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The Bolting Bible

The Hole-y Guide to Climbing, Highlining, Caving and Canyoning Bolts


HowNOT2 Course

Install, Remove, and Understand What You're Trusting With Your Life


Welcome to the 5th edition of The Bolting Bible! It now encompasses the 4 main sports that use bolts with 500+ images, 250+ links, 60+ HowNOT2 videos, and 450 break tests. There are 17 chapters. The first 13 are the "Old Testament" with general information and the last 4 are the sport-specific things you need to know. Even if you never plan on installing a bolt, I encourage you to scroll through and spend an hour learning about what you trust with your life.



 

THE OLD TESTAMENT

The general knowledge of bolt installation, removal, and strength.

How does bolting affect everyone and impact areas? What are the laws and cultures that surround the topic? Read all about the world surrounding bolting.





You can put in the best bolt in the world, but it's the rock that holds it. Learn about rock densities, what feldspar is, and how to identify fracture risks.





Getting the right size hole, deep enough, round enough and straight enough is essential for a good bolt. Choosing WHERE to place these holes can make or break the people who will be using them.




It's important to install something that will last longer than you. Find out why some parts of bolts look rusty while others are not. And read about how bolts that look super good enough can break under body weight.



A hanger is how you interface with a bolt. Unless you glue a "P" into the rock, every other bolt needs a way to clipped a carabiner or have a rope connected to it. There's quite a few different options out there.



The best kept secret that doesn't work in every situation. They are great temporary bolts and maybe good permanent bolts, but bad reusable bolts. Read about when these shine.




Some bolts are just a single rod of metal twisted into shape and others have 7 pieces and are called "5-piece-bolts". It's also helpful to know what hangers are needed for what bolts and the benefits to the weird ones.



How tight do I make it? Why won't it tighten? See what goes on under the surface and learn how to install mechanical bolts.




There is a shocking amount of ways you can shape a metal stick that gets glued into the rock. Read about the shapes, sizes and features of each one. You will also find a buying guide of every glue in bolt on the market.




Glue is a simple word for all the chemicals that holds our bolts in. It's made of different stuff, comes in different colors and dry at different speeds. This is the most risky part of any bolting.



There are a lot of ways to mess this up and its not very fixable after the glue cures. This chapter will help you be prepared with the right tools and systems for it to be easy and look nice when you are done.



A lot of bolting done today is fixing old bolts. How do you remove those old bolts? Can you reuse the hole? See what tools are available to make this possible.




Watch how, where and when bolts break and you'll understand what you can trust your life to and how to install them better. 450+ bolt and hanger break tests organized in easy to see spreadsheets with their associated episodes.





THE NEW TESTAMENT

The sport specific nuances of bolting


We bring you up to speed on how to bolt new routes top down or from ground up. Learn about open vs closed anchor systems and all the configurations those can be in.




Walk through different highline anchor patterns and things to consider to make them safe but also convenient. See how rigging all natural can also be a great alternative.




Dive deep into what bolts are appropriate for caves and how to place them to minimize how much the rope rubs against the rocks. You will also get a plethora of bad bolt porn so you can appreciate the need for good bolts.



We guide you into how to bolt canyons so heavy flows in wet canyons don't destroy the bolts, or how to maintain them easily if they do. You'll also understand the importance of rigging each descent in preparation of a rescue so you are always prepared.

 

Please Share

We really want people to understand what they trust their life to and that is why 100% of our information is 100% free. We license The Bolting Bible, as well as our other content, under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0. This allows it not only to be freely shared, but also to be reused and remixed into any non-commercial derivative work. The only requirements are crediting back to HowNOT2 and releasing your derivative works under any free/copyleft license.

 

History of the Bolting Bible

I researched bolts in 2015 for a project, and there were some useful resources but it was scattered all over and was pretty dry reading. 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. The first several versions were highline-centric as that was my community. Then I met Bobby Hutton and he told me he read it as a climber so the next version we included more climbing specific content. Then Bobby and I did Bolt Busters, a plan to break 1000 bolts to answer every question asked about bolts. We have answered so many questions and are only at 450ish. As we gained insight and researched more, we kept adding to the Bolting Bible. Now is the 5th edition, where we officially have sections for Climbing, Highlining, Caving, and Canyoning. We have also made over 60 episodes specifically about bolting and will continue to explore the topic and add to the Bolting Bible.


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 to charge $20. Youtubing niche videos does not make money but many people have supported with time and money to make this thing what it is today. It's been great to have my energy towards great bolting information matched by thousands of volunteer hours and thousands of dollars donated. Truly a community effort. DONATING time or money today still goes directly into better content and I stoked to see where this is in 5-10 more years.


Disclaimers!

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.


Culture Shift

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.


The Vision

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, 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


  1. Thou shalt not drill where thou art not allowed.

  2. Thou shalt never place zinc-plated bolts

  3. Thou shalt practice bolting at home and not in nature

  4. Thou shalt really, really clean thy hole after drilling

  5. Thou shalt never spray thy bolts

  6. Thou shalt check thy glue-ins after thy glue cures

  7. Thou shalt only drill thy holes perpendicular to the rock face

  8. Thou shalt not bring thy power drill to thy National Parks or Wilderness areas

  9. Thou shalt never use wedge bolts in soft or fractured rock

  10. 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.


Acknowledgments

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 since 2015. 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.

 

Keep Learning!

Unlike other bibles, we promote learning from other groups!

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.




Climbing Taiwan is testing a LOT of bolts and doing the best short form edits out there. INSTAGRAM and YOUTUBE. They test a lot of non-certified bolts and have helpful "how to bolt" videos.




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



Other helpful resources will be linked where relevant in the rest of the Bolting Bible.

 

Now Head Over to Chapter 1 👇


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