Replace fixed pin anchors with bolts?


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Roger Brown

Oceano, California
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 15, 2012 - 01:17pm PT
Yesterday I found a fixed pin anchor that had a new looking piece of webbing on it. Both pins were drove all the way to the eye. Both pins came out easily and the crack they were in was expanding. The webbing had rap rings. My plan was to replace these pins with pins 1 size larger. This morning there is a new plan, these pins will be replaced with a 2 bolt anchor. I think it would be irresponsible of me to replace an old death trap with a new death trap. Anyone out there have a problem with this?
Roger Brown

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Jun 15, 2012 - 01:23pm PT
No problem at all, most people don't carry hammers to test fixed gear, bolts can be replaced in the future reusing the same holes without further degrading the rock (unlike pins), and besides a bolt+hanger is about 1/3 the cost of an LA.

Personally I think ALL fixed pin anchors should be bolts, YMMV.
And thanks for all your work Roger!

Trad climber
Jun 15, 2012 - 01:25pm PT
good call

use the bolts.

there will be less impact over time.


Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jun 15, 2012 - 01:34pm PT
Agree with both posts, but particularly with El Cap's. When we all carried hammers, we could test fixed pins, just like David Brower told us to do in the Publisher's Foreward to Roper's red Climber's Guide to Yosemite Valley. Since the early 1970's, when we pretty much stopped carrying hammers on free climbs, we have no reliable way to test them, and several fixed pins from those days are now gone.

As just one example, the pendulum on Royal Arches used to be from a horizontal driven up under the small roof, a foot or so above the bolt anchors. When we tested the pin, with its full complement of tat, in 1969, it pulled with the force from a small tug.

Bolts in your situation are just fine, IMHO.


Social climber
Jun 15, 2012 - 01:39pm PT
If there are expansion issues with the crack, bolt anchors are the responsible solution - good call.

Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Jun 15, 2012 - 01:41pm PT
Bolt it up. Thanks for the work!
Russ Walling

Gym climber
Poofter's Froth, Wyoming
Jun 15, 2012 - 01:48pm PT
Three words: PinBolt!!!

(Thanks Roger, you da man!)
rick d

ol pueblo, az
Jun 15, 2012 - 01:49pm PT
I am in disagreement with this idea. Removing the pins allow clean gear to be left OR, nothing at all if one tops out and walks off. Also, if you upsized the pins would they be better? If there is another way down, do not replace this anchor with bolts. Bolts are ALWAYS permanent fixtures where pins often can be upgraded to a removable piece.

If it is the only way down, the next question to ask is 'are these bolts and this station essential?'. If you can skip this station then move on. If ropes always (or better than 75% of the time) get stuck they even if a short rap the station is needed. Then think about some variety of pins, stoppers, etc before a hole.

Bolts are good in moderation. Now TomTom tower needs some freaking bolts on the summit as that crap up there now is bogus.

Trad climber
Jun 15, 2012 - 01:56pm PT
Bolts are ALWAYS permanent fixtures where pins often can be upgraded to a removable piece.

I think this is less universally true than we used to think.

I don't know the placements Roger is talking about, so can't speak to the specifics. But there are many cases in which bolts are preferable to pins for both environmental and ethical reasons. 3/8 stainless in granite can be easily removed and the holes patched and camouflaged. Pin scars are permanent. Crack widening is permanent.


Ice climber
canyon country,CA
Jun 15, 2012 - 01:57pm PT
Thanks for your work Roger. I know you said there was rap slings but was this used as a belay anchor as well ? I'm assuming by pins you mean LA's not angles so there really isn't "gear" available. If it's a rap route then by all means yes. Not every belay is bolted though. I'm sure you know better than me. Just curious.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Jun 15, 2012 - 02:53pm PT
I trust your experience and ethics, Roger. Bolt at will!

BTW thanks for all the work you do.

A pile of dirt.
Jun 15, 2012 - 02:56pm PT
Thanks for the good work Roger!

If you're ever up in the olmsted canyon there are two button heads with homemade anchors on Osprey Overhang (they can be accessed via the regular route). They actually look like they're in pretty good shape but button heads/homemade hangers never make me feel particularly good.


Trad climber
Nevada City, CA
Jun 15, 2012 - 02:58pm PT
Thank you for your work and the thought you put into anchor and bolt replacement! Seems like a good solution in this case.

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Jun 15, 2012 - 03:21pm PT
Fix the pins with bolts.

At Taquitiz, each spring, we would find the fixxed pin from the Blank, lying on the ground.

We would hammer it back in and everybody would trust it....

It got replaced with a bolt.....

It took a while for US to wise up!

Pins are time bombs and CLEAN CLIMBING means no hammers.

Fix it Rodger

Thank you.
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Jun 15, 2012 - 04:25pm PT
Expando flake doesn't sound like the best thing to build a rap station from anyway.
James Wilcox

Boulder climber
The Coast
Jun 15, 2012 - 04:37pm PT
MisterE summed it up nicely. Anchors should be solid.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 15, 2012 - 05:32pm PT
There's not really enough information to provide context, e.g. how difficult the route is, how often it's climbed, whether it's regularly used as a rappel route. If it is climbed at least occasionally, and/or often used for rappelling, then yes, fixed anchors seem to make sense. Roger and team have good judgment, and can be trusted to do the right thing.
Roger Brown

Oceano, California
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 15, 2012 - 07:59pm PT
A couple of notes. The anchor had really old webbing and the rap rings appeared to be as old as well. Either a rap station or a lot of people bailed from there:-) The 2" crack on the left well take cams. Route probably popular at one time but not that popular now. 1 pin was a 1/2" angle and the other was a long dong type arrow. (old style) I usually just upgrade pins to something better but this being a rap anchor changed my mind. I won't use any ASCA stuff.
Roger Brown

Trad climber
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
Jun 15, 2012 - 08:57pm PT
Use your best judgment.

Every situation is unique.

Trad climber
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
Jun 15, 2012 - 09:01pm PT
It's a rappel anchor. You first;)
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