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Last weekend a climber discovered a loose bolt on the route Thin Ice at Hillwood.  He was easily able to remove the bolt and its sleeve by hand.  The same climber discovered another loose bolt on the anchors of the route Jugs r Us. Over recent months a group of local Launceston climbers have been engaged in replacing bolts at Hillwood as there were several instances of missing bolts and bolts without hangers.  Mostly this has occurred on the Chessboard and Leviathan crags.  It now appears that the problem is more widespread. 


Anyone climbing at Hillwood over the coming months should take note of the following:


-       Always inspect each bolt before clipping. 

-       Don’t under any circumstances lower from only one anchor bolt.

-       Avoid pulling directly out on any suspect bolts.

-       Be aware that rebolting may be taking place.  If there are signs indicating rebolting is underway on a route please do not attempt to climb, there may be freshly glued bolts that need time to cure.

-       Beginners or people new to leading should only visit Hillwood if accompanied by an experienced partner or guide. 


It would also be great if anyone who notices a faulty bolt emails details to the following address:


Please take this warning seriously.  In 2009 a climber was killed in the Blue Mountains when a faulty bolt pulled.   Please take care out there folks!

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  1. Since this is on private land, and we all know that the owner has a lot of concerns about our activity, I'm wondering if it would not be better to ask anyone to stop climbing there while bolts are being replaced (similar thing has happened in Gorges du Tarn in France). So in case something eventually happens, we won't be kicked out of Hillwood for good. I don't really like the idea of it, but it may be a blessing in disguise.


    Thanks to Ben, Bill Baxter, Nick Clements who have volunteered to do maintenance at Hillwood. Great to see a couple of carroted routes (glued in ones) that had missing hangers, replaced with good bolts on the Chessboard. Viral Infection has had a much needed bolt added and Pale Blue Sky's first bolt which had been missing for a while has been replaced. The issue of sleeved dynabolts pulling out - the advice I have received from several experienced bolters, is that they can be put back in and tightened with a spanner. Loose hangers can also be easily tightened. So if you notice a loose bolt or hanger, let Ben Thorp or myself know and we can tighten them, or better still, bring a spanner to the crag and do it yourself. Thanks

  3. That sounds sketchy! It's probably a good idea to figure out the contributing factors as to why the bolts are failing.
    Are the holes not drilled square to the rock? Are the bolts cheap/substandard? Are the bolts short? Is the rock too soft for expansions? Are the hangers 10mm hole and (too small for) the bolts 12mm overall diam (with a 10mm set screw)? Are the holes in the rock elongated/enlarged after the failure?

    If it's just a matter of the nuts being loose (due to using hex nut style dynabolts as opposed to superior flush head dynabolts) then tightening them up could work. If the holes aren't drilled square to the rock then they'll come loose/fall off again. If the rock it too soft and/or the bolts too short then tightening them up is a bad move. Close all the suspect routes until they are fixed or you'll be asking for an accident over summer. If the holes have slowly gotten bigger then re-tightening them will only last until some unknown day in the future when they will fail again.
    It's a lot of work rebolting but it's really important work especially if there's an epidemic of bolt failure somewhere. How many bolts have failed/fallen out? Who knows how many will eventually fail? Is there a pattern? Is it one brand of bolts only? Is it one first ascensionist only? Will all routes need rebolting with glue?

    Regarding point 4 in the original post. If you're rebolting a route it's a good idea to put a red tag on the first bolt until it's good to go again. This is really important. Traveling Euros aren't going to have read this thread.

    hope winter treated you all well over there,



      My opinion is that there has been an over reaction to a few bolts and hangers being loose. There are over 1000 bolts in the cliff and less than 10 bolts apparently have been found to be loose. After 15 years, it is normal for expansion bolts to loosen up over time - it doesn't mean they are failing. Its a common problem in many climbing areas. The advice I have received from several experienced bolters is to deal with it on a bolt by bolt case - that is, if a bolt or hanger is found to be loose, simply tighten it, or report it to me or Ben and we'll tighten it or replace it if necessary. The bolts are not too short and the rock is bullet hard. . No bolt should be blindly trusted anyway. Test the bolts as you clip them and if it seems to be loose, lower off and either tighten it yourself or report it to us. If the bolt is tight it should be fine.

  4. I disagree with a few points above by Gerry. Bolts should be as bomber as possible, the odd ten 'falling' out is not acceptable, these days 10 in a 1000 is pretty poor, particularly if you just factored in the two bolters whose routes are missing the bolts, the odds are more like 10 in 300. Most sport climbers don't like gambling or assessing bolts as they climb (people trust that bolts are bomber and do trust them 'blindly', if your in the middle of the crux your unlikely to assess the tightness of the bolt but just try and climb).  

