Bolting 101

Bosch SDS Hammer Drill & Bolting Hardware

About a year ago I applied for a bolting permit in Eldorado Canyon State Park via ACE FHRC to put up a new sport climb on the north side of the canyon on a rock formation known as Lower Peanuts.  The bolting application process was fairly involved requiring me to top rope and clean the route, photograph with tape marking the proposed bolt and anchor locations, and submit a written proposal to FHRC.  Thankfully, two FHRC members helped me out with the write up and even came out to the crag to top rope the proposed line.  The application was approved and a permit issued to me Spring of 2009 by Park Manager Steve Muehlhauser.

Flash forward to the middle of September, about three weeks ago, I came to the stark realization one morning that as a traditional climber of 25+ years I didn’t know squat about bolting.  I had asked a handful of local bolting experts what the specifications for new bolts should be and the resounding reply was 1/2″ stainless steel camouflaged for everything.  No problem, I thought, a few phone calls and I’ll have everything by the afternoon and will bolt the route in a few days time maybe a week tops.  First, I called Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder, CO and was informed they stopped carrying bolting equipment about five years ago.  Second, I surfed to Bent Gate Mountaineering Golden, CO and realized they didn’t have bolts matching my specifications.  Feeling stumped I googled and landed on Fixe Hardware which has been dealing in stainless steel climbing hardware for at least ten years to my knowledge.  After pouring over their online catalog and a few phone calls to friends and Fixe Hardware I settled on the following hardware for the climb:

  1. 7 1/2″ x 4 3/4″ SS Bolts
  2. 7 13mm SS hangers
  3. 1′ 3/8″ SS chain
  4. 2 SS Wiregate carabiners
  5. 1 1/2″ x 10″ SDS drill bit

Further I ordered three 3/8″ SS Maillon Rapide made quick links from Green Boat Stuff in Seattle, WA which cut the climbing shops price in half (i.e., $26 down to $13).  Due to the weakness of the dollar to the Euro and fact all of this stainless steel is made in Europe it was a whopping $185 total.  I was sort of stunned at the price of the hardware – no wonder nobody wants to bolt with beefy SS bolts.  The final order of business was to get the hardware camouflaged via powder coating which outlasts paint jobs by decades.  I won’t bore you with the details but suffice to say Jerry Navarez over at Complete Powder Coating & Paint did great work and introduced me to the technical rigors of the process to the tune of $100.

Finally, yesterday I stopped by Nate Adams, an indoor climbing friend from Rock’n & Jam’n North Denver, place to pick up his Bosch Annihilator SDS hammer drill and bolting kit.  Nate gave me a few lessons on how to use the drill and specifically what to do and not to do when I bolt this new climb.  I plan to head out into the foot hills around Boulder, CO tomorrow morning and find a small rock to practice drill a few holes.  With any luck the route should be bolted in two weeks or less!  Now if I could only get strong enough to climb it.

Author: Joseph Crotty

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  1. This is great info – especially for people who would like to get into bolting but for whom it is a new experience with many unknowns. It’s crazy that it has taken you since we were climbing together in college until now to get around to learning how to bolt! Let us know how it goes. The advice I gave you doesn’t stop with the bolting – I can also help you get strong enough to do the route! Good Luck.


  2. Tim,

    Thanks for the advice on the route especially about how to drill and set up the anchor. I’ll be following that for sure when the time comes. Oh, and your so right that I should have learned about bolting long ago. To think all of the mank I clipped over the years in an uneducated state of mind. Sad.


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