Guidebook Plus Update September 2016

GB+

Guidebook Plus is the best way to stay up to date on route safety status at LD

Guidebook Plus, the online supplement to 2012′s Rock Climbing Taiwan guidebook, has been updated for September 2016. The full online version is here and the PDF version designed for easy printout for reading at the crag is here.

Recent major developments include rockfall in the backdoor area that has rendered a few routes unclimbable, pull testing of bolts, and new trad ascents.

Rockfall at Backdoor

photo - A-lang

photo – A-lang

Reported by local climber A-lang, a major rockfall in the backdoor area in June in the backdoor B2 area has rendered  a few routes near Old Man Wall unclimbable. Routes 67, 70, and 71 were affected.

304 AustriAlpin Bolts

austrialpin_buhler

photo – Austrialpin

Last year the discovery that some older Petzl Collinox bolts previously believed to be made of marine grade 316 stainless steel were in fact, made of 304, shook the Taiwan climbing community and meant many more routes were now suspect.

This year it has been discovered that Austrialpin glue-in bolts used in some routes in the Backdoor B2 area as well as Lower Dragon Ridge outside of First Cave are also 304 and not 316 steel as previously believed.

Pull Testing

hydrajaws

photo -HydraJaws

Extensive pull testing has been done on nearly all the 304 stainless steel bolts at popular areas in Long Dong except for the Austrialpin bolts previously mentioned, which are unable to be tested due to the shape of the bolt. These tests involve pulling each bolt 5 times to a load of 8KN, each time holding the peak load for 30 seconds.

These tests have uncovered a number of failed bolts, and also “passed” many other ones. The safety of whether routes with completely “passed” bolts is not entirely clear so Guidebook Plus errs on the side of caution and marks these routes still as unsafe(red color.) For more daring climbers comfortable climbing on tested and passed 304 bolts, Climbio provides detailed pull test results.

New Trad Routes

New routes

photo – Nathan Ball

New trad routes have been put up officially and unofficially in several areas of Long Dong including the Grand Auditorium, Music Hall, and Euro Wall.

Because of Long Dong’s history of low-key first ascents, many of these climbs are not claimed as official First Ascents(FA) but as First Recent Ascents(FRA). However, the recent ascent of “Blade”, a new 5.11 in the Music Hall area, is confirmed to be an official first ascent by Cheang Qing Xin.

Long Dong Rebolting Plan Progress Report

Translated by Jeff Lin                     Proofread by Danger Zhang

Original Source(Chinese): 龍洞Re-bolt計劃進度說明_20160505.pdf

z4 left

Those who care about and visit Longdong often, all know that many bolts need to be replaced soon.

With the support of many climbers, we started the “Longdong Re-Bolt Project” in 2012. We will replace 2000 stainless steel bolt based on its material, year, and location, with titanium bolts which are much more suitable for a seaside crag.

Due to the massive scale of the task and the fact that everyone involved has a full time job, the progress has been slow and delayed. Also, to reduce the need for future generations to re-rebolt, damaging the rock further, besides  purchasing P-Type and U-Type titanium bolt, we’re also trying to produce our own custom-made titanium bolts in partnership with top tier manufacturer Fusheng Precision Co. Ltd.. We  hope our bolts can be even higher quality and better suited for our seaside crag than those on the market, thus allowing the next generation of climbers to appreciate our beloved Long Dong.

Over the years we have used many stainless steel bolts from different major brands. Although the international certification provided a guarantee of strength, it did not guarantee service life – which is the main issue we are facing. Therefore we tried to look for bolts made of materials that are more resistant to seaside corrosion. However we could not find any with actual simulated service life tests. Hence, we started to develop our own titanium bolt.

We have decided that besides than the standard EN959 strength test, we will also perform the ASTM-B368 (CASS) copper-accelerated acetic acid salt spray test to simulate 50 years of seaside corrosion, then perform further pull test to ensure a long service life (We’re still working on adding another corrosion resistant test “ASTM-G36 Boiling Magnesium Chloride Test”). Also, for quality control, once mass produced, every bolt will go through x-ray examination and sampled pull tests.

