I seem to have a lot of pegs, A LOT of pegs, big pegs, small pegs, smaller pegs, and pegs so small I might not even have any anymore. I’ve got pegs for big walls, alpine routes, winter routes: angles, lost arrows, blades, beaks and RURPS. These pegs come from the US, Russia, Poland and Europe. The funny thing is, out of all the pegs I’ve got, the only ones I ever use are beaks, with maybe one or two RURPS, a stubby lost arrow and maybe a sawn off being crucial for one out of fifty placements, but out of 30 ascents of El Cap I’d say 99.99% of pegs used were small and medium beaks.
Now beaks have been around for two decades now, with the filed down Chuinard Crack-N-Ups, followed by the A5 Birdbeak, then BD Peckers, the current state of the art being the Moses Tomahawk. All these pitons came from the US, but other hooking pitons had been around much longer, only on the other side of the Iron Curtain in the form of the Polish ‘Jedynka’ (which means ‘one’, because the piton looks like a 1). This stubby little hooking peg is designed to perform on the scrappy walls of Poland, a place very much like Scotland in the style of climbing and the style of climbers they produce, the only place I know where you can still buy warthogs.
I’ve only ever owned one ‘Jedynka’ piton, given to me in Camp 4. It looked pretty crude, very homemade, not sophisticated like a Black Diamond Pecker, and so for a while I carried but didn’t use it. But then I did, and did again, placed in hairline cracks, or stacked against nuts or with other beaks when the cracks got wider. I began to see the value of something so simple and robust, a perfect geometry of hooking and loading masked by its unsubtle manufacture. But now ten years down the line those peckers are bent and wasted, only fit to be filed down to make something less secure, while the ‘Jedynka’ carries.
If you’d like to buy a ‘Jedynka’ or some other interesting designs, including pegs for turf and old school warthogs then drop and email to master peg craftsman Piotr Wlodarczyk.
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Andrew Kirkpatrick is a British mountaineer, author, motivational speaker and monologist. He is best known as a big wall climber, having scaled Yosemite's El Capitan 30+ times, including five solo ascents, and two one day ascents, as well as climbing in Patagonia, Africa, Alaska, Antarctica and the Alps.Follow @ Instagram