    The bolt that Ben Thorpe displayed at the recent CCT meeting was a sub-standard bolt (it was an unbranded poorly engineered bolt, the worst i have ever seen) that overtime is failing before it should, the expansion sleeve is very loose and elongated, theres little scratching making me wonder if the bolter cleaned the hole out after drilling(leaving a fine rock dust to lubricate the hole) or if they reamed the hole a tad making it loose in the hole.  If nuts are coming off its one thing (from the hanger not sitting flush with the rock) ; but for people to be able to slide the bolt out with fingers as has happened with a few that Ben brought to the meeting, its likely the crap bolt combined with a poor placement won't improve with a few turns of a spanner.

    'Test the bolts as you climb' is an accident waiting to happen on private land (bad for someones body and for access!).  I'm in favour of red tagging the routes by the two bolters whose routes are the main culprits as its likely there are many more time bombs waiting to pop given the poor bolts and/or technique they've used.  From all accounts this would be a max of 50 routes.   Then when experienced volunteers have the time and money they can assess and rebolt where necessary.  But at least climbers aren't clipping these bolts 'blindly' without knowing they are gambling with them staying in the cliff!

  5. I'll give my two cents, having been up and had a look with Ben etc. I personally don't think the majority are total death-traps or anything, however It is not an over-reaction. the majority of bolts should be replaced for the following technical reasons:

    1) there are many hangers on captive carrots, whilst they are pretty good they should be replaced at some point, why not now? took all of 1 minute to remove one of them with a spanner.

    2) there are many 3/8"(10mm)dynabolts used that are not suitable for climbing IMO. they only have a very small expansion capability so just tightening them might not be enough. Removed one by hand (hanger was spinning) they are also very short, give or take 50mm, im going out on a limb to suggest they are 3/8(9.5mm) in a 10mm hole???

    3) there are many 12mm dynabolts used with 10mm hangers. some nut's have only a few turns of thread in the nut. again maybe ok in shear but tensile loading could pop them.

    whilst it's great to consult experienced bolters, if they haven't seen the bolts and the technology used then how valid is that opinion? i agree that pretty much all dynabolts/trubolts used today can just be tightened and they're fine. these are different however

    so whilst only a few have come loose i think the problem does need to be addressed, and people made aware of whats going on. personally i don't think there exists an immediate danger if the hangers aren't spinning. If they are then don't trust that bolt, the slightest outwards force could remove it. a solution is not far away however, there is some funds being collected to replace these, and volunteers exist to do the hard yakka. im back in mid Nov in the state and happy to spend a week up there re-bolting however i wont have cash to pay for the bolts. if everyone chipped in $10-$20 it would easily cover costs...

    The bolts WILL be replaced soon, so nobody needs to stress too much. I think we can all agree that stainless glue-ins with chain lower-offs will only add to what is already a great sport climbing area!!

  6. My two cents - I think the 'severity' of this situation is getting a bit out of hand.

    First off, I have clipped a good number of those hillwood bolts over the past 3 years and have seen nothing that I would consider out of the ordinary for any typical well used sport crag that I've been to around the world (better in most regards by Australian standards, as this 'sport' crag actually has bolts!). Sure I've come across a few loose bolts, mismatched hangers, and those damn carrots that won't seem to go away in this country, but you get that anywhere and there was nothing at hillwood I thought would ultimately fail when needed. In fact, I would challenge anyone (the prize being a case of beer) to remove a bolt at hillwood by simply clipping into it and falling (back yourself up on a toprope if your worried about decking). Bolts are surprisingly resilient to perpendicular force even when loose or rusted, and carrying a 1/4", 3/8", and 1/2" spanner is a good idea for any sport climber, just be aware that bolts shouldn't be overnight either and that generally only a few complete turns are need once resistance is felt. To put this all into context, if I showed pictures of some of the rusted bolts, grooved loweroffs, and bent hangers I've seen removed from many popular American and European sandstone and limestone crags that were still receiving multiple falls on the day they were removed, most people would likely conciser a few scratches on a still intact sleeve trivial. I've even seen Graham and Sharma hand tighten a few of their own hangers as they climbed past...these things happen all the time. 

