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In climbing, a piton (pronounced Pee'-ton, also called a pin or peg) is a metal spike (usually steel) 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.

Pitons were the original equipment for protection and are still used where there is no alternative. However, the repeated hammering and extraction of pitons damages the rock, and climbers who subscribe to the ethic of clean climbing eschew their use as far as possible. Today, pitons have largely been replaced by nuts and cams, although they are often still found in place on some established climbing routes.

There are many different styles of pitons available. The most common are:

  • Lost Arrow - A tapered piton that performs well in medium sized seams.
  • Knifeblade - Also known as Bugaboos, a thin straight piton, perfect for thin, deep seams.
  • Angle - A piton made of steel sheet bent into a "U", "V", or "Z" shape; perfect for larger seams and cracks, where the steel actually deforms as the piton is placed. The largest pitons are angles called bongs, named for the sound they produce while being hammered into place. Bongs have become rare with the advent of the SLCD, more commonly known as a cam, which can generally protect the same crack width clean.
  • RURP - Short for Realized Ultimate Reality Piton, this small piton (size of a postage stamp) is useful for thin, shallow seams. It is not a strong piece, and is mainly used for aid climbing, although it can feature as protection on extreme free routes (e.g. Rurp The Wild Berserk (E6 6b) at The Brand, Leicestershire, England).
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