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Developing the Thailand Climbing Documentary
The Thaitanium Project was started several years ago by Tom Cecil. Tom and his friends Wee (owner of Wee Rock Climbing School) and Elka (owner of Ton Sai Basecamp) wanted to sell t-shirts as a fund raiser to purchase the very expensive Ushba Tortuga titanium bolt. Although the sale of the t-shirts went well and it did provide a small amount of funding, it didn't produce the level of funding required to improve safety across the board.

Getting Serious About Fund Raising

Over the last decade, most would agree that Shamick Byszewski has been the most proactive champion when it comes to re-bolting other peoples' routes. Byszewski has done his own share of titanium bolt fund raising, most notably with his infamous "Rope Swing on the Fire Wall". With respect to Thailand, Byszewski recognized that it would require a committed effort and drastic changes if climbers were going to get serious about re-bolting all of the Pra-Nang Peninsula.

Sam Lightner most likely can lay claim to the title of first person to start fund raising in an attempt to fix the Thailand bolt problem. Sam was the first to approach the ASCA to try and buy hundreds of titanium bolts for Thailand. Sam also wrote a fantastic guide book, for which he donates 100% of the profits to the re-bolting efforts.

Of course there has been other smaller fund raising efforts at the climbing schools (King's Climbing in particular) but it became obvious over the years that fixing this problem was going to take a much larger effort by everybody working together. The 2009 season I spent on the island of Ko Yao Noi with Mark Miner to develop a few of the numerous unclimbed cliffs. It was a great season that saw the development of several new walls and many new routes on already developed walls. On a long tail boat trip to Phuket to buy the Hilti RE-500 glue the topic of fund raising came up. I had brought a small video camera with me that season and was filming the development of the new climbs. I would edit the footage on my laptop at night and I would show the short films to my friends that were helping with the development. Eventually during our fund raising discussion the suggestion of making a documentary film came up. I always had an itch to try my hand at documentary film making so I agreed to give it a shot. The first idea was to just to put together a film more along the lines of climbing porn, but ultimately we settled on what you see now with the Thaitanium Project and the chronicling of the bolt problem in the area.



1 Comment

    Hang

    On:August 4, 2012

    I have to say that in this test we tried to find some rare placements to show you how the Totem Cam goes in these cases. Obviously if we were lnaideg in a normal climbing day we would try to find better placements to increase the protection and security. Itb4s important to say that we must avoid precarious placements as far as possible. Although they were not good placements, Totem Cams held in every fall that we tried.Web4re gonna film new tests like this one and be sure that we will be sincere about what happens when you fall over the Totem Cams.Thanks for your interest! Stay tunned .


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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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