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Contraction Bolts

Contraction Bolts. Ralph Widrig and Joe Hieb, of the Seattle Mountaineers, have developed a contraction bolt, shown in the illustration opposite page 225. Fred Beckey writes:1

“We have ½-inch star drills, cut down to five inches in length, fitted into a ?-inch octagonal sleeve. A set screw allows easy changing of drills. The bolt is ? of an inch in diameter and three inches long. Two saw cuts, at right angles, are made at one end. These 1¾-inch cuts taper in width from ? to 1-16 of an inch, making the bolt diameter half an inch at one end, tapering to 9-16 of an inch. The other end is flattened to ? of an inch and has a welded ring for karabiners or slings. A bolt can be put in hard granite in 13 minutes, supporting over 2000 lbs. Inserted completely, it can not be removed and can serve as an excellent belay point in the absence of piton cracks. To support one’s weight on a flawless pitch, one can drill a shorter hole, taking from five to eight minutes.

“The use of bolts and cod lines in mountaineering is limited to exceptionally difficult stretches or sheer monoliths. I do not believe in blacksmithing a route up a cement wall—that is not climbing— but recently we have met peaks that would be impossible even with aid pitons. The choice remains: to retreat, or to use a few bolts to overcome a flawless pitch. Now that there is an efficient way to overcome such pitches, an old question arises: how far shall we go in using artificial aids?”

He adds, “We recently climbed two peaks in the Cashmere Crags that required rope-throwing to scale summit blocks—they were hopeless any other way. If that is unethical, these two peaks I am sure would forever remain unclimbed. In this same area are a score of other peaks that appear to have stretches that will require aids beyond piton usage. But I am sure that in time climbers will knowingly tackle them rather than ignore them.”

1 Cf. page 117 above.