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By Nate Ball
Administrator
From Taipei, TW
Jul 22, 2013
Some route at Smith Rock

Since coming to Taiwan two years ago, I have been climbing at this little-known seaside crag known as the Dragon Cave (龍洞 "lóng dòng" in Mandarin). The community here is amazing, there are some super-strong climbers, and a fair bit of international influence, especially from a guy named Matt Robertson, who published the most recent guidebook. The climbing itself is truly world-class.

A long ramble about the history of development here...

Although development has been going on for over 30 years, there is still no standard. The area is within a government-controlled national scenic area, but they take absolutely no part in regulating development or general use of the area. There is a huge amount of trash that gets washed in, and although foreigners have organized several clean-ups, each typhoon brings a boat-load more.

Bolting has been sporadic. The original lines were done with expansion bolts, and until recently they were still being used, in spite of several cases of serious injuries. The salt air corrodes the bolt itself, causing it to fail when taking a lead fall. All popular routes have been updated to 316 stainless steel glue-in bolts, but a lot of expansion bolts still remain.

The placement of these bolts, for lead and anchors, is often questionable. Because there is no standard for development, no regulation, and a culture that avoids confrontation at all cost, anyone with the tools can drill 'em and fill 'em. So you end up with routes bolted within two feet of each other, bolted cracks, uneven anchor bolts, and bolt spacing that could result in ground-falls. That's not to mention bolts placed "for training"... so that you have a section of stone with ten bolts within four square meters that have no purpose other than... well, seemingly no purpose.

A group called the "Rebolt Project" raised funds to buy new bolts. They solicited the opinions of locals, but somehow I never even knew about it until I saw them at the crag one day. They used Matt's new guidebook as a template and rebolted (and retrobolted) every route that it describes as having expansion bolts - including those without lead bolts or that had been lead traditionally. This resulted in a LOT of new bolts being placed (hundreds), without consideration for clipping stances, ground-falls, or possibility of traditional protection. They also left hundreds of old bolts on the wall. They used "homemade" 316 stainless bolts that are welded - unlike the forged Petzl glue-in bolts used elsewhere.

I solicited the opinions of the many people I climb with - experienced, inexperienced, trad, sport, local, foreign, whatever - and wrote our opinions, observations, and grievances in a letter to the Rebolt Project. It was translated into Chinese. Before I could post it, one of the senior climbers I contacted, who has been in the States for many years, wrote on the RBP facebook page saying, "Who is this Nate Ball guy? He has some good ideas. When I get back, I'm going to chop all the bolts on routes that I can protect with gear" which actually was taken fairly well by the group. I then posted the letter, and more discussion ensued, but nothing really came of it. We had hoped to have a meeting and actually write a "Long Dong Constitution of Development" or something like that. Because, in our eyes, there were five major concerns we wanted to address:
1.) don't bolt known traditional routes
2.) ask everyone before placing any new bolts
3.) open an area for new climbers (as of now, out of 500+ routes, there are less than 10 sport routes >5.10a, and none can be setup without leading)
4.) consider mixed climbing ethic for current and future routes
5.) look at specific routes and address safety concerns (uneven anchors, poor bolt spacing, old bolts, etc.)

All of these ideas were accepted, but the people with the tools have declared the work of the Rebolt Project to be "finished." They have done nothing to include me or the people who helped write the letter in future work, and have not addressed any of the issues we raised.

So, to my point...

Now they want to put anchors on these routes. For years, we had been using the glue-in bolts at the top of routes to clean and rappel, and sometimes even lower through. Obviously, this is far from ideal, for a few reasons: a) it's hard to get your personal anchor out of the bolt when you have the rope threaded through it, and b) lowering through these bolts creates unnecessary wear and reduces the life-expectancy of the bolt. Matt placed anchors at the top of many of the popular moderate trad routes using 10mm rope through tubular webbing and a rappel ring. Several months ago, I made the suggestion to the local patriarchs that we do the same for all of the popular routes, especially those with staggered anchor bolts (think, one bolt placed 6-12" above the other... why? nobody knows). This would create anchors that are safe, non-corrosive, equalized, cheap, quick to check, and easy to maintain. I was told that if they saw that kind of anchor on a route, they would cut it off. Even though some routes already have these and see regular use.

