Black Diamond Aluminum Harness Buckles Exhibiting Severe Corrosion at Seaside Crags

Severe Corrosion, most likely SCC, on a 2013 model Black Diamond Momentum Harness - photo: Ugo Ortolano

Severe waist-buckle corrosion on a 2013 model Black Diamond Momentum Harness – photo: Ugo Ortolano

Multiple climbers who have frequented Taiwan’s seaside crag Long Dong have found the waist buckles on their Black Diamond Climbing Harnesses severely corroded afterwards.A 2013 model Momentum, a 2014 model Momentum and a 2013 model Chaos have been reported with this type of severe corrosion on the waist-buckle, a load-bearing and safety-critical component of the climbing harness.

The issue is not immediately apparent, but happens over a period of months after exposure to the saltwater spray present at Long Dong.

In addition to climbers in Taiwan, HK Climber Tony reports of the same issue occuring on his 2014 BD Momentum Harness after climbing at seaside crags in Hong Kong, meaning this problem could affect BD Harnesses used at any seaside area- not just in Taiwan.

With some harnesses exhibiting the issue and others of the same make and model with no issue(despite going through similar conditions), the issue is suspected to be the influence of salt water exposure combined with quality control issues on certain harnesses.

The issue is not isolated to a single model or year as reports of waist buckle corrosion have been confirmed on a 2013 and 2014 Black Diamond Momentum Harness, as well as a Black Diamond Chaos Harness. All BD harnesses which use anodized aluminum buckles seem to be possibly affected.

john martin bd harness scc-001

Waist buckle corrosion on a 2014 Black Diamond Momentum Harness – Photo: John Martin

We suggest the following to climbers who frequent seaside crags like Taiwan’s Long Dong, Hong Kong’s Tung Lung Island, or Greece’s Kalymnos:

  • Inspect your harness regularly if climbing by the sea and wash or wipe down the metal hardware at least once a month
  • If you find excessive corrosion on your BD Harness waist buckle, contact BD warranty service at https://warranty.bdel.com/
  • Help prevent corrosion by storing harnesses in their original mesh bag for airflow instead of confined spaces like a closet or backpack
  • Until this issue is addressed, consider buying other harnesses  brands if climbing by the sea

Bolt Warning – Route #350 “Reluctant”

reluctant anchor bolt

Left Anchor Bolt removed from #350 Reluctant. Pink color shows improperly mixed glue.

Update: As of August 2014, the anchors on this climb have been rebolted  and are now safe to climb. 

“One of the anchor bolts of routes 349/350/351/352(shared anchor) at music hall was damaged due to poor mixing of glue. The bolt was removed. Please do not climb these routes. We will rebolt the anchor later.
We suggest you feel the consistency of glue, pull the bolt and test the bolt before use it. The poor-mixed glue will be soft on touch and maybe pulled out easily by bare hand.”

-Doc

A video is available recorded by Nathan Ball showing the bolt before it was pulled out and explaining the difference in color and consistency of the bolt. The bolt has since been pulled out but any bolts showing this kind of coloring or texture should be treated with extreme caution.

To get the latest status on bolt conditions and route info at Long Dong, check out our community driven guidebook supplement Guidebook+

Bolts in Golden Valley Show Signs of Internal Corrosion

Wojtek ferno

Bolts removed from Dragonboat wall show internal cracks (photo – Wojtek Gierlotka)

Cross sectional pictures taken by Wojtek  Gierlotka of old bolts removed from the Dragon Boat wall in Golden Valley, Long Dong show internal cracks, most likely from Stress Corrosion Cracking. This type of corrosion, accelerated by salt from seaspray, is not visible to the naked eye but damages the bolt from the inside, meaning bolts which look perfectly fine can in fact be severely unreliable.

The specific bolt involved is an old Ferno CT glue-in Anchor believed to be of 304 stainless steel – acceptable for inland installation but not suitable for crags such as Long Dong situated by the sea.

Ferno Glue In

These bolts were used extensively in the development of Golden Valley’s Euro Wall and Dragon Boat Wall in the early 2000′s. While most of Golden Valley has recently been rebolted and is now very safe to climb, rebolting on the Euro Wall multipitch routes has hit a standstill as a debate rages over bolting ethics at Long Dong.

