Cleaning Pitons in Sandstone

The standard method of cleaning pitons involves hammering them back and forth in the direction of the crack until they eventually loosen. With repeated placements in a vertical crack, a circular hole develops, generally requiring the future repeated use of pitons. With a little extra effort, it is possible to clean pitons in a manner that will tend to eventually create a clean (hammerless) placement for subsequent ascents. The technique involves hitting the pin more in the upward direction rather than the downward direction. To begin, hit the pin in the upward direction as far as it will travel. On the downward blows, stop when the piton is about horizontal, rather than hitting it as far down as it will travel. The scar that develops is more triangular shaped and more likely to accept a stopper or a TCU in the future. It is good practice in soft rock to leave pitons whose cleaning could permanently destroy a placement.