Now, however, the same people associated with the Rebolt Project have received 200 maillons made of 316 stainless steel, and are using those to create anchors at the top of the routes. The idea is that they will not rust, you can use several of them to create an equalized anchor, and you can replace them fairly easily, even if they are expensive. My concerns are that they will eventually rust and we won't be able to remove them, they will become weaker but not necessarily show it, and they are prohibitively expensive (think, we need to place at least 100 anchors, using 6-10 links each). Not only this, but people will be top-roping and lowering through them more often, wearing them out more quickly...

What kind of anchors do they use in Tonsai? Which type of anchor setup would you recommend - one of these two or something different?


FLAG
By Nick Barczak
Jul 22, 2013
...

Nate,

Your best bet might be to contact Sam Lightner, if you can. I remember listening to an Enormocast episode with him as the guest. Seems he's been through the bolt corrosion/wear/aging issues you're dealing with. I believe he's done a ton of development in Thailand, and has been through all the trials and tribulations. I seem to remember titanium glue-ins being the preferred gear.

Sorry I'm not more helpful, but maybe this with point you in the right direction.


FLAG
By 20 kN
From Hawaii
Jul 23, 2013

Nate Ball wrote:
Since coming to Taiwan two years ago, I have been climbing at this little-known seaside crag known as the Dragon Cave (龍洞 "lóng dòng" in Mandarin). The community here is amazing, there are some super-strong climbers, and a fair bit of international influence, especially from a guy named Matt Robertson, who published the most recent guidebook. The climbing itself is truly world-class. A long ramble about the history of development here... Although development has been going on for over 30 years, there is still no standard. The area is within a government-controlled national scenic area, but they take absolutely no part in regulating development or general use of the area. There is a huge amount of trash that gets washed in, and although foreigners have organized several clean-ups, each typhoon brings a boat-load more. Bolting has been sporadic. The original lines were done with expansion bolts, and until recently they were still being used, in spite of several cases of serious injuries. The salt air corrodes the bolt itself, causing it to fail when taking a lead fall. All popular routes have been updated to 316 stainless steel glue-in bolts, but a lot of expansion bolts still remain. The placement of these bolts, for lead and anchors, is often questionable. Because there is no standard for development, no regulation, and a culture that avoids confrontation at all cost, anyone with the tools can drill 'em and fill 'em. So you end up with routes bolted within two feet of each other, bolted cracks, uneven anchor bolts, and bolt spacing that could result in ground-falls. That's not to mention bolts placed "for training"... so that you have a section of stone with ten bolts within four square meters that have no purpose other than... well, seemingly no purpose. A group calling itself the "Rebolt Project" raised funds to buy new bolts. They solicited the opinions of locals, very few of whom (ie: none) have ever been involved in crag development, but somehow I never even knew about it until I saw them at the crag one day. They used Matt's new guidebook as a template and rebolted (and retrobolted) every route that it describes as having expansion bolts - including those without lead bolts or that had been lead traditionally. This resulted in a LOT of new bolts being placed (hundreds), without consideration for clipping stances, ground-falls, or possibility of traditional protection. They also left hundreds of old bolts on the wall. They used "homemade" 316 stainless bolts that have a weld - unlike the single-piece Petzl glue-in bolts used elsewhere. I solicited the opinions of the many people I climb with - experienced, inexperienced, trad, sport, local, foreign, whatever - and wrote our opinions, observations, and grievances in a letter to the Rebolt Project. It was translated into Chinese. Before I could post it, one of the senior climbers I contacted, who has been in the States for many years, wrote on the RBP facebook page saying, "Who is this Nate Ball guy? He has some good ideas. When I get back, I'm going to chop all the bolts on routes that I can protect with gear" which actually was taken fairly well by the group. I then posted the letter, and more discussion ensued, but nothing really came of it. We had hoped to have a meeting and actually write a "Long Dong Constitution of Development" or something like that. Because, in our eyes, there were five major concerns we wanted to address: 1.) don't bolt known traditional routes 2.) ask everyone before placing any new bolts 3.) open an area for new climbers (as of now, out of 500+ routes, there are less than 10 sport routes >5.10a, and none can be setup without leading) 4.) consider mixed climbing ethic for current and future routes 5.) look at specific routes and address safety concerns (uneven anchors, poor bolt spacing, old bolts, etc.) All of these ideas were accepted, but the people with the tools have declared the work of the Rebolt Project to be "finished." They have done nothing to include me or the people who helped write the letter in future work, and have not addressed any of the issues we raised. So, to my point... Now they want to put anchors on these routes. For years, we had been using the glue-in bolts at the top of routes to clean and rappel, and sometimes even lower through. Obviously, this is far from ideal, for a few reasons: a) it's hard to get your personal anchor out of the bolt when you have the rope threaded through it, and b) lowering through these bolts creates unnecessary wear and reduces the life-expectancy of the bolt. Matt placed anchors at the top of many of the popular moderate trad routes using 10mm rope through tubular webbing and a rappel ring. Several months ago, I made the suggestion to the local patriarchs that we do the same for all of the popular routes, especially those with staggered anchor bolts (think, one bolt placed 6-12" above the other... why? nobody knows). This would create anchors that are safe, non-corrosive, equalized, cheap, quick to check, and easy to maintain. I was told that if they saw that kind of anchor on a route, they would cut it off. Even though some routes already have these and see regular use. Now, however, the same people associated with the Rebolt Project have received 200 maillons made of 316 stainless steel, and are using those to create anchors at the top of the routes. The idea is that they will not rust, you can use several of them to create an equalized anchor, and you can replace them fairly easily, even if they are expensive. My concerns are that they will eventually rust and we won't be able to remove them, they will become weaker but not necessarily show it, and they are prohibitively expensive (think, we need to place at least 100 anchors, using 6-10 links each). Not only this, but people will be top-roping and lowering through them more often, wearing them out more quickly... What kind of anchors do they use in Tonsai? Which type of anchor setup would you recommend - one of these two or something different?

