I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
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Sunday, 19 August 2012

Bolt failure on Malta, by Stevie Haston

A bolt failed on the island of Malta this week, august 2012. This particular  bolt was only placed circa 5 years ago. More information can be had from the Maltese climbing clubs, but I would like to add a couple of things. The bolt that failed was stainless steel just like in the photo above, these bolts are now thought to be unsuitable for a Marine situation. The bolts that have been placed more recently are better in that they are more suitable for a sea cliff. How suitable is still something of a question even to me, so please take care with all bolts on Malta, and on coastal cliffs and indeed anywhere. 
There seems to be a general feeling that climbing and bolts etc should be 100% safe, I do not agree with this and think it is hog wash. It is you who are responsible for your safety, if in doubt don't climb a route. 
You cannot tell if a bolt is safe by looking at it. Bolts even of a suitable grade i.e. 316 stainless can be weakened, the only grade of metal in the splash zone (in Malta this is 40 meters) which could be thought 'bomb proof' is surgical grade stainless, this grade is very , very expensive!
It is prudent to at least test bolts before you trust your life to them. In Marine locations especially the first 20 feet (the swell zone) I would jump test them, if in doubt. The splash zone is an ill defined place but I have seen the air saturated in some sea cliffs for long periods, beware!   
I do not personally guaranty the safety of any of my routes, I do not guaranty the rock, the bolts, the 'trad gear' or indeed the journey thru Maltese traffic to the cliff, safe climbing to you all.

If anybody would like to link this to UKC I'll be grateful.
The splash zone is at least 40 meters on some cliffs....