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Old Bolts on practice wall and other areas
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Apr 22, 2014
I just started climbing again after years off. I have taken people lately to the practice wall at windy point as well as places like Agatha Christie. The question I have is, who is governing the bolts? These are the same bolts that have been there for decades. Most of them are old button-heads, with cold shuts that are so loose they are almost spinning. I make it a point to backup all these anchors as everything has a shelf life, but I have noticed I am the only one that does. I have even witnessed certified guides (their claim) with beginners belaying, rappelling or hanging on these loose anchors. Is there anyone currently in our climbing community that is taking on the task of retrofitting and replacing them? Jose Olivas
Joined Jun 27, 2011
0 points
Apr 22, 2014
I found this website last night while exploring for rules for updating bolts in California. Honestly though I'd guess it's all of our responsibilities to remove/replace them. Craig Franek
Joined Apr 22, 2014
0 points
Apr 22, 2014 Scott M. McNamara
From Tucson, Arizona
Joined Aug 15, 2006
35 points
Apr 22, 2014
^^^^^^^^^ +1

EFR and Jimbo have been replacing bolts, as well as Andy Bennett and Clay Mansfield (Clay's in Flag now though.) I've replaced some on Mount Lemmon as well.

Posting up here to make climbers aware of potentially bad bolts can be helpful as well. Post a picture if you can.
From Tucson, AZ
Joined Jun 7, 2006
2,505 points
Apr 22, 2014
The bolts at practice cliff were replaced in '05 if my memory serves me correct. There is also a tag on one of the anchors with Ben Burnam's initials and the year - "05".

They are not "old buttonheads". I believe they are half inch pound ins. I think they could absolutely be replaced, but they are also, IMO, totally safe. Many other anchors would take priority if I were making a list.

In terms of them being "loose" (the cold shut moves freely on the not at all loose bolt) I would argue that they may have been this way initially and that it may have no bearing on whether they are safe.


Of course you should do what makes you feel safe in terms of backing up anchors, etc. but I wouldn't go calling out others for trusting the anchors that you don't.

Luke Bertelsen
From Tucson, AZ
Joined Feb 27, 2005
1,873 points
May 6, 2014
Assessing anchors is the responsibility of the climber using them. I've noticed that the cold shuts at Practice Cliff are somewhat wiggly, but I also understand the physics of that particular situation and I feel that they are safe for my use in a Toprope scenario. For what it's worth, I make sure my anchor is self equalizing & redundant with limited extension in case of a single bolt failing.

It's great that you're cautious, Jose! I appreciate that in a climber. But in this case, the forces created by toprope climbing are not high enough to shear a 1/2 inch bolt that is driven vertically into the top of the cliff (the orientation is worth noting because the 90 degree bend made by the rope/anchor material creates friction against the rock that reduces the load supported by the bolts). The shear strength of those 1/2 inch bolts, is incredible.

If you would like a quick and easy lesson on how this stuff works, let me know! You're welcome to join my friends and I climbing any day and I can give you some additional tools to help your good habit of critically analyzing anchor safety. I hope you maintain your thoughtful and safe climbing practice!
Eric Sophiea
Joined Aug 30, 2012
228 points

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