/ The Dorset Bolt Fund - Fund Raising, Rebolting and Bolt Failures

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UKC Articles - on 11 Sep 2017
Bolting Equipment , 4 kbDorset is one of the most popular sport climbing areas in the UK. The most popular routes receive hundreds of ascents each year. Pete Oxley began bolting on Portland over 25 years ago, and he had no idea how popular the area would become. There are now over 1500 sport routes in Dorset, many of which were bolted in the early 90's, and have homemade staple bolts which are fixed in soft rock. Over the last few months there have been three bolt failures whilst in use. We spoke to Marti about his role raising funds for the bolting, the widespread problem of aging bolts and how to recognise deteriorating bolts.

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Wide_Mouth_Frog - on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

"If you are on a route with such a bolt it may be worth using a short sling threaded through to replace the carabiner."

I wouldn't have thought threading a sling directly through the hanger is a good idea?
Greasy Prusiks on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to Wide_Mouth_Frog:

Why not?
The Jazz Butcher on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to Wide_Mouth_Frog:
Maybe you have misunderstood. Put a sling through the bolt. Put a quickdraw through the sling, clipping both ends. This allows the quickdraw to hang lower, hopefully away from any dangerous bulges that could cause a problem for the quickdraw.

There are probably quite a few example, but the most obvious one I can think of is the first bolt on the route Modern Nightmare at The Cuttings on Portland. A standard quickdraw on this bolt places the carabiner through the bolt on a dangerous bulge.

Cheers,

TJB.
Edit for typo!
Post edited at 15:46
Xharlie on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to Wide_Mouth_Frog:

I think it depends on the hanger. I certainly wouldn't be happy threading a sling through the hangers shown in the pictures immediately above the paragraph you quote. It would probably be fine but would a sling through a sharp-edged hanger be better than a quick-draw on a dodgy surface? I don't want to be the one to find out.

Smooth, round hangers, however = no problem.
SuperLee1985 - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to Xharlie:

If in doubt do both?

Nice to see this kind of thing getting better publicity and the safety advice in this article is invaluable.
Ramon Marin - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

I'm a regular donator, just donated another 10 quid just now. I see the incredible amount of thankless work that Marti and the other guys put in and I'm always happy to support. I had a couple of bolts pulling out on me and I can tell you it's not pretty. Still, I'm very amused by people top-roping through a £50 anchor. Part of the day out is lecturing the rookies (and not-so rookies!) in not doing it so and using their quick-draws to toprope. Massive thanks to the Dorset Bolt Team.
flaneur - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Many, many thanks to Marti and team.

I can't believe we still need to have conversations with people about top-roping directly through bolts.
https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=539443&v=1#x7231387

drysori - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to flaneur:
> I can't believe we still need to have conversations with people about top-roping directly through bolts.

I think it's not that intuitive to a lot of people. The simple equation looks like fibre on metal - metal wins. Metal on metal (i.e. quickdraw) surely the wear is higher?

Of course we know this isn't the case, but the mechanics aren't obvious to everyone.

sam.sam.sam.ferguson - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

I was at the Cuttings today and a large commercial group were top roping direct through the anchors on 6 lines (the slabby easy stuff on the left end).

Top roping through the lower offs is something which will never end.

Apparently it's easier at the end of the day to just pull the ropes.......
Rick Graham on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to sam.sam.sam.ferguson:

> I was at the Cuttings today and a large commercial group were top roping direct through the anchors on 6 lines (the slabby easy stuff on the left end).

> Top roping through the lower offs is something which will never end.

> Apparently it's easier at the end of the day to just pull the ropes.......

Next time you see them, ask if they know about the bolt fund and if they have contributed.

Suggest they buy some SS maillons to leave on the lower. Easily replaced when it wears out.
sam.sam.sam.ferguson - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to Rick Graham:

They were not aware of the fund and had never heard about it. Then made a joke about how they last forever anyway so doesn't matter.

