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Permanent Protection – Bolting Basic Overview

GENERAL DISCLAIMER
DON’T SKIP THIS EXCITING PART!

  • Good safe bolting requires training & experience. This is a overview, not a training manual. Find someone who has bolted some good routes to show you the finer points of bolting.
  • Remember climbing is very dangerous & always totally at your own risk. Nobody is forcing you to climb or bolt! You choose to climb, so choose to go home before the risks become too high. Even small injuries can take 6 weeks to heal.
  • No responsibility for inaccurate, incomplete information or plain made up BS, will be accepted by the writer, climbing.co.za., the MCSA or the SPCA. Most of the information is fabricated by the writer anyway. So Beware!
  • There is no substitute for experience, training, common sense & a touch of caution. You are on your own…take care!
  • Varsity students should practice hitting stuff with a hammer on the ground before they try it while hanging from a route. Remember the metal part is the part that has to make contact with the bolt.
  • When you chose your placements, cater for the lowest common denominator. There are hundreds of idiots out there, who may try your line over the years. They will do unthinkable BS. Think of all the possibilities.
  • Please don’t bolt trad-able lines. There is no need. There is lots of rock in South Africa.

HANGER & EXPANSION ANCHOR ASSEMBLY
Most common fixed anchor used in SA.

PROS

  • Relatively cheap
  • Simple to use
  • Limited training required
  • 1 X 10mm hole = less battery power & drilling time
  • No welds
  • Can be used immediately

CONS

  • Easy to over torque. Can lead to stress corrosion cracking
  • Gaps trap moisture – corrosion
  • No insulation from rock – depletion of elements & contact with neg elements – corrosion
  • Hangers can be stolen

HANGERS
Most common types used in SA.

MANUFACTURE

  • Cut sheets into strips 100mm wide
  • Holes punched
  • Outer edge & stamp pressed
  • Grinding of clip hole edge
  • Bending
  • Tumbling

EXPANSION ANCHORS Most common types used in SA.

68mm

  • Hard rock
  • Less time, battery & bits
  • Shorter bits
  • Less expensive
  • Not for chains

90mm

  • Soft rock
  • Chains
  • Wastes time, battery & bits
  • Expensive

It’s a myth that 90mms are stronger than a 68mm

 

PLACING HANGER & EXPANSION ANCHOR

  1. Find a line
  2. Set up a top rope
  3. Clean the route
  4. Mark the placements while on top rope.
    A)Bolt should not be close to any edges, cracks, breaks or loose blocks. 150mm in hard rock, more for brittle or soft rock.
    B)Bolt should be in a convenient clip position. Remember the short fellows.
    C)Straight line to prevent rope drag
    D)Not high under an overhang prevent rope drag
  5. Drill a 10mm hole perpendicular to the surface.
  6. Blow out debris
  7. Hammer in bolt
  8. Tighten nut to 22KN or as indicated by manufactures
  9. Release nut. Re-tighten
  10. Bolt complete

RIGHT HAND HANGERS (Most hangers)

PROS

  • Ergonomics
  • Spanner control

CONS

  • Can come loose with movement of hanger during loading
  • Bolt can be in the way during a RH clip

LEFT HAND HANGERS

PROS

  • Movement during loading will not loosen nut.

CONS

  • Poor ergonomics.
  • Upward movement of spanner with left hand awkward & uncontrolled.

PIN EXPANSION ANCHORS Not commonly used in SA.

PROS

  • Simple to use…quick!
  • Limited training required
  • 1 X 10mm hole = less battery power & drilling time
  • No welds
  • Can be used immediately
  • No spanner required
  • Cannot over torque
  • Can‟t be stolen

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Gaps trap moisture – corrosion
  • No insulation from rock – depletion of elements & contact with neg elements – corrosion
  • Limited expansion. Hole has to be exactly correct size.

DEPTH PIN EXPANSION ANCHORS
Not commonly used in SA.

PROS

  • 1 hole = less battery power & drilling time
  • Can be used immediately
  • No spanner

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Training required
  • Hole has to be correct depth
  • Has weld, which could lead to chrome depletion …corrosion
  • No insulation from rock – depletion of elements & contact with neg elements – corrosion
  • Side ways leverage at „A‟ during weighting could twist shaft

KEY HOLE HANGERS & CARROT BOLTS USED IN AUSTRALIA

A carrot bolt is a normally a 10mm machine bolt, with a slight taper to the end. Often the head is ground smaller to make fitting a key hole hanger easier. The bolt is whacked into a 10mm hole. Hangers are carried in chalk bag.

 

 

 

 

PROS

  • Cheap. Hangers are reusable. Bolts from any workshop
  • Hangers don‟t rust
  • Limited training required
  • 1 hole = less battery power & drilling time
  • No welds
  • Can be used immediately
  • Carrot is smaller thus less visible.

