quotes from Terry), report bad bolts, and, of course, donate to the rebolting fund. Rockman just did his part a made a donation to both Team Suck and RRGCC.