07/11/2022

Advocate Spotlight: Greg German

Categories: Advocate Spotlight

Whether they know it or not, anyone doing bolt replacement work at their local crag has likely been influenced by Greg German’s contributions to the cause. He’s spent years researching, developing, and innovating bolt replacement techniques and tools that many consider the gold standard. As a former Action Committee for Eldorado board member, current Boulder Climbing Community anchor replacement chair, dedicated bolt replacer, and all-around innovator, Greg has made a positive impact through his fixed anchor work on crags in Colorado’s Front Range and across the country.

Greg at work in Boulder Canyon, Colorado. Ancestral lands of Cheyenne and Ute. © Scott Greisser.

Greg’s attention to detail and creative problem-solving led him to create the DooDad bolt puller, a tool favored by a large contingent of bolt replacers. In 2011, he sought permission to utilize an abandoned quarry at North Table Mountain Park as an experimentation and training ground to explore extraction techniques and conduct controlled experiments with quantifiable results to determine the holding strengths of anchors in reused holes.

As fixed anchor maintenance continues to evolve, Greg stands firm as part of a small, steadfast group of experts always willing to offer advice to other volunteers grappling with challenges they face, from rope access solutions to oddball bolts.

Five Questions with Greg German

What’s your favorite cause in climbing advocacy right now?
Replacing rusty climbing anchors is an easy cause to like. There is something satisfying about the before and after photos. It probably tickles the same bit of gray matter as those home renovation shows. Those shows don’t accurately highlight the drudgery behind some of the work so as not to spoil the fairy tale. I simply blot out the memory of the drudgery involved in removing bolts—classic “type II fun,” right?

What does it mean to you to be a climbing advocate?
The idea of stewardship is rewarding to me. Sprucing the place up. Staving off the inevitable dilapidation. Albert Camus said, “The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

What’s your advice to new advocates?
If you notice that something needs improvement, don’t assume that somebody else is going to do it. From simple things like cleaning up trash to trickier questions about fixed anchors, collaborate with other climbers and figure out how to do what needs doin’.

What surprised/challenged/excited you the most about getting into the advocacy world?
I am most excited by the percentage of newish climbers I have seen here on the Front Range who are interested in volunteering time and energy to their local LCO. I think that bodes well for the future.

Who is another climbing advocate whose work is really inspiring you right now?
Tom Isaacson, the advocacy subcommittee chair for Boulder Climbing Community (BCC).