UKC

Dangerous Bolting Leads to Climber's Death

© Simon Carter
Climber Nick Kaczorowski died in a tragic accident in Australia in early January. He fell from a route called Last Chance for Happy End at Pierce's Pass in the Grose Valley.

Simon Carter has written two in-depth reports on the accident at his site here: Onsight.com.au.

In brief:

Nick started climbing a route called Bunny Bucket Buttress but went off route after a few pitches, following a line of new bolts. When he sat on one of the bolts it failed and he fell, unfortunately cutting his rope on a very sharp edge of rock. An investigation followed during which it was discovered that this route (Last Chance for Happy End) had been bolted with 8mm expansion bolts which are not suitable for the soft rock in that area.

All of the bolts (including belays) failed at ridiculously low loads. Many were simply tugged out by hand.

On Saturday (1st February) Mike Law, Andy Richardson and Simon Carter, acting with the support of National Parks and Wildlife Service Rangers, fixed rope down the entire 270m route and removed ALL of the bolts from this climb.

See their video below:

As climbers we take responsibility for our own safety. We assess each placement as we climb and use our experience to judge the strength of any anchors we use, both natural gear and fixed gear (bolts/pegs). However we also have a duty to ensure that any fixed equipment we do install is adequate for the job. If a bolt looks shiny and new, then it looks strong.

If you are planning to bolt routes in your area, please check with the BMC as to which type of bolts they recommend. There are several useful documents available on the BMC website here: BMC bolts

This incident was originally flagged up on the UKC forums by Adam Lincoln. UKC were asked to wait until more investigations had taken place before publishing a news report.


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3 Feb, 2009
3 Feb, 2009
Terible news!! Hopefully we will find out who it was but it will proberbly end up like the tree at Raven Tor. Dan
3 Feb, 2009
If you read the whole of the link it is all in there. Chris
3 Feb, 2009
Herein lies a problem for bolted routes. I don't think you should hold anyone responsible for a bolt failure. The responsibility lies with the climber to ensure that the bolts are sound as it does with anyone placing protection say on a trad' route. It is probably reasonable to assume that a bolt is secure and just clip it but obviously you are placing your trust in the hands of someone you have never met, and so the risk is yours.
3 Feb, 2009
Too true blue... This was discussed a few days ago. It illustrates the whole problem with "equipped" routes as the French say... If you get half way up and the equipment is duff, you can cry to mummy and look for someone to blame, but it's basically entirely your own fault. We all (I'm as guilty as any) head off up 1000 foot routes in the mountains with just quickdraws and slings... not even pegs and a hammer generally, all on the assumption that all the gear is there and in good nick.
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