Rooted in Responsibility—Climbing at Split Rock

Building climbing anchors is a dynamic process. Climbers must consider the natural resources available to them, the gear they have on hand, and what type of anchor offers the most safety and efficiency. But often overlooked are the rules and regulations of their chosen crag.

To illustrate this point, let’s take a closer look at Split Rock at Ring Mountain, where the use of trees as natural anchors is strictly prohibited.

What are Natural Anchors?

Trees, boulders, horns, and holes are often great sources of natural protection or “pro” in single-pitch and multi-pitch scenarios. These are called “natural anchors” and learning how to build them is an essential skill for any climber’s toolbox. But equally important is being aware of what’s acceptable and prohibited at various different climbing spots.

In the Case of Split Rock

Volunteers from BACC engage in a conversation with a Marin County Park Ranger during a 2017 Adopt-A-Crag event. The Ring Mountain Open Space Reserve is managed by Marin County Parks.

At Split Rock in the Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve, it’s important to note that all vegetation is protected. This means that after sending your route, using trees or any other plant life as an anchor is strictly off-limits. This rule has been put in place to preserve the delicate ecosystem of the area and ensure its continued enjoyment by climbers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Not adhering to these regulations can have serious consequences. Park rangers actively patrol the area, and citations have been issued to those found in violation. Too many violations could put climbing as a whole in the preserve at risk.  

Know Before You Go

Before venturing into a new climbing area, do your homework! Websites like Mountain Project and local climbing forums are excellent resources for gathering information about the specific guidelines of an area. Additionally, reaching out to experienced climbers who are familiar with the location can provide you with invaluable insight.

Alternative Anchor Options at Split Rock 

Aerial view of Split Rock at Ring Mountain. Trees (highlighted in red) and all other vegetation in the preserve are protected, prohibiting their use as natural anchors.

While trees may be off-limits at Split Rock, there are plenty of other dependable trad placements available to build an anchors with gear. For instance, on routes like Snake Split, climbers can seek out cracks to secure small nuts and cams for a top-rope setup. Additionally, packing enough slings or even bringing along a second rope can help extend placements to the top of the face. 

So, before going to a new crag, take the time to familiarize yourself with the rules. As responsible climbers, it is our duty to educate ourselves about the rules of each climbing area we explore. By doing so, we not only preserve the integrity of these landscapes but also ensure continued access for future generations of climbers.

Amelia Faircloth

Pronouns: she/her