“If you see hardware that makes you think, keep thinking,” urges Kevin Daniels, 41, the knowledgeable one-man band behind the outfit Fixe Hardware/Fixe USA (fixeusa.com), the bolt-and-anchor supplier for the Anchor Replacement Initiative (ARI). “That’s your survival instinct talking.” Based out of Bishop, California, Daniels has run his business since 1993, starting out of his father’s garage after a chance meeting, at Lotus Flower Tower basecamp, with a Spanish climber who worked for Fixe (Europe).
An accomplished climber, Daniels has FAs on VI aid, free, ice, mixed, and highballs, from Canada, to Alaska, to Joshua Tree, to the Buttermilk. He began climbing at 14, inspired by the “images and artifacts” in his hometown gear store, Santa Ana’s Holubar Mountaineering, where Daniels would bike after school, eventually putting together a rack of ovals and pins slung on 1” webbing.
What’s most important when installing fixed pro? Access and climber relations, followed by local and established ethics, and finally, longevity. If you’re going to bolt, use the proper hardware — take pride in your route, knowing future climbers will safely use your fixed anchors in 20 years.
What should be the minimum standard for hardware? In wet climates, stainless steel should be the standard; in arid climates, plated steel might do the job. In hard, compact stone, 3/8” by 2.25” should do — maybe a bit longer around frequent-fall areas. As the stone softens, length and diameter should increase. Glue-in bolts are the safest, strongest, longest-lasting option — they’re common in Europe and the standard choice at many cliffs.
Can some hardware look deceptively safe? People walk away from time bombs all the time. The real scary stuff is possibly at your local crag: the plated-steel bolts, with stainlesssteel hangers, that you can’t eyeball — you only see the shiny hanger, but the hole might be filled with a corroding bolt. I keep an eye on crux bolts that catch lots of falls. Be aware of the first couple bolts (if you can pre-clip them, pull-test from the ground with friends) and what would happen if one failed. If failure means a groundfall, stick-clip a higher bolt or don’t fall — you’re not in the gym!
Visit climbing.com/community/ari/ for more info on the Anchor Replacement Initiative.