There was a military group doing the same thing last week, and again just weren't interested in correcting their misuse of equipment.

It's crazy how unaware these instructors are of what they are doing.
Chris Craggs - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to sam.sam.sam.ferguson:

> They were not aware of the fund and had never heard about it. Then made a joke about how they last forever anyway so doesn't matter.

> There was a military group doing the same thing last week, and again just weren't interested in correcting their misuse of equipment.

> It's crazy how unaware these instructors are of what they are doing.

Sadly this is why staples are always going to be a 'less good' solution,


Chris



Mick Ward - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to sam.sam.sam.ferguson:

Sam, if people insist upon being absolute pillocks, one option is to take photos of them indulging in shit practice and posting said photos on here and Facebook. If asked for their identity and they divulge it, they can be named and shamed. If they refuse to divulge it, they're doubly shamed.

Would the clients of professional groups be happy to spend their hard-earned money with companies who are flagrantly abusing crags? I doubt it!

Military groups exist courtesy of the public purse (i.e. our tax). Even more reason for them to be responsible. But if they're not being responsible and they can be identified, then my guess would be that a letter to their Commanding Officer, copied to the press, might get swift results.

Obviously many people top-roping through the staples are unaware and a quiet word would be the first option. But if it needs to go further, it can go further. I don't like to think of Marti busting his gut and plonkers thinking, "Oh, thanks very much, we'll just carry on as we're doing."

Mick



Rick Graham on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to sam.sam.sam.ferguson:


> It's crazy how unaware these instructors are of what they are doing.

And I thought that qualified instructors knew how to use gear correctly.

Any instructors care to comment?
Nic on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Is there a list of the recent bolt failures, i.e. which routes? Also any clues as to why they failed? Three in recent months seems quite a lot and certainly out of the ordinary
The Jazz Butcher on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to Rick Graham:

I hold the MIA and used to teach, coach, instruct in Dorset, both trad and sport. I always taught how to use bolts, both staples and expansion bolts correctly so my clients would understand their correct use and be able to pass on that knowledge.

All of the other MIA's and SPA's I know and worked with also always used and taught best practice regarding staples.

Those instructors ( I use the term loosely) not using staples correctly when top roping would have been taught how to use them properly on most trainee instructor courses that I know of. They are either ignoring what they have been taught or haven't been on an appropriate course.

As Mick suggests; if those using staples incorrectly won't listen to reason then photos and name and shame is the best way forward. Obviously, that could lead to some conflict at the crag and not everyone may be comfortable with that.

Cheers,

TJB.
johncook - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to sam.sam.sam.ferguson:

And they don't respond politely to being told. I can bet good money that their group have never, and never will contribute to any bolt fund. They just expect things to be done for them. I have been told in the Peak, that that is what the BMC does, install these things for the benefit of everyone! My response was not pretty. (They are making money from someones voluntary efforts and they see is as their right!)
Marti999 - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to johncook:

I can tell you as the person who sees who pays in . That only a very small number of commercial users have ever pay in. But expect to use this free resource for there group work.
Mark Kemball - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to Marti999:

Name and shame... This really is not good enough.
Mick Ward - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to Marti999:

Marti, I keep meaning to get my act together and set up a Standing Order to the bolt fund. Even if people just put in a nominal £5 a month, they'd barely notice it and it would give £60 a year (by my feeble arithmetic!) to the fund. (Obviously some people can afford a whole lot more; £5 is pretty much a bare minimum.) Regular income to the fund that people would hardly miss and they wouldn't even have to think about. But it would make a big difference to keeping the crags as safe as they can be.

It's sad that so little comes in via commercial users (those who take most from the crags?) Certainly when everyday climbers think about the cost of the bolts, they're almost invariably sympathetic and inclined to contribute. If they did so via regular payments, they wouldn't even need reminding. It would all be automatic.