    Nevertheless, expansion bolts loosening (especially in a 15-20 year time frame) is inevitable, as is oxidation, and ultimately they will eventually fail. The typical 'safe' lifespan of a expansion bolt (particularly ones made 20 years ago) in a climbing context is generally not more than 20 years. So rather than giving Gerry and others shit about placing bad bolts 15 years ago I would actually recommend thanking them for providing 15+ years of safe climbing without a single bolt-related incident at probably the states most popular beginner crag. The current idea for replacing bolts and upgrading the hardware is a great idea and should be done relatively soon, but sowing seeds that all routes are unsafe until retrofitting is a bit over the top in may opinion.This can be conducted behind the scenes by experienced locals without ever effecting the general flow of climbing save for an occasional red tag of a route where the glue is setting. I believe the initial warring about potential loose bolts and advising caution on the guide page of the sarvo is all that's warranted.   

    Lastly, I would like to point out that a sport climber blindly clipping bolts without having any knowledge of their potential faults is like a suba diver ignoring currents or a skier assuming there will never be an avalanche - ignorance in no excuse in potentially dangerous sports like outdoor rock climbing and it's your own responsibility to gain the requisite knowledge to keep yourself safe. Accidents happen, but gumby or not, when you tie in to the sharp end you accept the risks inherent in the situation. A first ascentionist protects a climb to his own standard of safety (trad or sport) and it's up to each proceeding individual to determine if he accepts the resulting level of danger.


      CRUDE BUT CONCLUSIVE TEST: I was shown the sub-standard crap unbranded bolt in question. 12mm x 55mm expansion, 316 stainless. I drilled a 12mm hole in the gutter outside my house with the old gold plated fixe hanger on it, attached it to my car with a fairly new piece of climbing rope, gently eased out the slack then gunned it. After about 10 secs the climbing rope snapped and the bolt was bomber. No distortion whatsoever or movement of the hanger. I then placed a 10mm x 75mm trubolt which is currently in favor. The rope snapped again, but the shaft of the bolt bent a bit and the hanger and nut became very loose. Remember that concrete is softer than Hillwood basalt. A straight out pull by a car did not budge the so called dodgy dynabolt which had been sitting in a climb for 15 years. As Mark says, expansion bolts loosening over the years is common. If one is discovered, it simply needs to be tightened. It is pretty easy to discern if a bolt is loose or not, when you clip the draw to it - just back off, come back with a spanner and tighten it, or report it to me or Ben and we'll tighten it, or replace it. If the crap, substandard unbranded bolt is tight, its bomber - leave it alone - unless your arse is so big that you've got the same pulling power as a Subaru.

  7. Very well written Mark.  

  8. Good that the bolt worked in the test,  and i probably was over-reacting as i don't have first hand knowledge like others who have posted, only the assessment of one of the failed bolts and from what Ben told me.  

    The thing that prompted me to post was that it was obvious  there was something wrong to be pulling bolts out by hand, as Mark posted you can hand tighten bolts on the go as the nut doesnt hold the bolt in, it holds the hanger on the bolt. The critical thing is that the bolt is placed correctly.  If the sleeve is engaged onto the cone at end of the bolt during the initial placement by bolter than it will stay that way whether the nut comes loose or not.  The one Gerry placed proves it works when in the right size hole etc, so why did the others fail??? Probably because they weren't placed correctly and probably because the non branded bolt lends itself to elongating the hole over time (the sleeve on the one I have is elongated). I'm not concerned in the slightest by loose nuts or dynabolts of various makes (though i do prefer a company to put there brand on something they make), I'm concerned with bolts falling out for reasons unknown. 

    So I'm curious and when I return from a trip to Arapiles I'll come up and have a look firsthand and see if i can score a free carton of beer. Hopefully I can't!!



      The one I placed in the kerb was the actual bolt that was pulled out at Hillwood. Not sure if the size of the hole mattered in this instance because I used an old 12mm drill bit, which initially did not drill a big enough hole cause they wear out after lots of use and don't drill a perfect size hole - so then I roughly reamed out the hole a bt more so the bolt would fit - if anything the hole was slightly too big for the 12mm bolt and very roughly drilled at that - and still the car would not pull it out. So I do believe they were placed correctly but after 15 years of climbing, a few bolts have worked their way loose - the reason is simply wear and tear over the years, par for the course with expansion bolts - and as the test proved, it can be placed back in the hole and retightened, and they'll be right for another 15 years. Flip, I'll be 65 years old then. Hopefully some other sucker will volunteer to retighten any bolts in the year 2028.

    2. Here's a few few comments about expansion bolts in general that might help in explaining this situation a bit better, and are also just good things to know as a climber even if you never intend to actually place one. This is not directed specifically at Adam, as I think the majority of non-bolting climbers (and even a few that do place bolts unfortunately) are unaware of many aspects concerning these specific pieces of gear that we all trust our lives on.

      In the realm of expansion bolts there are two types typically used for climbing: ones with a sleeve which can be completely separated from the shaft (removables) and ones with a short fixed expansion collar on the end (trubolts). 

      For a trubolt, the expansion mechanism is just slightly wider than the caliber of the bolt (i.e. on a 10mm bolt they stick out to make the diameter about 10.2), and thus they make such a tight fit that they must be pounded in with a hammer. Once pounded in, the expansion bit is already in hard contact with sides of the hole and only expands further the more you tighten the nut. The benefits of these bolts are that they are cheap and that they are not easily removed, even if the nut is completely loosened. Their weaknesses are that the expansion doesn't have much surface area so they aren't very good in soft stones like sandstone, and if you ever do need to remove them they often snap under the fairly high force required to pull them out (especially if they're old) or overbore the hole, thus requiring a new hole be drilled if a replacement bolt is needed.

      Sleeve bolts can come in a variety of shapes and sizes which include elaborate 5 piece expansion mechanisms (i.e. the ones from Petzl) all the way down to a one piece simple sleeve with a flared bolt (i.e. dynabolts in the hardware store and also the ones that appear to be giving the trouble out at hillwood). In this category, the sleeve doesn't stick out past the flared bolt end, so when you place them in the hole they should virtually slide right in with your fingers. When you tighten the nut, the bolt begins to be pulled back against the expansion sleeve pushing it out against the sides of the hole. The benefits of these are that (particularly for the ones with 5-piece expansion mechanisms) they have a greater surface area of contact in the hole, and can be removed and replaced easily without drilling a new hole by simply loosening the nut, pushing in the bolt to disengage it from the sleeve, and pulling the sleeve out with a pair of pliers (or fingers in some cases). Their downside is that (at least for the Petzl ones) they can be quite expensive and the nut needs to be tight for it to work properly.

      Enter the current situation at hillwood....the nuts on some of these sleeved bolts have loosened, and more importantly, the bolt has also lost pressure on the sleeve making them loose there compression with the outside of the hole. It's not that they were placed incorrectly or the hole was oversize, its just that without a tight nut there is nothing to keep the sleeve engaged against the side of the hole. When loose, they are MEANT to be able to be removed, sometimes even with your fingers. In fact, even after Gerry's escapade with the subaru and the gutter, I'm fairly confident that I could still remove that bolt from the gutter quite easily after I backed off the nut and released the pressure. I have used these bolts regularly, and occasionally have gone back to some of my routes a few years after I bolted them and removed a bolt or two to check that they aren't rusting (i.e. maybe I put in a streak that's often wet, or seeps regularly). If the bolt still looked in good quality I'd put it straight back in and tighten it up, which is what I would recommend people do at hillwood. If these 15 year old sleeve bolts at hillwood are still shiny without rust, I recommend putting them straight back in, tighten them up, and save a lot of time and money that would otherwise go into replacing can always check um again in 5 years. I'd rather see the time invested in replacing those damn carrots, clearing up the mismatched hangers as Simon has pointed out, and putting in quality loweroffs. 

      And while I'm on this tangent, I've heard lots of people (including bolters) say the hole needs to be free of dust for an expansion bolt to work properly. In reality, it makes little difference. I have two friends in the US who have between them placed well over a thousand trubolts in the past 20 years and neither of them dust their holes. Limestone, granite, and basalt, many classic and steep with literally hundreds of falls and dogging sessions.  20 years on, and I've never seen one of their bolts slide out enough to even need retightening of the hanger. 

  9. Its a good thread to talk about the finer points of bolting rather than the normal ethics debate.
    However I think it's best to strive for the best bolt placement which includes amongst other things cleaning holes thoroughly, ensuring hangers sit flush and nuts are tight. For a detailed procedure see

    I'm not saying a non cleaned hole won't work (it might??) but shouldn't we be promoting doing the best job u can?

    My understanding was as Mark says, that "dyna bolts can be removed by pushing the bolt (with a hammer tap typically) to disengage the sleeve and pull out with pliers" so I'm confused why Mark says that later when referring to the hill wood falling out bolts that "without a tight nut there's nothing to keep the sleeve engaged" the two theories are quite different.
    I wouldn't recommend (as Mark does) people putting bolts back in that have fallen out for unknown reasons. If they don't know what they are doing they can't be SURE that the bolt is bomber. Or they are likely to overtighten the bolt and create a time bomb. Again see for some standard guidelines

    I also disagree with Marks sentiment of assessing on the go with bolts. It's way harder than trad gear to assess bolts while climbing as the working are hidden and tolerances are fine. Again I believe most sport climbers blindly trust bolts (but I agree its good to know as much as you can) and therefore we should try and place and replace the most bomber bolts possible. Not just take a spanner and whack em back in and tighten em up!!
    My theory is that with repeated use pulling at right angles to the shaft (different to Gerry's test of single pull directly out) which is more of a problem when the hanger isn't flush these sub standard bolts are elongating the sleeve and this is contributing to them falling out. IF this is the case then putting a warped bolt back in the hole it fell out of won't be a good idea.
    And don't trust my ideas as I'm no expert but I'd suggest not climbing at hillwood till it's sorted out.
    Happy to have a healthy debate.

  10. thanks for writing all the relevant stuff mark, informative for the majority of climbers i think! i agree with most of what you say and the sentiment that it is EXTREMELY unlikey that a bolt that's not spinning will fail. So people need not stress too much. There are many more types of masonry anchor than those two however, sometimes they are used for climbing and often they aren't really good for the task(knock-ins/rawl drive, coach screws etc) unfortunately though people are overlooking the following problems that aren't just solved by tightening the nuts:

    • Carrots with captive hangers that while are currently good will at some point need replacing.
    • dynabolts mis-matched to the hangers and dont have enough thread in the nut. i'd like to see you put your subaru against a nut with two turns!!
    • anchors that aren't ideal, bolts widely spaced, hangers with normal shackles that will twist ropes etc

    again i don't believe these issues are deathtraps about to claim lives, and regret it if thats how i sounded initially! i wouldn't tell someone to not climb at hillwood. these are issues that need to be addressed at some point however as in time corrective action will need to be taken. there is momentum for that work to be done currently and people eager to do the work. these things are always in abundance so i think let the work be done! i cant see any negative to removing any doubt about the quality of the fixed protection.

    I agree with Mark in saying that i am VERY grateful to all the equippers of Hillwood for doing all the hard yard and providing years of good climbing for us to enjoy. i know i've clipped as many bolts as most up there! It is the natural evolution of every crag however that work needs to be done, i think Hillwood has reached that point in its evolution. again there are people happy to do the work so i think they should be encouraged!

    As for dust in the holes for expansions, sure they will work fine. there'll be about 5-10mm more thread sticking out for trubolts that can be a pain hitting the stock of biners as they take longer to engage. sometimes even more sticks out, leaving much less bolt in the hole!! the real difference come when you have to remove them, again they have a lifespan. dusty holes often mean a spinning stud(for Stainless) so that the nut binds, and now you need a grinder or very accurate hammering! the people that have placed 1000's, how many have they RE-placed?! but the whole dusting thing is something pretty minor, im personally happy to take 5 seconds longer per bolt and do a better job!

    1. In summary, my sentiments exactly. I pointed out the dusty holes cause I keep hearing people tell me that 'the hole needs to be dusted or the bolt won't hold properly' which is totally false. However, as you say, it makes it easier for removal and I still do it for that reason. My friends are just a bit lazy and just drill new holes if needed. 

  11. Bolting is hard and under-appreciated work. If you do a good job no one says anything. If you don't then…

    In my first post I was asking questions to find out more about the bolts. I said IF the rock is too soft THEN close the routes in question. I certainly wasn't having a go at Gerry or anyone else. Sorry if it seemed that way. Having put up routes I understand and appreciate the work and cost that goes in.

    Hi Mark, I don't think we've met. I've seen some of your videos. Good stuff. Drop in next time you're at Araps for a beer or a cuppa. I agree with just about everything you've said but I'd just like to add a few points.

    I've put in over 1000 expansion bolts over the past 15 years and none of them have fallen out or are loose. I've also replaced lots and lots of bolts. So your assertion that expansion bolts inevitably loosen with time isn't true for me or for the example you gave of your friends 20 year 1000 bolt experience.

    If you do bring a spanner 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2" aren't going to help. They are all too small. Most 12mm dynabolt style expansions and 10mm trubolts have a 17mm nut (some newer ones 16mm) which is closer to 5/8"-11/16". 10mm dynabolts have 13mm nuts (1/2" is 12.7mm)

    As for your "Fall off and pull out a bolt and I'll give you a case of beer" test. I think you're dead on there. Bolts certainly are very strong in shear even when they're loose. The problem is that there are regular situations where we need bolts to handle a moderate pull out as well. Sometimes when dogging on a bolt we pull up on the draw with our feet really high to try and feel the next hold or get the next draw on which puts direct outward on the bolt. Also when threading an anchor if you only have draws to clip in straight to the anchor you end up pulling out on the anchor. The case of beer test

    I agree with you that cleaning the dust out of the hole is less important for expansions. Glue ins are a different story.

    I too have seen famous climbers do a bad job of bolting. Why should this be ok? Someone else has to come along and fix their lazy work.  

    Now, to the bolts in question. I have one in my hands. It is a weird bolt.
    First thing I noticed is that the nut is the wrong size for the thread. Second is that the sleeve is too big for the shaft.
    The nut is M10 17TPI (metric 10mm 17 threads per inch). This is the 17mm spanner size one I was talking about earlier. The stud thread is 9mm 16TPI. That means that the nut rattles loosely on the thread. (16TPI is usually 3/8" so my guess is the peaks of the thread are slightly overcut). The shank (bit with no thread) after the thread is 8mm!
    The ID of the sleeve itself is 7/16 (11.1mm) while the thread is 9mm. This leaves 2-3mm of slop. This is a bad design.
    As a comparison, Ramset Flushheads/Dynabolts are usual within about 0.2mm tolerance (10 or 15 times closer tolerance!)
    The OD of the sleeve (the size that actually fits the hole) is half inch. That's 12.7mm.
    So either you can get a 12mm bit and ream it out or find a 13mm bit (very hard to find) or find a half inch bit (extremely had to find in oz. If you do find one it's usually 13mm and just labelled 1/2" ). My guess is they used the "12mm and ream" method which will work effectively for short bolts (these are) but not as well for longer ones. The problem with this method is that your hole is no longer cylindrical. It now has a conical taper. And with a short bolt this is bad. It will wiggle much more than a long bolt.

    Now all of this doesn't mean the bolt will fail in shear or in pull out necessarily either (the Subaru Tests?). It does mean that it will be WAY more susceptible to loosening over time with cyclical loading or sideways pull on the hanger.  If you add in a 10mm hanger where there should be a 12mm hanger you put even less thread in the nut (the last thread is often slightly smaller from the thread cutter tapering down to the end as well). If you were using these to bolt a sign to a pier or a stanchion to a wharf they'd probably be fine but they'd have either constant load or very occasional load in these situations. Not again and again cycles and certainly no sideways pull. Every time you fall off, any bolts below the one you're on that are slightly off to the side get a slight sideways pull.

    As I said at the top I've put 1000+ of these things in and they aren't loose. These ones look the same (albeit shorter) as good ones but aren't well designed IMHO. I think it would be a good idea to figure out which routes have these on them.
    I usually use flush heads. They work in a similar way but instead of having a nut on the outside they have a internally threaded cone on the inside end and the bit you tighten is a classic "bolt" like frankenstein's neck. The nut never comes loose by itself. Especially if you use the right size bit, drill the hole square to the face of the rock and use a hanger with a 12mm hole in it. Shops don't know shit and keep on getting hangers in with 10mm holes!
    Ramset make them. DP12075HSS is their code. Anywhere that can get ramset can get them in. Boxes of 25. Powers make a very similar one and probably others. I like these for other reasons too. You can get them out to replace them and reuse the same hole if they ever get damaged or worn out. Usually the original bolter will have used the prime spot and any subsequent holes drilled not only are ugly but aren't in the best position any more.

    I think bolting warrants a professional approach even though we never get paid. It's true to say that climbers need to take responsibility for themselves but there is a reasonable expectation that bolters will do the best job that they can, hence a professional approach.

  12. Any chance someone can post a picture of the bolt in question so that we know which ones we are looking for?





  13. Ben Thorp AUTHOR

    Thanks to Mark, Adam, Gareth and Simon for their posts.  This has been a great discussion with a lot of technical detail that will be really informative for many climbers who may have been under the incorrect impression that bolting is a relatively straight-forward exercise that does not require experience and skill.  As the person with the most direct experience replacing these bolts at Hillwood I would like to make a few points:


    -       Like everyone else I am not concerned with tightening a loose nut if the expansion bolt is good.  However, there are a small number of routes by two first ascentionists that have been equipped with substandard bolts. (photos attached). I have four of these that have been removed from the cliff by climbers with their bare hands.  Gareth now has one of them, another is now installed in the kerb outside Gerry’s house.  Despite Gerry’s test I don’t think leaving these bolts in the cliff is a long term solution.  The elongation of the sleeve, the existing damage caused to the holes and the extra movement caused by the mismatch between the diameter of the sleeve and the thread will inevitably lead to the bolts loosening again.  Replacement with glue-in u’s will remove any issue and ensure the safety of the climbs for the long term.