CONS

  • Difficult to use. Easy to drop hanger during clip
  • Whacking bolt in will cause stress in the metal
  • Bolts often not stainless
  • Cannot be used on overhanging lines

 

 

 

KEY HOLE HANGERS & CARROT BOLTS USED IN AUSTRALIA

Carrots are literally bolts bashed into under size holes. There will be some leverage & movement of the head.

REMOVABLE BOLTS

USED IN SOME PARTS OF THE WORLD. NOT COMMON. SOME WERE USED IN MORGAN BAY, EASTERN CAPE.

PROS

  • Cheap in the long run. Device is totally reusable
  • NO rust. Is taken home
  • Limited training required
  • No welds
  • Can be used immediately
  • Hole is less visible or invisible. Good for sensitive areas

CONS

  • Expensive outlay
  • Hole is large thus takes longer to drill & uses battery
  • Takes a while to trust system
  • Holes not easy to see
  • Insects may nest in hole
  • Few people have removable bolts

PLACING REMOVABLE BOLTS

 

This could be an option for the future of sport climbing on coastal areas like Morgan Bay & Lady Slipper.

GLUE IN FIXED ANCHORS
Not a common fixed anchor used in SA.

ALL COMPONENTS TO BE OF STAINLESS STEEL

P BOLTS

This becoming a common fixed anchor in SA. Bolts in Cape Peninsular that are replaced by the Anchor Replacement Fund are all replaced with ‘P’ bolts.

PROS

  • Is insulated from the rock by the glue
  • Only one hole
  • No permanent tension
  • Rope friendly
  • Single cone of weakness
  • Can’t be stolen

CONS

  • Expensive! Bolt & glue
  • Hole is large thus takes long to drill & uses battery
  • Cannot be used immediately
  • Requires training
  • Requires 2 abseils to bolt
  • Weld requires annealing & pickling. Potential for SCC & rust
  • Glue gets on every thing

 

PLACING P BOLTS

  1. Mark all placements
  2. Drill all holes perpendicular to surface, before gluing
  3. Holes need to be 2mm larger than diameter ‘P’ being used
  4. Clean thoroughly using barrel cleaner & blower
  5. Squirt through enough glue to mix properly in nozzle.
  6. Squirt sufficient glue into hole.
  7. Push ‘P’ in, turning at the same time
  8. Wipe off excess glue & smooth surface
  9. Wait 24 hours to be safe before using

WARNINGS
† Check expiry dates on glue, especially in SA. Companies dump old stuff in SA.
† Important that enough glue mixes through nozzle.
† Important that holes are very clean.

U BOLTS

MAKING YOUR OWN – SIMPLE

  • use 8mm stainless steel…not thicker (SCC)
  • bend them around a 45mm pipe in a vice
  • cut with grinder
  • Scour with grinding wheel
  • bend legs into offset position
  • good if one leg is longer that the other. Helps with marking hole.

PROS

  • Is insulated from the rock by the glue
  • Very cheap
  • No permanent tension
  • Rope friendly
  • No weld
  • Can hold a fall with out the glue
  • Can‟t be stolen

CONS

  • Double cone of weakness
  • Two holes take long to drill & uses battery
  • Cannot be used immediately
  • Requires training
  • Requires 2 abseils to bolt
  • Glue gets on every thing
  • Bend can cause SCC

U BOLTS
Not very common fixed anchor used in SA.
CONES OF WEAKNESS THEORY

In soft rock like OFS sandstone drilling 2 holes close together could cause rock to become weak & anchor to fail. Keep the legs wide apart.

GLUE IN STUD ANCHORS

Studs are often used on soft sand stone (OFS). They are less expensive than ‘P’ bolts.

STUD – HANGER ASEMBLY

Studs are turned into holes with glue. A hanger is fixed after recommended drying time.

TOP ANCHOR SYSTEMS

These are at the top of every true sport pitch & on some wussie trad routes.

THERE ARE TWO TYPES:

  1. Requires threading
  2. Does not require threading

There is always potential for accidents while threading the rope at the top of a route. The ideal systems do not require untying & retying the rope

TOP ANCHOR SYSTEMS – REQUIRING THREADING

Commonly used all over SA.

These are used in a multitude of configurations & normally fixed with a 90 x 10 mm stainless steel concrete anchor.

PROS

  • Relatively cheap
  • Simple to use
  • Limited training required
  • 1 X 10mm hole = less battery power & drilling time
  • Can be used immediately

CONS

  • Easy to over torque. Can lead to stress corrosion cracking
  • Gaps trap moisture – corrosion
  • No insulation from rock – depletion of elements & contact with neg elements – corrosion

Some configurations

In SA it is the rule to always have at least 2 separate anchors. This is our rule, not shared by the rest of the world.

