How to Set Bolts for a Sports Climb

How to Set Bolts for a Sports Climb
Setting bolts is a good way to hone your skills as a lead climber and challenge others to follow in your chalked-up footprints. Sport climbing is becoming a very popular style of rock climbing because the ease of clipping solid bolts easily outweighs the fear of placing uncertain gear. A surefire way to a successful and popular sport route is to have a good plan before venturing into the vertical world.

Top-rope the Climb

Top-roping the route a few times will give you a strong mental picture of where the safest clipping stances and sensible places for the bolts are.

Place the First Bolt High Enough

To avoid groundfall, the first bolt should be placed high enough so that a climber will not hit the ground if he or she falls. If the first bolt is only a few feet off the ground, it won't do much good.

Have Consideration for Other Climbers

Set the bolts so that they are comfortable to reach for both short and tall climbers. A bolt may be easy to reach for someone 6 feet tall, but shorter climbers may struggle to make that same clip.

Make Comfortable Clipping Stances

Place bolts where you are comfortable making clips and you can rest and regain strength. Placing a bolt in the middle of a crux makes the climb difficult and can ruin the natural flow of the route.

Place Bolts Before a Crux

Protecting the crux is essential. Make a habit of placing bolts just before a difficult section where falls are likely.

Consider Obstacles

Place bolts far enough away from obstacles like sharp protruding rocks or ledges. Keeping bolts far above dangerous rocks and ledges will prevent climbers from hitting them if they fall.

Article Written By Rob Holzman

Based in the Pacific Northwest, Rob Holzman has been writing outdoor articles since 1997. He recently published the first comprehensive rock climbing guidebook for Pennsylvania and has fiction work published in the "Pacific Northwest Inlander". Holzman has also appeared on FOX television and has been an outdoor consultant for the Discovery Channel.

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