Friday 16 September 2016

Bolt Testing 2016

The volunteers from the HRMG (Harrison's Rocks Management Group) have been out in force this summer testing every single anchor at the BMC owned crags; Harrison’s Rocks and Stone Farm Rocks. Harrison’s has a total of approximately 180 pairs of bolts and Stone Farm has 23 pairs of bolts. It took the team of volunteers a total of 8 hours to test all the bots at Harrison’s Rocks and their time was given for free to ensure everyone else has a safe climb.

The testing method simply consists of two people hanging off a rope with a downward force and a third person standing at the top of the crag assessing each bolt to see if there is any movement or damage. This method is considered best practice for southern sandstone anchors as any other methods using mechanical means would risk damaging the rock. 

Trad courses or multipitch courses teach that your belay set up should be equally loaded when setting up your top-rope, so if one piece of gear fails then you are backed up by another. This is best practice, however, when climbing on sandstone there is a slight change to this rule.

Sandstone bolts are backed up by a second bolt behind the first bolt with a wire cable connecting them both. If one bolt failed, then the other bolt connected by the wire acts as a back-up. At BMC owned crags such as Harrison’s Rocks and Stone Farm, the bolts are designed only for a downward directional pull. 
Backing up again causes no harm, but is not necessarily needed.

Loading the bolts in any other direction will cause the bolts to eventually twist and move, this is due to the soft nature of the rock they are placed in. Slight movement left or right is deemed acceptable but will only get worse if they are loaded sideways. Always aim to load the bolts in the direction they are placed and do not add extra stress to them.

Also bolts are provided purely for top-rope climbing. They must not be used for any other purpose. Additionally, the bolts are for the use of static slings (and static ropes for use for setting up your top-rope) with the karabiner hanging over the edge. Do not use them to run your climbing rope through for a top-rope. 

If you encounter any issues with bolts or anything else of concern. Please email the BMC: