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Report: Bolt Failure at Kleinmond

Bolt failure

Report on mechanical bolt failure at Kleinmond by Maarten Turkstra

Bolt failure

On the 25th of April 2021, I (Maarten Turkstra) was climbing palm oil (Kleinmond) with my children, who were of the opinion that they would be doing laps on this route that I climbed when I was at school (27 years ago) That did not happen 😉

We set up a top-rope off bolt 4, to minimise the swing, and after a few burns I went up to clean the route by down climbing bolt to bolt. I decided to clip into the old express anchor next to bolt # 2 (as the reverse layback crack/flake is tricky to down climb) to then thread the nice shiny glue in (yes I know that there is space to clip in and thread the glue in – was probably not the first and wont be the last stupid thing that I do..)

I weighted the express anchor with my body weight, an impressive 85kgs, then I landed on the flat rock below, which was a surprise. I think I got quite lucky, my ankle was bruised and I walked off the mountain, only to have a delayed very sore back/arm/shoulder manifest around 4 days later and my 1 arm pullup training is on hold.

What did I learn from this ?

• Old express anchors near the sea are a really bad idea, NO MORE EXPRESS ANCHORS near the sea ever, ever
• Chloride stress corrosion cracking is real
• Wear a helmet, they are not sexy, but neither is a head injury
• Injuries get worse the older and heavier you get
• I have run through about 7 of my 9 lives


  1. Thanks for the write up Maarten!

  2. Question: Any reason why those who rebolted this route didn’t remove the old anchor?

    • The reason is most likely that it was towards the end of the day, resources were limited, everyone was maxed out and had spent enough hours sitting in their harnesses and being burnt by the sun.

      Breaking off bolts is usually hard work.
      There are a couple of ways to break them off (Maarten’s technique being one!), but generally you either crank them or cut them off.
      – Cranking them off, is tough work and doesn’t always work out the way you want it to!
      – Cutting with a grinder needs to be precise (otherwise you risk exposing a sharp edge or damaging the rock face).

      The more people available to help out with rebolting and removing bolts makes for a better outcome all round.

      There will be another call up for an Anchor Replacement Fund work meet soon no doubt.

      • I’d love to hear from the rebolter as to this, so we don’t end up speculating here. The job is not complete before old bolts are removed, as this is exactly the reason.

        • Thank you Mike for volunteering, we look forward to your attendance at the next ARF session – we will be in touch with you for the next re-bolt and removal meet 🙂

          But seriously, I’ve re-bolted and removed. It’s work, usually a minimum of two people, it needs to be done carefully (glue-in’s take even longer to place) and sometimes you just run out of time.
          Personally, I’d rather be climbing than playing with power tools.

          Many years back, at Peers Cave we had a great turn out, lots of ropes up, with people placing new bolts and others removing bolts (at the same time).

          Many hands make light work.

          Any other rebolters care to comment!?

          p.s. If anyone wants to go and remove old bolts from Kleinmond – you would be doing the climbing community a big favour.

  3. And a whole bunch of new routes were put up there with mechanicals …..

    • I believe we need to re-think our use of mechanical bolts at crags that are susceptible to corrosion (primarily sea air) in favour of using Glue-in (chemical anchor) bolts.

      • Yea but I thought this was already agreed on …. I think there is to much desire to get the FA and not so much worry about how something is going to look 10years from now.

  4. dear maarten you pulled out your own anchor you fell on your own ass case closed. but you make a good point about seaside corrosion i hate to think about what’s happening to your bolts at Elsies peak!those went in in in 1994 they must be getting pretty ripe by now. guys have to back them up with trad gear

  5. I did about a dozen trips there simply for rebolting: carrying as many lead acid batteries up there, burning through bits on that hard rock, driving back to Cape Town with my own fuel. I’ve removed heeps of bolts there and elsewhere and I carry a power bar to this end. I couldn’t tell you if I rebolted that route, but I probably did. I was counting loads then and I had a simple philosophy: give 5% back to the community by means of labour. If anyone else would like to volunteer their free time to this cause go ahead. : there is plenty more work to do. I am amazed that this happened to a Turkstra

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