Mountain Climbers Clean Up Mt. Washington

Mar 22, 2012

For the 20th year, climbers will rappel the Mount Washington hillside Saturday in Pittsburgh. "No big deal" you might say, but they will be cleaning up trash along the way.

The annual event was started by two men who worked in city departments who saw a need to remove litter from the hillside along Grandview Avenue on Mount Washington. So, the Explorers Club of Pittsburgh use their climbing skills to get the trash that otherwise probably couldn't be touched.

"Being an organization that specializes in rock climbing and mountaineering, we have the skills that are necessary to conduct a safe litter cleanup on these hillsides," said Ginette Walker Vinski, co-organizer of the event.

The hillside is considered one of the great spots to see in Pittsburgh, but becomes a receptacle for trash from overlook sightseers.

Walker Vinski said the teams, usually composed of 40-60 volunteers, collect 30-50 bags of trash and 20 bags of recyclable materials like bottles and cans annually in a method that's really a sight itself.

"It is such a cool experience to see all of these climbers not necessarily hanging off the hillside, but hanging off the hillside picking up litter!" Walker Vinski said. "So you just imagine 30-40 people all at staggered intervals on the hillside connected from their harness with a rope."

In celebration of the 20th year of the cleanup, Walker Vinski said they hope to add a bit more fun to this year's cleanup.

"We're going to award prizes for the most unusual item found, the most valuable item found and the most Pittsburgh-ese item found," she said.