Mecca quickdraw test

29 July, 2011
Mecca Maillon and Sling from Fourth Bolt

The perma-draws on the classic sport route Mecca F8b+ at Raven Tor were recently removed in a 'tidy-up' of the National Trust owned crag after a lively forum discussion (over 6000 reads) on UKBouldering. The thread began with raising the access implications of leaving quickdraws and perma-draws in place at the Cornice in Chee Dale. The Wildlife Trust who own most of Chee Dale (BMC access advice) ask that routes should always be left clear of quickdraws or tat. The thread soon broadened out to consider what is acceptable practice at other sports crags and how the visual impact of fixed gear can be considered intrusive by some outdoor users.

Rupert Davies raised the point on page 5 of the thread that: "…Raven Tor is owned by the National Trust and they regularly inspect the crag. I also know, having asked them during one such visit, that they neither understand nor like fixed gear and when asked which fixed gear they were referring to it was the situ draws on Mecca. They'd noticed other odds and sods, but the person I spoke to acknowledged that the bolts and odd crab were difficult to see unless you were looking for them."

Subsequently, a climber removed the perma-draws from Mecca. Access problems aren't the only consideration when it comes to fixed gear and DMM tested the draw removed from the fourth bolt and a quickdraw taken from the belay of Mecca. Both slings having been in place for over five years showed clear UV damage and the draw from the fourth bolt showed physical damage from wear on the maillon. 'El Mocho' posted: "Ignoring the access/eyesore issue this is a pretty crucial runner on Mecca, with people skipping the 3rd bolt (which is normal) and then often falling off the crux onto the 4th bolt, if this did snap you would be hitting the ground."

The results from testing the 22 kN rated tapes to destruction showed the belay draw failing at 11.22 kN, while worryingly the one from the fourth bolt broke at 6.96 kN. In the accompanying video below, Ben Bransby points out that sports climbing falls can be quite hard, since a locking device is often used for belaying and there may not be much rope out. Subsequently sports climbing falls can easily generate forces in the 6 - 8 kN range despite being relatively short. Clearly, if you knew this before trying to redpoint Mecca with that draw in place, you wouldn't be happy falling off far above the bolt.