Chopped Bolts at Friction Wall Raise Concerns

posted in: Access, climbing | 0
Friction Wall. Credit John Kelbel.
Holes found near chopped anchor bolts on The Truth at Friction Wall.

Recently, a MAC crag steward discovered that the anchor bolts atop The Truth, a popular route at Friction Wall in Patapsco Valley State Park, had been chopped. We don’t know who did this or why, but a pair of holes near the anchor suggests that perhaps someone was interested in replacing these bolts and for some reason wasn’t able to finish the job. This creates a potentially dangerous situation for climbers.

Bolting a route involves specialized equipment, skill/knowledge, and an appropriate amount of experience to ensure it is done correctly. Climbers have limited capacity to assess a bolt on the fly (with most of it being hidden from view), and upon quick inspection assume their protection is good. And rock doesn’t grow back, so a mistake made during bolting is ever lasting.

For these reasons, we really encourage climbers to notify MAC if they have a concern with any bolts in our area. Many members of our community have experience with bolt replacement that can be leveraged. In addition, there are many people in the larger climbing community (from the New to the Gunks and beyond) that continue to experiment and improve bolt removal methodologies. With more modern techniques, it’s often possible to remove bolts and re-use the holes which reduces the overall impact to our crags.  The top bolt prior to the now missing anchors on The Truth was removed and replaced last year and the bolts on “4 bolts” were removed and replaced in 2011 by the climbing community.  We realize more bolts need replacing at Friction Wall and MAC will be looking for knowledgeable climbers to get involved with this effort.

It’s great when people in our community step up to take care of the crags we love, but by working together we can help ensure we have the most positive impact with our efforts. Please contact us at info@midatlanticclimbers.org if you have questions about bolting, see bolts in need of replacement, or want to raise awareness about a bolting issue at a local crag.