Sweet, my favorite topic--marine corrosion! Anyway, fortunately a select few of us have gone through years of pain trying to find a feasible solution for the issue of marine corrosion, and we found the solution about six years ago--titanium alloy five and four. A small group of us; mostly consisting of Thailand, Hawaii and the Caribbeans; place an order for titanium bolts every 6 or 12 months, which I am sure you could get in on. If you need bolts now you could probably buy a few from the Thainaium Project or us for the interim.

Anyway, titanium is impervious to the effects of marine environments and it will last for decades. Grade 316 stainless steel can fail in some marine environments so it is less preferable to titanium. As it stands, we use titanium bolts and 316 SS chain for lower offs because Ti chain does not really exist at a reasonable cost. We inspect the chain yearly.

One very important thing you need to understand about marine corrosion is it is VERY localized. For example, a leeward cliff may require titanium bolts because of salt spray where as a windward cliff may only require grade 316 from a lack of salt spray. However, it is generally accepted that unless you have a thorough understanding of the immediate area and know titanium is not required, you should use titanium.

If you do use grade 316, you must use professionally pacified high-quality glue-in bolts. Do not use 316 threaded stud bolts as the exposed threads can induce SCC and/ or pitting, and do not use any type of 304 unless experience shows 304 is acceptable in the exact region of your crag. Below are some photos of what we use in Hawaii.

Grade-five-titanium staple bolt and specially modified 316L Wave-Bolt:



Grade two or four (I forget which) titanium P-bolt:


Very overpriced Ushba/ Liberty Mountain titanium bolt:




There are other alloys that do well in a marine environment. Bolt Products makes a grade 2205 stainless steel bolt that is designed for use in a marine environment; however, 2205 SS is likely still inferior to titanium in terms of marine corrosion. Aside from Bolt Product’s 2205 bolts, no one else makes a bolt that is suitable for use in a marine climbing environment.


FLAG
By Jim Titt
From Germany
Jul 23, 2013

"Several months ago, I made the suggestion to the local patriarchs that we do the same for all of the popular routes, especially those with staggered anchor bolts (think, one bolt placed 6-12" above the other... why? nobody knows."
Fairly standard practice these days at least in Europe and known as French style. The top bolt has whatever (maillon and ring etc)for lowering through and the lower bolt is either threaded direct (if it was installed with the eye horizontal) or with a maillon. Only one part wears (the ring)and needs to be replaced and the lower bolt provides redundancy.


FLAG
By kennoyce
From Layton, UT
Jul 23, 2013
Climbing at the Gallery in Red Rocks

"They used "homemade" 316 stainless bolts that are welded - unlike the forged Petzl glue-in bolts used elsewhere....

