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"Good" vs. Bad bolts - how do you know...?
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freakystyley


Nov 20, 2003, 7:43 PM
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"Good" vs. Bad bolts - how do you know...?
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FIRST OFF - I have been lurking here long enough to know the T scale - and use the search, etc...but am still going to ask this...

How do you know if the sport line is done in good taste - meaning some clown didn't buy a Bulldog and blaze a bunch of metal in the wall? I have Trad led a few years, done some mixed stuff, Fallen on MY placements- and now started into an area that is 90% sport lines. I am obviously concerned about dangling from a anchor/placement someone else made -
even if it is only an 8 ft whipper.

how many bolts blow out before they are replaced by the local community or whatever committee?

(ps, the only reason I ask is I want to start over my limit and expect to peel A LOT in the next few days!! on soft limestone, no less!)


boltdude


Nov 20, 2003, 8:21 PM
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Re: "Good" vs. Bad bolts - how do you know...? [In reply to]
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Read up on various articles here:

http://www.safeclimbing.org/info.html

If that doesn't answer your questions, ask again with more specifics (like name the area so any locals can give you beta).

Bottom line: trusting a bolt is always a gamble, but with modern sport climbing the odds are very much in your favor.


esoteric1


Nov 20, 2003, 9:29 PM
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if its brown, flush it down. if it wiggles, and your halfway up a route, clip it anyways....if it wiggles on top...back it up


copperhead


Nov 20, 2003, 10:13 PM
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You'll know...


alderak


Nov 20, 2003, 10:22 PM
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great link, boltdude 8)


overlord


Nov 21, 2003, 12:13 AM
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if the bolt isnt visibly eroded or something, you can assume its safe. just dont worry.


timstich


Nov 21, 2003, 5:01 AM
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I think it's worth revisiting what is really the main question:

In reply to:
how many bolts blow out before they are replaced by the local community or whatever committee?

And the answer to that is going to depend on collecting a little data, which unfortunately for this small sample isn't going to be that comprehensive. But here goes. Let's start with a few of us reporting on their local sport crags. If you heard of any bolt failure incidents, post them up. Rumors are fine as long as disclaimers are included. Obviously this is not worth much, but it's just a conversation.

So I'll start with a report from the Austin, TX area. In the six years I climbed in Austin, there were no reports of bolt failures while climbers were on the routes. During rebolting efforts, however, a first bolt was removed from Seismic Wall on a 5.11 with what was described as 'mimimal pressure.' The earliest bolts put into the rock in this crag were installed in 1986, so this bolt was most likely at least 18 years old. There were scattered rumors of a climber falling to his death due to a bolt failure during a climbing competition, but no substantial evidence ever came forth to support it. It has the aire of an apocryphal story in that no names, dates, or locations are mentioned.

At Enchanted Rock where many bolted routes are mixed in with traditional lines, no bolts have ever failed while climbers were on the routes. No reports from Hueco Tanks, the old Pecos River area, or Reimer's Ranch. With Enchanted Rock, you have an area that gets intensive scrutiny by climbing guides, some of whom do the actual rebolting. The Greenbelt is a little less monitored, but it none the less has two dedicated rebolters who climb there and monitor bolts as of 2003. Reimer's is probably the most visited crag in all of Texas. The worst accidents there involved rockfall and human error, but no bolt failures as of yet.

So the dual processes of bolts aging and climbers rebolting so far have left us with a fairly safe enviroment for climbing in these areas. However, older routes that are rarely climbed can not be expected to be in as good a shape as classics that see frequent use and are more likely to see rebolting. It's uncertain if we can expect a similar sitiation in the next 20 years, but it's reasonable to assume that increased climber traffic will produce more activism and awareness.

Anyone have some reports from their local crags? I'd like to see what else is going on out there. I've heard about the sea cliff horrors of course.


freakystyley


Nov 21, 2003, 6:53 AM
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Very good link - thanks a ton.

As for my areas, most were developed in the late 70's early mid 80's - but most have been redone because original "artists" used a hole drilled thru sq. angle iron as a hanger. Most now have a commercial 22kn bolt hanger - some even have the old hole and sleeve a foot from the new bolt...so it is looking good anyway -

seems the climbing community around here sort of takes care of the routes, removing bad hangers, chopping bolts on bad placements like loose flakes, etc.

ps..I gotta say, most of my concern stems from being at a popular TR area here...and up top I am packing up, and some guy asks about the bolts. I say, Access Fund helps with these - they should be cool - use that tree for a 3rd though - and he says, (NO LIE) Man, I should go get a hammer drill and put in a few more bolts so we don't need the trees!!! Let me tell you this kid was kind of new anyway - just from the conversation - so - that is the story behind this post - an idiot with a bulldog! I did tell him I would personally hammer drill his arse if he tried it!


airscape


Dec 30, 2003, 12:29 PM
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The only poblem I tend to find is that if a bolt isn't all rusted or loose there are very few times that one actually takes a good look at them. Especially at the top anchors, I have clipped a few times on top anchors only to find on the next climb on the same route that the Chains or whatever there is is totally worn down by rope friction.. that is quite hard to spot sometimes if you don't actually look for it.