    -       A contributing factor to these bolts loosening is that the hangers are often not sitting well on a flat section of rock.  Small protrusions under the hangers mean that they will always have a tendency to spin and work nuts loose.  Again, glue-in u’s remove this problem

    -       These substandard bolts have also been used for anchors with shackles attached.  The use of shackles that twist ropes encourages climbers to thread only one anchor.  Threading one anchor and then applying a direct outward force on one of these bolts with a loose nut is dangerous.

    -       In several instances when we replaced bolts there were simply empty holes on the cliff.  Climbers had removed the bolts and not told anyone about it.  In one case a bolt was missing high on the route Nothing Left to Give on the Chessboard.  From the ground this situation was not observable because a small roof obscured the placement.  Several climbers attempting this route turned the roof only to discover the missing bolt and then had to climb out to the anchor pretty much unprotected. 


    It’s important to see the wider context at Hillwood.  I think this cliff is one of the best in Australia for sport routes between grade 18 and 24.  The variety in angle and style combined with easy accessibility makes a great cliff for beginner and intermediate leaders.  However, it’s important for more experienced climbers to realize that many of the people visiting the cliff have very limited leading experience.  They may not be in a good position to judge the merits of particular bolts and will have a tendency to blindly trust bolts and to lead routes without appropriate assessment of the length and direction of falls.  Last summer I witnessed people with a few months climbing experience leading routes with poor awareness of what they were undertaking.  With two climbing gyms opening in Launceston before the end of the year this phenomenon will only increase.  Beginners are raised on a steady diet of Chris Sharma climbing films and have a tendency to not see a distinction between the short, slabby routes at Hillwood and the huge overhanging Spanish sport routes off which he lobs with gay abandon.  As a climbing community we need to do what we can to educate new climbers but we also need to ensure that the routes people are cutting their teeth on have gold standard bolting to remove this element from the equation.


    It’s important to recognize in all this that no-one is trying to have a go at Gerry and the other first ascentionists.  These guys did a phenomenal job cleaning and equipping these routes and deserve the continued gratitude of the climbing community for this work.  Many climbers have never done a thing to develop crags or promote climbing but Gerry has busted his arse with this stuff for years only to get criticism.  I know he has spent huge amounts of time this year working on the new Climb Tasmania guidebook and when this is published later in the year people will be really impressed by its quality and this is all down to his hard work.


    I intend to keep working to improve the quality of the bolts at Hillwood and I think it would be great if we can keep on having mature discussions about this work and get a consensus around it established in the climbing community.

  14. Hi There
    Just like to add a few things about bolts in general.  I agree a lot with what most people have said and there is a lot of knowledge out there.  Remember though if you want to talk about metric bolts talk about there pitch not there t.p.i.  Metric bolts are measured in regards to there pitch i.e. metric coarse and metric fine threads.  Bsw and unc threads (the imperial measurements are measured in t.pi.)  You can not buy 9mm bolts.  Its hand made in that case and if the thread is loose then the 60 degree lathe cutting tool may not have been sharpened correctly.

    Anyway I think the real danger comes from tightening and loosening bolts with a spanner.  If you tighten  a bolt you are basically stretching the grains in the shaft of the bolt in a clockwise direction, when  you slacken it off they go in a anticlockwise direction .  Now lets say you get some one on there who has not so much experience and cranks the hell out of it with a 12 inch shifter and stops at the critical point of where the bolt is about to shear.  Now these are the dangerous bolts .  This is why bolts are tightened to the manufacturers specifications.

    Stainless steel is a tricky one, it work hardens and overall shears more rapidly than steel. I would certainly avoid over tightening these bolts.
    Im not so sure that the hole gets slogged out here by repeated falling, dolorite and conglomerate are pretty hard rock types a bit of st st and mild steel would do well to do that.  I may be wrong in saying that though.
    When I have bolted routes with hangers i do open the front face a little to allow the bolt to slide in nicely (stops it binding).  Quite often though this allows me to get it out later for u bolting it up. 