Matt placed anchors at the top of many of the popular moderate trad routes using 10mm rope through tubular webbing and a rappel ring. Several months ago, I made the suggestion to the local patriarchs that we do the same for all of the popular routes, especially those with staggered anchor bolts (think, one bolt placed 6-12" above the other... why? nobody knows). This would create anchors that are safe, non-corrosive, equalized, cheap, quick to check, and easy to maintain.....

Now, however, the same people associated with the Rebolt Project have received 200 maillons made of 316 stainless steel, and are using those to create anchors at the top of the routes. The idea is that they will not rust, you can use several of them to create an equalized anchor, and you can replace them fairly easily, even if they are expensive.... My concerns are that they will eventually rust and we won't be able to remove them, they will become weaker but not necessarily show it, and they are prohibitively expensive (think, we need to place at least 100 anchors, using 6-10 links each). Not only this, but people will be top-roping and lowering through them more often, wearing them out more quickly....

Which type of anchor setup would you recommend - one of these two or something different?"


So, it's all pretty much been answered above, but here's my take on a few of your comments.

First off, the homemade welded bolts sound like a death trap. Who knows how the quality of the weld is, and I'd guess that the bolts are not stress relieved which will make them much more prone to SCC especially in a marine environment.

Personally, I'm not a fan of the rope through webbing anchors since they have to be replaced much more frequently than an all stainless anchor. As far as the bolts not being staggered, As Jim mentioned, this is a fairly normal practice, and is not a problem.

I think 316 mallions should be just fine. Unlike a bolt, a mallion is completely exposed, so it's very easy to inspect, and you will be able to see corossion that would weld is shut or weaken it long before eithor of those things happen. As far as making a chain of mallions for an anchor, that sounds retarded. Just buy 316 chain and use one mallion to attach an appropriate length of chain to each anchor bolt, much less expensive and ugly.

Again, my anchor recommendation is 316 chain on the 316 mallions. Since the chain and mallions are out in the open you can easily inspect them for corrosion. Even if the mallions do get welded shut by corrosion you can remove them with WD-40 or if worse comes to worse a bolt cutter, but they'll last much longer than rope threaded through webbing. Do what you want, but that's my recommendation.


FLAG
By BrianWS
Jul 23, 2013

The last re-bolting effort was in 2006 or 2007, where the majority of popular sport lines (and a number of traditional lines) were given titanium glue-ins. I'm not surprised that the latest 'effort' includes dubious bolt placement and general overbolting (most bolts here are spaced five feet apart, or even less) but I'm pretty shocked that all that time and energy was spent putting in non marine-grade hardware that will need replacement within a few years.
Who is the 'rebolt project'? Are they folks from Taipei? Hsinchu? The STONE/LZS crowd? Or (god forbid) the Y17 crew? Drop some names if you can!

...

Bolting ethics are a tricky thing in Asia. Matt certainly ran into some conflict when he first arrived, but I think he learned pretty quickly that what raises controversy in Boulder is a non-point in Taipei.

Until very recently, a rack of gear would have been unaffordable for most and still is prohibitively expensive by local standards (average monthly earnings are roughly ~$1000 USD/month, even with a college degree). Once climbing became very popular (a bit of time after Yum Yum's original guidebook was released) the local ethic was more or less in line with the philosophy that traditional lines would be better off bolted to open them up to a wider range of climbers who did not have the means to invest in all the pricey gear.

It was not always this way, keep in mind. If you ever look at the old guide, the majority of the routes that are now fully (over)bolted were originally mixed lines. Hell, you could safely lead 90% of the sport lines on gear. I'm curious as to what some of the local old-skoolers
have to say about the latest flurry of activity (Yum Yum, Huzi, Jinlong, Bihu, etc).

...

As far as the bizarrely uneven anchor bolts go (man, I remember those), just bring a double length sling and equalize 'em. Also If I recall correctly, many of them were spaced just right such that a short draw on the higher bolt and a longer draw on the second would more or less result in an 'equalized' anchor.

Rapping and lowering off those sucks, though. If you were feeling charitable, you could always rig up some webbing and rings between the bolts to ease lowering, although I'm sure they'd be worn through in no time from topropers.


