This article about big wall rivets is part of the book - Big Wall and Aid Climbing.
A rivet is basically a smaller, weaker version of a bolt. It’s common for first ascentionists to place rivets to bypass blank sections when establishing a new route.
You’ll find them in different shapes, diameters, lengths and strengths, some with hangers and some without. Some are almost flush to the rock and others protrude an alarming way out.
Due to their indeterminate depth and strength, they should not be relied upon as good gear.
To climb rivets, you’ll need rivet hangers. Three main types are shown here. Each of these come in different thicknesses. Plate hangers are the strongest, most secure and give you the most reach. Thin wire and cinch hangers are much weaker, but will fit on almost any rivet.
If choosing a route which has a lot of rivets, you should bring a selection and choose the strongest and most secure hanger that will fit for each rivet.
Plate Rivet Hangers
Ideally, you would use a plate hanger on every rivet. However, rivets do not always protrude enough from the wall for a plate hanger to fit, or have a large enough head to keep a plate hanger on. There are two common sizes which accommodate rivets with thicknesses from 1/4” to 3/8”.
Simply slide the hanger over the rivet and clip a carabiner to it. The hanger will now be locked onto the rivet.
A 3/8” hanger will not always lock on a 1/4” rivet. Make sure to choose the right size.
Wire Rivet Hangers
These are the most useful hangers, since they will fit on almost every rivet. They are weaker than plate hangers but twice as strong as the cinch style. Choose the thickest size that will fit for a stronger piece of gear.
Clip your aiders to the swaged side of the hanger and loop the other side over the rivet. Sliding the loose swage up and duck-taping it in place makes the hanger a more secure piece of gear.
Cinch Rivet Hangers
These hangers cinch around the rivet when weighted, making them much more secure on rivets that are:
- Missing a stud
- Pointing downwards
- In overhanging rock
- Protruding a lot from the wall (cinch them close to the wall to reduce leverage)
Clip your aider to one end-loop and slip the middle over the rivet. This cinches tight when weighted.
To release, clip your aider into the other end-loop.
Improvised Rivet Hangers
Some nuts can be used as improvised rivet hangers. However, they are less secure and will give you less reach.
Slide the nut down the wire as shown.
Racking Rivet Hangers
Rack one or two of each type together on a carabiner, so you will always have something that will fit any rivet.
Other Uses of Rivets
An imaginative use rivet hangers can enable you to use unclippable fixed gear.
Learn how to place rivets in this article.