If the project fails, Doc intends to pay for the process without using the Rebolt Project funds. If it succeeds, because we do not seek commercial benefit and have limited manpower, time and resources, hence we will carry out the CE/UIAA equivalent testing internally for quality confirmation purposes, but do not plan to send the bolts to be CE/UIAA certified. We will publish the testing data, video, and pictures for everyone to see soon.

Longdong is Taiwan’s climbing mecca; the coastal crags does not only reminds us the great memories from the past but also ignites our passion. It will be there for the next generation. Bolt is still an essential part of the climbing and technology has not solved the issues of bolt. The stones of Long Dong  can only bear through the process of bolting, de-bolting, and rebolting that many times. Hence we are taking a more cautious approach, not only to reduce the risk of accidents but also for the sake of the long term development of Long Dong climbing. This is why we have purchased a pull tester to find out which bolts need to be replaced first as well as to better understand the localized effects that the rock and environment have on the bolts at Long Dong. The replacement schedule for the bolts and the details of the rebolt plan’s execution have been discussed at length within the group.

We will soon create a “Longdong Rebolt Project” official website which will be online soon as well as a FAQ page, to allow climbers to gain better insight into the project.

Re-Bolting Team

2016/05/05

Read the rest of this entry »

Climbing Safe at Long Dong

photo - Xiaoman

photo – Xiaoman

In light of the recent incident where both anchor bolts of big drum broke on lower, many climbers at Long Dong are extremely concerned about whether it’s still safe to climb at Long Dong and how to do so safely.

The answer is that it’s still possible to climb at Long Dong at an acceptable degree of risk by using available online resources and good judgement.

The Facts

Since 2009, a number of stainless steel bolts made of 304 grade stainless steel have failed at unacceptable loads with the latest incident being the anchor bolts of Big Drum breaking on lowering.

While suitable for inland climbing areas, 304SS, as its known in the industry, is not recommended for seaside environments and rapidly corrodes when exposed to saltwater.

Besides 304SS, a higher grade of steel rated for marine environments known as 316SS is also used extensively at Long Dong and thus far no 316SS bolt has failed even with over a decade of use. It is known that all stainless steels will degrade over time, but at the moment the general consensus is that higher grade 316SS bolts at Long Dong are at an acceptable safety level right now.

Besides stainless steel bolts, titanium, a very corrosion resistant metal, is starting to be used at Long Dong. While the plan is to rebolt all aging bolts with it, so far only a few anchor bolts have been rebolted with titanium and the majority of bolts are still stainless steel.

Is Sport Climbing Still Safe at Long Dong?

The online resources are currently available for every Long Dong climber to educate themselves on route safety status and climb on routes at an acceptable safety level for themselves.

I Climb Trad. I Don’t Need to Care About the Bolts.

Wrong.

There are a few trad walk offs, but unless you want to leave gear behind on each climb, most of the trad lines at Long Dong require using bolted anchors.

In addition, while some trad climbs have new anchors, many of the most classic lines have older, more questionable anchor bolts and you would be very wise to educate yourself on their status and take necessary precautions.

whales rap

photo – Wanyi Shih

How Do I Stay Safe?

The number one thing you can do to keep yourself safe is to educate yourself on route safety status.

1. Check routes on Climbio


The easiest way to do so is through an online tool called Climbio.

Updated by local and foreign climbers, Climbio’s Long Dong section contains the latest route safety status and also lets you know about changes in route types — for instance sport routes that are debolted and are now considered trad climbs, or formerly trad climbs(with old bolts) that were rebolted and are now considered sport climbs.

Climbio region

The main Long Dong Page shows some bolt information. To access the route info, click on ”Region” on the left side, then click on the region you want to climb, such as Backdoor.

climbio region detail

The detailed route list shows warning signs on routes. Red warnings are considered dangerous and should absolutely not be climbed. Yellow warnings are considered very questionable and should only be climbed with extra precautions such as backing up bolts with trad gear.

Climbio is a great tool but it doesn’t show all the details of every single route. There may be times when you want to find out more about a certain route. For instance why is Rodeo Clown considered questionable?

In these cases you can take a look at Guidebook+, which is a route information database maintaining route changes since the Guidebook was published in 2012.

 

GBplus rodeo

Looking at GB+ we can see that Rodeo Clown’s anchors are “Petzl Collinox” bolts which are 304SS and considered dangerous.

