Fixing Dangerous Bolts: Greg Barnes and the ASCA (Ep.6)

All Things Climbing Podcast, Blister Climbing Podcast

How safe are the bolts we encounter in the wild? Can we really trust them? Who maintains them? And what makes a bolt fail, anyway? Greg Barnes, the Director of the American Safe Climbing Association, answers all our questions about bolts and more. The ASCA is a small non-profit with a not-so-small mission: to replace old and dangerous bolts across the country. Greg has personally installed and replaced thousands of bolts, and now spearheads the effort to get new hardware into the hands of local climbing coalitions so we can all stay safe. We talked about how exactly the ASCA (with its limited resources) decides what hardware needs to be replaced; how bolts fail and what the warning signs might be; and what climbers should know before the leave the safety of the gym.


  • How do outdoor bolts get damaged? (1:00)
  • How did Greg start rebolting? (5:50)
  • Tour of the “warehouse.” (6:35)
  • What’s the difference between mechanical and adhesive bolts? (7:50)
  • …and drilled angles? (14:40)
  • How did Greg become the director of the ASCA? (16:55)
  • Who is doing the actual rebolting? And how do we know they’re qualified? (18:45)
  • Which crags are in the greatest need of replacement hardware? (19:15)
  • Is there any oversight to ensure bolts are installed correctly? (21:25)
  • Are lower-off anchors coddling climbers? (26:15)
  • When should climbers repel instead of lower-off? (28:05)
  • Greg’s vision for the ASCA (30:15)

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