FLAG
By climbnplay
Jul 23, 2013

Everywhere else in the world, it's the climbers that must get on with established local traditions, not the other way around. To add bolts just to accommodate the growing number of new climbers who don't have the inclination to learn to properly trad climb is ridiculous and sad. I am Chinese - and I can tell you money is not AT ALL an issue for most Chinese who have ventured into climbing. I respect those old-schoolers who are vocally resisting the changing tide.

What'd be a better way to go? On crags that top out (like Long Lane), have designated rappel stations but people should be able to build their own toprope anchors otherwise.

Soon enough, UK will be the only place left in the world to have proper adventures.


FLAG
By Jim Titt
From Germany
Jul 23, 2013

climbnplay wrote:
Everywhere else in the world, it's the climbers that must get on with established local traditions, not the other way around. To add bolts just to accommodate the growing number of new climbers who don't have the inclination to learn to properly trad climb is ridiculous and sad. I am Chinese - and I can tell you money is not AT ALL an issue for most Chinese who have ventured into climbing. I respect those old-schoolers who are vocally resisting the changing tide. What'd be a better way to go? On crags that top out (like Long Lane), have designated rappel stations but people should be able to build their own toprope anchors otherwise. Soon enough, UK will be the only place left in the world to have proper adventures.


So what is the local ethic, one imported by US climbers, one imported by Euros or the previously long established Tai history of climbing?


FLAG
 
By Nate Ball
Administrator
From Taipei, TW
Jul 23, 2013
Some route at Smith Rock

Sam Lightner, in response to the question: Can 316L steel bolts be counted on to last for 10+ years at a seaside crag?
"Sadly, no, there is no other option. Not for southern Thaialnd, but part of our problem is temperature and foliage and stone type... not just seaside. You will get more time, though not a lot, than we did out of 316. However, in the end you will have wished you went with Ti."

Sayar: It seems titanium is the only way to go. Thanks for the contact info.

Jim: I understand what you're describing, as in that scenario it makes sense. Unfortunately, none of our staggered bolts have any kind of anchor chains, as Brian describes. As for local ethic, there is none. The trends seem to be "bolt anything you like at any time, bring all of your friends to the crag and leave your ropes up for as long as you want, play lots of loud bubblegum pop music, don't tell people who are using bad habits what's wrong..." You get the picture.

Kennoyce: Consider me a complete newb in this regard, and forgive my question, but how might I be able to acquire 100+ 316 steel chain and rap rings?

Brian: Glad to hear from you man! Could you point me to exactly which routes were given titanium bolts? Because I was unaware that there were any at Long Dong. The Rebolt Project bought 500 "homemade" bolts (I don't know anything about them other than they are welded and shiny) because they could get a lot for cheap and had a lot of routes on the list (mostly in Golden Valley, First Cave, and Music Hall). The "Rebolt Project" was started by Jinlong, and the most active members have been Doc Zhang, Tiger, Two Teeth, and Alvin (Kala) Hsu. As for the old skoolers, Jinlong is the primary culprit, Xiao Huzi has been non-existent, Yum-Yum is gone, Milk is quietly and ineffectually trying to steer things in a different direction (we agree without being able to communicate), and Ta Chi is soon to make his return with Dremel in hand (and I'll be there to catch what he drops). I would happily put up rope-webbing anchors, and my understanding is they could/would/have last(ed) for YEARS without integrity compromise, but I've been told by the same illustrious figures mentioned above that they would cut them off if they saw them.

Climbnplay: the rappel stations are setup such that they can be used as top-rope anchors, and there is also the possibility of building an anchor out of your own trad gear. Is this what you mean?


FLAG
By climbnplay
Jul 23, 2013

sorry - I realized that I was unclear. At crags that top out, bolting can generally be reduced by only bolting rappel/belay stations sparsely, generally on top of climbs that one cannot build a belay station from a standard rack. For example, you may find a fixed rappel station every 5 climbs. Sometimes even that can be avoided if nature offers something - like a big tree or rocks that one can sling through/around. This has several advantages:
1)obviously largely reduces bolting.
2)forces people to learn at least anchor-building in an area that already has an established trad ethic.
3)people that do not want to purchase a complete rack can generally build solid anchors with a set of stoppers and a few common cam sizes.

Needless to say, this cannot be done everywhere because at some crags topping out is either dangerous or impossible, or the rocks might be very loose. But anyhow, from my understanding, Taiwan is fairly well regulated by the local climbing commmunity, and I only hope the growing community upholds the already established ethics.


