UIAA issue anchor corrosion warning

Posted by Dan Middleton on 28/06/2012
Corroded anchors from marine environments - photo: Petzl

The UIAA Safety Commission has issued an update to a warning notice originally sent out in 2009, regarding the danger of environmental degradation of bolt anchors. This update warns that the problem is more widespread than originally thought.

The UIAA Safety Commission has been studying environmental degradation of bolt anchors, with concerns about both general corrosion and with more specific types including crevice corrosion and stress corrosion cracking.

Work is being done to produce improved standards for bolt anchors in the future, including a classification scheme to aid selection of the most appropriate anchor type for different installation conditions.

In the meantime, they issue the following advice to climbers:

  • Before climbing, talk to local climbers and the people who equipped the routes to determine the quality of the anchors in place
  • Find out if a climbing area is regularly re-equipped. Experience to date shows that if anchors are less than three years old, they are less likely to be weakened by corrosion
  • Look for traces of rust on anchors. If you see such marks, do not load the anchor, and stop the climb, as it is just these sorts of anchors that have been dangerous in the study. Alert locals so they can deal with the situation. If appropriate, you can also replace the weakened anchor if you have the expertise and competence to do so
  • Opting to not climb on routes in tropical, marine environments that show rust, or for which you don’t know who maintains the routes or when the equipment was put in place

This warning and any subsequent UIAA standards or recommendations are based on the fundamental assumption that the climber must evaluate the quality of anchors in place and accept the risk of anchor failure due to corrosion.
 

Read the UIAA warning notice in full here



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