• Chalk Cartel

Climbing Team Tackles Graffiti

Competitive climbing teams around the country are known for super dedicated kids that crush plastic in their local climbing gym. But teams are not just about one-arm strength and speed climbing. They are also at the forefront of crag stewardship and are taking a leading role in teaching young climbers how to take care of their local climbing areas.

One such team is the Sierra Climbing Team. The 30-member team is an independent non-profit based in Reno, Nevada and coached by the “Mayor” of Reno/Tahoe climbing, Brian Sweeney. Sweeney recently took his team to clean up a local boulder that had been attached by graffiti thugs. He wrote about the project in a recent blog post for the padding manufacture and team sponsor Flashed.

As Head Coach of the team, Sweeney wrote that, “It is my responsibility to teach them not only how to climb, but how to be good stewards of our community.” So, in that spirit, he rallied the climbing team kids and their parents to do their very own crag clean up day at a local boulder. This boulder has a long history as a local crag.

John Bachar soloing the off-width on the Truckee Boulder.
John Bachar soloing the off-width on the Truckee Boulder.

Unfortunately, due to its proximity to the town, this once pristine circuit has become a party spot for wannabe taggers and people who apparently really enjoy breaking beer bottles. Photo: Sweeney.
Unfortunately, due to its proximity to the town, this once pristine circuit has become a party spot for wannabe taggers and people who apparently really enjoy breaking beer bottles. Photo: Sierra Climbing Team.

“To remove the paint we used an amazing product to remove the paint called “Elephant Snot,” which is biodegradable and as non-caustic a product as we could find. In case you were wondering, it looks exactly like one might imagine elephant snot to look. We simply scrubbed it on and sprayed it off. I can’t explain the addictive satisfaction of watching the paint wash off to reveal the stone below and yet still leave the lichen.”

All and all the boulder took 3 passes to get everything off and the difference is staggering. Along with the graffiti removal, we also picked up a bunch of trash and about 5lbs of broken glass.  Photo: Sweeney
All and all the boulder took 3 passes to get everything off and the difference is staggering. Along with the graffiti removal, we also picked up a bunch of trash and about 5lbs of broken glass. Photo: Sierra Climbing Team

The Access Fund has a great resource for others looking to spruce up their local crag.

“I am convinced that through modeling behavior and taking the time to educate others, we can greatly impact our local community. We all are capable of making a positive impact in our communities. You don’t have to rely on an organization or big event to do something. Responsible habits and the simple act of picking up someone else’s trash is enough to positively impact our areas and community.”

Find more photos from the event at Flashed.com

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