Author Topic: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT  (Read 14106 times)

ecowaller

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WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« on: January 08, 2007, 08:27:14 am »
During a rigging instruction trip down Rhino yesterday {7TH JAN 2007}I spotted that ALL the bolts on the second pitch are very LOOSE....I know of at least 3 trips lately and no one has noticed, this is very worrying.....People must check bolts before using them. We aborted our trip. These bolts need to be looked at and replaced. It looks as though the holes were not cleaned properly and not enough resin was used. The bolts also do not have a slot drilled for the 'p' t sit in. There are also better hang points for the bolts......BEWARE!!!!

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2007, 08:59:11 am »
During a rigging instruction trip down Rhino yesterday {7TH JAN 2007}I spotted that ALL the bolts on the second pitch are very LOOSE....I know of at least 3 trips lately and no one has noticed, this is very worrying.....People must check bolts before using them. We aborted our trip. These bolts need to be looked at and replaced. It looks as though the holes were not cleaned properly and not enough resin was used. The bolts also do not have a slot drilled for the 'p' t sit in. There are also better hang points for the bolts......BEWARE!!!!

I was down there on Tuesday; yes, the bolts have a very small (yet insignificant*) amount of lateral play in them which I understand to be entirely within usable limits; the bolts were placed before the procedure of creating a slotted groove, for them to sit in, was introduced and were this to have been done then no doubt the amount of play they exhibit would be even more limited. BTW I am not the CSCC bolting coordinator/trainer but am a trained installer/inspector.

However, given that the first and second pitches in Rhino have constellations of bolts from which a multi-anchor rig is standard procedure then surely a failure is mostly academic (unless cavers are engaging in some novel and bizarre rigging). BTW the "loose" Swildon's Hole bolts were so loose that it took crowbars, drilling and over an hour of extremely hard work to remove one, apparently (although admittedly the bolts are not a like-for-like comparison).

I for one would be entirely happy to take the regional anchor testing device to RR and engage in a test of an anchor to determine whether or not there is an enduring hazard posed by these reportedly loose bolts. Obviously the "Cry Wolf" fail-dangerous scenario needs to be considered foremost so a do-nothing approach is probably best avoided.

* i.e. about 1-2mm movement is possible but with no egress from the rockface.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2007, 09:15:08 am by cap 'n chris »

ecowaller

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2007, 09:07:31 am »
I think that the bolts are worryingly loose. I have been placing eco p hangers for years at home on my crag and underground. To have one bolt loose is bad but to have at least four is not acceptable. The allowable play is about a millimeter and all these bolts move more than that. The resin has obviously cracked around the rock....putting up with badly placed bolts is not acceptable. Although I agree that a failure is only likely to lead to a rush of adrenaline not everyone rigs well and it will only take one bolt failure to kill and end the already non existant bolting programme...should we really accept badly placed bolts?

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2007, 09:16:46 am »
I'll get the bolting coordinator to check out this thread: I/we can possibly test bolts this week sometime. 
« Last Edit: January 08, 2007, 09:23:38 am by cap 'n chris »

ecowaller

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2007, 09:32:55 am »
Cheers mate....I have not been in Rhino since before it was bolted so it wouldd be great toget to the bottom again!!! I think that testing them would be a wise precaution. I also think that a couple of routes should be bolted, I would be more than willing to help with this. Robbie Warke

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2007, 09:36:32 am »
http://www.cscc.org.uk/AccessFrameset.htm

For testing dates of Mendip Anchors.

Offline Brains

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2007, 10:27:20 am »
As someone who has installed and replaced bolts, I can confirm that as CnC has stated, it is an absolute pain to remove one that is apparently extremely loose (full rotation, extracyable for half length), taking up to an hour of hard graft. Having done a fair bit of bolting, I would be prepared to use some of the placements "dry" (no resin) on the basis that they can be as good as traditional rock climbing protection, or even pitons if the drill bit was a bit worn. This does not mean that loose bolts or poor rigging should be tolereated...

Offline Andy Sparrow

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2007, 10:46:01 am »
There are also better hang points for the bolts.

Hi Robbie,

I placed the bolts in Rhino.   Mendip caves being Mendip caves they have awkward pitch-heads and none less so than the second pitch.  I have tried several ways of rigging this pitch from the selection of spit anchors and after countless trips there is not much doubt in my mind that the P bolts are as well positioned as they could be.  The problem for most people is working out how to rig the three consecutive Y hangs in a user-friendly way.  It takes considerable skill/practice to get the right amount of slack between them to allow easy progression but done right it works fine.

As has been said at the time of placement the 'groove' was not standard procedure.

And also, as has been said, removing a 'loose' P anchor is an extremely difficult thing to do.  For an accident to happen two of these anchors would have to detach themselves from the rock and this is not just improbable - it is, based on our considerable experience, impossible.

