A Few of My Favorite (Bolting) Things

Life has its seasons, and this year I find myself in a time of putting up new routes, a sharp contrast from last year’s every waking hour spent in Rifle. Instead I’ve been chasing new climbs on local cliffs, and exploring places I hadn’t been to for a while, places that are beautiful both for their climbing and incredible scenery.

Getting back in the developing game, I’ve been reminded of how important the gear is to the process. So much of this work is dependent on having your systems dialed, and the gear really does matter. That being said, I thought I’d share the “go to” tools that I find crucial to the process of putting up new routes.

Black Diamond Big Gun Harness

Hanging for hours on end can be brutal on your hips and legs, so when it comes to a harness, bigger is better. I’ve found the BD Big Gun to be an incredibly comfy rig, and because it’s designed for aid climbing, it’s got seven gear loops, two belay loops and a hammer holster, which adds up to plenty of places to clip all that stuff I’ll have with me while doing the work of getting a new route in. More info here.

ClimbTech Removable Bolts

What did we do before removable bolts? Maybe the GriGri of the bolting world, these things are indispensable tools for putting in new lines. Whether you need a temporary anchor to lower down a line to make sure it goes, or are bolting ground up, a couple of these are crucial for any developer and have revolutionized how climbs get bolted. ClimbTech has also been working on the Legacy bolt, which could be a real game changer for how climbs are bolted, keep an eye out for that one, and check out the video at the end of this post for a sneak peek of it in action. (ClimbTech also offers a full line of bolting hardware, including hangers, permadraws, bolts and more. Check out their website for more info on RB’s and for a full product listing.)

Fixe Colored Bolt Hangers

As climbing comes under more and more scrutiny from land managers, it’s important that we present our activity in as low impact a way as possible. The difference between a cliff full of shiny hardware and one with cammoed bolts is quite noticeable, or not, as is the case. And while you can certainly paint any bolt hanger, Fixe offers a simpler and more elegant solution, hangers that are already treated with a colored coating that wont wear off. Painted hangers tend to flake off paint, but these hangers keep their color. Offered in grey and tan, I’ll often paint over the base color so they more closely match whatever rock I’m working with, and then if the paint does come off, I’m not left with a shiny beacon underneath. More info here.

Petzl Micro Traxion

For years the Mini Traxion was the standard for rope soloing and the newer Mico Traxion is just as adept for working out the moves while hanging from a rope. I always use them as a pair, to make sure I’ve got a back up in the system, so lately I’ve been rocking a Mini up top and a Micro underneath. (FYI rope soloing is an “advanced system” that should only be attempted by people who know what they are doing!) More info here.

Denture Brushes

OK, this one might have you scratching your head a bit, but denture brushes are THE secret weapon to getting holds clean. The bristles are stiff, but wont mess up the rock like wire, and the pointy end on the back is perfect for getting into small pockets and cracks. With this and a nut tool there isn’t much that can’t be properly cleaned and buffed out so it’s ready for the send. They are available in most grocery stores in the toothbrush isle, and typically run about $4. Amazing! More info here.

Oh and of course a GriGri, it’s almost impossible to imagine what developing was like before them.

Also, check out the video below from ClimbTech, it does a great job showing the process of putting in a new climb, as well as giving a preview of the coming Legacy Bolt:

Ben Spannuth bolting with ClimbTech from ClimbTech on Vimeo.

If you’re curious about any of the gear or techniques mentioned here, please shoot me an email via the contact form and I’d be happy to discuss further.

4 Responses to A Few of My Favorite (Bolting) Things

  1. I would add naive partners willing to carry the heavy crap up to the cliff

    Lynn June 27, 2013 at 12:34 pm
  2. Yes but they are an essential and thereby favorite piece of bolting equipment.

    Lynn June 27, 2013 at 10:16 pm
  3. The bolting video brought up one of my pet peeves…bolting without a torque wrench. It is way too easy to over or under torque bolts. Come on people…

    Cameron November 17, 2014 at 2:43 pm
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