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The Anchor Guru

Brent Peters is a climbing guide and guidebook author of Icelines, but he is also leading the charge on updating anchors on ice climbs.

From Vancouver Island to Newfoundland, climbers rely on pre-placed bolts as anchors. Anchor standards have changed over the last four decades. Anchors vary from being a chain around a tree to having three or four bolts, few only have one bolt, most have two. One bolt anchors exist for terrain such as fourth-class scrambles. Many areas require that you bring your own anchor material such as webbing, slings and equipment. Sport climbing routes often have two-bolt anchors with chains or off-set ring bolts. There are a variety of ice climbing anchors, from equalized ice screws and abalakovs to trees and bolted stations.

In the Rockies, bolts have been used as anchors for decades. Some of the bolts used today were place over 30 years ago. Peters, who authored Icelines, Select Waterfalls of the Canadian Rockies, climbed dozens of classic routes and found that most of the anchors needed to be replaced.

Peters hard at work Photo Maarten van Haeren
Peters hard at work Photo Maarten van Haeren

In a correspondence with Gripped, Peters said, “I kept a list last year when I was collecting information on the ice climbs for IceLines. Most of the bolts that I am replacing are 10 to 30 years old. The majority are self drives, placed in the 80s. Most are rusted, and explode with five hits from an ice climbing tool’s hammer, a very light and awkward hammer to generate very much force. As the climbs in the book are classic routes and most see multiple ascents a day, the goal was to update any anchor that needed it. I am putting in two-bolt stations with stainless steel bolts. I am positioning them vertical to the line of pull, with a rap-ring on top and a hangar with maillon on the bottom. This configuration seems to bind the least as the top ring sits sideways while the bottom maillon lifts horizontal during the pull. Here is a list of routes that I have updated, Murchison, Grotto, His, Hers, Secret Samedhi, Aquarius, Red Man Soars, Whiteman Falls and Guinness Gully. Here is the list I want to complete, Sorcerer, Kittyhawk, Nemesis and Anorexia Nervosa.” –Brandon Pullan

For more information on Peters’ guidebook see here.

Brent Peters replacing the old self drive bolts at the top of Murchison Falls, WI4+, on the Icefields Parkway. Photo Nathalie Fortin


The Association of Bow Valley Rock Climbers (TABVAR) organizes the retrofitting of old bolts for summer rock climbs. Leading the way is Greg Tos who will be featured in our February issue of Gripped Magazine.

If you would like to know more please visit www.tabvar.org.

Greg Tos and his collection of new and old hardware from summer rock climbs. Photo TABVAR