Monday by Mateo: Rusty Relics

Ever clipped a piece of rusty fixed gear you were sure was older than you—or your parents or your grandparents—and climbed past it with a shudder? Our cliffs are a living museum, which has its upsides and its downsides. Upside: You may very well clip a piton that one of the legends, like Fritz Wiessner or Royal Robbins, placed by hand in a crack decades ago. Downside: That piton has been exposed to the elements all this time, and you have no idea how corroded, bent, or friable it is because all you can see is its grim, old eye staring back pitilessly. You can certainly guess at how reliable the piece is, or better yet, back it up. But chances are you aren’t in a big hurry to fall—nor should you be.

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