How to ID and report a bad climbing bolt in NSW

Seen something you don’t think is quite right? Please report it to SRC Rebolting using this Google Formor email extra urgent problems to! There are no regular inspections of recreational climbing bolts by any land managers in NSW (National Parks, Council etc). We need community feedback from people like you to know about bad bolts and anchors. SRC Rebolting funds much of the equipment used in rebolting – but the work itself is done by volunteers within the climbing community. Funds are solely generated from donations from the climbing public – please consider donating.

If you hear a rumor about a bad bolt, or stumble across a warning about bad bolts on from an individual – please try and report this to SRC Rebolting. Often problems can sit for years without follow up due to a lack of anyone being formally told about it. Don’t feel guilty about reporting something you are unsure of. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Is a bolt or anchor worth reporting?

This is a quick guide on what to look for when judging the quality of a recreational climbing bolts. A good bolt for the majority of NSW climbing’s sandstone areas should be lacking in rust, be held in place with glue and be made from either 8mm or 10mm diameter stainless steel rod (if a ringbolt or Ubolt). Glue should not be cracked or falling apart (an early sign of glue decay). Writing on a bolt means it will be professionally made – a good sign of quality. A bolt or hanger should have enough room to hold a large carabiner without it jamming or rubbing against bumps in the rock. The majority of popular crags in NSW contain good bolts.

What makes a bad bolt?

If you come across something that looks like what is described or seen below – don’t use the bolt and report it!

  • Does the bolt move in the hole if you wiggle it with your fingers, or under load? Report it!
  • Is there no glue visible around the bolt and all you can see is just black space? Report it!
  • Is the bolt sticking out further than it should? Visible thread or welds is a sign a bolt is creeping out due to rock or glue failure. Report it!
  • Is the bolt really rusty? The worst type of rust is when you can pick off dark chunks in your fingers. Report it! Light surface rust is generally OK in the short term.
  • Seen a crack in a bolt or hanger? Report it!
  • Is the bolt/biner/shackle/mailon worn from ropes lowering off? Does the bottom of the bolt/biner/shackle/mailon have a worn notch with a sharp edge from rope wear? Report it!
  • Is the fixed hanger smashed and flattened to the rock – and no longer bent at 90 degrees to the bolt? Report it!
  • Is a rusty piton the only usable piece of gear (with no trad nearby?) Most pitons date from the ’60s and ’70s. Report it!
  • Does the anchor consist of homemade fixed hangers, unrated hardware store “carabiners” and maillions? Report it!
  • Is the lower-off or rap anchor consist of only one bolt, or two chains joined to only one biner? Redundancy is key to a proper anchor! Report it.
  • Does the bolt lever the caribiner over an edge, or jam the biner from movement creating a situation where the biner could break in a fall? Report it!
  • Does the bolt appear to be an expansion bolt in sandstone? The tell tale sign is a threaded rod, nut and fixed hanger. Report it!
  • Seen a dangerous loose block that needs removal or reinforcing? Mark it with a chalky X and report it!

How to report a bad bolt

  • Take a photo. This helps the rebolters ID the bolt type and construction of an anchor and the potential problem. The more photos the better.
  • Write down any visible text or numbers on the bolt or other fixed gear. (numbers often equate to stainless steel type and brand name).
  • Are other bolts on the route the same type as the bad looking bolt? Often one bolt failing is a sure sign that others will shortly follow. Check the whole route for problems.
  • Disable the bad bolt using a wrap of tape or a bit of stick wedged through the ringbolt eye or fixed hanger – whatever can be done to make it clear that it shouldn’t be used.
  • Leave a note at the base of the route warning others of the problem.
  • Leave an online warning message on the route description on

Most importantly – Report it to SRC Rebolting via this form or if urgent also email at By reporting it, SRC Rebolting can allocate replacement equipment and line up the nearest skilled rebolter to assess and rebolt if required.

Although it is tempting to post on social media, such as Facebook or Instagram, we advise against this as this can sometimes cause unnecessary alarm amongst land managers (National Parks, Council and private landowners). A report to SRC via email will be actioned quickly – and if a public warning needs to be given on social media – this can be managed in a professional way by ACANSW.