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[TR] Index Broken Bolt Hangers (Sport Wall) - Calling Wolfgang 8/23/2009


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Trip: Index Broken Bolt Hangers (Sport Wall) - Calling Wolfgang


Date: 8/23/2009


Trip Report:

While climbing the route "Calling Wolfgang" on the Upper Town Wall at the Sport Wall area I took a 40-50 fall nearly hitting the ground. My fall was the result of not one but two bolt hanger failures. After climbing to the 3rd bolt approximately 45 feet up I weighted the bolt with body weight to clean holds and scout pro placements above. Upon weighting the bolt I immediately popped away from the cliff as the hanger broke. To my surprise I continued to fall as the second bolt hanger broke as well. I scraped against a small ledge and came to a stop a few feet above the ground. Bruised and well scraped up but not broken. Very lucky.


If anyone is considering climbing routes on this wall I would proceed with caution. This was my first trip up any of the routes on the Sport Wall and I have no idea what the condition of any other bolts may be. I encourage folks to spread the word about the possible condition of old bolts at Index (or elsewhere for that matter). Keep in mind this hanger failed under BODY WEIGHT.



Many thanks to the two climbers who saw the fall and helped to bandage me up. Be careful out there people. Climbing is dangerous.



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I am not sure but I think that the hangers might have been SMC. I think SMC is out of the hanger business now but try calling them and ask if they will examine the hangers.


If anyone want to go replace bolts/hangers I think I can supply some hardware. Those routes are are stellar and worth upgrading. If upgrading, save the old hangers so they can be examined.

Edited by DCramer
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The bolt hangers that broke were lost in the woods and couldn't be recovered. If someone is so motivated they're most likely below the small cliff that's below the base of the routes. I imagine the rest of the bolts are poor too so you can examine those when the bolts get replaced.


My guess is the freeze thaw action from the last 20years? (yikes) wore them out.

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Freeze-thaw could affect the strength of the bolt in the hole but not the strength of the hanger, which sounds more like metal fatigue and/or corrosion problems?

a # of those old smc hangers abide at beacon - they all look sketchy as phuck and sometime very soon will be just as lethal (especially the ones on the norseman's head!)

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Dear Darryl (and all)


Matt and I went and climbed Lovin' Arms yesterday late afternoon

(started route at 4:00PM, took us 3.5 hours base to base...awesome

weather, route, partner. and experience). So we arrive to the base to

meet two climbers who have just had a near-death experience on a route

left of there; I just tried to figure out which one from your guide,

but I'm sorta confused. It starts pretty quick on the area

immediately above the ledge that Lovin' Arms starts on; it goes over

a small "roof" that's maybe 8 feet wide, and stick out maybe 5

inches. Anyway, the guy claimed to have fallen and broken TWO bolt

hangers, nearly decking and death. I pointed out that the best part

of a near-death experience was the "near" part. He looked to have cut

his elbow pretty bad, but fine otherwise. Both he and his partner

were pretty freaked out, had been looking for the hangers with no

success. He had lowered off the bolt that finally caught him, and a nut

he placed below it. On the rap off of Lovin' Arms Matt and I checked

it out, and took his draw, runner, and nut. The draw was on an old

3/8 inch bolt that was rusted, but with a hanger that looked fine

labeled "Kong-Bonatti". I noticed a broken bolt section on the ledge

I passed below, carefully brought it home. It looks fine externally,

the internal looks like rusted cardboard. I'm guessing some sort of

old carbon steel hanger coated with zinc or something. Here is a link

to photos, yow! We only saw one broken bolt, but had to pendo over

and it was getting dark, so who knows...he may have been confused.

Feel free to post on your website or whereever...




Btw, this was definitely not an SMC hanger; pretty sure it was another Kong-Bonatti by the shape of it.



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I took the liberty of loading two of those photos onto the CC photo gallery and posting them here so everyone doesn't have to download the whole file. If you want them removed let me know.


Is that, what is it called?, stress-corrosion cracking? that results from the use of two different alloys like a non-stainless bolt and a stainless hanger??


Edit: Galvanic Corrosion is the term for corrosion due to contact between two different types of metal. Stress Corrosion Cracking is due to chlorine ions from dissolved slats in sea water.





Edited by dberdinka
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Nice pictures. Wow. Perhaps I should have given them a good pull test first eh? As for any confusion about a second bolt hanger, there were two for sure. The second and third bolts of "Calling Wolfgang", according to the guide. The first caught my fall.


No doubt we were confused however, I stumbled around the base for about ten minutes before I even took my shoes off prattling on about the fall looking for my glasses while a calm stranger bandaged me up. I was also confused as to how I wasn't dead.


Folks may want to examine and replace rap stations and sport routes on trade routes at Index. When I can climb again I'll be happy to help!

Edited by chum
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Scary that is!


Zinc coated or anodized or any other anti-rust coating makes me nervous, and this illustrates why. Basically if the coating fails in any one spot then the interior can rust away but you don't really know it's happening because the non-rusting veneer keeps it hidden. Kind of like an old tree that's rotting on the inside even though it looks solid and healthy from most angles.


Stainless is the only way to go IMHO.

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Wowza for sure....thanks for the pics and as a side note, I fully expect the plated steel Powers 5 piece (aka Rawl 5 piece) bolts to be failing in a similar manner for our children...if not sooner. They rust at a place it isn't visible to the eye, where the thread starts and meets the bolt body. It ain't gonna be pretty I expect when it starts, and you can't remove them like folks think, because they are rusted in there tight. They start this within a short time and are not removable without snapping the bolt. Then the placement is screwed. Better just to plug in the stainless first IMO. The cost is like $3 bucks for a 1/2" diameter SS wedge anchor vs what? Not a lot less for a steel 5 piece.


Fortunately, we don't see many hangers fail, in fact, I don't remember a 3/8" hanger failing - especially a commercially made one (some of the old various 1/4 did) At least there aren't many Kong hangers in the field.....one more thing to keep an eye out for.


Glad you survived it....

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Wow chum, glad you are still with us. It would be interesting to pull that last hanger and see what condition it's in.


Off, yeah, that's right, if galvanic corrosion occurs, a carbon steel bolt should corrode in the presence of a stainless steel hanger. Even if they were both stainless, galvanic corrosion is still possible (there are many varieties) but would be greatly reduced.


This hanger looks to have delaminated between layers of the grain structure of the metal, and there appears to be obvious internal corrosion visible at the surfaces of these layers, whether it was chemically, galvanically, stress induced, or some combination is a ? There is very likely more going on than galvanic corrosion, if that was a factor.


Any metallurgists out there?


Edit: I just read Rad & Bill's posts, and yeah, wow, crazy to use a plated, coated or anodized metal for this application. Even though stainless isn't perfect it's the way to go.

Edited by NateF
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Here is Matt's description, which is right on:


Simply amazing. The bolt felt like layers of paper that had been glued together. It was some advanced state of corrosion that seemed to start internally and work its way out. I can only assume the corrosion was influenced by the bolt. It literally was pealing apart like string cheese. (no offense intended to string cheese)


This thing is way more impressive/freaky in person, photos do not do it justice. It's literally falling apart in my hands; packed it up real careful and sent it to Darryl. What's the scariest is that it looks pretty good externally, the inside is completely shot. It's got to be some sort of coated carbon steel. And hey, did not mean to sound negative in any way pointing out that you seemed freaked out...that would have completely blown my mind!

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An article on the ASCA website makes the following reference


"At least one bolt vendor sells stainless steel "clad" bolts and nuts. These have a thin outer cladding of stainless steel surrounding a core of mild steel. This type of bolt seems to be worse then others, since once SCC cracks the cladding,oxidation (rust) finishes the job in short order."


Might be worth forwarding this info onto those guys



Article is on SCC which probably? isn't the mechanism here...



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