This topic contains 13 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  John Knight 13 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #3283 Reply

    John Knight

    Going on from a subject touched on in the last thread (“extending slings the deadly way”), it’s the easy climbs that kill. How many climbing accidents happen when it’s not expected? Something like 90%?

    Anyway, I’ve been noticing that a lot of climbs, especially older ones, are lacking bolts at the top, with slabs probably being the biggest offenders. I do realise that we want to keep bolting to a minimum and that bolters are working from the idea that the top-outs are relatively easy, but some of these bolt placements are ground-fallers if someone slips up at the top.

    This is probably a big can of worms, but I’d like to see everyone else’s thoughts. 🙂

    #3284 Reply


    Hi John,

    Are these top outs protectable naturally. If so I wouldn’t put bolts in them, and I’d object if anyone did.



    #3285 Reply

    Toc Again

    Hi John again,

    I’ve been climbing around Perth a bit for a while now and while I do worry from time to time about some choice of bolt placements, are there really that many where the top outs are ground falls?

    Cheers again,


    #3286 Reply

    John Knight

    Worth some research I think, I was only going by the odd route I’ve seen that’s sparsely bolted and obviously has a bad fall. Basically they’re the ones where a slab has a single bolt in the middle of it, and that’s it. There’s less of them now, especially with Matt’s DBB specials (grin), but they’re still there.

    Has anyone taken a big fall from places like Toodyay Boulders? We had to wuss out on the slabs at the front right, because we knew we didn’t have the balls to do the route. I dunno if falling from close to the top would be a ground fall on these (you certainly would bouce on the way down though), but I’d imagine you could get pretty close. Especially if at the time of the fall you had some slack and were on a fairly dynamic rope.

    If I’m wrong about the routes and they’re okay, well I’m glad about being wrong! I am relatively new to this game and simply want to find out, not kick up a stir. Anyway, in the hope that I’m wrong, I’d like to hear from a few more people. 🙂

    #3287 Reply


    Nah John, you’re not wrong! I was on a route last year (may have been Dead Seal) where at the top of the second pitch there were two carrot bolts!! And until some time last year Morning Glory at Statham’s had only one lower-off.

    The situation seems to be getting better (thanks to Ross Weiter et al.) though so thanks to everyone who puts two ring bolts at the tops of their climbs!!

    #3288 Reply


    In regards to bolting on routes..perth seems to have more of a tradition of mixe routes where a variety of protection is utilised, both bolts and natural pro…rather then sports routes..although sports routes have become more common in recent years.. in along with that natural protection for belays was more common then bolt belays.

    As far as climbing in perth goes…its best to have general selection of natural gear and of course read your route descriptions, as they normally tell you what the top belay is like..

    #3289 Reply

    Ben Jeffrey

    Top outs…especially scketchy ones add a lot of ‘fun’ or ‘character’ to the climb. If you don’t want to commit to the top out then you shouldn’t be on the route. A lot of climbing has to do with being focused and mentally on the ball. As long as you are then the top out should be like the rest of the climb. As for the rock breaking or a slip…… it would be unlucky and is one of the risks of climbing as soon as you leave the ground. You can only test holds and place your feet as good as you can to minimise this.

    #3290 Reply

    John Knight

    There is always two opposing sides to a bolting argument, one for strong safety, the other for adventure and ‘romance’ of the old days. The two arguments come up time and time again no matter if you’re on a website or in a magazine, and you can almost guarantee that if you open up to a letters page, we’ll see one of these two arguments displayed here.

    I subscribe to neither side.

    I think there’s a balance to be struck and middle ground is ultimately the best choice. Some people would like a bolt every 3 metres, some every 5, why not go for 4 metres? etc, etc. As regards to top-outs, I don’t know how important the top is in comparison, but I think there’s a serious danger zone in the last 2 metres of the climb, which is often left neglected.

    Obviously we want to keep bolting fairly minimalised to avoid visual impact, and natural pro is always a solution. However, Looking at a lot of these routes, the last sections quite often have a feature of some sort, like a curve in the rock or a mini ledge, etc. I think an experienced bolter with a mind for aesthetics should be able to take advantage of the common features near the top, where no one would see or notice the bolt unless they actually climbed up there and looked dead on at the thing.

