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Women’s Mountain Mentorship Group Retro-Bolts Old Rusty Hardware

Climbers went to work replacing old bolts on sport climbs in Steve's Canyon in the Bow Valley

Photo by: Nicole Morter

The Alpine Climb of Canada Women’s Mountain Mentorship Group (WMMG) spent a day in Steve’s Canyon near Canmore this past weekend to retro-bolt several old sport climbs.

Susan Twitchell, a leader with WMMG, said, “We had a great day, and it was very rewarding even though it was a lot of work. Bolting and retro-bolting can be very intimidating, even to experienced climbers, so it was great to have patient mentors willing to share their knowledge.”

The Association of Bow Valley Rock Climbers (TABVAR) provided the hardware, a drill and drill bits and the Alpine Club of Canada Calgary’s section provided some ropes and anchors. “Individual team members provided the rest of the gear (harnesses, ascenders, aid ladders, more ropes, etc.),” said Twitchell, “and those of us with extras loaned our some gear. Julie [Morter] and Nicole [Morter] brought their own drills.”

The event page for the retro-bolting day said, “The goal of the day is to introduce more women to retro-bolting and start discussing the use of glue-in bolts. This isn’t a comprehensive course- just a very preliminary intro to the subject. We’ll cover how to set up ropes, climb ropes (although participants should already be familiar with the concept of how to climb a rope), and how to locate and place replacement bolts. If we have time, we may cover topics related to new route development, but the focus will be on retro-bolting.”

Why the group went with Steve Canyon, Twitchell said, “We chose the route because one of our team members, Julie, went to Steve Canyon last year and thought that the climbing looked fun, but the old and rusted hardware wasn’t something she was willing to lead on. We kept all of the bolt placements as close as practical to the originals.”

Twitchell also recently joined TABVAR, and said, “We are thinking about how to encourage more people to get experienced and learn good route retro-fitting practices.”

WMMG was restarted in 2015 by Anne Drew Potter. “The group exists to address the underrepresentation of women in outdoor pursuits and the personal, social, cultural and other barriers that cause this reality,” says the group’s Alpine Club of Canada page. “This is not a gender exclusive group, but we do create events that ensure women can access mentorship, partnership and learning in an environment where they are not the minority and can expect a supportive learning environment.” The group hosts several social events each year, from ice climbing to trips to Skaha.




We run climbing trips of every kind, from gym sessions to alpine climbs. We’ll likely put together more bolting days, with dates/locations TBD.

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Lead photo: Nicole Morter