On a recent run up the mountain yesterday, I noticed that the “hardware” that was previously installed on the lower waterfall has been expanded. Instead of just a couple of rickety steel hand-holds (I saw one popped off a while ago), there are now sections of rebar and rubber house to “guide” people up and down the mountain. I have heard that it was not the City or the Chamber that installed these, but perhaps the Alaska Mountain Runners.
I have several main concerns with this equipment.
1. The metal hand-holds will act like a cheese grater for anyone who happens to slip.
2. The hand-holds and the rubber hose could very, very easily fall out (especially over the course of the season and race). When I was trying out the rebar/hose yesterday, one section of rebar popped out. Thankfully I wasn’t expecting much so I wasn’t putting all my weight on it.
3. These installations will cause a false sense of security for runners and hikers and will lead to people being overly-reliant on them to the point of not exercising proper climbing techniques (i.e. 3 points of contact, not leaning backwards, etc.).
4. Did the city allow these to be installed (I believe the City owns that part of the mountain)? If not, are they aware of the potential liability issues?
5. Runners will assume that these were installed by the City and/or MMR Race Committee and therefore will error on the side of trusting them. Who is to say they are actually installed safely and properly?