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All welcome (even if you don’t know anything about bolting!)
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The bolt failures in the Western Cape have resulted in many of us questioning the integrity of the anchors that ensure our safety.  Its quite obvious that some of our seaside crags have rusty old bolts that need to be replaced. So, in order to get the ball rolling, ARF was launched.  Is it a UFO?  No it’s the Anchor Replacement Fund.  It has been limited to the Cape for now in order to keep the project manageable.

Anchor Replacement Fund Phase II

So the Anchor Replacement Fund started off a couple of years back with 800 bolts and 200 lower off rings.  Well after some great work by many enthusiastic volunteers we have exhausted our supply of bolts.  This is a great achievement as we have potentially saved some of our peers from nasty falls with dire consequences.

We would like to keep the ARF momentum up and accordingly want to kick off Phase II.   Once again we intend buying a batch of bolts that are suited for coastal crags.  We are also keen to provide anchors to people wishing to replace bolts on routes on inland crags.  We intend doing this by providing conventional (but good quality) expansion anchors to individuals who are prepared to do the work.

The MCSA Cape Town Section has kindly sponsored some cash to buy new bolts, but ideally we need to boost our coffers so we can place a decent order for the special order of glue-in anchors.  So this is a plea for all of you lot out there who clip those lovely shiny ARF ring bolts to dig deep and help us make ARF Phase II a success.  If you need motivation, think how much it would cost if a bolt broke and you broke an ankle?   Not to mention the pain and not being able to climb for a long while!  For Phase I we asked everyone to chip in R200 which is still a good guide.  However, if you won the Lotto or feel the need to share the love, feel free to go large – the money will be put to good use.

One of the bolts that failed

We kicked off the Anchor Replacement Fund Phase II and we asked for donations in order to procure a new batch of bolts. Well I am very pleased to feedback that we have managed to raise a substantial amount of money for the new bolts. Based on this we have placed an order for 500 new Raumer bolts and 110 new Raumer lower off rings. Many thanks to Robert Breyer from CityRock for providing us the Raumer bolts at cost. Also thanks to Simon Larsen from RAM who offered us Singing Rock bolts at cost. The new Raumer bolts should be arriving end of June and then we can get to work replacing all those dodgy old bolts.

Many many thanks to the following people who kindly dug deep and donated to ARF. Some of these beautiful people even donated beyond the suggested R200 which is much appreciated.

B Spottiswoode, M Champanis, A von Hase, H J Grobler, P S Goddard, K Forbes, R de Decker,D Steyn, L Makovini, J L Wakeling, L de Smidt, P Olivier, N C Havenga, K & L Lancaster, B Marx, G P J le Roux, N Mostert, P Prozesky, B Olivier, W le Roux, D Carpenter, B Jennings, P Joubert, G Lipinska, J Parkes, R W Suter, A van der Heever, R Chater, Y Cloete, R Diamond, G Forbes, B Lambourne, J Lanz, P Mortimer, M J Scott, E J Smith, T Smuts, P Brouard, Uwe & Anita, L & F Hugo, D Acott, TvanHouweninge G Stern, P Price,Andrea Biffi, M Introna, David Glass

Once again many thanks to all of you for your support in making our crags safe.

Kind regards,
Andy Davies

ARF Page on Facebook

Phase II Reports:

Phase 1 of the project initiated the re-bolting the following crags:

• “The Mine”
• “The Hole”
• The Silvermine Crags

This was be achieved by:
• Raising approximately R35,000
• Purchasing 800 glue in eye bolts and 200 lower off rings.
• Training approximately 10 volunteers to install the bolts
• Installation at the above crags

ARF Updates / Reports:

  • Recommendation for the construction of Via Ferrata

Bolt failure – The Mine (October 2008)
Illegal routes bolted in Rocklands (October 2008)
Illegal bolting on Table Mountain (July 2008)
Peers Cave ARF meet (June 2007)
ARF at Fawlty Towers – poor turnout (April 2008)
Bolt breaks at the Hole
(January 2008)
ARF Bolting Specifications
(October 2007)
Lions Head sandstone abseil anchors (December 2007
Paarl Rocks access and bolting permission (March 2007)
ARF at Peers Cave (March 2007)
ARF at Peers Cave (January 2007)

Would you like to be a sponsor? Contact us.

Here is some background info

The first bolt failed in Montagu at the Alley. This is a dry low chloride environment (this is evident by the state of the mild steel bolts in this area). No one was hurt during this failure as it was one of two lower off anchors. The second bolt failed at Silvermine Crag in Cape Town which is a relatively high corrosion area, but there are worse areas, like The Hole, The Mine and Peers Cave. Nobody was hurt in this failure as they were top-roping and hung on the bolt. It’s pretty scary that both these bolts failed only with body weight!

The failed bolts were sent to a materials analysis company who concluded the following:
• Both bolts were Stainless Steel 304
• Both bolts were machined on a lathe (turned vs rolled)
• Both bolts failed due to Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC)

Anchor Replacement Fund

For SCC to occur it requires 3 conditions:
1. Susceptible material (Stainless steel 304 is susceptible)
2. Tensile (pulling) force, this is due to the permanent tension on the bolt as a result of a climber’s overtorqueing bolts to prevent hanger spin. Climbers falling or hanging on a bolt will have negligible effect on SCC as it is for such a short time.
3. Chloride environment – The salt laden NW and SE winds in Cape Town paste Chlorides over the bolts and the chloride concentration will build up unless the bolt is washed by pure rain water. Therefore bolts in overhangs that do not get washed by rain water are in fact more susceptible to SCC.