Given that so many people lead such busy lives, it was heartening to see such a good response at Battleship recently - and what an amazing response at the Cuttings clean-up back in January! Without you, neither event would have taken place. So a big thanks. And thanks also to Pete Oxley, without whom nothing would have happened in the first place. That so many of us get to enjoy Portland is largely due to him.

Mick



johncook - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to Marti999:

Tell us who the good guys are! The bad ones will then, maybe, be shamed into a contribution. (But don't hold your breath, they are somewhat arrogant!)
Rick Graham on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to johncook:

How about padlocked hangers?
Only get the code/key when you are a paid up member

In Cumbria we are considering putting (discrete) notices at the crag mentioning the local bolt fund and inviting donations.

johncook - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to Rick Graham:
I like the idea of bolt fund notices. Places like Horseshoe have enough BMC signs, that adding a bolt fund address to the bottom of them may just work.
But probably not with the commercial users!
We shouldn't need to be even having to have this conversation, especially about the commercial enterprises!
Post edited at 17:14
Rick Graham on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to johncook:

At Bram Crag Quarry there is a sign informing commercial groups that they are not permitted.

The main bolter is less polite
The Ex-Engineer - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to The Jazz Butcher:

I'm afraid that various stuff in your last post about 'instructors' is wrong or at best, it misrepresents the reality that many instructors (and climbers) just don't know any better.

In short, SPA (and the equivalent Military, Scouting etc. qualifications based on it) is an utterly shit qualification for 21st Century British climbing and the whole system is flawed as Mountain Training still seem incapable of recognising Sport Climbing properly.

You seem to just glibly gloss over the fact that SPA holders are NOT REQUIRED to know anything about Sport Climbing, hence many don't. Also, the blanket refusal of those involved in UK Mountain Training to countenance mandatory revalidation compounds this problem. Numerous 'instructors' will have qualified years ago and will be perfectly oblivious to their blatant ignorance.

90%+ of groups under instruction on Portland are not instructed by Mountaineering Instructors so the instructors DO NOT hold an appropriate qualification. We both know that in theory, the 3 other routes to competence exist but in practice they rarely measure up. Therefore the fact that loads of instructors, both those 'supposedly competent' as well as those operating informally, behave like prats is not surprising.

Not sure what the ultimate solution is, but currently it seems that Mountain Training collectively (and many of those involved in the ongoing review of climbing qualifications) do not wish to be part of the solution.

A sensible step forward would be to abolish SPA completely and replace it with a proper UIAA compliant climbing instructors qualification with significantly longer training and assessment. Unfortunately there are too many self-serving vested interests (putting it politely) involved for there to be meaningful reform.

In the short term, the only thing to do, for those of us who do know what we are doing, is to start making formal complaints about instructors and organisations which are not amenable to adopting good practice. Most groups are not completely independent so some level of oversight often exists, although knowing where to direct a complaint to isn't necessarily that easy.
Ramblin dave - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to Rick Graham:

> How about padlocked hangers?

> Only get the code/key when you are a paid up member

Carrot-type bring-your-own-bolt-plate anchors?
baron - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to Rick Graham:

Is the ban on commercial,groups a land owner thing?
Rick Graham on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to baron:

> Is the ban on commercial,groups a land owner thing?

I think that is what the sign says.
The Ex-Engineer - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to baron:
> Is the ban on commercial,groups a land owner thing?

Land owners have an absolute right to ban any commercial groups from any crags in England and Wales, even if they are designated as Access Land and recreational climbers have a legal right of access.

Probably the most obvious of this is actually another popular sport climbing venue. The National Trust bans all commercial groups from the North side of Cheddar Gorge.

In that case I fundamentally disagree with the ban, although not on principle. For example I do agree with the National Trust's restrictions on commercial groups, both climbing and coasteering, at Dancing Ledge in Dorset.
Post edited at 23:01
The Jazz Butcher on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:

I didn't intend to come across as glib. Every training course, and most assessments, I took part in always included an element of sport climbing and the ethics of and correct use of bolts, even if just as a discussion and wasn't specifically part of the course. Perhaps that was because of the background of the candidates or the location of the courses.

