|As pitons, protection devices, also known as rock protection or pro or wires, provide the means to place temporary anchor points on the rock. They are a little less bomb-proof than pegs (be carefull to place them correctly!), however they are safe, without damaging the rock.
There are various shapes of protection devices to better fit any kind of crack and rock:
- wedges (wedge-shaped pieces of aluminum alloy attached to a wire cable or a sling, mostly suitable for narrow cracks);
- hexcentrics or hexes (hollow eccentric hexagonal prisms with tapered ends, usually suitable for wider cracks);
- nuts (small wedge-shaped blocks of metal with a hollow face and a convex one to better fit uneven rock surfaces);
- cams (cam-shaped aluminium block attached to a webbing. The block is shaped so that pulling on the tape makes it cam against the crack, gripping the rock tighter);
- spring loaded camming devices, known as "friends" (having moving parts, spring-loaded features, friend expand to fit a crack; they are probably one of the most versatile device protection).
Get familiar with the different types, know the features of each one, and then identify what kind is appropriate to the type of climbing that you do. On trad climbing you will rarely be in a comfortable position to place protection devices, so you should be able to find and place your gear at the first attempt.
Experiment on the different types of protection while climbing bolted pitches or easy routes.