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Bolting For Highlining

Funny phrase here

The Bolting Bible

Bolting For Highlining

Welcome to our free course as our way of contributing to the bolting community. It's nice to understand what you are clipping and trusting with your life, even if you never plan on installing or removing bolts. Also, if someone is going to spend their time and money to bolt something, I assume, they probably want to do it as good as possible. Hopefully the Bolting Bible gives you the tools you need to do a great job. Get it?

Our courses are A-Z content in blog format, glued together with an over arching blog we call a text book. A blog format is easy to read, easy to update, and easy to translate. Be sure to begin at the TEXTBOOK and at the end of each episode we'll point you to the next.


Going All Natural

Like any good hippie, going all natural is more fun. In highlining, if we can string up our massive bag of 1" wide plastic across the sky with no bolts used, that is what we call "all natural" rigging. It's held as a higher form of rigging but it isn't rocket science how we do it. Wrap a tree or rock like you would to slackline in the park or place a whole bunch of climbing trad gear and get good at equalization.

Rigged off cams, backed up to the rappel rope

Highliners often times play on top of the cliffs and if we place 3 or 4 bolts on the top where a lot of people can see them, it can negatively affect access. Especially if there are multiple lines in one area. The Fruit Bowl in Moab is now a highline destination but notice it has hundreds of bolts littering the tops of the cliffs. You can't do that just anywhere today.

It is a higher form of rigging to take with everything you came with. Aim to rig highlines all natural and really consider if that spot needs bolts before installing them. Also, know your area first to see if you can legally install the bolts!

You can see many examples of different ways to rig in our HIGHLINE RIGGING PLAYLIST.

Sharing Space

It's less of an issue today, but climbers can get upset about highliners using their bolts. Oftentimes, climbing anchors are in the perfect spot to rig a highline and from a safety perspective, we are not damaging the bolts. That was an argument for years! It's not damaging bolts in case you were wondering. But we have to share and figure out how to do that without pissing anyone off. Be kind, communicate clearly and consider not highlining in a spot during a busy time if it is preventing climbers from enjoying that space as well.

Eichorn Pinnacle has bolts on top for climbers to rappel. We can just wrap the boulder on top as our anchor instead.


Highliners play with more force than any other sport. Climbing gear may see 8kn sometimes in gnarly factor two falls but it's short and rare. Highlines, especially freestyle or > 1 KM long highlines are constantly playing at 8kn. High tricklines can be even 12kN! Most highlines are 2-3kn when they are tensioned and 3-4kn when are walking on it and 4-6kn when you whip.

How much can a bolt hold? Minimum 20kN. In the Book of Numbers, you can see most of them are in the 30kn-40kn range, and some we can't even break because the hanger breaks first at 50+ kN. Now, you can't put short 3/8" (10mm) in sandstone and cyclically load it to 8kn without it failing so it's important to follow good bolting principles taught in the Bolting Bible but if you do a half-decent job it is super good enough!

WHERE IS THE VIDEO OF ANDY'S TRICKLINE BOLT FAILING - book of metal or another main chapter


There are a couple of deserts on earth where a zinc-plated bolt will last about 50 years, but aim to install hardware that will last longer than you and put in stainless. No one wants to highline on rusty bolts. The bolts we replaced in Yosemite were barely 20 years old and they were very rusty and even the bolts replaced in Moab's desert were rusty. Also consider that if they are installed on top of a cliff, the hole will hold water even if it doesn't rain that often. And of course, use Titanium if rigging near the ocean.

Holes - HIGHLINE Bolt Placements

Things to consider before installing highline anchors:

1. Where do you want your master point to be? It will be the center of your bolting pattern so choose carefully. And remember you don’t want more than a 45 degree angle on your anchor legs so it doesn’t put exponential force on the bolts, instead sharing the load evenly.

2. Is the anchor going to serve more than 1 highline? How can the bolts be placed to best be pulled in multiple angles?

3. Will the hangers sit flat against the rock?

4. Will there be a weird hump between the bolts and the master point causing unwanted friction?

5. How far back from the edge will the bolts be?

A. In hard rock it can be a foot or two away from edge but if it is too close then it can put the master point too far beyond the edge making rigging difficult.

B. In soft rock it is important to stay away from the edge even 6 to 10 feet back in some cases but then the master point will need extending possibly requiring a stabilizer bolt, one near the edge that doesn’t hold much force other than to keep things from moving around causing abrasion.

6. What Pattern will you use?

A. Straight line - Careful, this is how they harvest quarry stone. This can score rock and make it susceptible to fracturing. Know your rock