Pilot Mountain project protects climbers and cliff faces

Partly in remembrance of a rock climber who died in 2012, volunteers completed a multi-year project to replace aging bolts and anchors on climbing routes at Pilot Mountain State Park.

The effort will help protect both the climbers and the state park’s cliff faces that attract them, said William Webster of Chapel Hill, who organized the work. Webster gave credit to the Carolina Climbers Coalition, which supported the work and provided volunteers and to Park Superintendent Matt Windsor.

Young climber above the Ledge Springs Trail at Pilot Mountain State Park.
Young climber above the Ledge Springs Trail at Pilot Mountain State Park.

Webster said it seems counter-intuitive to add hardware to a cliff to protect it, but without the anchors, climbers will simply tie off ropes to handy vegetation such as pitch pines and table mountain pines.

“From (Matt’s) perspective, adding new top anchors and sport routes was a huge step toward protecting the park’s vegetation,” Webster said. “Top rope anchors take the stress off the root systems of the park’s cliff-top trees. New routes throughout the cliff helped spread out use, which also helps preserve vegetation at the base of the cliff.”

Among the first volunteers was Lloyd Ramsey, an area resident who was climbing alone in July 2012 when he fell and died under circumstances unrelated to the anchor project. The Carolina Climbers Coalition was active in cleaning and reopening climbing routes following a fire on the mountain in November 2012.

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