Maybe you should think twice before implying on a public forum that volunteers have done a job badly, incompetently or dangerously. 



Andy Sparrow



ecowaller

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2007, 10:58:20 am »
Hi Andy, I was not implying that the bolts were placed by incompetent people....far from it. I was and still am concerned however that cavers should take loose bolts seriously and that they should be checked out, as appears to be going to happen. I also understand that complete failure is almost impossible, that is not my concern. My concern is that people will continue to use them, often badly, untill one does fail. Sorry if I offended anyone, this was not my intention. You and others have done a great job, I was just reporting back on my observations.

Offline Peter Burgess

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2007, 11:00:12 am »
Quote
Mendip caves being Mendip caves they have awkward pitch-heads and none less so than the second pitch.
Which implies that the second pitch is the least awkward in the Mendips?  ;) However, you make a good point.

Regardless of this, if anyone encounters artificial anchors they are not sure about, and do not have the confidence to use, they should not use them, surely? Their lack of confidence may be misplaced, as you have suggested, but better to be safe than sorry, and live to at least ask the question. Next time, perhaps, those who have been unsure about these anchors will be reassured by your explanation.

Offline Hammy

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2007, 11:09:06 am »
A few weeks ago (November) I was in Rhino Rift with a friend and we were both surprised and concerned at the condition and placement of the bolts.

In addition to the looseness of most of them was also the position in the thinly bedded limestone close to the lip of undercuts (Y hang at head of first pitch) and the single bolt rebalay on the first pitch (perhaps a deviation on the far wall would be preferable?), and on the second pitch the very prominent right-hand bolt for the rebelay is installed through thin flowstone so you can't see the condition of the rock beneath. (There is solid rock just to the left, adjacent to the other P bolt). The last P bolted pitch (3rd?) has its take-off from a ledge of very unstable boulders and very loose bolts. My friend was all for aborting the trip at that point!

Now I am just recounting these problems from a hazy memory so if any of the facts are incorrect I apologise.

Public forums are exactly the place that concerns such as these should be aired.

I don't think that Robbie is at all out of order for pointing out the problems. He is stating fact and not critiscising volunteers.

In the Dales for example a few years ago Tatham Wife had many loose P bolts caused by poor cleaning which were reported and the whole cave was promptly rebolted.

Offline Peter Burgess

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2007, 11:20:46 am »
So Hammy, are you reassured by Andy's comments?

Quote
Public forums are exactly the place that concerns such as these should be aired.

I think it depends how it's done. If we believed all the conspiracy theories published on the internet by concerned people, we would descend to the dark ages.

If I encountered a loose anchor on a trip, and I was that worried about it that I turned back, then yes I would be right to mention it on a forum. If I assumed it was dangerous and said so, I might be misleading others, or I might be right. If I am not sure, I should at least just ask advice from those who might know the background, before pronouncing it dangerous.

I do think it is good that ecowaller raised the point, but perhaps he wasn't expecting it to become controversial.  :-[

Offline Cookie

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2007, 11:34:08 am »
http://www.cscc.org.uk/AccessFrameset.htm

For testing dates of Mendip Anchors.


The current info is a little out of date and shows some of the bolts out of test.

So far as I know this is not the case and all the bolts are actually in test.

Sorry for the misleading info. I've asked the Bolting Coordinator for an up to date list so that I can update the site.
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Offline whitelackington

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2007, 11:35:19 am »
B.D.C.C. did an exchange trip in Rhino last Summer and other than one spit, where the thread seemed worn, we did not encounter any problems. :thumbsup:

ecowaller

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2007, 11:40:37 am »
What 'background' should I have found out? I saw four loose bolts on an srt trip and reported them? Maybe I should have contacted Sparrow or the CNCC first...I didn't. At least something will be done. Can I make it clear that I KNOW these bolt would not kill anyone I just think that cavers should not get lazy ansd accept loose bolts.
The cave was also very wet yesterday and even using the bolts it made a very wet descent, that was my main reason for aborting the trip. I did not want a cold and wet wife who I was teaching to rig, miserable at the bottom as she was understandably slower than an experienced rigger.

Offline Peter Burgess

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2007, 11:54:52 am »
Yes, I know exactly what you mean. Something that is loose, which could be tight, is bound to be subject to more wear and stress, and I am in no position to be able to state if or when it might become dangerous. Like a loose wheel bearing, if you maintain it and keep it tight, it will last far longer than if you ignore it and let it get worse and worse. There is far less doubt about a tight anchor. That's one reason perhaps why anchors are tested, to increase confidence is what might superficially appear to be a weak fixture. The trouble is, when confronted by an anchor halfway down a cave, how do you tell that the anchor has been tested recently?

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2007, 06:26:02 pm »
cavers should take loose bolts seriously and that they should be checked out, as appears to be going to happen.