SINGLE RING TOP ANCHOR SYSTEMS

These can be used equalized or off set. If Equalized there will be massive rope twist. Normally fixed with a 90 x 10mm stainless steel concrete anchor.

TOP ANCHOR SYSTEMS

Not used in SA.

TOP ANCHOR SYSTEMS Used at NSA & in Langkloof

These would be used equalized. There will be rope twist. Normally fixed with a 90 x 10mm stainless steel concrete anchor.

TOP ANCHOR SYSTEMS

All of these anchors could be used equalized as top anchors There will be some rope twist.

TOP ANCHOR SYSTEMS All over SA for ever!

Good on multi-pitch…extra clip-in points

  • Cheap!
  • Strong

GOOD QUALITY 10mm GALVANIZED CHAIN FIXED WITH A 90mm CONCRETE ANCHOR & A LARGE STAINLESS WASHER

These would be used equalized. There will be limited rope twist.

TOP ANCHOR SYSTEMS Not used in SA

These would be used equalized. There will be rope twist. Normally fixed with a 90 x 10mm stainless steel concrete anchor.

  • EXPENSIVE
  • Cannot use on a roof

TOP ANCHOR SYSTEMS Pig tails – Not often used in SA

These would be used singularly.

  • EXPENSIVE
  • Would not be backed up
  • Welds

 

BOLTING ETHICS

  1. Leave trad-able routes natural
  2. Get permission to bolt a known trad line from the person who opened it
  3. Respect bolt free areas
  4. No bolting near bushman paintings
  5. Respect bolted projects
  6. Bolt safely for all to enjoy – avoid dangerous run outs
  7. Use the correct hardware
  8. Camouflage shiny bolts in sensitive areas
  9. Avoid long winded trad vs sport debates – not worth the wasted breath!
  10. Stay out of the way of “real” boulderers, they are very sensitive.Related Links:

     

8 Responses to Permanent Protection – Bolting Basic Overview

  1. Cuan Jan 20, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    Very awesome article :)
    Thanks a ton for this. It is reassuring to know we’ve been doing it along these “guidelines” all along…A bit of common sense and some ever-engeneering goes a long way :P

  2. Caio "aFeto" Jan 20, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    Really Good!!!

  3. Warren G Jan 31, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    Thanks for a great post, please could you explain the logic of off setting the chains vs equializing as this does vary around the country.

    By the way you you do get a 1/2 inch removable bolt in this country that uses a different system to that which is shown above. Someone needs to invent little plugs so the insects don’t get into the holes :)

  4. Derek Marshall Jan 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    In some instances the rock dictates that off-set is safer/optimal, but for the rest its just personal preference.

    There are long boring arguments fore & against both.

    Removable bolts are a novelty & it is suprising that they are avalible off the shelf in SA. I am intrested to see the system, could you post a pic?

  5. Andrew Jun 26, 2012 at 1:19 am #

    Your picture of the carrot bolt shows a dangerous configuration. Carrot bolts should never be clipped with wire gate carabiners.

    When the draw lifts, the biner can rotate so the gate is in the keyhole. In this position the plate just lifts off the bolt as the gate doesn’t fill the keyhole enough.

    Petzl Spirit carabiners are narrow enough around the nose that the same issue can occur.

  6. Derek Marshall Jun 26, 2012 at 7:17 am #

    Hi Andrew

    Good point. Wonder if its common knowlage amongst regular carrot clippers. On my 6 week tour of Australia, I never became aware. I don’t recomend carrots & hope they don’t spread out out of Australia. Big respect for the hard Ausies who clip them.

  7. Alex Rogers May 21, 2013 at 2:53 am #

    Further to the comment on the carrot bolt pic – it also looks like the hanger is not correctly slotted on the bolt, ie the bolt is still in the keyhole, not slotted up into the groove. You fit the hanger onto the bolt, then flip it so the bolt slides up the groove, then clip the keyhole with a beefy solid gate biner. As pictured, you could probably just lift the plate off the bolt by pulkling up on the biner.

    You need to change that picture.

    Bash-in carrots are still used in Australia, but in NSW where the sandstone is soft & tender, they are often supplemented with glue (glue-in carrots) or in many cases with glued in U or P bolts.

    Carrots aren’t so bad – somewhat harder to clip (especially when new to them) but much less visually obtrusive, so are perfect for mixed or trad routes with the occasional “sanity” bolt.

    Cheers

    Alex

  8. No a pro bolter Jun 30, 2013 at 3:42 am #

    That carrot pic is showing just about everything you can do wrong with a carrot in one!

    You really should change that picture….

    Also intrigued as to all the expansion bolts? I thought people tried to avoid using these now?

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