    Do you think this is a decent compromise? As I say, I’m kind of a newbie, please don’t yell at me! 😉

    #3291 Reply

    Ben Jeffrey

    Not yelling John, but I think as soon as you take the danger out of climbing, then you take away the whole point of it. You can climb a lot harder when you HAVE to be focused than having in the back of your mind ‘its ok if I fall’. If your thinking…ground fall, then you make the move happen and dont fall. If your that worried for example at toodjay, place a strop off a tree ready to go for the top out. not arguing….i think dnager is a part of why a lot of people climb. It adds to the challenge.

    #3292 Reply

    John Knight

    Do you think this changes after a major accident though? Kind of like when parents tell their kids to drive slowly?

    #3293 Reply


    Some good points made in the discussion. May I add some ways that I use to mitigate risk of runouts in general (incl. topouts):

    1.) I first have a very good look at the climb, trad or bolted, and ask myself if I’m happy with the protection (bolt spacings or opportunities for trad). If I’m not happy I abseil over the route first or go elsewhere altogether or as per point 2.

    2.) If I have any doubt whatever about the fixed protection but can’t be bothered abseiling over the climb, I carry a very small selection of trad gear with me anyway: say 10 nuts and 3 cams and 2 longer slings. Quite often a cam/nut can be placed in between the bolts. (e.g. Freedom at Wungong).

    3.) I have retreated from runout topouts in the past and rapped of last bolt, then recovered gear on abseil. Better a live turkey than a dead eagle.

    4.) I only climb with attentive belayers and am very bolshy with them as my ass is on the line.

    Maybe this helps.

    #3294 Reply

    Ben Jeffrey

    John….first you have to look at why the accident happened. There is no such thing as an accident. Accidents are caused. I can’t comment on your statement. Too open. What do you mean?

    People top rope, people aid…its all good and respect to anyone who gets on the rock however that may be. Also, I don’t want to sound like danger is the only reason I climb. It isnt. Its about being out there amongst some of the best environments in the world and appreciatng them. Its about the movement of the body on the rock…..flowing…its about spending valuable time with friends and people that you can relate to and its about playing with gear..(had to add that bit….love gear, call me a gear freak if you want).

    Take a step back, get out there and enjoy it and relax. No need to analize everything. Some climbs have scketchy top outs, some don’t.

    Enjoy them all.

    #3295 Reply


    hear, hear…have to second what Ben said…its all about the experience and getting out there…

    also it IS important to “get your head in” and have that phsyc to just do it as well as waying up the risks…what is acceptable…i have backed off more routes then i care to remember….mostly because it just didnt feel right on the day…even when i knew the grade was within my level…

    and as for top outs…in most cases the actual top out is a easier then the bulk of the climb and if you do fall then you should be high enough for your (good solid) gear to catch any fall…

    from my own personal reading into accidents, most deaths and serious accidents come from complacency…where the climber has topped out and gotten careless, off roped and fallen without taken proper care…ie. setting a belay and tying themselves in.

    (for those interested i posted a link in the general section…of a climbing video that has a wicked fall as the result of rock breakage…and this from on of the worlds best…takes a while to download but well worth it..awesome video and shows the worlds best doing what they do best)

    anyway..i’m not sure what grades your climbing john or if your’ve got a regualar climbing partner..but if your interested in going for a climb sometime…give us a hoy..

    #3296 Reply

    John Knight

    That was pretty much all I wanted hear, cheers guys. I think all the important points got covered and I especially liked Ross’s comments. As long as people have top-outs in mind and simply aren’t negligent when it comes to this sort of thing, then we have a reasonably sensible community.

    And indeed Ben, thinks don’t need to be over analysed. I’ve simply never seen much coverage of this topic in Rock and on websites and healthy discussion is good.

    As for Jamie, my climbing partner (Andrew) is in NZ at the moment, I’d be up for a wee bash. 🙂 I’m playing around with outdoor 19-21s at the moment.

    Cheers guys! 🙂

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