About the Bolts

OK, so we figured out that making bolts out of the metal Titanium was going to solve the problem with the corroding steel bolts…right. Well I guess sometimes you solve one problem you may create another and that is the case with Titanium bolts. The next problem we ran into was how to get the bolts.

In the late 90's a company called Ushba Mountain Works was the soul manufacturer of Titanium bolts specifically for rock climbing. Ushba was sold to the gear wholesaler Liberty Mountain in 2004 and subsequently the price of the bolts more then doubled to $35 a piece. At that price nobody was buying the bolts so eventually Liberty Mountain stop producing them. Unfortunately for the Thaitanium Project this coincided with the first season of re-bolting.

This forced the Thaitanium Project to start making our own bolts. Using the original Ushba design and a precious metals manufacture in the United States the Thaitanium Project was able to produce it's first line of Titanium Bolts. Because the bolts were made directly for the project thus cutting out any middle man the per bolt price drop significantly to $9.50.

Because the Thaitanium Project was now the only source of Titanium bolts of the planet we open our doors (so-to-speak) to others that may be in need of Titanium bolts. Over the last two years the Thaitanium Project has provided hundreds of bolts to other climbing areas all over the world that are seeing the same corrosion problems as Thailand. In the non profit spirit of this whole thing we are selling the bolts for same price at the project gets.

Need Titanium Bolts?

Parties interested in acquiring titanium rock climbing bolts or with specific questions about sourcing or capabilities, please contact:
  • Martin Roberts - martroberts (at) hotmail (dot) com
  • Josh Lyons - lyonsjosh (at) hotmail (dot) com

Why is the film priced at $20?

With the motto "Buy ah film, pay of ah bolt" the price of the film becomes very significant. I would like to explain how we came up with the $20 price tag for the film and give you a run down of the equipment that it helps to purchase.

The re-bolting process in Thailand is very gear intensive then standard route development for three reason. 1. we are re-bolting with a style of bolt called a 'glue in' which adds another costly step to the bolting process. Because we are glueing the bolts into the rock we need glue guns and mixing tips as well as the actual glue tubes. 2. we are removing the old corroding steel bolt(s) in hopes to prevent any confusion with what bolt to clip. Over the last two year we have found battier power angle grinders to be the best tool for that job. 3. If the existing bolts are to badly corroded to trust as reliable protection to put up the rope we treat it as a first ascent. This means we use the same techniques as a ground up first ascent with placing our own protection like camming devices and stoppers. Sometimes we even need to place new expansion bolts on lead if natural or artificial protection can't be found. Don't worry we take those out too!

So with the involved processes of re-bolting in Thailand purchasing the Titanium bolt is literally just half the battle. As of 2012 the Thaiatnium Project is paying around $10 per bolts. We then add another seven or eight dollars for the equipment that we need to place the Titanium bolt and remove the old steel bolt(s) next to them. The final cost comes from the infrastructure for you to buy the film. We use a third party host for you to download the film which takes a small percentage out of the cost. Then when you pay for the film we us PayPal which again takes a small percentage for the transaction. Taking all that into consideration in finding a fair price to charge for the film and having that pay for the placement of a single Titanium bolt we felt $20 was the magic number.

Below is a list of the equipment that is used in the re-bolting process. Some of the equipment needs to be replaced every year or every other year like the adjustable daisies and ropes while other pieces of equipment should last throughout the life of the project like hammer drills and angle grinders. Some equipment just gets used up like grinder wheels, drills bits and glue. It's a lot of equipment and it all cost money. But with the your purchase of the film or donation we will have the equipment to finish the job.