We do take reports of loose bolts seriously and plans are in hand for them to be tested this coming weekend. Thank you for using this forum to report your concerns.

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2007, 07:07:36 pm »
The last P bolted pitch (3rd?) has its take-off from a ledge of very unstable boulders and very loose bolts. My friend was all for aborting the trip at that point!

The nature of the huge jammed boulders at the third pitch will not be affected by the bolts; unless you are doing the Right Hand Route, how would you suggest this third pitch is organised to solve your observed concerns about them? As for loose small rocks/gravel, there are warnings over and over again about this so it's just part of the hazard management to engage in gardening as you approach.

In the Dales for example a few years ago Tatham Wife had many loose P bolts caused by poor cleaning which were reported and the whole cave was promptly rebolted.

How much work was involved in rebolting? For example, if we visit Rhino Rift at the weekend and find that it takes two people a whole day to extract one "loose" bolt would you still think that every bolt should be removed? The other problem is that this cave has had so many SD spits installed over the decades that there's not a lot of clean rock left; I'm not arguing that the bolts should be left alone - just that it's easier said than done from the warmth of a comfy chair but in reality actually "just" rebolting an entire cave is a marathon.

BTW there are still plenty of SD spits so the cave is still "do-able" without recourse to the hangers.

Offline francis

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2007, 07:36:40 pm »
Quote
The other problem is that this cave has had so many SD spits installed over the decades that there's not a lot of clean rock left

This is a bit OT, but is it safe to remove a spit and put a P-anchor in it's place? OK, the rock has been stressed by the spit but P-anchors go much deeper in and don't stress the rock in the same way. Has this ever been tested before?

Just came to think of it as I read your post C'nC.

Francis ;D

Offline graham

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2007, 08:01:10 pm »
Quote
The other problem is that this cave has had so many SD spits installed over the decades that there's not a lot of clean rock left

This is a bit OT, but is it safe to remove a spit and put a P-anchor in it's place? OK, the rock has been stressed by the spit but P-anchors go much deeper in and don't stress the rock in the same way. Has this ever been tested before?

Just came to think of it as I read your post C'nC.

Francis ;D

Not wishing to poo poo your idea, but how would you get the spit out?
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Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2007, 08:04:04 pm »
Apparently they can be drilled out with a suitable bit or alternatively yanked out with a threaded & weighted extractor.

Offline Les W

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2007, 08:06:01 pm »
Quote
The other problem is that this cave has had so many SD spits installed over the decades that there's not a lot of clean rock left

This is a bit OT, but is it safe to remove a spit and put a P-anchor in it's place? OK, the rock has been stressed by the spit but P-anchors go much deeper in and don't stress the rock in the same way. Has this ever been tested before?

Just came to think of it as I read your post C'nC.

Francis ;D

Not wishing to poo poo your idea, but how would you get the spit out?

It is perfectly acceptable to remove a spit and fit a "P" anchor in its place. The rock is no longer stressed once the spit is removed. What is not acceptable is to place on anchor within the stress cone of another so that they overlap.

Graham, there are propriety masonary hole cutters that will fit into an SDS drill and cut a hole around the spit allowing its removal. I'm not sure if this has been tried though.
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Offline Cookie

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #22 on: January 08, 2007, 08:08:25 pm »
Quote
The other problem is that this cave has had so many SD spits installed over the decades that there's not a lot of clean rock left

This is a bit OT, but is it safe to remove a spit and put a P-anchor in it's place? OK, the rock has been stressed by the spit but P-anchors go much deeper in and don't stress the rock in the same way. Has this ever been tested before?

Just came to think of it as I read your post C'nC.

Francis ;D
Its perfectly safe to do as you suggest. But it's generally so much grief to extract the old spit that it isn't done.
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Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #23 on: January 08, 2007, 08:10:59 pm »
Please can we not end up suggesting that the entire cave gets rebolted and all SD spits are removed and red carpets are installed and there's hot showers plumbed in to the top grotto?...

The plan will be to test these supposedly "VERY LOOSE" (Hammy's words) bolts and if they don't pop out scarily quickly then obviously they are not as loose as people are claiming them to be; laterally mildly wobbly, perhaps, but not loose and certainly not very loose. The words "loose" and "very" are arbitrary and subjective.

We shall see.

Offline damian

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Re: WARNING LOOSE BOLTS IN RHINO RIFT
« Reply #24 on: January 08, 2007, 08:14:19 pm »
I'm sure somebody who knows what they're talking about will answer this in a minute but in the meantime you'll have to make do with me!

I am sure the original idea of P-bolts was just what Francis has suggested. In places where there is not much usable rock they can be put where the spits used to be. I have always assumed this is done by drilling small holes around the spit and then finally enlarging the new hole to P-bolt size.

Going off-topic slightly this is undoubtedly much more effort and probably explains why so many p-bolts have been placed much nearer existing spits than is supposed to be safe.