FLAG
By BrianWS
Jul 23, 2013

Regarding the bolts:
You're right -- the ones that went up in the last rebolting drive ('06 or '07) are indeed not titanium. I had a, shall we say, lapse in memory when I typed that. They are quite a bit burlier and more corrosion-resistent than the expansion bolts, but they certainly aren't ideal for the area. Come to think of it, Pepi managed to break one of the glue-ins in Golden Valley under body weight, back in 2008 or so. Good thing there are plenty of gear placements around the former bolt... which brings us to ethics.

Hoo-boy, this is an area where I'm not really eager to take sides in.

The retrobolting, grid bolting, and comically spaced bolts (I remember being able to hit two, sometimes three clips from one stance) are ugly, overly redundant, and would be given the chop at pretty much any crag in the States -- but yeah, Taiwan isn't the US in terms of culture, climbing related or otherwise. If there was an established tradition at one time, none of the local OG climbers raised much of a fuss or put forth any effort to enforce it when the mass-bolting began.


I'm glad Ta Chi is getting involved (the older guy who lives part time in Madison, right?) because any action or decision that determines the ethic of bolting needs to be taken and formulated by locals. The bolting crew consists of some of the strongest climbers on the island, and certainly will not take kindly to a foreigner suggesting how they ought to manage 'their' crag. We'll see how they respond when Ta Chi comes a-choppin'. My guess is that there will be the same sort of ostracization and collectively vindictive behavior towards the 'culprit'. If you've ever met Hong Bai le (Bala), you'll know how awful that crew can be.


Personally, I think there are bigger fish to fry in the Taiwan climbing scene, especially ones that have come close to closing access in the past -- a generally poor safety culture come to mind in particular. While I was there, there were multiple helivacs per year, not to mention 2 rappelling/lowering deaths. Those numbers are pretty impressive given how small the local climbing community is, and local authorities had indicated a desire to restrict climbing as a result.


FLAG
By BrianWS
Jul 23, 2013

Regarding the bolts:
You're right -- the ones that went up in the last rebolting drive ('06 or '07) are indeed not titanium. I had a, shall we say, lapse in memory when I typed that. They are quite a bit burlier and more corrosion-resistent than the expansion bolts, but they certainly aren't ideal for the area. Come to think of it, Pepi managed to break one of the glue-ins in Golden Valley under body weight, back in 2008 or so. Good thing there are plenty of gear placements around the former bolt... which brings us to ethics.

Hoo-boy, this is an area where I'm not really eager to take sides in.

The retrobolting, grid bolting, and comically spaced bolts (I remember being able to hit two, sometimes three clips from one stance) are ugly, overly redundant, and would be given the chop at pretty much any crag in the States -- but yeah, Taiwan isn't the US in terms of culture, climbing related or otherwise. If there was an established tradition at one time, none of the local OG climbers raised much of a fuss or put forth any effort to enforce it when the mass-bolting began.


I'm glad Ta Chi is getting involved (the older guy who lives part time in Madison, right?) because any action or decision that determines the ethic of bolting needs to be taken and formulated by locals. The bolting crew consists of some of the strongest climbers on the island, and certainly will not take kindly to a foreigner suggesting how they ought to manage 'their' crag. We'll see how they respond when Ta Chi comes a-choppin'. My guess is that there will be the same sort of ostracization and collectively vindictive behavior towards the 'culprit'. If you've ever met Hong Bai Le (Bala), you'll know how awful that crew can be to an individual who calls them out on their shit.


Personally, I think there are bigger fish to fry in the Taiwan climbing scene, especially ones that have come close to closing access in the past -- a generally poor safety culture come to mind in particular. While I was there, there were multiple helivacs per year, not to mention 2 rappelling/lowering deaths. Those numbers are pretty impressive given how small the local climbing community is, and local authorities had indicated a desire to restrict climbing as a result.


FLAG
By kennoyce
From Layton, UT
Jul 23, 2013
Climbing at the Gallery in Red Rocks

Nate Ball wrote:
Kennoyce: Consider me a complete newb in this regard, and forgive my question, but how might I be able to acquire 100+ 316 steel chain and rap rings?