Of course you are right that sport climbing is not part of the various syllabuses and whether it should be is of much debate.

Whether or not an instructor / supervisor has undergone specific training involving sport climbing and the various types of bolts, lower off situations etc. is, in my opinion, irrelevant. When working commercially in any environment, it is the responsibility of the individual who is working to gain an understanding of the specific area they are working in. How do they do that if they haven't been to an area previously? Asking local climbers, other commercial organisations, representative bodies and so on. In this age of information, it is not that difficult to find things out.

Just because an instructor has not been specifically trained in sport climbing, does not free them from any specific or local ethics etc. for the area they are working in. If they haven't been trained or assessed specifically in sport climbing, then perhaps they shouldn't be running commercial sessions in a sport climbing area.

Cheers,

TJB.
CurlyStevo - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Just donated 20 quid don't even live around there any more but had many good days in the past....
CurlyStevo - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to Mick Ward:

Big respect to you too Mick for all the bolts you put in and the time you put in piddling about on the F5s and F6s showing me parts of the island I hadn't frequented so much in the past..... Donation done!
S11 - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to Mick Ward:

No doubt about Pete's efforts but while paying out deserved tributes let's also remember the masive amount of work done by Steve Taylor, both making and placing numerous bolts.
steveriley - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to S11:

I think Steve's still on here so hopefully he'll see this and have a small glow satisfaction. I still regret not commissioning him for a bespoke route way back
flaneur - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to The Jazz Butcher:

> I hold the MIA and used to teach, coach, instruct in Dorset, both trad and sport. I always taught how to use bolts, both staples and expansion bolts correctly so my clients would understand their correct use and be able to pass on that knowledge.

> All of the other MIA's and SPA's I know and worked with also always used and taught best practice regarding staples.

I pointed out a company showing toproping directly through bolts on their website (photo has since been cropped). All their instructors are MIAs. https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=636825

Since then I've politely called-out an active UKC poster doing this at Neddyfields. They were suitably contrite. Like sam.sam.sam, I've had less success with organised groups. The top man risks loss of pack leader status and is less likely to change his ways. I'm pretty sure most had some understanding this was not 'best practice'.

Let's be charitable and assume a lack of knowledge. A polite chat is obviously the best option but not everyone finds this easy. Always say something positive first - the route quality, how well their minions are climbing - before getting to the point. It's usually more effective if you're not Mr Angry from the very start. Phrase as a question "did you know what happens if...", it minimised loss-of-face. If that doesn't work, identify the group if you can, take photos of the group leaders, and publicise as Mick suggests. It's a small world and the message gets around.
steve taylor - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to S11:

Thanks Ian - much appreciated.

However Marti Hallett is putting in so much of his free time to the rebolting effort that my efforts (and those in the past of Mike Roberton, Mark Williams, Barry, Clark and some others) seem rather feeble. Only Pete Oxley could claim to have done any more, but Marti is doing this in his spare time when not saving people from burning houses and rescuing cats out of trees.

His efforts also in getting the Bolt Fund across social media have been brilliant too. There is now a steady stream of money coming into the fund to support the bolting, including a few direct debits from local clubs. If everyone who has read this thread donated £20 and turned up to a single day of bolting, the Marti could get back to doing what he loves - climbing!

The Jazz Butcher on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to flaneur:

> I pointed out a company showing toproping directly through bolts on their website (photo has since been cropped). All their instructors are MIAs. https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=636825

That is disappointing. It is an issue I will try and raise within our association.

> It's usually more effective if you're not Mr Angry from the very start.

How did you know my nickname?

Cheers,

TJB.

Dan Middleton, BMC - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to The Jazz Butcher:

A discussion piece in Professional Mountaineer with links to bolt fund payment details might be a good idea, I'll have a chat with some of my contacts about doing this. On a positive note, a recent CPD workshop run for AMI members raised over £150 for the Peak Bolt Fund, which shows that there is awareness and desire among professionals to give something back.

