Thanks to Bart O'Brien for loaning me this cool piece of climbing history to paint. Many of my students asked me what this was while I was working on it and it occurred to me that many people might be unfamiliar with this object. A piton is used in mountaineering or rock climbing to anchor the rope and thus protect the climbers from falling. They're not used much any more as they tend to scar the rock with repeated use. I have never pounded one into a crack myself, and doubt I ever will, but I have never hesitated to clip into one that I came across fixed to a route I was climbing.