    Hangered bolts can always spin, especially on steep sport climbs, the first bolt, radical traverses etc.  Its not really a big deal, maybe use a nyloc nut in this case.  This has been done in europe for years.  
    Bolts also do wear out the shafts of bolts get eaten out lower offs wear out etc etc.
    Look at cause.  A 7a+ warm up there  the lower off needs replacing nearly every year.

    Any way ill leave it at that, feel free to agree, disagree or give me a lecture in engineering or mathematics.

    See you on the cliff (hopefully not the ground)



    1. Just as an interesting side-note: None of the 'factory' bolts have their threads cut, they are rolled under pressure between two die-plates. So if you ever find a machined bolt it is likely-as-not home-made.

      And you are spot-on regarding the pitch of the metric threads - from memory a M10 bolt/stud/nut will have a 1.5mm pitch.

      Great discussion BTW!

  15. I agree Garry. The bolt is weird. I assumed that the whole thing was imperial as the sleeve was 1/2" OD and 3/8" stud but it has a M10 nut! You are right, I shouldn't have talked about the tpi of a metric nut but I was trying to simplify the technical detail a bit comparing the nut and the stud both in tpi. As I said, I think it's a 3/8 thread that's been cut badly.

    Good points about stainless too.

    As I said to Mark drop in for a cuppa or a beer next time you're up here. Would be good to meet you.



    1. will do Gareth, same thing if you come to Hobart


  16. Hi All,

    This is somewhat of a sideline concern but since this post has the attention of many experienced bolters i thought i'd pose a couple of questions that i've had in my mind for a while.
    It seems like glue in bolts are generally considered the preferred option over expansions.
    For all their inadequencies the nice thing about expansions is that they can be easily replaced/removed when they're worn out.
    - Can anyone comment on the life expectancy of glue used for U/Eye bolts? I assume that it must perish over time.
    - When U/Eye bolts wear through, or the glue perishes, can they be extracted and the holes re-used? If not, and if we assume a bolts life expectancy is 20yrs then the cliffs we leave our grand-kids are going to look pretty messy....



  17. some very good points Garry, particularly over-torquing bolts. There is no need so swing all your weight onto the spanner when tightening them up!


    very valid concern to raise Kim, something that i have thought about. The glue we often use in Tassie is the Sika(brand) 31/41 two part epoxy. very very solid and used in some pretty hardcore construction applications. I've used much of it on the Hydro Tas infrastructure and the general consensus is it will out last the installer. That is very unscientific i know, but i would be very very surprised if the glue lasted much less than 50 years, a lifetime expectancy figure that's thrown about sometimes in construction. So i think much much longer than hangers etc. That is why it is important however to have a sacrificial point on the lower-offs that can be replaced.

    But your right in that one day they WILL need to be replaced. This is actually much easier than you might think, easier than some dynabolts i've removed. I have used tha following process to remove a couple of U's that only left two small 8mm holes. these holes could be reamed out and reused by another glue-in safely for another 50?years.

    • First I heated the bolt with a small blow-torch. Not too convinced this is neccessary or very effective given SS doesn't transfer heat well.
    • At the apex of the U i cut the bolt, a grinder is easy, bolt-cutters much faster. Now there are two J's sticking out.
    • Put a monkey-wrench/shifter onto each J and turn them side to side, cracking the glue bond and getting them moving.
    • vice-grips/pliers will now be able to wiggle them out of the hole

    i would think once you start removing them you will get pretty fast, spending less than 5 minutes per bolt i would guess. So not too bad really. You can re-use the holes, and there is less chance of something getting stuck like Dynabolts. Escpecially if a trubolt is used or mild steel has corroded in the hole. then the only option is hit it in or cut it off, much less aesthetic.

    as for bolt type preference, glue-ins suffer much less usage issues than hangers. They're stronger, won't spin and can be threaded with the rope. But given the nature of Tassie's climbing areas are sometime just too impractical!


    Edited: Picture added

    I removed this bolt from dolerite around hobart, but gives an example of some of the bolts that currently exist in Hillwood (and victoria FYI). shears not so bad, but I'd like to see how this goes against Gerrys suby!

    1. What route was the pic from?

  18. G'day guys,

    In the interest of safety wanted to add to this Hillwood conversation.
    I'm not sure if this particular route has already been mentioned, but on Resurrection Sunday, whilst all hangars are tight, most are sitting off axis with a decent few of them upside down. Also, almost every bolt is only engaging half of the threads in the nut. Definitely not the most popular route out there i know, but it definitely still needs some attention.
    Awesome to see there is maintenance happening down there, props!