Update: New documentary highlights Garden of the Gods climbing controversy


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Update: A PR firm representing Hill wrote us to issue a clarification that it was Hill's father that installed the lights.

——— Original post Tuesday, July 7, 1:06 p.m. ———

Climbers in Garden of the Gods have always had something of a rebel streak, according to Climb!: The History of Rock Climbing in Colorado, which in one section talks about the Garden in the '60s and its former proprietress.

"Lyda Hill was a wealthy Texan with many holdings in the Springs area," write Jeff Achey et al. "She owned the top of Pikes Peak and its tourist concession, the visitors center concession in the Garden of the Gods, and a posh club that overlooked the Garden from a mesa to the east. At night, for the benefit of her Garden of the Gods Club patrons, Hill would shine a powerful spotlight onto North Gateway Rock, illuminating the hole at the Kissing Camels.

"The spiritual landlords of the Garden of the Gods, however, were the youngsters, and their antics were designed to prove it. Their unroped scrambling extended from fierce boulder problems to fifty-foot climbs on Red and White Twin spires and Easter Rock to frolicking traverses of the major formations. They knew every gully, ramp, ridge, and crack on North Gateway. As it turned out, Lyda's light illuminated quite a bit of prime climbing terrain. ..."

This attitude came to a head somewhat recently, however, when one climber added four new bolts to Credibility Gap. "The renegade placement of these bolts set off a fire storm in the Colorado Springs climbing community," wrote Stewart Green at the time, "with most climbers coming down on the bolter and supporting another climber who chopped the bolts (on lead and in flip-flops) and filled in the holes with epoxy covered with a sprinkle of sand from the route base."

Now this controversy has been recapped in 13.5-minute documentary from Rock & Ice magazine called Bolt Wars: Conflict, Death and Community in the Garden of the Gods, shot by Isaiah Branch-Boyle, Kristofer Warbritton and Aaron Sprengeler. It's a pretty engaging look at a passionate community (and you can't beat the scenery).

Bolt Wars from Isaiah Branch-Boyle on Vimeo.

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