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State sets new rules for placing climbing route hardware on Smith Rock

(Update: Adding video, comments from climbers, park manager)

And the regular climbers we talked to wanted and are glad to see them

TERREBONNE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Climbers at world-famous Smith Rock State Park are facing some new rules.

But they actually asked for them.

"As the community has grown, there's been a need some type of regulation," Justin Brown, a frequent climber at the park, said Tuesday.

But that could be a tough sell.

"Historically, rock climbers are kind of anti-regulation," Brown added.

People have developed the climbing routes at the park over the past 40 years, and one thing has been a constant.

"It's pretty much managed by the Smith Rock rock climbing community,” he said.

But now, many agree, that has to change.

Throughout Smith Rock, there are crags with slabs of rocks covered in little bolts, with quick-release carabiners on them. They can barely be seen from a distance, unlike if someone were to place, say, a rebar ladder on the rock.

But recently, Brown said, that's just what someone did: set a ladder of rebar on one of the park's rock faces, ruining the beauty of the wall, and putting the safety of other climbers at risk.

Park Manager Matt Davey said Tuesday, "Unfortunately, this last event left us at a point where we feel like we're going to have to have a little bit more engagement with the climbing community."

What that engagement will look like is a new body, overseen by the park, to approve or disallow climbers to set new, replace or take down bolts on the routes.

"It gives the rules some teeth, so there are some consequences to not following the commonly accepted ethic and practice,” Brown said. “Where before, it was like, 'Hey, man, that's not really the way we do it around here.'"

Those teeth could mean a citation or even exclusion from the park, according to a memo from Davey.

It now appears that many in the Smith Rock climbing community who historically have self-regulated are glad to have some restrictions in place, for the greater good.

Article Topic Follows: Outdoors

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Jack Hirsh

Jack Hirsh is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jack here.


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