Being Extra Conservative

You may or may not agree with Climbio’s assessment of safety, which assumes that all 316SS bolts are safe regardless of age. If you want to be extra, super conservative, you can take it a step further and only climb on bolts bolted within the last five years. By going to Climbio’s bolt dashboard at http://www.climbio.org/longdong#/bolt

climbio bolts

You can see which routes are bolted with which bolts(If you want to understand the bolt codenames, click on “Home”).

The bolts are color coded and bolts colored green are considered very safe as they are both 316SS, and bolted within the last five years.

As a reminder, while the bolt dashboard will tell you bolting info, it will not tell you about loose rock or other safety issues, so you will still need to check the regional route list to see if there are any other warnings in play.

Reducing Risk

So you’ve read up on bolt status and are heading out to Long Dong. Some of the routes you want to climb have bomber bolts, but some of them are slightly questionable. What can you do to lower your risk at the crag?

Back bolts up with trad gear
Simple and self explanatory.

Bounce tests
A trad climbing staple, bounce tests are where you weight a bolt by bouncing yourself up and down on it. The force generated in a bounce is higher than a “take”, lower or rappel, so theoretically any bolt or anchor that passes the bounce test shouldn’t fail on lower or rappel.

You should only do a bounce test on a questionable bolt when there is a backup of some kind such as a piece of trad gear or another bolt.

The Petzl Prussik Lower-off Trick

Petzl has illustrated an innovative method of lowering off with a weight-bearing prussik that minimizes the fall taken if the top anchor bolts fail. While originally designed for bailing off routes, this method also applies to sport routes where the anchors are questionable.

We recommend practicing this before relying on it as there are a number of nuances to this technique.

 

For more information about corrosion at seaside crags check out “Built to Last”

For more information about the rebolting process at Long Dong check out the latest announcement from the rebolt team.

Long Dong Rebolt Team Announces Large Scale Titanium Rebolting Plan

z4 left

Following recent bolt failures at Long Dong including the most recent incident where the anchors of popular Music Hall route Big Drum failed on lower, a plan has been announced on the official Long Dong Rebolt Page for large-scale rebolting of Long Dong with titanium alloy bolts.

In a lengthy post pinned on the Long Dong Rebolt group (“龍洞 re-bolt 計劃”), rebolt team spokesman Jinlung You writes that the team plans to procure a large number of titanium bolts in two phases to replace aging bolts at Long Dong over 4 years old, with priority on bolts determined to be “questionable” including “Fixe 304″, Petzl Collinox, Petzl P38, and AustriAlpin bolts. In the second phase, all other bolts of that age will be considered for rebolting.

Jinlung explains that the team will perform extensive , non-destructive pull-testing of all bolts at Long Dong. By performing pull testing to a pre-determined, non-destructive load, the team hopes to determine bolts which are necessary to be replaced and which can stay, reducing the # of bolts necessary to be placed and minimizing the damage to the rock.

The number of bolts is large with 592 bolts projected for the first phase of high priority rebolts and 867 bolts estimated for the second phase. With costs per bolt estimated at $546 NTD, the first phase is seeking $430,000 in funding and the second phase is projected to require $530,000. As the rebolt team’s current funds are dwindling, the group is seeking outside help and all climbers and interested parties are encouraged to donate.

TaiwanRocks has translated the full rebolt plan announcement below including donation details. If you’re interested in donating or just interested in the future of Long Dong climbing, we encourage you to read the letter in full:

Read the rest of this entry »

Big Drum Anchors Fail on Lower

ofelia drum

Big Drum Anchors – photo by Ofelia Huang

Ofelia Huang reports that on Friday July 24th, the anchors of popular sport climb #369 Big Drum in Music Hall failed while a climber was lowering off them to the ground. The anchors failed when the climber was around 4m from the ground. The climber sustained minor injuries but is reported to be fine.

The type of bolts used are Petzl Collinox bolts made of 316L stainless steel, making this the first failure of a 316 “Marine grade” stainless steel bolt at Long Dong.

Update (August 26, 2015): It has been confirmed by Petzl America that the bolts in the photo and in this incident were actually 304 grade stainless steel.

The surrounding climbs #367 Fucking Fall and #370 Finger Crack , Musical Arete and 383 Wedding Route use the same Petzl Collinox bolts and we recommend climbers to avoid all of these popular climbs at this point until the routes are rebolted.