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How to bolt a rock climbing route

You've got experience climbing various routes and it's now the time to open your first route. If you fancy placing your own gear; that is nuts, friends etc, then you should aware that bolts are not always the superb protection if not placed properly.
Having said that, recently I read an article on a blog where a guy from Australia died after having a faul on a sandstone route. You can read the initial post at

You can see how bad those bolts where from the video below.

Installation of fixed anchors implies a strong responsibility which you should only take if you have suitable experience. The information given here is not to be taken as the be all and end all of bolting facts. This is advice only and the author is not responsible for inaccuracies , mistakes or accidents caused by using this information. Never assume that the person selling the product (or other climbers including me) are giving the right advice. Read the product manuals and contact the manufacturer if there are any doubts.

Before placing bolts in a cliff you must practice at home. Find a piece of bluestone or use your garages cement foundation as a test block. Practice drilling, notching, placing and removing an example of all these types of bolts before deciding on a system. Remember - do not trust the guys in the bolt shops to tell you the right information. They have no idea about dynamic loads related to climbing and will recommend equipment that is not suitable. This guide will steer you towards brands that people have been using successfully for years in Australia - it is then up to you to read the technical manuals for the product and follow the instructions exactly. Contact Neil Monteith if you need anymore info.


Before you drill, do a lot of climbing in the area, and think hard about whether your potential line will enhance or detract. Don't bolt something now that you might be embarrassed about later. Decide whether the route follows an aesthetic line. A route should flow together into an obvious set of moves

If you have been climbing outside for less than four years, or if you have climbed in fewer than ten different areas, you should think about getting some broader experience, or at least good mentorship, before drilling and bolting new routes.

In Australia, routes that contain natural protection are left as such. Bolted cracks are extremely rare and are generally shunned upon. If you can place gear than leave the climb in its natural state. You may not be able to climb the line placing gear but other future climbers can.

Do not bolt unless you want crowds to someday arrive. Remember, bolts bring guidebooks which bring crowds who will stomp the place to death and turn it into such a hellhole that you will never want to go back. If the area is a tranquil backwater than try and leave some of its original charm intact by limiting the effects of bolting.

Posted on: 15/02/2011 By: