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"Small bolt kit" advice?


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Hobo Greg · · My Van · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 175

I fell in love hard with the San Rafael Swell on my first trip out there a few days ago. A lot of route descriptions call for a small bolt kit to back up single bolt anchors, or in case you're way off route. I believe the climbing is mostly on Navajo and Wingate sandstone. So what am I looking at? Hand drill, power drill? 3/8"? I've drilled exactly two bolts before, one by hand, one by drill, both in granite. Both under experienced climbers who said I didn't fuck up. So there's that.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 484
Hobo Greg wrote:

I fell in love hard with the San Rafael Swell on my first trip out there a few days ago. A lot of route descriptions call for a small bolt kit to back up single bolt anchors, or in case you're way off route. I believe the climbing is mostly on Navajo and Wingate sandstone. So what am I looking at? Hand drill, power drill? 3/8"? I've drilled exactly two bolts before, one by hand, one by drill, both in granite. Both under experienced climbers who said I didn't fuck up. So there's that.

Hand drill will do for navajo and wingate, they're both really soft. You can probably get away with wedge bolts on the wingate but I wouldn't use them on navajo because it's much softer and will eventually become a spinner and/or wear out the hole. I would just get some 5 piece bolts so that you don't have to worry about bringing different types of bolts for different rock types.

The swell is dry enough that you could get away with (safety-wise) plated steel bolts, especially if you're just using them in an emergency, but doing so will probably get a few people's panties in a bunch so you're probably better off getting stainless. I know it's expensive but if you're saving them for emergency use only you won't need many and probably won't have to buy more.

greggrylls · · Salt Lake City · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 167

IMO if you’re needing to drill on routes they are probably not gonna be repeated in 10 years.  5 percent of the routes in the sandstone alps see 95 percent of the traffic.   Get stainless if you feel so inclined but based on the hardware I’ve seen yours would be head and shoulders above the rest if you just went with what’s cheap. ;)  

Kirkpatrick has a good article on emergency bolt kits check it out.  

Max Supertramp · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 65

to be direct: if you are uncertain what the phrase means, perhaps placing hand drilled wedge bolts in desert sandstone maybe not the best plan....?   how do you know that a lone bolt up there is not singly a progression bolt, esp if it is bare of obvious bail material.  I would advise a bit, a few expansion bolts, blowtube and brush and a hammerstone.  Please do consider that bolts have been used very sparingly by the FA parties out there.

Hobo Greg · · My Van · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 175
Max Supertramp wrote:

to be direct: if you are uncertain what the phrase means, perhaps placing hand drilled wedge bolts in desert sandstone maybe not the best plan....?   how do you know that a lone bolt up there is not singly a progression bolt, esp if it is bare of obvious bail material.  I would advise a bit, a few expansion bolts, blowtube and brush and a hammerstone.  Please do consider that bolts have been used very sparingly by the FA parties out there.

Absolutely. I would never add bolts to routes. Just thinking of single bolt belays, or worst case, off route and can't reverse it, though I'm very conservative with my climbing so hopefully that deosnt happen. The route descrips call for a small kit. And any FAs I'd be lucky enough to put up would be bolted in similar fashion as the rest of the Swell.

Max Supertramp · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 65

right on, remember to camo those suckers beforehand.  

Joe Stern · · Moab, Utah · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 1,605

First, the entire eastern reef (where the long slab climbs are) is located within the San Rafael wilderness study area. This means power drills aren't allowed, so hand drill only.

I haven't climbed a ton in the swell, but haven't noticed any one-bolt anchors on routes I've done. All the bolts/anchors I've come across have been good (kind of surprising given the soft rock), although webbing/tat is the norm at rap stations rather than chains and rings. There are lots of unpublished routes in the swell, and many have minimal/no pro besides anchor bolts. Lots of easy stuff has been soloed without even anchor bolts.

If you're off-route, you shouldn't be drilling more anchors. Just get back on route. Ease into the style there and avoid placing spurious anchors.

That being said, your small bolt kit should include: hand drill, bit, hammer, brush(es), blow tube, wrench, bolts and hangers. A lot of the hardware in the swell isn't camoed, but it should be. Use rust-colored direct to metal primer. Wedge bolts are fairly common and seem to have held up well, but most would recommend the standard Powers 5-piece power bolt in this rock. Bolts and hangers should be stainless, but a lot of the stuff out there isn't. 3/8" by 3-1/2" at minimum; 1/2" if you're so inclined.

Dylan Pike · · Sandy, UT · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 35
Joe Stern wrote:
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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