No worries, we all have to start somewhere. While rings are nice, they aren't necissary and can add quite a bit of expense to an anchor. Generally, you just buy 316 chain by the foot from any marine hardware supplier. For 100 anchors, just buy a bunch of chain and cut it to the lengths you need. You want to go with 5/16" chain as a minimum, but if you expect lots of people to TR through them (it sounds like you do) thicker chain will last longer and probably end up being less expensive in the long run since it needs to be replaced less frequently.


FLAG
By John Byrnes
Administrator
From Fort Collins, CO
Jul 23, 2013

Gee, as usual, lots of confusion on this topic and also some people who want to make a buck. If your bolts look like the ones in the photos on this link, read on.

www.climbcaymanbrac.com/safety/

Okay, here are the facts without profit motive.

Tropical, marine limestone is the worst. Are your cliffs limestone? Stainless bolts in Thailand have broken in as little as 9 months.

ALL 300-series stainless steels WILL crack in this type of environment including 316L. It doesn't matter if it's an expansion bolt, glue-in, or maillon. PERIOD. (Photos of each in my previous posts.)

Although at least two suppliers are producing bolts made of specialty steels, such as 2205, I have not seen any proof that these are impervious to this type of corrosion. The metallurgists I've spoken to won't say definitively, mostly because the basic chemistry is still not fully understood.

Further, these specialty steels have NO REAL-WORLD TRACK RECORD. I don't believe any of these bolts have been in service for more than a year, maybe two, which is not long enough to come to any conclusions.

The only PROVEN solution is grade 2 titanium. Grade 5 Ti also has a good track-record but I don't know of anyone making these. Grade 2 Ti glue-in bolts have been in service for 14 years in the harshest conditions known (Thailand & Cayman Brac), still look brand-new and there's never been a failure.

I don't have time to go into more details right now, but email me and I can tell you how to contact the supplier. 20kN's Ti bolts look good too, but I don't have any data on them.

As far as your other problems... can't help. Sorry.


FLAG
By 20 kN
From Hawaii
Jul 23, 2013

Nate Ball wrote:
Sam Lightner, in response to the question: Can 316L steel bolts be counted on to last for 10+ years at a seaside crag? "Sadly, no, there is no other option. Not for southern Thaialnd, but part of our problem is temperature and foliage and stone type... not just seaside. You will get more time, though not a lot, than we did out of 316. However, in the end you will have wished you went with Ti." Sayar: It seems titanium is the only way to go. Thanks for the contact info.

No problem. Keep in mind that how long stainless steel will last in an environment is, again, highly dependent on the local condition. We have used 316 in Hawaii because our environment is much more mild than Thailand. We can get a good 10+ years out of a 316 glue-in bolt in most areas. Another option is grade 317 stainless steel which should last even longer than 316. However, as others have said nearly all 300-series stainless steel bolts will eventually have to be replaced if they are used in a marine environment and therefore titanium is the most responsible option.

As far as the 316 chain goes, a number of companies on the net sell it. Or e-mail the bugman@ e-mail address I gave you and he can tell you where he buys his 316 chain.

John Byrnes wrote:
The only PROVEN solution is grade 2 titanium. Grade 5 Ti also has a good track-record but I don't know of anyone making these.


The U-bolt in the photo is grade five. You are correct that no one makes them for climbing, but companies make them for general purpose use. We had them made for us by United Titanium of Ohio. We originally choose grade five because it is quite a bit stronger than grade two, but later switched because grade two is less alloyed and therefore should have superior corrosion resistance. Currently we use the same bolts you do, and we order them with Thailand every year when they place their batch order.


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By Nate Ball
Administrator
From Taipei, TW
Jul 23, 2013
Some route at Smith Rock

Brian: I feel exactly as you do about general safety being a primary concern right now. This year, there was only one climbing related injury that required helivac rescue. It was from rappelling - strange circumstances, obviously he didn't really know what he was doing - while the whole crew watched it happen without offering a word of caution. Maurice afterward wrote a blog expressing regret and personal responsibility for what happened... But I have yet to see this sentiment put into action. On one week day I simultaneously saw a newb cleaning on rappel without an autoblock, backclips everywhere, top-roping through pig-tails, and top belay with standard ATC directly off the harness. I wrote a safety PSA but it has yet to be translated. I see this anchor-bolting project as one step towards greater safety, but what we really need is a locally inspired formal agreement on crag standards and the expectation that they are upheld.


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