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Bolts and Hangers

The term "bolt," amongst climbers, usually refers to an expansion bolt and a hanger that a climber clips a draw into for protection. Bolts are typically placed at the top of climbs, in areas where there is inadequate natural protection to use clean protection, in spots where a hanging belay is necessary, and for rebelays.

When placing bolts, a hole is drilled into a solid section of rock. The diameter of the hole is equivalent to the diameter of the expansion bolt. The hole is then cleaned out by blowing air into the hole.

The expansion bolt is placed into the hole and the hanger is placed on the end of the expansion bolt. By tightening the expansion bolt with a wrench the expansion bolt widens, creating a permanent placement rated at more than 5000 pounds (presuming the rock is stable). When placed correctly, they are often the safest protection available, but are used as little as possible because they deface the rock permanently.
Popular Bolts and Hangers (View all Bolts and Hangers)
Head Hex Bolts
$2.74 - 6.00
Fixe Hanger
$1.90 - 4.25

There are dozens of hanger types. Two standard widths used today are 3/8-inch hangers and 1/2-inch hangers. 3/8-inch hangers are ideal for clipping quickdraws to, but are too thin to place ropes directly through because they may cause core damage when weighted. 1/2-inch hangers are used for anchors. They are designed so that they do not include any sharp edges. Due to the thickness and lack of sharp edges, placing a rope directly through 1/2-inch bolts will not cause rope damage (i.e. when cleaning a climb).

A popular alternative to 1/2-inch hangers are hangers with rings. When cleaning hangers with rings, you place the rope directly through the ring (not through the hanger). Chains attached to bolts are also a popular alternative for anchors. Chains allow route setters to extend anchor points over sharp edges or high friction areas without damaging ropes. Always feed the rope directly through the lowest link in each chain when cleaning. If you use a link that is not the lowest, you risk having two links 'cam' against a rope, permanently jamming the rope.

Is a Bolt safe?
"It's often as easy to recognize good bolts as it is to recognize bad ones. Metolius hangers and Rawl five-piece bolts with a hex head of 1/2-inch across or larger are especially dependable." - The American Safe Climbing Association

There is an excellent article on this that you can check out here: The American Safe Climbing Association
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