Times change and looking back over close to three decades of putting up new routes, trad’ and sport around the world, there’s nothing like revisiting an old route for a reflection of how bolts have influenced the sport.
With change you can either resist it or take the opportunity to influence it and so with that in mind, North Quarry was visited on a damp, cold autumnal day with the objective of pulling old ‘staple’ bolts and revitalising some old ‘bolt protected’ routes.
North Quarry, near Bristol with the grand sweeping slab of the right wall and easy angled back wall.
Back in 1993 I bolted and climbed what subsequently became a quarry classic of sorts; Resin Resurrection, graded E5 6a or F7a and sparingly bolted with 4 bolts in around 20m plus of climbing. In current times the route would not be classed as sport given the significant run outs and the use of non certified glue-in staple bolts (Portland staples from the 90’s). Considered a ‘bolt protected’ route now, this was a spicy sport route at the time and climbed during an ethics shift from full blown trad’ towards sparingly bolted ‘sport’ routes, that led into mixed routes then mixed routes with two grades (to clip or not to clip the bolts), back to pure trad’ and what is considered modern sport bolting today.
A run out Resin Resurrection.
With over a couple of decades in existence it’s clear how well a badly bolted route has fared in terms of recorded ascents. This of course raises the issue of sustainable use and the ridiculousness of insisting that badly equipped sport routes should remain in their original state rather than be acknowledged for what influenced the decisions at a particular time in the sport’s history and instead re-equip so that a piece of rock becomes a lasting contribution to the community.
A particular objective was to load test the original Portland staples to:
- Remove them as they do not comply with EN959.
- Obtain accurate load data from 26 year old glue-in fixings.
The first staple (of four) on the route.
Testing used a Hydrajaws 2050 tensile tester linked to the fixings via a high strength steel locking carabiner.
Tensile tester setup on the first staple.
And so it was time to start extracting…and the first result was shocking with the staple pulling at a paltry 3.1kN.
First staple easily extracted well below the force typically generated in a leader fall.
The second staple performed much better until the ends of the legs snapped (as per the first and remaining staples).
All staples pulled showing characteristic failure of the leg ends rather than failure of the 26 year old adhesive (Hilti C50).
Final results were:
The Hilti adhesive resisted the load perfectly and is reassuring that when certified anchors are involved, climbers can expect no loss of strength for decades after installation.
Out with the old and in with the certified new. A Bolt Products 316 grade steel, 6mm * 80mm twist leg glue-in fixed with G&B Gebofix EPO Plus pure epoxy.
Old fixed gear was replaced on the adjacent Short, Sharp, Shock which included nails hammered into the rock and 8mm caving bolts, considered ‘bombproof’ at the time!