We are not suggesting that their is anything wrong with other bolts from reputable manufacturers. What we are suggesting is that Stainless Steel is not the best material and has a limited life.
It is a common misconception that catastrophic failure of stainless bolts can only occur on limestone, below are two examples of failed bolts from Hawaii which broke after 10 years in Basalt:
Broken bolt from Sicily:
Thailand, Cayman Brac, Brazil and Hawaii have the most corrosive climbing environments known. Plated Steel bolts from reputable manufacturers can last as little as 3 months before they can fail under bodyweight or be broken by hand. Good quality Stainless bolts can fail in less than 3 years in these areas.
While making bolts to last many lifetimes may not be the best business tactics, that’s not what we are about.
Titanium bolts were first used in Cayman Brac and Thailand in 1999 and they all still look like new. From the many thousands of Titanium bolts in use round the world, there is still no known case where a correctly placed Titanium bolt has ever failed. The 5 year re-bolting cycle has been broken.
Some routes have been rebolted in Stainless steel 5 times in 25 years and finding a good placement is becoming very difficult and our previously beautiful rock is now splattered with rust streaks and broken bolts.
Angele Sjong, PhD was commissioned to carry out an accelerated corrosion test using one of our titanium bolts and a 316 stainless steel hanger (the test was an ASTM G36 boiling magnesium chloride test). The stainless steel hanger cracked in less than 4 ½ hours, whilst the titanium bolt was still going strong after the full 28 days of the test’s duration. In fact Sjong concluded that the titanium bolt had remained completely unaffected.
Sjong added “There is an enormous difference between these two materials. You cannot even compare the corrosion resistance of titanium and steel”
In some areas, routes have had to be re-bolted so many times that not only is it becoming increasingly hard to find a good placement, but the once beautiful rock which nature has taken millions of years to create, is left streaked and marred by rust, dead lichen and broken Stainless steel bolts. Titanium resolves all these issues as it doesn’t rust, doesn’t leech compounds that kill lichen and has a minimum expected life in excess of 50 years and likely to be safe for generations.
Here is what Petzl say about corrosion in tropical areas:
Information on the UIAA website:
Two other links of interest:
www.upskillclimbing.com-titanium bolts answer for Thailand
www.upskillclimbing.com-safety and future of Kalymnos bolts
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