Here is my rouges gallery of goofy bolts. This page could go on forever so I will just show some of the goofiest of them. What you see here should change your ideas about bolts. People are dying because of blindly trusting bolts as a being 100% reliable, 100% of the time. Don't be dumb and get hurt falling on a bad bolt. If it is terribly rusty, loose or spinning is the route worth your life? At least make knowledgeable decisions when your life is on the line.
The above bolt was a total surprise to me. Normally Petzl Lifetime bolts are the most secure bolts you will ever place. While doing an inspection I barely noticed the pin was overdriven into the anchor. That was not normal. I then got a little aggressive with it and noticed I could move it with my bare hands. Soon it was spinning and I saw the problem. Whoever placed it drilled the hole right next to an old bolt and then tried to hide it with the hanger. When they drove in the expansion pin the expanding anchor crushed the thin area of rock between the two anchors. As I worked the bolt with my bare hands the surrounding rock continued to crumble as it slid out of it's hole. A popular bolt manufacturers website recommends that bolts should not be placed within 10 inches of each other with 5.5 times the anchors diameter the absolute minimum. That means 2.75 inches for a 0.5 inch bolt.
The above left anchor was a homemade stainless hanger which had been cut for a steel ring and then welded shut. It was installed using a nail driven into a soft lead shield anchor. Really Scary. It was the critical bolt on a popular route and pulled way too easily. There is now a fat Lifetime in its place.
The center anchors are examples of Petzl 8.8mm self drive bolts. The one on the left is brand new. Aluminum hanger, Stainless steel bolt and carbon steel anchor. Three different metals cause corrosion due to the dissimilar metals effect and is amazing to see. Look at that rusty bolt in the center foreground, could you guess that rusty thing is stainless? The right hanger and bolt shows what happens when you try to loosen or tighten one of these bolts even when in almost new condition. They snap off. Easily... Those small bolts are not very strong. A few years ago Petzl stopped recommending these for rock climbing but many still exist and should be subject to close inspection before you trust them.
The problem with the bolt on the right is kind of obvious. The lazy #%&@#*! didn't even drill the hole deep enough. First that reduces pull out strength due to inadequate embedment in the stone. Secondly it reduces the shear strength by introducing leverage into the equation. I have seen dozens of parties use this single improperly place bolt to belay and top rope off of.
The above anchors were found at Fiery Gizzard (Foster Falls). These really fat top anchors were cut half through. Stainless is a soft steel and cuts easily when ropes are constantly run through them. Please do not top rope directly through any anchors. Use slings or draws with your biners and only use them directly for lowering off after the final person has climbed.
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