What does one do if the top anhors are so worn that you would not trust your life on them???


alpnclmbr1


Dec 30, 2003, 12:53 PM
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In reply to:
What does one do if the top anhors are so worn that you would not trust your life on them???

depending on the circumstances:
downclimb
back it up
don't fall


alpnclmbr1


Dec 30, 2003, 1:02 PM
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I have never seen or heard of a bolt pulling at a sport crag from a leader fall.

I have had a bolt hanger fall off the stud with a draw attached when I pulled the rope. Apparently the rope spun the nut off, and the resulting careful inspection of all the bolts found two more that were way loose. (el salto)

I have seen and heard of several instances where gumbies have broken bolts off by going up and over tightening them.

Bottom line, I don't worry about it to much. But, I am aware of when only one bolt stands between me and a hospital bed, and climb accordingly.


scubasnyder


Dec 30, 2003, 1:36 PM
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i only trust ones that have no rust or seem sturdy


crushingfinger


Jan 2, 2004, 8:41 PM
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Ken Jern long time Exum climbing guide has fell and broke two, one in the City of Rocks ID., BOLTS DO SHEER most likely due to over torquing during instalation. Its very rare. " There comes a time when a man must risk every thing or live forever in his dreams." Trever Peterson


copperhead


Jan 2, 2004, 10:04 PM
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Either you placed it (and know) or you didn't place it (and don't know).


davide


Jan 4, 2004, 5:03 AM
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I trust any bolt that is shines. I know it doesn't make any sense, since you cannot actually see what a bolt can hold: i guess it's kind of psychological. Climbing guru Pit Schubert deals with this issue in one of his books. He showed five or six different bolts and asked experienced climbers which bolt they thought was most reliable. It turned out that none of them guessed it right. Apparently some ancient bolts could handle more than soem fo the very recent 22kn "family" bolts. You simple cannot tell by simple looking at them. If an area seems well bolted and well-maintained, I just assume it is alright.

I did hear a story from a climber who is a member of the Dutch safety committee of the mountaineering association and a friend of him pulled out three big drilled bolts in Arco, Italy. He fell down some 12-15 metres and ended up hanging just a few metres above the ground. Apparently the route was badly bolted or very recently.


Partner j_ung


Jan 4, 2004, 8:21 AM
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Thanks boltdude, and not just for the link!


buttets


Jan 4, 2004, 9:42 AM
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There really isn't anyway to tell for sure. Sure if it is loose or a 1/4" you might worry, but I'm sure you will clip it anyway if nothing else is around. For example: climbers have been rapping of the rap anchors in our area for years, who know how many climbers put their life on the line using these! I decided that these anchors were due for a change and went up to change them out. They were store bought drop in anchors so a wrench I started to remove them. After 3 turns of the wrench the bolt fell out! :shock: I thought I broke the bolt off, but found that it was only being held in by 3 threads!! The second bolt was the same. I quickly replaced them both for a much safer rap station.

If your not in a hurry always back up the anchors with some gear for the first rapper and remove it after it is shown that the anchors are somewhat safe.....

Happy climbing


boltdude


Jan 4, 2004, 11:05 AM
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Yeah, if you want a good example of a bolt which looks bomber but isn't, you should have seen the main weight-bearing bolt for the King Swing on the Nose. It looked like a shiny Rawl 5-piece, but on closer inspection (namely loosening it with my fingers), it turned out to be a 3/4" long 5/16" bolt screwed into a beat-up sleeve - it was a Petzl caving anchor. The 3/4" long bolt had most of its upper threads stripped from the hanger turning back and forth as people did the King Swing. Yikes!

One of the rap anchors on Royal Arches raps was two of those bolts, it's now backed up by a 5-piece.

As far as modern bolts failing, one case I know of is educational: a standard Rawl 5-piece (aka Power Bolt) blew out on a guy about 10-15 years ago at Pinnacles, on Feed the Beast (overhung 11c). The guy decked into a boulder and had some substantial injuries. However, the bolt didn't really break - what happened is that it had loosened up (unscrewed) over time as lots of people dogged on it, and when the guy whipped on it, only a couple threads of the end of the bolt were still in the cone, and it just ripped those out.

After that, the locals started using lock-tite on the bolts on overhung routes.

Still, despite various cases where bolts broke, at nearly any sport area or area with big bolts, you're much better off worrying about double-checking your partner's knots, etc, than the extremely rare cases of broken (larger) bolts. If you go try that Yaniro 5.13 at the Needles which has 1/4" bolts with Leepers, on the other hand...


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