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Climbers find bolts installed in Moab petroglyphs

Posted at 7:46 PM, Apr 15, 2021

MOAB, Utah — Climbers in Moab discovered climbing bolts inserted into a thousand-year-old petroglyph site called the sunshine wall last week.

“I mean you wouldn’t do that in an art museum but yet you will in the middle of nowhere.” Darrin Reay, the man that found the bolts said. “There was bolts inches away from petroglyphs and to climb the route you literally had to step on one and it was already crumbling.”

Reay is an avid outdoorsman, adventurer, climber, and survivalist.

“The bottom of the panel is like 40 feet off the ground” he said. “It's pretty inaccessible.”

Climbing on, disturbing or even touching these ancient rock arts is illegal and putting a climbing route right through a site like could be disastrous if just a few dozen people use it.

So, Reay did the only thing that he thought he could.

“I felt it was my duty to remove the bolts and anchors from these climbs because just a few dozen people climbing it could destroy a thousand years of history” he said. “Just the oils from your fingers can cause hyper erosion of these sites.”

After pulling the bolts out of the wall he called friend, fellow climber, and rock art expert Stewart Green.

“He called me on the phone and said 'Hey Stewart I have some alarming news'” Green said. “I felt like this was a real violation.”

Green is an expert and wrote a book that shows the best petroglyphs from all over the world.

“I first went there [Moab] when I was about 18 and I’ve been going ever since” Green said.

Both of the climbers love the Moab area but say that it has changed a lot with so many people coming through the area.

“The Moab I first encountered to the Moab now, it seems like there is 100 times more people there” Reay says.

The two also said that so many indoor climbing gyms are popping up and then those climbers, while capable, are not used to respecting the outdoors in the same way.

"And they don't realize that people can shut down access overnight.” Reay says adding that some don’t understand the rock climber “code” of leave it how you found it.

Instead of blame, these two feel education is the best way forward.

“Its popular because it's an amazing place... If we all don't do our part to keep it that way future generations can lose a lot of access.” Reay saie. “You know if we can just get a couple people to stop or a few people to tell others, those still should be there a thousand years from now if our generation doesn’t destroy them.”

Green agrees saying “Education is the key… and that’s what we need to take away from this unfortunate instance.”

Green tells FOX1 3 that the person that put these climbing bolts in has come forward to the Bureau of Land Management and hopes to fix their mistake.