Welcome to Field reports! In this new feature, WARP brings you information about the work being done to replace bolts around the state. This first installment comes from WARP committee and WCC board member Scott Underwood. Enjoy!
I replaced some bolts at my local climbing area recently then shared these pics with the others at WARP. The first bolt wouldn’t unthread and just spun in the hole. It also backed
out a bit while trying to unthread it. It then came all the way out after tugging on it a few times with my funkness device. One member stated about this bolt, “It’s corroded but I’d let my kid hang from it.” Admittedly, I have let my kid hang on that particular bolt and had no notion it was this ready to come out.
The second bolt just looked like an oversized bolt I’ve come across from time to time in my replacement work…until I backed it out of the hole. Like the post Ben Gilkison
allowed us to share, this bolt was a drop-in style that should never have been used for climbing.
Beyond these dramatic cases, why is WARP advocating and promoting bolt replacement to such a degree? If that first bolt had been in better rock, would it have been safe for years to come? The bottom line is, we don’t know. We do know that bolts installed 30+ years ago WILL eventually fail—the poorly placed ones sooner than later. WARP wants to replace those bolts now—before the bolts reach a critical point—to avoid unnecessary accidents.
For more information on why our climbing bolts have reached their current state, read this article by Climbing Magazine published back in 2014. It has some of the best information I’ve found anywhere on climbing bolts.