Pitons, with their century-long history, are one the main symbols of traditional climbing. The rise of camming devices and nuts have reduced their popularity, but without impacting their most fundamental role: a good piton or a good pitons belay are still the top choice for the climber that prefers to avoid routes with bolts.
In spite of this, pitons are often considered an expensive item: the retail price oscillates between 10 and 15 Euros, but they tend to have a limited lifespan due to fatigue and deformation, and they often have to be left behind (although sometimes this is just for the climber to leave a trace of passage!)
Making things even more complicated, lots of specialized stores often showcase only very few models from very few vendors, and just as often their staff does not possess the required know-how to properly assist the potential buyer: quite a depressing scenario, considering how critical pitons are for climbers.
For all these reasons I am developing “rockhound.it”, a website fully dedicated to climbing pitons, with the goal of describing and reviewing more than 150 different models produced by the most prestigious vendors worldwide. The goal is to offer a full comparative analysis of all variants and styles currently on the market.
The spirit of this initiative can be compared to a “Camp4”-style photograph, in the tradition of Tom Frost and Royal Robbins, in which every climbing and mountaneering enthusiast can enjoy a comprehensive look at all available piton models, and understand the impressive variety offered by this deceivingly simple tool.
I believe that talking about pitons is a way to talk about mountains in general. It provides the chance to listen to the experiences of experts and route openers. It allows us to step back a little from sport climbing, and learn from more traditional climbers. Indeed, another goal of mine is to create a community of “pegs and hammer” climbers, able to finally find and understand the ‘average trad climber’, who due to her elusiveness is often considered extinct.
On top of all the goals described so far, the web portal will also be a specialized online store, in order to provide visitors with all the options and possibilities that they might have trouble finding elsewhere.
It is with this objective in mind that I am contacting relevant vendors, so that they can help with a project that has the aim of serving a community that might not be very large but whose needs deserve to be addressed. The first contacts have been very fruitful, and I have already started to collect some of the 150+ models
Davide “Birillo” Valsecchi
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