Strongest Bolt Anchors


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Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
May 15, 2007 - 04:19am PT
Removing a stainless 5-piece Rawl Power Bolt is fairly easy.

How hard is it to remove those other bolts, when they need replacing?

Trad climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 15, 2007 - 11:13am PT
Taper Bolts are easy to replace - just unscrew them. I would probably redrill the hole deeper and put in the next size - a longer one with its own new sleeve. I think after you unscrew one and pull it out, you run the risk of getting too much dust in the original sleeve so it might not thread correctly if you replace it... just my opinion however. The expert at MKT Fastening (a climber by the way) thinks it's fine to replace as long as you blow out the hole before you do it.
Greg Barnes

May 15, 2007 - 04:30pm PT
Just back from Red Rocks, with elbow tendonitis...dang hand-drilling.

On the taper-bolt and coil-bolt front, can anyone post a picture of the Metolius bolt that had a similar design (but looked like a glue-in once placed)?

I've only tried to pull (as opposed to just unscrewing) one 3/8" taper-bolt, which was placed straight-down into flat rock on top of a formation at Benton Crags (the crag about 150yds right of Challenger rock). Errett Allen put those routes up, but all bolts were 1/4" except for this 3/8" taper-bolt at the 3-bolt anchor, so I'm not sure he placed it. Anyway, drove a thin pin under the hanger and the bolt started popping out right away - no harder that a standard 1/4" bolt. Clipped a funkness and pulled the bolt with not much effort. The full sleeve was still attached to the bolt, so I guess there are 2 possibilities: either this was a bolt that was torqued not enough to set well, but well enough to set the sleeve into the bolt - or this was a case like Raleigh reports where a properly torqued and seemingly good bolt pulls out pretty easily. This location would see a lot of freeze-thaw action, and the hole was placed perfectly to see water/ice pooling in the hole.

I've pulled maybe 75-100 of the 1/4" versions, they pull easily, but so do most any other 1/4". Probably only get the sleeve out with the bolt 10-20% of the time. They did appear to be stronger in shear than any other 1/4", and since the split-shaft bolts did sometimes crack near the split, they were probably the best 1/4" bolt for granite slabs.

As far as the best bolt - hard to say, there are lots of different bolts and many factors. But I think the basics are:

 all of the "top competitors" for best 3/8" bolt are way stronger than anything we'll subject them to climbing, and so arguments about ultimate load strength are kind of irrelevant.

 therefore, the most important thing should be reliability and long-term wear.

5-pieces are very easy to install and reliable, and wear very well. However, they rust, and it's a pain to remove the sleeve and cone. Stainless 5-pieces are also easy to install and are reliable, but they will not wear too well if subjected to very heavy repeated loads (especially hauling & sport-dogging). Not sure if this is just stretching of the bolt, or unscrewing since the installation torque is really low. As many have seen on El Cap, they do loosen up pretty easily. They are the current standard bolt that the ASCA uses in hand-drilled good rock, but we use 1/2" if we can power drill (or hand-drilling medium quality rock at Red Rocks, etc). The other problem with 5-pieces is you can't install them one-handed.

 stud bolts are strong and easily installed, but are not removable and can not be inspected. Unfortunately these are very common for new routes, and nearly always non-stainless. Stainless versions are the only ones that climbers should ever use, but even these will deteriorate over time and will not be replaceable in the same hole (unless we can power drill through the remnants of the old stainless?).

 Fixe Triplex bolts are strong, you can place one-handed, and are easily removed, but are 12mm so they are a bit larger. If used with a 12mm hole hanger, use locktite so the nut doesn't loosen - once the nut is loose, you pull the bolt with a quickdraw. The perfect bolt for ground-up routes where you'll replace with glue-ins. The bolts are reusable as well.

 Petzl Long-life are strong in good rock, easily placed one-handed, but are almost like glue-ins in that they are basically impossible to remove. The 12mm hole is pretty short.

 I've never seen these Hilti coil anchors. They actually seem like a really good idea if they are as strong as advertised. Problem is they are not stainless, but if they are so easily removed & inspected, they might be a good option for high-traffic anchors where the stainless bolts are stretching and loosening up.

 Taper bolts have the questionable reliabilty from the Raleigh tests, plus the simple fact that you can't hand-drill through the sleeve to use a longer one, just like you can't hand-drill through the old 3/8" Star-Dryvin sleeves. I don't like the idea of reusing the sleeve, especially if JB has reservations!

 Another option for non-stainless removable bolts is the new really short 5-piece (I guess 4-piece now). These have no blue plastic compression ring, so it will always be easy to grab the sleeve top with pliers, and thus removal is straight-forward but a bit involved (unscrew bolt, remove hanger, screw bolt in a couple turns, tap in once with hammer to unseat the cone, unscrew bolt, remove sleeve with pliers, screw bolt back into cone with hanger, funk out cone).

