Climbing infrastructure is a moving target and an iterative process. The top anchors at Lower first were installed in order to relieve the trees of the stresses of being used as anchors in order to protect the cliff top environment. Viewed in that context, their existence was a huge improvement. With increased cliff-top traffic and also a larger spread of skill sets of the user base, some of the anchors could be improved to be easier to access or equip. This past weekend there was an initial round of ameliorations, specifically on A-Sharp and Snake Skin Slab.
The anchor on A-Sharp was somewhat not ideally placed. While it did a good job of ensuring the rope runs freely, it was somewhat awkward to rig a top-rope on and for a leader it cut the route short allowing the climber to stop short of the logical top out move to gain the ledge atop of the larger corner. Additionally, it didn’t allow a leading party to rappel if they so desired. With all those points in mind the anchor was re-positioned up and right and re-configured (see the below picture). While the rope now runs into the off-width crack of the corner a bit, the large nature of the crack combined with its relatively smooth interior makes this mostly benign and not susceptible to rope-eating snags.
Snake Skin Slab had sported a matching pair of Raumer ring hangers which were somewhat easy to rig a top-rope off of from the cliff top. However, the position of the bolts caused attached carabiners to be cross-loaded over the cliff edge which was not ideal. In attempting to mix and match a bunch of different connecting elements to produce a serviceable chainset, I identified that the left-hand bolt in the anchor was a spinner and ended up being removed by hand (via funking). This was replaced with a beefy 16mm glue-in bolt. The resulting anchor configuration now provides an easy to reach anchor for the leader as well as an easy to rig setup from the cliff top that avoids cross-loading carabiners. From the cliff top, one can simply reach down, pull up the chains, attach lockers to the rap ring, and thread the top-rope.
It’s likely a few more anchors at Lower will see some updates in the coming weeks, so be on the lookout for updates or keep that in mind if the anchor you expect is either missing or looks different!