Pitons Are Artifacts Of Adirondack Climbing History


In a post on Tuesday, I noted that John Case eschewed pitons throughout his rock-climbing career. He adopted the view that pounding pitons into rock to protect against a fall was cheating.

Later climbers were not so scrupulous. In fact, four pitons can be found on Case’s historic route on Chapel Pond Slab, known as Bob’s Knob Standard.

Case established Bob’s Knob Standard, the first route on the slab, in 1933. The pitons were placed years later, though exactly when and by whom is unknown.

Climbers generally do not use pitons anymore. Instead, they insert removable chocks and cams in cracks to safeguard against a fall.

The legendary Royal Robbins advocated the use of chocks in Basic Rockcraft (it was published in 1971, before cams), noting that pitons damage rock. “A route on which the cracks are scarred and powdered, and the rock broken and loose because of the continual placement and removal of pitons, is scarcely in its natural state,” he wrote.

The pitons on Bob’s Knob Standard evidently were placed decades ago. Today, they are artifacts of the region’s climbing history and should not be removed. However, feel free to enjoy the photos.


About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

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