The Hole-y Guide to Climbing and Highlining Bolts
Install, Remove, and Understand What You're Trusting With Your Life
Welcome to the 4th version of The Bolting Bible! Previously it WAS a 155+ page PDF with 500 images, 250 links, 50 videos and 400 break tests, but it was extremely hard to update or edit. This blog version will allow us to double the content! It will easily guide you down any rabbit hole you choose to explore, or you can find something specific using this page or our filter system on our CONTENT page. It also helps us have others collaborate or edit and someday translate. We are working on being able to download all the blogs into one big PDF if that is what you are into, but we aren't there yet.
There are 12 main sections that cover the topic A-Z and we will guide you to them in this "textbook". Consider each blog we send you to as "chapters" and they will always point to the next place you should head. Treat this page as the guide map on how to drill this information into your brain, get it?
I researched bolts in 2015 for a project, and there were some useful resources but it was scattered all over and pretty dry reading. I felt like I had to really go out of my way to find information about a question I had. I started to collect the information and then added my personal experience to it. The more I scratched the topic the more I realized how vast it was and how hard it was to learn online. Fast forward to today and we are on the 4th version of The Bolting Bible with over 60 episodes specifically about bolting found HERE, and 450+ of our own independent break tests to fill in the little gaps of knowledge. Writing the Bolting Bible and making entertaining-ish videos on youtube about bolting seems like a scalable way to help get better bolts installed today to prevent future rebolting projects tomorrow. This isn’t just intended for those who install bolts, but everyone who trusts their lives to them. That is why it is free. It is more important that people read this than we make $20.
No, youtubing niche videos does not make money. However, many people have supported with time and money to make this thing what it is today and what keeps us going is 1000 Patrons supporting with $1 per episode and occasionally some one time donations. 100% of donations go back into the channel, website, books and break tests. I'm very transparent where the money comes from and goes on our DONATION page.
This book is for entertainment purposes only and aims to overwhelm you with the daunting task and responsibility that it is to bolt... in hopes that you decide not to bolt. If you do bolt, please put in products that will pass the test of time. Please don’t “learn” by installing permanent anchors that you, and thousands of other strangers, will depend their lives on for many years, but rather practice in a non-critical setting (like your backyard) until you know that what you will install will be safe for everyone. I am fully certified in absolutely nothing. I was hardly taught anything in person. I have installed bolts less than perfect before. This is a collection of all the information I could collect from reliable resources online, the people I respect and the testing we have done ourselves. Though I have tried to include all the best practices accepted to date, the information is not confirmed, tested thoroughly, or could just be outdated. Ideally, The Bolting Bible contains everything available online about the topic (and/or links to the other resource) plus our own independent research. But keep in mind that this is just as reliable as anything you find on google (aka not reliable).
Why the Bible Theme?
Man does not live by bolts alone, but by every opinion on mountain project! It shocked me in my bolting research how dogmatic people were about what they believed and how another source had an equally dogmatic but opposite view, all based on a hearsay or a single grainy video on youtube from 2007. With a culture so similar to my experience from my previous religious background, and with so many contributors, and with needing an overarching theme that would make bolts sound more fun than they really are... voilà, we now have the Bolting Bible. Unlike the real Bible, if you find something that needs correcting, we will update it!
Egos - The Good and the Bad
There is an ironic correlation with egos and bolting. This goes much further than the bolting wars between Robbins and Harding as that was about whether or not bolts should be placed. There are strong emotions that come from bolting new routes/lines (similar to how a graffiti artist feels) and the even bigger emotions that show up when someone removes and replaces those bolts. There is a sense of pride and ownership that takes place when you establish something. No one likes being wrong, so when another person critiques (usually in a troll like way) it can raise up egos and the bolting war is on. Ego, for better and for worse, has been the decentralized method of governing bolting ethics, whether it is internet trolls or vandalism to bolts.
My introduction to bolting was by an old school climbing gym owner that said "back in the day, we placed bolts only good enough for us to go up and then fail on the next person." Then there was a period where people put in better stuff, but stainless wasn’t commonly used so now it’s all getting replaced. Today, the environmentally aware “Leave No Trace” culture and everyone caring a lot more if people die, has led us to put in bomber bolts that should last longer than the person installing them. Many organizations have popped up to educate and replace bolts. More laws have been established to set guidelines for popular areas. We realized we can’t change out hardware every 10-20 years for the next 200+ years (before we all head to mars) without our rocks looking like swiss cheese or junk yards. So yet again, another correlation to the real Bible (from misogyny and racism to less misogyny and less racism), we have ethically evolved over time, which is a good thing.
Case Study - The Lost Arrow Spire
A great example of mixed emotions of a rebolting project was when a group of 7 of us re-bolted the Lost Arrow Spire in Yosemite. It’s an iconic rock in an iconic place and the bolts are used by both climbers and highliners. The question is who is going rebolt something like this when bolting in Yosemite is 50% red tape and 50% cowboy. This was one of our most popular bolting EPISODE.
It just fascinates me how much emotion comes from some hardware where the installation isn't really regulated or owned by anyone. Bolting is a very cowboy activity that is becoming more regulated. I think education is the #1 way to have better bolts. I have a theory: anyone willing to spend their money on the hardware and tools and spend a weekend installing bolts, would want to feel proud of their job. My other theory is that botched jobs are a lack of prep, practice and education. Since bolting licenses aren’t required when you buy bolts, making an entertaining-ish book available for free with everything in it, in a logical order, with lots of easy to understand photos, might be the next best option. It can either overwhelm people so they don’t bolt (YAY!) or empower them to do a good job. I believe in safe bolting education, not abstinence.
Why The Innuendos?
