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Epoxy is a petroleum product (aside from a few new plant derived variations) used as a construction adhesive, pipe sealant, and for many other applications. For climbing purposes, epoxy is a strong glue used to place glue-in bolts and, in some circumstances, to repair the rock surface. It comes in an array of formulas, all of which have two compounds, epoxy resin and a hardener. These are mixed in the field when needed, resulting in a strong, weather-proof solid. Epoxy is available in putty and liquid form, both of which are used in route development and repair.

Epoxy is very stable and resilient. UV light and highly acidic or basic environments will take some toll, but for all practical purposes, epoxy will essentially last forever if properly placed. One of the most important considerations when using epoxy is cure time, which is the time it takes to reach full strength once mixed. When placing the bolts, cure time can be tricky. If the epoxy hardens too quickly, it may be difficult to get through an entire tube before it hardens in the mixing tip. On the other hand, once placed, un-cured liquid epoxy will want to seep from the hole, especially on overhanging routes. The bolt itself may also want to slide out of the hole. Both of these considerations have to be balanced while minimizing the mess made with excess and dripped epoxy. Luckily, a number of simple tricks have been developed that help manage the timing and mess.

Liquid Epoxy 

Liquid epoxy comes in a two-part compound that is mixed on site in a nozzle that looks like a long version of a caulking nozzle. It is used to secure glue-in bolts as well as to re-secure broken or week holds back onto the rock in some areas. Liquid epoxy can also be used to patch holes or cover other man made blemishes. Rock dust and sand is often used to help disguise the epoxy, which cures into a plastic looking substance. Once the first application has been made, liquid epoxy will quickly dry and harden in the nozzle. One may wish to carry multiple nozzles on long routes or when doing small tasks separated by a few minutes of potential drying time.

Epoxy Putty 

Epoxy putty, often sold in plumbing or adhesive sections of hardware stores, comes in a small tube and consists of two materials layered in a cylindrical mass. When ready to use, a small piece is cut off and blended by hand much like kneading dough. Once a uniform color, the epoxy can be put in place. It hardens quickly into stone-like consistency. Epoxy putty is particularly useful for patching holes and bolt studs, as you can blend only what you need. Like liquid epoxy, epoxy putty can be camouflaged with rock dust to make a nearly invisible patch.

Popular epoxies used in rock climbing applications include Hilti RE-500, Simpson SET XP and Powers T308+.

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