Posted on Leave a comment

Nuts and bolts for the future

Copper, a chemical element which, can occur in nature in a directly usable form. Pink and orange, soft and malleable; the lustre of a freshly exposed metal surface and the ease by which it can be worked, led to very early human use.  Chemically contrasting, elemental Zinc is a silvery blue-grey and brittle metal whose oldest evidence of use comes from 9th century Rajasthan.

Alloying these two contrasting, natural ingredients in different proportions formed a new material, one with improved mechanical durability and strength; both copper and zinc at the same time, a symbiotic material, respectful of itself, whose two constituents can replace each other within the same crystal structure. Brass.

Beautifully crafted pieces of equipment, either mental armour or crucial for harder rock climbs, a brass wedge on a silver soldered wire protects from falls for those skilled enough to need them.

Marginal breaking strength and tiny surface area for contact with rock, brassies or RP’s (Roland Pauligk, their inventor) were skilfully hand-made. Careful shaping and filing, drilling and soldering; from a garage in the Australian suburb of Mordialloc, Victoria, twelve-hour days became thousands of brass stoppers on wire, crafted in a way which would make the ancient alchemists and engineers proud. Being sometimes the only protection against serious injury or death, climbers in the know or the need, held them dear, synonymous to religious icons.

Treacle Slab E3 5c – A powerful and delicate route. RP’s protect the mid run-out section. 

Roland no longer makes RP’s, they have been replaced. Replaced by dimensionally identical counterparts manufactured with more rigorous safety testing by a large company with resources at their disposal. Amazing to think that this revolutionary piece of climbing equipment which has for the most part remained unchanged was once hand made in a garage.

This is how all the best ideas start.

We started in a shed, with an idea.

Handmaking boulder brushes

An idea to change the way expired outdoor gear is disposed of and instead re-purposed. Mass manufactured versions of our products exist however, similar to Roland’s story, perhaps Dirtbags Climbing can plant the seed of a sustainable idea, an idea or example for manufacturers of outdoor sports equipment to use to help clean up the amounts of waste produced through manufacturing which, slowly pollutes the world and environments we like to play in.

Roped climbing indoors is becoming increasingly popular, cheap tents are ubiquitous and all ultimately end up in landfill once expired. A majority of this plastic based material can be repurposed.

So, lets give our waste a purpose and help to prevent the outdoor sports world from becoming one of the large producers of plastic waste.    

James Dickinson