Fixed Hardware Program
The unregulated placement of bolts became a topic of controversy in the Flatirons in the late 1980s. Concerned with increasing numbers of climbers, the proliferation of bolts and conflicts between climbers and other user groups, the City of Boulder Mountain Parks Department instituted a ban on the placement of new fixed anchors in the Flatirons in 1991.
In 2003 a pilot program for the placement of new fixed anchors was developed by the Flatirons Climbing Council (FCC) and agreed to by the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks Department (OSMP) for select areas on Dinosaur Mountain. The program established a permit process that allows the climbing community to comment on proposed routes that require fixed gear, and is similar to the fixed hardware review process in Eldorado Canyon. In 2006, 2009 and 2012, the pilot program was significantly expanded under each new Memorandum of Understanding, including the 2012 MOU (PDF). Additional areas on Dinosaur Mountain and in Fern, Bear, and Skunk canyons have been established as well as several completely new sites (see full pilot plan map). The complete list of areas, going from north to south, is as follows:
Gregory Canyon Amphitheater – 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and Ginseng Pinnacles
Third Flatiron – SW Chimney to North side
Der Zerkle - the West and South sides
Red Devil - South side
The Box - West and North sides
Finger Flatiron - North side
The Hand - West side
Der Freischutz – West side
Bear Creek Spire
Seal Rock – North side
Seal Rock – South side* (Maximum of two routes before OSMP trail work is completed in 2014. If trail work is not completed by the end of 2014, two additional routes can be applied for after 2014.)
The Slab – West side
The Matron (max 2 new routes)
The Maiden (max 2 new routes)
The permit process operates under the guiding belief that individuals can no longer take unilateral actions that affect all climbers without community input and consensus. Toward this end, the permit process exists as a public forum to assist and regulate the installation of fixed anchors with the goal of facilitating controlled growth of quality routes and anchors in the Flatirons.
The FCC will administer the permit process through its Fixed Hardware Review Committee (FHRC), and will serve in an advisory capacity only. OSMP will make the final determination as to whether new routes that require bolts are allowed.
To view applications, both pending and installed, choose from the “Route Applications” drop-down menu on the top right side.
Note on Drilling and Bird-Nesting Season: Raptor-nesting season takes place each year in the Flatirons from late winter through midsummer, resulting in the closure of many formations from February 1 through July 31 (some areas might open earlier depending on the year; consult OSMP’s website for more information). Many formations that remain open year-round, and on which new routing is permitted through the permit process or on which you might wish to replace hardware through the permit process, are situated near bird closures but are not in the closure areas themselves. Such formations include Seal Rock, the Slab, Overhang Rock, etc.
As such, the FHRC and OSMP ask that you be cognizant of drill noise on these open formations and that you muffle your drill if doing any bolting work here during nesting season. When submitting an application to OSMP, OSMP will communicate any special concerns about a given formation as needed. We’ve put together the following video showing how to muffle your drill. (Note that I erroneously say closures running from “February 1 through July 1,” when in fact I mean “February 1 through July 31.”)
To reiterate what appears in the video, the steps are:
- Nest your drill in a puffy parka, with the bit protruding through the head/hood area and the back of the drill at the bottom/waist of the jacket.
- Seal the jacket tight with the waist toggle, and then tie the arms across each other to seal it further.
- Tape the jacket tight around the drill body with a couple strips of duct tape.
- Place the drill in a small backpack or haulbag with a hole cut in the bottom, big enough to accommodate your hand and forearm. The drill tip should protrude through the top of the pack, while the drill body/trigger should be accessible at the bottom so you can stick your hand through the pre-cut hole and activate the trigger. If you wish to borrow a backpack that’s already customized, email us at: email@example.com
- Nest one or two other puffy jackets around the drill, to further muffle the noise.
- Zip up the backpack.
- Drill your bolt. It helps to have a keeper sling on the drill that protrudes from the pack/drill so you can clip the drill off to your harness when not in use, or you can simply wear the backpack on your back.