Pitons / Pegs Advice

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Re: Pitons / Pegs Advice

by Bart » Thu Nov 04, 2010 8:10 am

MoapaPk wrote:Slight thread hijack...

In very obscure areas of Red Rock, NV, I've found pitons used as rappel anchors. Some folks tell me they will never rappel off pitons. But I talked to the guy who placed one, and he told me that he was sure it was really stable. That one piton has probably been used for more than 50 rappels (only about 70 feet). It doesn't seem to have moved.


Unfortunately I can't remember the exact source, but there's this pretty interesting study conducted among alpine guides (ie: professionals) in europe a while ago that focused on the reliability of in-situ pins. The guides were asked to judge the reliability of pins that had been in place for an unknown amount of time. Afterwards, these pins were tested to see how much they would hold. Turns out, none of the guides consistently got it right; reliable looking/sounding/feeling pins came out at a pop, thrashy looking ones turned out to be bomber and vice versa. Lesson I took away from that is that it's very hard to judge the safety of an in-situ pin. Sometimes you won't have any other options for descent but to rely on pre-placed pins, but I always try to back up the first person to abseil with a cam or something, and if I don't trust it than I'll leave some prusik cord to back the whole situation up.

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Re: Pitons / Pegs Advice

by ExcitableBoy » Thu Nov 04, 2010 4:52 pm

drtbg wrote:
Bart wrote: if I don't trust it than I'll leave some prusik cord to back the whole situation up.

Just wondering how you back up pitons with a prusik cord. I would like to know how to do this.

I think Bart meant he places a second piece and equalizes It with the in situ piton with some perlon cord. That said, I have rappelled off of knots tied in webbing and cord jammed into the constriction of cracks. Its an old trick.

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Re: Pitons / Pegs Advice

by CClaude » Thu Nov 04, 2010 5:10 pm

Pegs are also the prefered in ultrasoft sandstone, sometimes even being better then a bolt.

in many situations modern gear can do away with Pegs (pitons) except for the thinnest of knofeblades. In alpine situations especially in iced up choss they work well where the small cams won't work. The supersmall gear you have to be pretty good but the small stuff holds better then you think, even the stuff most people think about as aid gear. One of my climbing partners Keith who is 185lbs regularly whips on BD 00 C3 sized pieces and here is the gear used to bypass the bolts on Shangri-la.


and you see plenty of small gear (in sandstone) including a BD 000 C3, (2) BD 00 C3's (I use 3 since I'm not as bold as Mike) , and 6 BD 0 C3's, and this is not an aid climb but a pretty hard, fairly long trad route.
Last edited by CClaude on Thu Nov 04, 2010 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pitons / Pegs Advice

by fatdad » Thu Nov 04, 2010 5:12 pm

From the way the OP is written, I'm assuming the poster is newer to climbing. The whole issue about whether they're "reusable" just cries out 'inexperienced climber.' No offense. Everyone was new to the game once.

Like what others have said, it's a function of where you climb and why you think you need pins. Hardly anyone ever uses them anymore, so why do you think you need to? Also, what are other local climbers using for pro? If the issue is learning to use gear, perhaps some instruction from a local guide would be more helpful than advice on a pin rack.

The British Isles was the birthplace of the clean climbing revolution. I'm sure you'll want to honor that legacy.

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Re: Pitons / Pegs Advice

by The Chief » Thu Nov 04, 2010 5:16 pm


My original point exactly....thanks for your post.

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Re: Pitons / Pegs Advice

by CClaude » Thu Nov 04, 2010 5:52 pm

My point is even if the local ethics include the use of pins, but if based on good judgement you can do away with them in a reasonable manner, hold yourself to a higher standard. This is where experience will come in.

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Re: Pitons / Pegs Advice

by PellucidWombat » Thu Nov 04, 2010 6:42 pm

As for checking the security of an in-situ pin, don't forget to consider how a pin resists force and how you're pulling on it, since 'weaker pins' can be strong enough in certain directions. (those more experienced with pins please correct me if I'm mistaken on any of this!)

They can be the most secure if loaded in shear perpendicular to the crack.

If loaded in line with the crack they are more likely to pry out (e.g. the way to clean them is to hammer them back and forth in line with the crack and they wiggle right out), but deeper pins have more resistance to prying if clipped close to the rock face and pins clipped offset from the blade to engage some camming action are better.

And of course pulling directly out along the shaft of the pin is the worst way to load it since all that is holding the pin into the rock is friction and compression of the crack against the metal. (Think of the analogy of how to pull on a snow picket for pro vs. cleaning).

An example where these differences matter is on the North Ridge of the Pfeifferhorn. When I was climbing on it in winter, there was a 45 degree slab section that is covered in snow and protected by a fixed line attached to pitons that requires some combination of climbing and hanging on the rope until you get across the slab to a snow gully. After 2 guys in our team crossed the slab on the line I checked the piton by pulling up on it, and it lifted out of the crack with no resistance! However, the piton was long (ergo more resistant to rotating out of it's placement), and the line was pulling perpendicular to the piton and crack line, so it was holding fine. I set the piton back into it's hole and I made sure to be very careful in how I tugged on the fixed line as I started the traverse!


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