by Jullie

September 21, 2021

How to Bolt Climbing Routes

One of the unique hobbies to try out is mountain climbing. Not everyone has the luxury of traversing through a mountain scale and seeing the wonders that behold on top. Like most hobbies like cooking, surfing, and biking, you need to know the fundamentals first.

If you’re a beginner at scaling a mountain, you should know what mountains there are in your country, how to bolt climbing routes, the equipment needed to route building, and many more. Without these concepts, you can’t start climbing a mountain. 

But the most intricate part of mountain climbing and hiking is the route building aspect. So, what should you expect in route building, and how do you become a master at bolting climbing routes for safe traversing and having a wonderful time on the mountain?

Find out more here, and by the end of this article, you’ll get more information about bolting climbing routes that will level up your experience in this adventurous hobby!

How to Bolt Climbing Routes with Anchors

Step 1: The Equipment

There is a dozen or more climbing routes equipment that you need to ready before actually starting to climb the mountain, and they are:

  • Heavy-duty gloves;
  • Protective masks and goggles;
  • Heavy-duty wire brushes; 
  • Shears;
  • Portable folding saw;
  • Crowbar (this is to take off crumbling rocks that will become detrimental to your climbing);
  • Hammer drills;
  • Nut tool;
  • Bolts;
  • A bolt bag;
  • Ice or pickaxe;
  • Grigri or cinch;
  • Hammer (manual or battery operated);
  • Whisk with nylon bristles;
  • Blow out bulb (to dust off the holes you made to bolt in the rocks).

Remember, these are all portable, and anything beyond the carrying size is not recommended. It would help if you always prioritize your safety above everything else, and more compact equipment is the ideal size for climbing, especially when you’re hanging on a harness. 

A side note you need to know is what crag you’ll be climbing. Suppose the rock takes you to another mountain pass that is climbable. Read our guide on what is crag in climbing if you are a beginner climber.

In that case, you should probably double the equipment list to ensure that the perishable materials like nails and bolts apply to longer sessions of hiking and climbing. 

Bolting Climbing Routes

Step 2: Picking a Rock Climbing Line 

You’ve probably set eyes on a crag or rock to climb on, and it’s best to establish entry points and bolt lines to achieve the safest route when climbing. 

The best way to do this is simply doing research or talking to the locals as your tour guide since they know more about the place you’ll visit. 

This is probably the best tip you’re ever going to get, and that is never to squeeze a bolt or a wedge when poking holes on a rock. 

This is a bad idea because you’ll never know the sturdiness of the crag’s texture, to begin with. If it doesn’t fit, find another path to go to. 

Nevertheless, here are tips in placing bolts on rappel to ensure you’re positioned perfectly:

  • The rock looks safe and easy to climb.
  • The crag must eliminate rope drag.
  • It’s away from sharp edges where you can potentially get injured.
  • It must protect you from the crux.
  • It must NOT have any leader falls that land you on nasty ledges or landings.
  • It must direct you to the climbing route you built with the boltings you installed
  • The crag or surface of the rock must avoid rope spinning, which can lead to breakage of the material and dizziness on your part. 
Anchors and Bolting Climbiing Routes

Sometimes, you’re forced to do mixed routes with natural gear and bolts, which can tend to get tricky. It would be a massive waste of time when you put a bolt beside a bag, but you don’t want to carry a rack that mainly bolts your route for two or three natural positions. 

This may sound confusing, but once you’re there, you’ll know exactly what this means, and if you are placed in this dilemma, the best thing to do is make a good judgment call when choosing a crag with mixed routes.

It’s better to go for the single fully bolted routes when your equipment is marginal at best. 

Final step: Bolting the Climbing Route

There are a few things to know first in bolting a route: 

  • You should clean the new rock before rock climbing.
  • You need to prepare some anchors and place them in the rock path.
  • It would be best if you positioned your lead bolts.
  • Once all that is done, this is the time to put your bolt.
  • Finally, you’ll retrofit your bolts and anchors. 

The first thing you need to do is clean the rock. Make sure to scrub using your nylon brushes to take off some sharp edges and scrubs that disturb your climbing process. 

This sounds very tedious, but it doesn’t. It takes about a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the rock’s condition. 

The anchors, which are the next thing you need to mount, will hold your rope. There are a few available anchor types, all of which are great for any scenario:

  • Fixe Ring Anchor – rope can pass through 100 rotatable kN rings. 
  • Fixe Chain Anchor – the most expensive one you can find. It has an excellent focal point that extends over a rock cliff. 
  • Fixe Traditional Anchor – has a single focal point with a bold backed up on the back of the harness.
  • Chain and Quicklinks – it has a v-shaped structure that has a focal point on the quick links. The bolts are placed far apart from the chain and links for resistance. 
Anchors to Bolt Climbing Routes

The differences between these four anchors all have to do with how they are structured and the cost. Each one is fair for the price, and it depends entirely on your part which one is the best. 

Once done, you will position your lead bolts that test your skill as a route builder. This is the most crucial part, so you must focus and plan to set some bolt points. 

Place the first bolt in a high enough position for the rope to cling on in case of a fall. The second bolt must be waist high to climb easier when the harness clips on the string from the first bolt. 

The third, fourth, fifth, and so on bolts will lead a route that will safely traverse the climber to the mountain’s peak, which usually takes several hours to do. Each bolt’s position is determined through careful thought where the above-mentioned is concerned. 

As a reminder, make sure that there are no deterrents like sharp edges and slippery slopes that will result in an uneventful fall. Always keep your safety in check first before reaching your goal to arrive at your desired destination. 

Now, for the bolt installation, ensure that you inspect the rock first again after cleaning. There shouldn’t be any hairline fractures or bulges on sight. 

For bolt placements, here are the essential tips you need to follow:

  • Bolts should have at least 20cm of positioning embedded in the rocks. 
  • Check if the rock is hollow or solid. Tapping it and hearing an open sound is a clear indication that it’s hollow. Avoid these surfaces, and make sure to mount your bolts on solid ground. 
  • Place duct tapes before drilling to check the hole depth by marking the stone. 
  • Drill at the correct angle to ensure that the climber sits flush, and no torque is seen on the bolt. 
  • A blow-out bulb is helpful in this sense to blow dust out of the hole for easier mounting. 

Finally, don’t forget to retrofit your bolts or anchors for sturdier placement, especially when you wish to reuse them. Ugly scars and mangled metal are going to put you at risk of broken harnesses and dangling ropes in the event of dislodging. 

Final Thoughts on How to Bolt Climbing Routes

Now that you know how to mount and bolt your way to a climbing route, it’s now time to enjoy this magnificent hobby and have a great experience traversing through a mountain at that scale. 

Always put your safety first, and remember to have fun while you’re at it to master the hidden art of mountain climbing!

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About the author 

Jullie

Jullie is a professional indoor climber. She loves speed climbing competitions. This style makes her feel like she's flying. Maybe because her other passion is flying airplanes. Obviously, high speeds are her thing.

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