In rock climbing
Rock climbing also lightly called 'The Gravity Game', is a sport in which participants climb up, down or across natural rock formations or artificial rock walls. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a pre-defined route without falling...
, a nut
) is a metal wedge threaded on a wire, used for protection
To make climbing as safe as possible, most climbers use protection, a term used to describe the equipment used to prevent injury to themselves and others.-Types of climbing:...
by wedging it into a crack in the rock. Quickdraws are clipped to the nut wire by the ascending climber and the rope threads through the quickdraw. Nuts come in a variety of sizes and styles, and several different brands are made by competing manufacturers. Most nuts are made of aluminum. Larger nuts may be threaded on Dyneema cord instead of wire, but this has become unusual.
The very smallest nuts are known as micronuts
and may be made of brass
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc; the proportions of zinc and copper can be varied to create a range of brasses with varying properties.In comparison, bronze is principally an alloy of copper and tin...
or other metal, and typically have their wires solder
Solder is a fusible metal alloy used to join together metal workpieces and having a melting point below that of the workpiece.Soft solder is what is most often thought of when solder or soldering are mentioned and it typically has a melting range of . It is commonly used in electronics and...
ed into them, instead of looped through drilled holes. They are mostly used in aid climbing
Aid climbing is a style of climbing in which standing on or pulling oneself up via devices attached to fixed or placed protection is used to make upward progress....
, and their value as protection, arresting a climber's fall, is marginal due to their low breaking strength, and the tiny surface area (the HB 0 measures about 4 x 7 x 2.5 mm) in contact with the rock, though this can be offset by placing several micronuts at a time. Other names used include RPs
(the brand name of the first commercially available micronuts) and brassies
. They are available from several manufacturers in a variety of styles.
British climbers in the 1950s and 1960s were the first to use nuts as climbing protection. In addition to using piton
In climbing, a piton is a metal spike that is driven into a crack or seam in the rock with a hammer, and which acts as an anchor to protect the climber against the consequences of a fall, or to assist progress in aid climbing...
s, they picked up machine nuts from the side of railway tracks, climbed with them in their pockets, and used them as artificial chocks. This developed to the point where they drilled the thread from the middle, threaded them with slings, and used them in cracks.
In 1972, when clean climbing
Clean climbing is a rock climbing term that describes techniques and equipment which climbers use in order to avoid damage to the rock. These techniques date at least in part from the 1920s and earlier in England, but the term itself may have emerged in about 1970 during the widespread and rapid...
became an issue in the US, Yvon Chouinard
Yvon Chouinard is a rock climber, environmentalist and outdoor industry businessman, noted for his contributions to climbing, climbing equipment and the outdoor gear business. His second company, Patagonia is known for its environmental focus...
began manufacturing chocks made specifically for rock climbing, with the familiar wedge shape still in use today. With Tom Frost
Tom Frost is a rock climber from California, best known for big wall climbing first ascents in Yosemite Valley. He is also a photographer and climbing equipment manufacturer.-Rock climbing and mountaineering:...
, Chouinard invented a larger, six-sided nut called a Hexentric or hex. Prominent climbers like Henry Barber and John Stannard helped popularize the use of nuts, especially after it was discovered that a nut was lighter and easier to place while climbing, as well as being at least as secure as a well-placed piton.
Nuts are available in different shapes to help you find the best fit for a given crack. Curved nuts have a concave face on one side and a convex face on the other.
Nuts may be generically referred to as wires
, though "Stopper" is a brand name of a nut made by Black Diamond Equipment.