“They ruined this line. Why haven’t they placed a third ring into the final wall?” a disappointed climber cusses at the foot of a wall. He or she checks the guidebook once again but the ring is still missing – time to give up and go home.
The question lingers: “Why is the ring missing?”
Perhaps because placing a ring is not so enjoyable. In fact it is quite a swot.
Or maybe because forging it was not that easy as well!
Let’s ask the real expert on ringbolts – Luboš Martínek from Kokořínsko area in the northern Bohemia (the Czech Republic).
EVERY SHADE OF ORANGE
You’re entering a smithy that has stayed more or less the same since 1925. Is this what pre-war Czechoslovakia smelled like? The vision of the first Czechoslovakian president on his horse disappears as soon as you look around and recognize boxes with various types of ringbolts. Is this a blacksmith’s or climber’s home?
Luboš Martínek has the body of a basketball player but he is both a climber and a blacksmith. He has been climbing for 42 years and forged about 4,500 ringbolts in his lifetime. Just to give you the idea – it would take you 12 years if you made one ring a day. The fact that he has made such an inhuman number of ringbolts makes it quite probable that you could clip into one of those on your trip to Elbe Sandstones. “There are tons of them in Tisá, Rájec, Ostrov, and the whole Elbe Valley,” exclaims the bearded guy. And when you see how much passion and care he puts into making the rings, you would gladly whip into one of them. Not a single of his bolts ever failed and their lifespan is around a hundred years.
Luboš takes out a red-hot ringbolt stem from a forge heated to a thousand degrees Celsius, and places it into a massive power hammer. It shines with bright orange glow like a strong lightbulb. Then he needs to narrow the square part of the stem so that it could fit better into a drilled hole in the rock. With each hammer hit, the clay floor shakes a bit. His cat, Macan, is not excited, though. You watch Luboš working on the stem with his hammer and admire his precision. A few seconds, a few precise hits, and the stem gets branded with grooves that will help prevent the ring from sliding out of the glue. Finally, he threads the ring through the stem and lets it cool down. It rings smoothly, pleasantly, reminding you of the clinking of decorations on the Christmas tree. A gift for climbers is ready.