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Cleaning Equipment   

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Avoiding botched placements requires a clean bolt hole. When bolting, a selection of brushes is used to prep the rock, clean the hole of dust, and even remove grit and lichen from key holds. Wire, nylon, and bristle all have their place. Wire brushes should be used very conservatively, as they can actually scar the rock if used with too much force. Also, lichen and moss should only be removed when absolutely necessary, since some of these native species are sensitive and grow very slowly. Large scale cleaning of the rock can also have a visual impact that may endanger access in sensitive areas.

A hole brush is critical to all bolting projects. These can be test tube brushes or gun barrel brushes so long as they can clean the hole of any residual dust that may compromise the bolt placement.

Rock Climbing Photo: Hole brush
Hole brush


A blower can be a length of aquarium tubing, a bulb style puffer, a small pump, or even compressed air such as keyboard cleaner or a CO2 bike pump. Blowing the dust from the hole supplements brushing and is needed to get the dust out of the back of the hole. Aquarium tubing is cheap, light, and easy to use one handed. However, the moisture in the climber’s breath can undermine the cleaning effort by causing some dust to stick in the hole. A bulb style blower or small pump avoids the problem of wet air, but they are not very powerful. Some people carry a can of compressed air sold as keyboard cleaner. This is dry air but the can is heavy. CO2 is powerful, dry, and not too bulky; a bike pump can fit in a pocket and works well one handed. Unfortunately, a CO2 cartridge will only last one or two holes and the empties must be carried out and recycled.

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