Ode to the Bolt

Jimmy Keithley, Sterling Ambassador Jun 22nd 2018
  • Jimmy Keithley, Sterling Ambassador
  • Photo credit: Jonathan Vickers

At Sterling, we see the importance safety in climbing, and a part of that is crag maintenance- specifically replacing aging bolts. That’s why we support national organizations like Access Fund and American Alpine Club. At times we try to support local organizations like the SLCA (Salt Lake Climbers Association), as well.

Jimmy Keithley is a long-time ambassador of Sterling, and invaluable volunteer that's helped us build and take down our Outdoor Retailer tradeshow booth for years. He serves on the board of the SLCA and is involved with their re-bolting initiative. Jimmy wrote a brief ode called "The Giving Bolt" and we thought it was too good not to share. Here goes...

  • Jimmy Keithley, Sterling Ambassador
  • Photo credit: Jonathan Vickers

The Giving Bolt: An Ode to the Bolt.

Well here we are old bolt....
Let me just say this before I remove you. You should be proud because great care was taken when you were placed. Questions were asked such as:
Was this the best spot for you?
Was there any place for passive pro?
Would you be chopped?
Would the coming onslaught of climbers pull you out?
Would the harsh weather and corrosive environment weaken your strength?

And yet you have endured so much abuse over the years.... the hang dogs, the gumbys who put crappy bail beaners on you, the spandex clad climbers of late 80s and early 90s who yo yo'ed you to death, and yet through it all you have hung in there.

It hasn't been all bad though. You have seen some amazing things over your lifetime. First ascents, first leads, first onsites and climbers of all walks of life who chose you to protect them. There have been priceless moments, where an intimidated leader has clipped you, followed by a deep sigh of relief. Like many of us you have worked far past your retirement age, without a complaint or budge. Sure you have had a little work done, a tightening of your nut or a new hanger! But it's still you, your guts are rusting and your strength isn't what it used to be. Don't you worry, we won't replace you with some cheap plated steel knock-off from the hardware store.

Your life is far from over! We have plans for you, oh yes! We might use you as a plant holder, a trophy for a collection, a bottle opener, a key chain or use you to educate others. Maybe just maybe...... You will be put in the Patagonia Store in Brooklyn and a Hipster will gawk at your rustic beauty as they clip eco friendly clothes to you. Either way, your legacy will live on in our hearts and racks. And we thank you for your decades of service to the climbing community.....

Now where are my tools? Let's get you the hell out of here.

  • Jimmy Keithley, Sterling Ambassador
  • Photo credit: Jonathan Vickers