Climbing Bolts — So, what’s a climbing bolt? A bolt is a metal shaft which has an expandable metal sleeve that fastens tightly in a hole drilled in rock. Most bolts have five pieces, one is a cone on the end of the bolt that pushes up inside the bolt to expand the sleeve. The washer is sandwiched between the hanger and the head of the bolt. The most common sizes of bolts today are ⅜ inch and a beefy ½ inch.
Will a climbing bolt really hold me?
Rest assured that a 3/8 inch bolt will hold thousands of pounds of force and a ½ inch bolt will hold even more. Since the bolts that we climb on are at least 3 ½ inches long, they can hold the many, many falls that every sport climber will eventually take. The head of the bolt is tightened down against the hanger expanding the metal sleeve until it is flush with the rock. Once the bolt is firmly set in place the expanding sleeve makes the bolt extremely difficult to remove.
What is a bolt hanger?
The bolt hanger is a piece of metal bent 90 degrees with two holes in it. The bolt goes through one hole and lies flush with the rock. The other hole is large enough to accept a carabiner for the rope to be attached to. The bolt and hanger act as protection to safeguard a fall. Bolt hangers are incredibly strong and most bolt hangers are even stronger than the bolt itself.
Properly placed climbing bolts are astronomically strong when compared to the force generated by a falling sport climber. Safe climbers need to have as much confidence in their equipment as they do in their climbing abilities. Trusting that the bolt will hold a fall is key to climbing without fear and focusing on your climbing skills. Because of secure bolts, climbers can focus on proper technique and concentrate on what they do best — climb!
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