The original 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 provided a small amount of funding, it didn't seem to generate the amount of funding needed. Over the last decade Shamick Byszewski has probably been the most active participant in re-bolting other peoples routes. Shamick has also done his own titanium bolt fund raising with his infamous rope swing on the Fire Wall, but he also recognized that if we were going to get serious about re-bolting the whole of the Pra-Nang Peninsula we needed to do something drastic.

Lightner Approaches ASCA

Sam Lightner most likely owns the rights to first person to start fund raising in the attempt to fix the 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 in which he is donating 100% of the profits to the re-bolting efforts. Unfortunately Sam's book is in competition with several other Thai made guide books and has never really taken off. 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 was 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.

A Documentary?

I had brought a small video camera along that season and was filming the development of the new climbs. I would edit the footage on my laptop at night and show the short films to my friends and fellow climbers helping with cliff development. Eventually during our fund raising discussion the suggestion of making a documentary film came up. I had always had an itch to try my hand at documentary film making, so I agreed to give it a shot.

Our first idea was to just to put together a film more along the lines of "climbing porn". Climbing porn soon became a "History of Rock Climbing in Thailand" documentary instead, and that too was also rejected. Ultimately the Project evolved into what you see today: The Thaitanium Project's chronicling of the bolt problem and re-bolting in the area.

The Thaitanium Project is non-profit effort taking cues from the previous fund raising attempts. 100% of the profits from the sale of the film go to the re-bolting efforts.
In short, if you buy a copy of the film you've put in a bolt.
-- Josh Lyons

The price of the film reflects the cost of the placement of one new titanium bolt and the removal of the corroded stainless steel bolt(s). Most of the equipment being used is the personal equipment of the re-bolters, such as the hammer drills and angle grinders. That said, there's some equipment that needs to be purchased annually, consumable equipment like: glue, glue tips, glue guns, cutting blades, drill bits, sledge hammers, wrenches, blow tubes and more. The process of re-bolting is very gear-intensive and it all costs money. Hopefully the film will provide the necessary funds to get the job done.

Thank you for supporting the Thaitanium Project.
Josh Lyons, Founder, Thaitanium Project

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

latest actions image

New Titanium anchor ring

latest actions image