Josh Lyons - Founder of the Thaitanium Project

The laundry list of required equipment (pretty crazy, eh?):

Installation Equipment

  • Titanium Bolt
  • Hammer Drill
  • SDS Drill Bit 3/8 and 1/2 inch
  • Rechargable Drill Battery
  • Drill Battery Charger
  • Expansion Bolts
  • Blow Tube
  • Hole Brush
  • Hilti RE-500 Glue
  • Glue Tip
  • Hilti Glue Gun
  • Glue Bag
  • Glue Stick
  • Glue Rag

Removal Equipment

  • Angel Grinder
  • Grinder Blade
  • Angel Blade
  • Sawzaw
  • Sawzaw Blade
  • Rechargebale Batteries
  • Batteraty Charger
  • Slegde Hammer
  • Cresent Wrench
  • Socket Wrench
  • Yosemite Hammer
  • Blow Torch
  • Crow Bar

General Equipment

  • Step up/down convertor
  • Aiders
  • Adjustable Daisies
  • Bigwall Harness
  • Helmet
  • Dust Mask
  • Eye Protection
  • Gloves
  • Ear Plugs
  • Knife
  • Jungle Clippers
  • Sewn Slings
  • Carabiners
  • Locking Carabiners
  • Belay Device
  • Gri Gri
  • Quick Draws
  • Static Ropes
  • Dynamic Ropes
  • Anchor Ropes
  • Full Rack of Pro
  • Hooks

Stainless Steel Anchor Ring Warning:

*During the Thaitanium Projects re-bolting of the Cat Wall on Tonsai Beach in early 2013, a stainless steel anchor ring was found to have Stress Corrosion Crack, the same type of corrosion found in the climbing bolts.*

Since the start of the Thaitanium Project a dialog regarding the use of stainless steel anchor rings has been debated. At the time there were no reported cases of stress corrosion cracking (the same type of corrosion found in the climbing bolts) in any of the anchor rings. The popular thought was that the steel rings were not seeing the same levels of corrosive elements as the bolts. There was an effort to reach out to metallurgist and another professionals about the use of these rings and there was very little they could answer for us with out years of research. By 2010 most, if not all of the climbs in Railay Bay already had anchors with the stainless steels rings. The decision was made to continue the use of the anchor ring set up and to keep an eye on it.

During the re-bolting of the Cat Wall in early 2013 the Thaitanium Project found server cracking in one of the routes anchor rings. Not knowing exactly what to think and not wanting to jump to any conclusions, a few photos of the cracked ring were sent to the Thaitanium Project's metallurgy team. It was unclear of the history of where the ring came from and if it was even stainless steel. Also because of the cracks close proximity to the weld, we were unsure if the cracking was from a defect in the welding. It was decided that the rings would be taken to the United States for analysis and tested at a metallograph facility. Serval tests were carried out to see if it was in fact stress corrosion cracking (SCC), what type of steel it was and if the cracking was caused by improper welding.

Unfortunately, the tests confirmed that the anchor ring was made out of stainless steel (SS), the corrosion had nothing to do with the welding and it was SCC. It was everything we didn't want to hear. In fact, in the final report the lab tech said that it was the most cracking in stainless steel she had ever seen! Because the ring was SS and it had nothing to do with the welding meant that the unique combination of elements that cause the devastating corrosion in the bolts is now corroding the anchor rings. Which in turn means that every single ring will need to be changed.

So where do we go from here? Well because of the hard work of the few dedicated folks at the Thaitanium Project we have the resources and the infrastructure to deal with this problem. We are working with Titan Climbing, a new titanium climbing gear manufacture and have already started the production of grade 2 Titanium anchor rings. During the 2014 season saw over a 100 Ti rings placed on over 50 pitches. We will use the same fund raising techniques to pay for the rings as we are doing with the bolts. So if you purchase the DVD, T-shirt or any other swag it will go to help fund the removal and replacement of all stainless steel anchor rings with Titanium.

There are a couple things you can do as well. If you are climbing in Railay Bay or any other area in Southern Thailand and are using anchor rings please take the time to visually inspect the rings for any discoloration (rust) or cracking. If you see anything that looks suspicious, back the rings up with a carabiner and report it to the closest climbing school or on the Thaitanium Project's website. Unfortunately with SCC you can't always see the cracking, this is because the cracking is on the inside of the steel where you will not be able to see any rust. So if you feel it necessary, again back the anchor rings up with a carabiner.

Now I would like to remind everyone that we have just found one ring with SCC. This doesn't mean these rings are going to start falling out of the sky. With that said, it would be wise to use caution when using any Stainless Steel Anchor rings.

Stay safe and clip the red glue!

Josh Lyons - Founder of the Thaitanium Project

Stainless steel anchor rings

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New Titanium anchor ring

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