Sloth Speedways Project Update
In late 2017, we reached out to The Sloth Institute (TSI) with a bit of an odd question -- were there any sloths that might be interested in being a sponsored athlete on our climbing team?
We knew Slothgrip was going to be heavily purpose-driven, and nothing made more sense than to support an organization working directly for our branch-hanging friends. They dug the idea, and our first official climber turned out to be a 3-toed sloth named Jon Snow.
Still on the hunt for our first project, TSI mentioned their Sloth Speedways
initiative. In addition to having the world's best name, it's an incredible program that hangs non-invasive pathways for sloths and other wildlife. These provide critical connections in areas where trees have been cut down, helping prevent animals from attempting to cross roads or climb power lines.
Sloth Speedways quickly became the first project we supported with a patch, so climbers could help keep sloths climbing happily and safely.
Earlier this year, we stumbled on an idea hanging right in front of us - a whole bunch of rope. Strong, lightweight, durable and... free? Trusting the motto 'it never hurts to ask', both Brooklyn Boulders and The Cliffs graciously offered to donate rope to the cause. We signed a waiver that said no sloths would hold anyone liable, and after some entertaining subway rides with 40+ coils of rope, we had over 500 meters of future Sloth Speedways.
It seemed the most cost-efficient way to bring this mountain of rope to TSI would be to simply pack it all up and take a trip. Between our bags from NYC and another from Movement Fitness in Denver, we had nearly 200 lbs. of rope. We were not quick on our feet, but I liked to think we were just getting into the sloth mindset.
After my new favorite customs conversation ("I promise, these are all for sloths...") we landed in San José and took a bus to Manuel Antonio. The next morning we met Tom and Carlos from TSI, experts in the art of the Sloth Speedway.
Tom had identified spots where new pathways were most needed, and Carlos took the lead on installation. Much like the sloths, he's a professional tree climber. Unlike the sloths, he moves very, very quickly.
Joel and I prepped the ropes for hanging. We secured shorter ropes together into the required length, and Tom suggested we double-up for extra thickness to encourage the animals to trust the bridges.
"On belay sloths..."
By the end of the day we had hung 10 new speedways, with rope leftover for future work...
This was just the beginning, but in a quest to be more sloth-like I took a moment to slow down and appreciate everything that had gone into this trip. I couldn't have been more excited and grateful at the same time.
Thankful to everyone who purchased a patch, who helped spread the word about the project, to the amazing people at the gyms for donating their time and rope, to Joel for carrying a heavy bag on a long trip while still taking photos along the way, and to TSI for creating and running such an important initiative.
With growing development in Costa Rica, there is an increasing need for this work. We're aiming to grow our support through offering the project patches in climbing gyms, and will continue to collect retired rope to be reused in conservation efforts.
We are very much learning as we go - what works, what doesn't, how to scale responsibly. Any and all suggestions, advice or thoughts are more than welcome - just send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org
How to Help
You can check out the Sloth Speedways project page from TSI here
or support it through a patch purchase on our site,
or send us a note if you're interested in a offering the patches at retail.
Finally, spreading the word by sharing this article or any of our posts on Instagram is the main way we grow, so any and all help there is massively appreciated!
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