The Story of a New Bolt

Old 6th bolt on Pretty Hate Machine.

There are thousands of bolts on climbs across the country, and some are in dire need of being upgraded. Pretty Hate Machine, in Rifle Mountain Park, is a local climb whose time had come to get the old, rusting bolts replaced with new ones that should last well into the future.

Situated in the Arsenal, Pretty Hate Machine is a severely overhanging route, making bolt replacement more than a pedestrian affair. Thus, the rebolting effort took on a life of it’s own, which I thought I’d share here.

I’ve come to like late winter/early spring for bolt replacement work for a few reasons; the weather isn’t always the best for regular climbing, the cool temperatures keep your glue flowing longer, and it’s an endeavor in strength and fitness building for loftier goals in the prime climbing months.

The quick story is this: 9 lead bolts replaced with ClimbTech WaveBolts, new C.A.M.P. stainless quick links on each bolt and some fresh C.A.M.P. steel carabiners where needed. 20 hours of work over 4 separate days, 2 old bolts broke, and one tired body.

Read on for the full details.

February 17th

2nd bolt – My first day on the route was less than three weeks following my arthroscopic knee surgery to clean up a torn meniscus initially inflicted on another steep Rifle route. I hobbled over to the base and proceeded to stick clip my way up to the anchors.

Just getting to the top and fixing a line on the route was a success for the day. An added bonus was replacing the second bolt because my two young kids, 19 months and 3 years, were plenty entertained at the base and got their own climbing in. I often have my kids with me for rebolting missions because it’s fun for them to get out of the house and play. The old bolt snapped at the head after a few cranks of the wrench, hence a new hole was drilled.

March 8th

New 6th bolt.

5th bolt – Second day on the route, and here I chose to drill a new hole because reusing the old holes is difficult work and not very feasible when there isn’t a good place to use gear for a directional.

6th bolt – I drilled a new hole because the old bolt was in a hollow block that is cracked all around. It’s hard to pick a good location for it and nothing seems ideal. I’m worried the new spot will be in the way of the climbing, but I prefer to have a super sound bolt rather than a questionable one. The old bolt snapped at the head with some ease, so drilling a new bolt felt like a fortuitous decision.

7th bolt – I drilled a new hole because I couldn’t get gear to hold well enough for a directional. One great thing about the WaveBolt  for bolting overhanging terrain is that you can weight it immediately without waiting for the glue to dry. Here, on the 7th bolt, being able to weight it immediately was super helpful in descending to the lower bolts.

8th bolt – Reused the old hole. I’m also reusing the old chain draws on the route because of the Chain Gang tradition in the Arsenal, a Grade V link-up that is marred by the fact you have to return to the ground after each pitch. New cable perma-draws would be nice, but the chain is fat and some traditions die hard.

9th bolt – Reused the old hole. This last bolt had an old aluminum carabiner so I swap that out for a new steel ‘biner. I don’t drill new bolts for the anchor because they look sound and they’re not taking big whippers.

March 10th

3rd bolt – My third day on the route found me cleaning out the old bolt only to run out of battery power. I felt so close to being finished it was frustrating to leave the route in an incomplete state but such is the nature of things. I drilled far enough with a ½” bit to fit a ClimbTech Removable Bolt, attaching the old chain. Although not ideal, I knew it would still hold if someone actually climbed on the route in the interim. My kids had fun getting out of the house and both played in the dirt and did some climbing so all was not lost. I later finished this bolt on March 20th.

4th bolt – Reused the old hole and put the chain back on with a new link, as I’m doing with all of the bolts. The old links appear bomber but I hope these new glue-in bolts are going to last a lifetime so based on the recommendation of Greg Barnes, American Safe Climbing Association, I’m making the initial point of contact stainless on stainless to prolong the life of the hard-earned glue-ins.

New 1st bolt.

March 20th

1st bolt – Completed just over a month from when the project began. I didn’t leave a line fixed so I had to stick clip up to the fifth bolt and work down. No big deal but I forgot to grab my ascenders and aiders from the van, and being lazy, I figured I could just monkey my way up with a Trango Cinch. After my abs stopped quivering from the core workout, I went to work on this last bolt.

I reused the old hole by clipping in short to a small cam in a crack, unscrewing the old bolt and then drilling out the remnants. The hole was eventually widened to 5/8” to fit the ClimbTech WaveBolt (link: ). New stainless quick links, chain and C.A.M.P. Gym Safe steel carabiner were attached to complete the package.

Job done. Four separate days, approximately 20 hours on the route. Time for a beer!

Mike Schneiter is the owner of Glenwood Climbing Guides. He has donated countless hours to upgrading the hardware at our local climbing areas, so be sure to throw him an enthusiastic high five if you see him out at the crag.

7 Responses to The Story of a New Bolt

  1. Thank you putting in this kind of work and making climbs safer for climbers.

    popes May 7, 2013 at 8:12 pm
  2. You’re welcome popes. You can see more pics of old and new bolts on Pretty Hate Machine here:

    Mike May 8, 2013 at 6:21 am
  3. Great job, thanks! We could use more folks like you here in the Red, where the list of old sketchy bolts is never-ending.

    Dustin May 21, 2013 at 8:21 am
  4. Nice work. I’m curious about how you got in touch with the ASCA. There’s a crag here in Washington State that needs a lot of replacement work, which I’m happy to do but it would be nice to not have to use all my own hardware. I emailed Greg Barnes, but I wasn’t sure what the process for actually getting hardware was.

    Micah Wright June 8, 2013 at 8:38 am
    • Micah, don’t hesitate to holler, i’d be happy to help.

      Chris Vinson September 5, 2013 at 3:59 pm
  5. Hey Micah, I’m glad you’re interested in giving back and helping out your local area. Thanks! Sounds like you did the right thing by emailing Greg. You can see on the ASCA’s site that they may ask to verify that you’re qualified to be doing rebolting work ( I would also suggest that it’s probably best, for technical, logistical and ethical reasons, to find out if anyone in your area is already doing rebolting work, whether through the ASCA or on their own, and consult with them as well. Often, it will be easiest to get worked into the ASCA circle and on the right track for rebolting if you can work with other people who are doing the same. That’s how I got started and that’s how I’ve gotten other people plugged in.

    Thanks for doing the work!

    Mike Schneiter June 9, 2013 at 6:39 am
  6. Sorry,
    But that is some pretty ugly glueing you’ve down there . ..
    Would not be too welcome where I am from . . .

    Two suggestions –
    1. Get a rag to clean up as much as you can rather then just leaving it oozed over the rock . . .
    2. Take a bag of dirt/dust from the base that kinda matches the rock and cover the excess glue with it . . .

    Must admit I really don’t like the PermaDraw thing that seems to be the rage these days either ….

    Oh well, at least it wasn’t a Trad line retro-bolt . . .


    Macciza March 13, 2014 at 6:09 am
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