Contributing to the UIAA Long Term Anchor Working Group

Failed expansion bolt hangers, bolts and chain submitted for analysis

The development of sport climbing areas outside of Europe and in locations with aggressive environments has brought the need for greater understanding of corrosion mechanisms by material type.

In a 2013 report entitled “Material Classification for Climbing Anchors 2013” the UIAA determined that “the fundamental issues of environmental degradation (stress corrosion cracking (SCC) and corrosion) to climbing anchors” was deemed serious and “should be addressed as a matter of priority.”

The UIAA formed a working group to gather global information concerning bolt failures, together with environmental data and testing of failed samples, with the objective of revising the UIAA 123 Standard to class a material type with a suitable range of environmental conditions. Regions would then be defined by Anchor Class which in turn reflects known or potential degree of corrosion and an appropriate material and type of bolt for use. For example coastal Thailand is known to have highly aggressive SCC and would be Class 1 and only titanium resin bolts combined with pure epoxies recommended.

Hong Kong is within a region predicted to have high corrosion issues and this is supported by personal experience gained from the extensive re-bolting work conducted in Hong Kong in recent years.  slamova-fig-5

My collaboration with the Working Group will include the provision of failed samples recovered from re-bolting work in Hong Kong and data describing bolt types and dates of installation. Looking ahead, a long term bolt installation program may happen in which test bolts are installed and their condition monitored over years then tens of years. This would also include periodic axial load testing, a process already conducted in the locality.

An initial sample of failed expansion bolts, hangers and chain was sent to Europe for materials testing and failure analysis this week as part of samples being received from climbing areas all over the world.

Kalymnos 2016 – Prometheus

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During September 2016 I returned to Kalymnos with Gordon Jenkin and added another multi pitch climb to the huge South face of Tolendos. Prometheus is an 8 pitch, 200m long route equipped with titanium resin bolts and abseil stations, accessed by a 30 minute walking approach from Tolendos village.

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The all important epoxy resin! 6 Foil packs of Hilti RE500 brought from Hong Kong.

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It’s heavy! 28kg of rope, a drill and other gear required for fixing rope down the line.

Day 1, and a 2 hour uphill approach from sector Irox to the summit plateau then back down to the cliff edge of the South Face. The top of the line was located promptly and within 3 hours I was back on the ground with the entire 200m line rigged with fixed rope.

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Looking up at the South Face having rigged the line in 3 hours.

Gordon joined me the following day and together, a further 4 days resulted in the line fully bolted, ready for the first ascent. In total we placed 145 titanium resin bolts and added 10 abseil stations for an optional abseil descent.

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Gordon high on pitch 2.

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High on the ‘The Goat Hotel Terrace’

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Last day of glueing in bolts

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One of the titanium abseil stations installed on Prometheus. The rings, rated to 50kN, are cut from solid titanium bar and the bolts fixed with Hilti RE500 epoxy resulting in a fixed protection system that will last well beyond a 50 year design life. The right hand bolt was glued the previous day and already the bright red colour of the epoxy resin is fading to a more natural background colour.

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Climb time! Leading the first (crux) pitch with Tom Rogers on belay and Gordon on camera

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Looking up at the ‘thunderbolt’ pitch

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Please continue to support Kalymnos and their community as it gives us much in return.