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

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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?”