I ran a bolt workshop in S.Devon last weekend for some of the locals who are keen to replace some of the aging bolts on the sport crags there. Marti very generously gave up a day off to travel over and give his time to help, and also gave the Devon team a hand with some kit to get started. We managed to sneak a couple of routes in at Torbryan with Marti before the BMC SW area meeting started, some small payback for what would have ended up being a very long day for him! I think if we all play our part, whether that's donating a few quid, following good practice or gently informing others about it, we'll get closer to where we need to be and a lot of that will be down to the hard work of people like Marti.
The Ex-Engineer - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to The Jazz Butcher:

> Every training course, and most assessments, I took part in always included an element of sport climbing and the ethics of and correct use of bolts, even if just as a discussion and wasn't specifically part of the course.

I'd like to say that was true on all the courses I've delivered and attended, unfortunately it isn't.
As much as I'd like to decide exactly what to instruct and how to deliver it, unless working with private clients I generally can't.
As an employee, I instruct exactly what I am paid to instruct and that generally means sticking to a course syllabus and not making it up as I go along - regardless of whether I think the syllabus is correct.
Also, in far too many cases, even delivering the main safety related objectives can be hard due to time constraints so students' learning capacity is already maxed out. So, whilst I will certainly have discussed with numerous students not to top-rope through lower-offs, I also know that without having spent a practical session at a sport crag reinforcing the point, they won't really have taken it on board.

> Perhaps that was because of the background of the candidates or the location of the courses.

That may be the case.
Most of the SPA and Military qualification courses I've been involved with have been N Wales or Peak based.

> Of course you are right that sport climbing is not part of the various syllabuses and whether it should be is of much debate.

TBH, that's my main point. The good efforts of yourself and many other instructors in promoting sport climbing are rather undermined by the current state of affairs...

> If they haven't been trained or assessed specifically in sport climbing, then perhaps they shouldn't be running commercial sessions in a sport climbing area.

I completely agree.

I would be very surprised if all those instructing climbing groups in Dorset were working strictly 'within remit'.
Although with the exception of those operating with children under an ALAA licence there is not much to stop them.
However, that is a whole other discussion and I don't think anyone really wants more regulation...

Hugh Mongous - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to sam.sam.sam.ferguson:

> There was a military group doing the same thing last week, and again just weren't interested in correcting their misuse of equipment.

> It's crazy how unaware these instructors are of what they are doing.

If you'd had as much opportunity to watch military instructors as I have then you might view it crazy that they are instructors at all.

nutme - on 14 Sep 2017
I think instructing people about not threading rope in staplers for top roping is never going to work. Because people are lazy.

Finding a way to charge commercial groups may be an option. From personal observation they do most of top roping in Portland and it would be fair to share income with people who did bolting.
Mick Ward - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to CurlyStevo:

> Just donated 20 quid don't even live around there any more but had many good days in the past....

Hi Steve, many thanks indeed for supporting the bolt fund. It really is a deserving cause. Although many people have been involved, Marti's put in an unbelievable amount of effort. Understandably he needs help. It's heartening that people such as yourself who simply live too far away to physically help are prepared to contribute financially. With a mixture of money, hard graft and goodwill, so much can be achieved.

Come back to Portland some time. There's loads more good routes to do!

All best wishes,

Mick
CurlyStevo - on 15 Sep 2017
In reply to Mick Ward:
No probs Mick.

Its strange that in places like cham, the local instructors / guides actually upgrade the bolts rather than what appears to be a tendency to the reverse in this case.

I'm sure I'll be back climbing on the new bolts at some stage
Post edited at 10:48
Toerag - on 15 Sep 2017
In reply to nutme:

> I think instructing people about not threading rope in staplers for top roping is never going to work. Because people are lazy.

^This.

> Finding a way to charge commercial groups may be an option. From personal observation they do most of top roping in Portland and it would be fair to share income with people who did bolting.

Adopt a crag?

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