It'd be good to hear some expert opinions on long-term fatigue on all of these bolt designs from repeated loading such as in hauling or dogging. Also on the long-term effects of freeze-thaw cycles. I think that a 3/8" removable/inspectable non-stainless bolt that holds up better to heavy loads would be a good idea for some high-use bolts where we can't power drill in some beefy 1/2".

Trad climber
Jun 22, 2007 - 11:30am PT
Why don't you just use a torque wrench and tighten to the right specs. Worked for me with FIXE wedge bolts. (Had to e-mail Spain to get the right specs)

So what are the right specs for Fixe bolts -- all models, if you have them? Maybe I missed it somewhere in this thread.
Matt M

Trad climber
Tacoma, WA (Temp in San Antonio for Yr)
Aug 27, 2007 - 12:12am PT
Digging up an old thread I know but I came across the Hilti HCA coil anchors discussed on here on ebay today - seemed liked a great deal.

100 HCA 3/8in by 2.25in for ~$25

Coincidentally, Fixe is having a sale on 100 Plated hangers - so no galvanic issues.

100 bolts (2.25in) 100 hangers for ~$125 - that's pretty solid....

Matt M

Trad climber
Tacoma, WA (Temp in San Antonio for Yr)
Aug 27, 2007 - 11:51am PT
Lock - That's exactly what I thought when I saw them. Look earlier in this post... Mark Hanna has a great write up on his experiences with them at his local climbing areas in WA (I think I've climbed on some of his routes actually). The spec sheet at the Hilti site makes these things look good too. Yeah, they're not stainless but if they're that easy to remove and check, I don't think that's a deal breaker in many areas because ease of replacement (seems almost as easy as changing hold in the gym)

I was hoping Mark would post those pictures (if he had them) of the condition of those bolts he was going to inspect.
Ed Bannister

Mountain climber
Riverside, CA
Aug 27, 2007 - 06:06pm PT
never thought you had too much practice placing bolts...
remembering "The Kid" in the meadows.

Strength and security per dollar?
1/2" x 4 1/2" 5 piece rawl, grade 5 steel.
Even the 3/8" can sheer when overtorqued, and too many think tighter is better.

In lieu of stainless, I like a tiny vial of casting resin, to "paint" the washer and nut, then apply fine sand gathered from the bottom of the climb, whala! no rust, and undetectible from the ground with pretreated, precolored hangers.



Trad climber
Aug 27, 2007 - 06:28pm PT
"These bolts are routinely used by construction workers all over the world with incredibly safe results. Has anybody had any bad experiences with these things? Any failures? Difficulty placing them? Why the bad rap? "

our firm doesn't approve the use of these bolts. as others have mentioned, they have been shown to be too finiky for a tourqe value, thus having a large effect on the pullout strength.

the powers wedgebolts (yes, stupid name) have a core hardness strength (50-55 Rockwell) that is too high. this has lead to embrittlement problems and currently we do not approve them. powers is now testing a special run of bolts here in chicago with a core harness between 35-45 and we've used them with good results.

i think they would be difficult if not imposable to install in hard rock. but i bet they would be AWSOME in sandstone. the pullout strengths are very good due to the huge contact surface across all of the threads.

i prefer the use of the powers powerstud in stainless steel for both high rise construction and recreational bolting.


Trad climber
Aug 27, 2007 - 06:32pm PT
FYI: those powers wedgebolts are not standard size. they need to be used powers drill bits designed for the bolt. thats why they have the blue tip, powers wedgebolt drill bits also have a blue tip.

rick d

Social climber
tucson, az
Aug 27, 2007 - 06:40pm PT
wow, all these "lifetime" bolt threads.

20-25 years should be outside on any hardware. The easier to replace the better - if on a trade route. The others few will ever see and they will hold when you need them (except Spider Rock's rap bolts- yeeeeessssshhhh).

The strongest bolts need to be the ones to keep you off the deck/ledge. the ones in between, are "fluff".

Glue ins might not as long as you think and those Star Dryvin's Kor planted in 1960 will do for the A.0 moves.

Trad climber
Evergreen, CO
Aug 28, 2007 - 01:01am PT
Nothing beats the Petzl Long life for bolting on lead in solid stone. No wrench, no hastle. Have your draw clipped to the bolt, insert bolt in hole, pound in driftpin, clip and go.

I agree with KS that I wouldn't use these in roofs or super steep rock though.

My second favorite bolt is for drilling on lead is the Fixe Triplex. Hammer in the bolt and it is usually already bomber, a few turns with the wrench and your good to go. Replaceable, removable and everything important to inspect is on the outside of the hole. Once you have seen these bolts and placed a few you know they are going to outlast anything else besides a glue in.

Of course both of these bolts use 12mm holes so hand drilling in hard stone can take a bit longer. I really like the Hilti double fluted shorty drillbit as it cuts through granite like butter (exageration), and even has a red mark to let you know you have gotten the hole deep enough.
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