While the rest of Golden Valley, including all routes on Dragonboat Wall and Legend Wall, is safe to climb, the multipitch routes from #114 to #123 on Golden Valley’s Euro Wall still sport these dangerous bolts. For climbers attempting Euro Wall’s classic multipitch routes such as Snake Alley, BiColor, or Ocean’s Eleven, caution is advised and backing up bolts with trad gear is a good idea.


For the latest status on rebolting at Long Dong, visit Guidebook+, our local route info tracker

Climb Harder & Safer #1: Lowering Off

Author: Jean Paul De Villiers

It is said that our lives are comprised of a few dozen memorable moments and that the rest is just filler. The man who has led a full life will, in his final moments, witness his first kiss, his first paycheck, his wedding vows, and the birth of his child. It is these special moments that stand out from the humdrum of everyday life and make it worth living.

The same might be said of our climbing careers. We spend so much time getting to the crag, scoping out routes, roping up, and belaying our partners, that relatively little is left for real rock time, those precious minutes when our pulses quicken, our focus narrows, and we call on a very specific set of skills and strengths to make a send that, right until the end, seems impossible. It is not that everything in between is pure tedium. Climbing life is full of moments that separate it from the monotony of the working week, and few can deny the lasting impression of experiences like wilderness sunsets and campfire gatherings. It is just that the moments which we really live for, the negotiation of tricky crux sequences and the red point of long-term projects, are fewer than we would wish for.

On some days we plod back to the bus station or car park with forearms completely spent, but on just as many others we wish we could have fitted in just one more send. If, like myself, you are prone to overthinking, you might try to think of ways in which you could have gotten in more climbing between all the walking, gearing up, belaying, cleaning and lowering off. And you might then come to the conclusion that while it is not possible to save much time when walking in and gearing up (without making these usually leisurely activities feel rushed – not desirable on weekends), it is possible to save time on cleaning and lowering off, those rock-based activities which, though time-consuming, do not actually involve climbing. In this, the first of a series of articles on how to make your climbing safer and more enjoyable, I will address these important but frequently overlooked topics and, in doing so, will hopefully help you to raise your special moment quotient.

Long Dong

Read the rest of this entry »

Backing up a Rappel Part 2: Setting up an Autoblock

As outlined in the first “Backing up a Rappel” post, Rappeling is a decievingly dangerous aspect of climbing, with rappeling accidents causing  disproportionate deaths in not only new, but experienced climbers.

One of the main ways to backup the rappel from the climber side is a friction knot. There are different ways to do this but this video from Peak Mountain guides shows one of the current best  known ways to hook up a friction knot rappel backup.

This is NOT a rappel lesson and there is no way that you should be doing a rappel without qualified instruction from a professional. This article and the video included are supplements, not replacements for qualified training.

Important notes about this method

As always, even with an autoblock backup you still need to practice basic rappelling safety:

  • Tie stopper knots (a double fisherman is the standard) in the end of the rope so you cannot rappel off them.
  • Check that both ends of the rope reach the ground! Do a visual inspection and have a partner on the ground confirm it.
  • Test your rappel system by weighting it with your body weight(or even more by jerking around) before you trust your life to it.

We recommend even if you use an autoblock backup to have a belayer on the ground give you a fireman’s belay.

Once learned, Autoblocks are simple to setup, but if you still find them a hassle, some newer belay devices such as the Mammut Smart Alpine and Climbing Technology’s Alpine Up offer built in rappel backups which can make rappelling safer yet easier. These are not always foolproof so read the instructions carefully and supplement with a fireman’s belay.

Disclaimer:  If you had trouble understanding this post or the terminology used, chances are you shouldn’t be rappelling. Please  find qualified instruction from your local rock climbing gym or guide.

Climbing is dangerous. You are responsible for your own safety. Please get advice and practice climbing techniques with professional guides or experienced, trustworthy climbers before trusting your life to something you read off the internet.

Source: Chockstone “Backing up an Abseil” ,  Traditional Mountaineering -”How do I Self-belay my rappels?”