Because writing and reading a book about bolts is as dry as the dust you get from drilling rock. Our target audience isn’t just the 20 people around the world that nerd out on bolt details or even those who install bolts, but everyone whose lives depend on these metal things they see in the rocks and know nothing about them. Plus, we never matured past the 7th grade and can’t help it but use a good pun!
The Big Picture
What’s the point of having big, strong, long lasting bolts so we all live longer, if we are all dicks to each other. I would rather live in a world with bolts that break occasionally if that world had really nice people everywhere. Let’s aim for both. Let’s be nice to each other and encourage each other to do the best bolting possible but not be trolls while doing it. Speaking of trolling, I do apologize if you like the real Bible and this offends you. Believe it or not, I do try to keep it to a minimum. I had 30 years in the church and I am way less bitter than I used to be about that experience, but I still like to poke fun at it once in a while. Eat the meat and spit out the bones.
The 10 Bolting Commandments
Thou shalt not drill where thou art not allowed.
Thou shalt never place zinc-plated bolts
Thou shalt practice bolting at home and not in nature
Thou shalt really, really clean thy hole after drilling
Thou shalt never spray thy bolts
Thou shalt check thy glue-ins after thy glue cures
Thou shalt only drill thy holes perpendicular to the rock face
Thou shalt not bring thy power drill to thy National Parks or Wilderness areas
Thou shalt never use wedge bolts in soft or fractured rock
Thou shalt read the entire bolting bible so thy knows what thou is doing
The Armor of Thy Bolter
Be strong in bolting and it’s mighty power. Bring the full armor of thy bolter, so that you can stand strong against the adversary of epics. For our struggle shall not be against simple things of this world like logistics but against the all important details of technique, changing weather and our beers getting warm. Carry with thee, thy drill of truth, thy drill bit of righteousness, thy bolt of faith, thy hanger of peace, and thy eye protection of salvation.
Portuguese and Chinese
Matheus Samir translated the 2020 PDF into PORTUGUESE and Vertical Translation Team translated the 2020 PDF into CHINESE. We will explore new ways to translate these blogs and keep them up to date because once we have a great system, then it is my hope to have this in many different languages. Thank you to the stoke these translations gave to keep this project alive. Spanish is next, don't worry! The English PDF is no longer available as this blog is being changed too often and it would be outdated.
ENGLISH - YOU ARE HERE - NO PDF
THE OLD TESTAMENT
All about bolts, and how to put them in rocks
The Book of Bolting Ethics
“Thou shall not penetrate virgin rock without feeling guilty.”
The Book of Rock
“The harder it is, the better it is for your hole.”
The Book of Holes
“After getting thy hole hammered, make sure thou cleanest it really well.”
The Book of Metal
“Make sure it is hard and that it lasts a long time!”
The Book of Anatomy
“Know what thy is shoving in thou hole.”
The Book of Mechanical Bolts
“The more you twist the head, the more the nut gets sucked up.”
The Book of Glue In Bolts
“Some slip right on in, some you have to force, but either way it is just a sticky mess”
The Book of Glue
“As soon as it comes out, everything gets sticky.”
The Book of Installing Glue In’s
“If the hole isn’t clean, it can be really risky!”
The Book of Climbing Anchors
“It’s important to stay safe whilst getting off”
THE NEW TESTAMENT
How to remove & replace bolts + Learn how they really break
The Book of Pulling Out
“Pulling out isn’t as much fun than leaving it in there, but sometimes it is safer”
The Book of Numbers
“Know how hard thou needest to tug it before you get release”
This project took a village. For the Bolting Bible to look this good, be this useful and have the grammar as good-ish as it is, it took an amazing team of people to pull it off over the last 6 years. I learned everything I know from the people below. Some brain dumped amazing information, some wrote entire sections, some answered 1000 questions, some read this 10x to edit it. Thank you for helping with this dream of having every resource about bolting online in one place!
Bobby Hutton, Kim Weglin, Travis Warner, Martin Roberts (Titan Climbing), Mike Law, Jim Titt (Bolting Products), Greg Barnes (ASCA) and those at the Access Fund, David Kingston, Zac Timmons, Travis Warner, Greg Fishell, Ben Iseman, Jediah Doohan, Marc Thompson, Philipp Gesing, Jerry Miszewski, Jason Fautz, Scott Rogers, Ryan Morse Brady, Clay Lippincott, Andrew Davidson, Mark Hanna, Alex Rybchuk, Chris Wallace.
Unlike other bibles, we promote learning from other groups! Here are some fantastic resources that we learned a lot from.
Mountain Projects Bolting Forum is where the community is at. Stay up to date with the latest knowledge, trends and questions by following this thread.
Francis Haden has a great all around resource that is like the abridged version of the Bolting Bible. Endlessly scroll through this blog page and you'll learn all about the types of bolts he is replacing and installing. He has established many many routes in Hong Kong and in 2021 published a topo book of that area.
Jim Titt makes climbing bolts in Germany and sells them on Bolt-Products.com. They are the strongest glue in bolts on the market and all of the bolts are certified. Clicking this image leads you to a very large dedicated section to bolt education and testing. It's an endless scroll on a website made a long time ago, but has a lot of gold in it... technically a lot of stainless steel.
Michael Law wrote a 59 page bolting guide called “Soft Rock Bolting Guide” but is for all bolting and pretty thorough. He also has done a lot of independent testing. Michael Law and Steve Hawkshaw published an official article in 2014 of their break tests that is available for purchase. Neil Monteith and Michael Law tests fire damaged bolts in this video and U bolts (staples) in this video
If you see a typo, or see a resource online we haven't linked to, or have something to share, we'd love to add it. If you are contributing a video, image, or words, please be kind by delivering something ready to add and tell us where you think it best fits.