Two other factors will exacerbate SCC:
1. Higher temperatures will accelerate SCC but this isn’t really applicable here
2. Machining a bolt on a lathe (turning) will create tiny circumferential scratches on the surface which act as stress concentrations in a the most penalising plane and they also act as microscopic areas where Chlorides collect.

A Raumer bolt that has been used to replace the old bolts/anchors

In order to remove these phenomena from our bolts we can do the following:
Use bolts that have been rolled instead of turned. The two reputable bolt suppliers (Hilti and Fischer) only supply rolled bolts now.

Use better materials. Stainless Steel 316 is far better than Stainless Steel 304 and is used in marine applications. Some materials engineers would prefer other more exotic materials, but these can cost as much as R60.00 per bolt.

Reduce the tensile forces. This can be done by using glue-ins. For the currently used express anchors one can use a spring washer to ensure minimum tensile stress whilst preventing hanger spin.

Therefore the following bolts are recommended for use:
Hilti / Fischer 10mm Stainless Steel 316 express anchor

From Fischer the stock ref is:
146-1007 FBN 10 x 89 A4 (316)

Trained Volunteers:
Stainless Steel 10mm glue in eye-bolt (Although this is the best option, the risk of installation error by untrained climbers is greater than the risk of SCC)
Training on how to place anchors will be provided.

Disclaimer * this feedback has been compiled by concerned climbers and not as a professional engineer / person or company.

Interesting links:

Bolting info from SACIN
Re-bolting in Thailand (with titanium bolts)
Planning a tropical climbing vacation this winter? Beware of those anchors!The Risk Of Climbing


How to donate?

You can make cash or cheque deposits at the MCSA or make an electronic transfer to:

Bank: Standard Bank
Branch: Cape Town
Branch Code: 020009
Account No: 071556060

Send us an email to and also please state on your deposit details: “ARF Initials Surname” (eg ARF I.R.Scared) so we can identify it as a ARF deposit, give you a tag and put your name up in lights!

We are also looking for technically minded volunteers with some bolting experience to place the bolts. Please contact Andy Davies at andyDOTdaviesATeskomDOTcoza or call him on 083 455 5667 if you are keen.

The MCSA manages the finances and has accordingly created a separate ARF fund. The strategy for fundraising is currently as follows:

• Corporate sponsors will be asked to donate cash in exchange for some free advertising on various websites and notice boards. Corporate sponsors will be ranked according to the amount of money they donate. Please support these guys.

• Individual climbers will be asked to donate R200 to support this project. R200? Lets see that’s 4 visits to a climbing gym or 4 pizzas – not a bad investment considering its your life. Of course if you are rolling in cash please feel free to donate a lot more.

Bolts – will they hold if you fall?


Corporate Sponsors

Eiger Equipment – R5000 – Eiger Equipment is not only going to be providing the anchors at cost – but will be taking a further R5000 off the billl!!
Mountain Mail Order – R5000
Ram Mountaineering – R5000
Madrock R2000
GeckoGrips R1000
CTSM Access R500
MCSA Cape Town is managing the ARF finances
Climb ZA has sponsored and maintains the ARF page
– CityROCK
– The Mountain Club of South Africa
– AdventureInc

ARF Update: 24/01/2006

There has been a lot of interest in the Anchor Replacement Fund – we have been waiting for some final info and can now give the following feedback:

We have ordered 800 eye-bolts and 200 lower-offs from Raumer that will be arriving before the end of January 2006. The MCSA Cape Town Rocksubcom loaned the deposit of R10,000 to ARF in order to place the order. Now the real work starts – we are still looking for competent bolters who will do the actual anchor replacements. If you are keen please email Andy Davie at andyDOTdaviesATeskomDOTcoza for his attention or call him on 083 455 5667.

We have managed to do really well with getting pledges from our climbing business community as seen below. Please support these organisations – they have gone out of their way to support climbing and our safety. We will continue to request donations from other businesses – anyone keen to pledge can please contact us.

Individual Sponsors

The following people have decided to forego 4 pizzas
Arvind Varsani, Cheryl Jenks, Rik De Decker, Dirk Versfeld, Eric van der Walt, Kevin Lancaster, Alan Jarvis, Rob Zipplies, Sue Liell-Cock, Steve Downing, Maggie Van Der Westhuizen, Mark Klinkert, David Thornely, Douw Steyn, Scarre Celliers, Jody Paterson, Guy Holwill, Robyn Holwill, Etienne Pieterson, Lance Blane, Russell Warren, Andy Nixon, Robert Weyer, Diane Wilcox, Tim Gebbie, Micky Wiswedel, Jayson Orton, Esme Davies , Charles Edelstein (CityRock), Bruce Daniel, Francie Buhrmann, Stephen Davey, Bill Tucker, Lizanne Tucker, B Marx, Andy Lewis, Mike Scott, Trizanne Pansegrouw, Chris Goodwin (Active Africa), Karen Varga, Keith Forbes, MJ Kruger, Patrick & Adele McCann, Stuart Wallis, James Douglas, Oliver Schuster, Arno van der Heever, Alex Bond-Smith, Peter Grobler, Brent Russel, A.Steyn, Stephen Tillemans, Adam Roff, Gavin Earle

“There are many others and if you have made a donation and your name isn’t on the list, our apologies. Please send an email and we will follow it up.


Gavin Earle

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