An open letter to our community

Regarding recent retro-bolting of routes at The Pit

There has been some confusion in our community about if the Northern Arizona Climbers Coalition (NAZCC) is involved with the recent retro-bolted routes at the Pit. We felt compelled to make this public statement to try to clarify the situation as best we can -- although we too are pretty confused by recent events.

Richard Fernandez has been working unilaterally and separate from the NAZCC in the last few weeks to move bolts and add additional bolts to existing routes at the Pit including the classic 5.10 Mr. Slate and Shock Treatment. He has been doing this during our current and active NAZCC community survey about retro-bolting these exact same routes among others. Our community feedback period for our survey ends on 11/12/2020 and we had planned to re-bolt the routes in the coming weeks abiding by this consensus.

Richard retro-bolted Mr. Slate and Shock Treatment during our current survey period, while being aware that the NAZCC was conducting this survey and that the NAZCC was going to replace the bolts on these routes in accordance with community feedback. Rather than allow a community-driven process to inform potential retro-bolting of Northern Arizona area classics, Richard chose to move forward with his individual vision for the routes.

Richard re-bolted several routes earlier this fall (at Bedrock and the Shooting Gallery) while he was still a NAZCC board member, but expressly chose not to work with the organization and resigned shortly thereafter. At the time, Richard was informed of the NAZCC certification process for individuals interested in re-bolting projects. Our process is simple: 1. Go to a 2 hour re-bolting clinic, 2. Go to a re-bolting day led by an NAZCC approved Rebolter, demonstrate competency and get approved as an NAZCC Rebolter, 3. Get tools and glue in bolts for re-bolting projects that fall within the scope of approved best practices. Anyone in our community can participate in this process and we welcome those interested. Currently, board members and non-board members are certified re-bolters and we just had a re-bolting clinic on Nov. 5th where we welcomed more folks to the re-bolting team. Richard declined to go through this process and has chosen to re-bolt these routes on his own.

We feel that it is very important for the NAZCC to be a mirror of our community's values and support those values by putting our effort into initiatives and projects that support our diverse community as a whole. A crucial part of this is us listening to and acting (or not acting) based on our community’s feedback. We take this very seriously. It’s not always perfect, takes more time, and sometimes we make mistakes. That said, our mission is to always keep listening, learn from our mistakes, and do our best to support our whole community and their values.

With our retro-bolting survey for the Pit, our goal is to make sure that we are using your generous donations in a manner that reflects our community as best we can AND with volunteers that have been through a re-bolting training that teaches current best practices as defined by the Access Fund and endorsed by the NAZCC. Part of this best practice is ideally replacing bolts without changing the location, by entirely removing the old bolt and placing the new stainless steel bolt in the same spot, provided the old bolt can be removed successfully and that location has sound rock quality. If we identify routes where we feel bolts should be moved significantly or additional bolts could be warranted, it is our policy to attempt to contact any known first ascensionist, issue a proposal to the community, and collect feedback before taking any action on the route.

Our survey for the Pit continues until November 12. If you haven’t had the chance to give your feedback, please do at https://www.nazcc.org/pit-retro-bolting.html.

Questions/comments? Please contact us at https://www.nazcc.org/#cta or message us through Facebook or Instagram!

Thank you for your support and all of your feedback!