Fixed Anchor Maintenance
Fixed anchors such as bolts have been used on routes established in the Helena Area for over 30 years. Although our climate is mild and bolts, hangers, chain and other hardware last for decades, each bolt and anchor will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. While anchor maintenance is not the sole responsibility of the HCC, it is our hope that our organization can help distribute the labor and cost of keeping our routes in good shape across the Helena Climbing Community. To help prioritize our resources, we have developed a tool to report bolts and top anchors that might need some TLC. Please report bolts and top anchor hardware that are damaged, worn, just showing their age or needs some attention for any other reason. We will do our best to get this information and replacement hardware to our volunteers so they can get the route back in shape. If you are interested in helping with route maintenance please let us know.
What we want to hear about:
- Worn anchor components: Wear from normal use is inevitable on top anchors. Please note carabiners, rappel rings, chain, or cold shunts that are beginning to show significant grooves from use.
- Damaged bolts or anchors: pretty self-explanatory. As much as we wish our rock was bullet hard, it’s not. Sometimes bolts are damaged by rock fall or other natural occurrences and occasionally vandalism.
- Missing hardware: Bolt missing a hanger? Clip-and-Lower missing its carabiner?
- Significant rust/corrosion: A little color on chain is probably ok, but if a bolt hanger or stud is showing rust or corrosion, it might be time to replace.
- Rock damage around bolts: Repeated loading of bolts in soft rock may cause “cratering” or damage to the rock surrounding the bolt. If this is observed, this needs to be addressed.
- Loose bolts: if the bolt is loose in its hole, it may need to be tightened or may need to be replaced. Loose nuts on the bolt can be gently tightened.
- Unsafe hardware: Any ¼ inch bolt, leaper or old style SMC hanger needs to be replaced (see below for some articles on how to identify these bolts and hangers). Fortunately these types of hardware are rare in our area, but they do exist in a few places.
We strive to minimize impacts to the rock by reusing holes when possible. We always seek to obtain the permission of the first ascensionist prior to any work. During maintenance we strive to maintain the character of the route and will never add additional bolts.