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One of our favorite parts about sport climbing is the relative safety that the medium provides. Compared to high-ball bouldering, or trad climbing, clipping bolts up a steep wall is largely free of ground falls or ripped gear—most of the time.
Chris Greig found the latter to be untrue last week while projecting Goliath (5.13b) at Columns of the Giants on Sonora Pass. He’d gone bolt to bolt on his first go, steadily unlocking the intricate beta, before tying in for a redpoint attempt. “I had just clipped bolt six and needed to refine my foot sequence,” Greig explains. “A half second after hanging, the nut of the bolt came off the stud.”
Greig says the fixed draw remained clipped to the rope as he fell, along with the hanger, and the stud appeared undamaged in the rock. “It seems like the force of hanging against the bolt over years had slowly worked the nut to the end of the stud,” he says, “I was incredibly lucky to not have any rope out past the bolt when it blew, otherwise I would have decked.”
Goliath‘s retro-bolter used Loctite (a thread-locking adhesive) to thwart such a dangerous disassembly, but, clearly, even that precaution wasn’t foolproof. So check the bolts, nuts, and hangers on your project this weekend, you might save yourself a whip!
Happy Friday, and be safe out there.