In Portugal, many of the climbing areas are sea-cliffs.

As climbers, we considered ourselves very lucky, as we have beautiful sea-cliffs with excellent rock quality, and good, warm, dry weather almost all-year round. Especially, in the sea-cliff crags, there is often a micro-climate with almost no rain and higher temperatures than inland. Unfortunately, these are the exact conditions that accelerate corrosion in climbing gear and lead even recently placed bolts to break. In Portugal, as in Thailand and other Asian countries, they ARE BREAKING at extremely small loads, sometimes less than 5 kg. Many sea-cliff climbing routes are now considered “time bombs” and death risk is a reality.

The aim of the “TITAN PROJECT” is to replace all the stainless steel gear (A2 and A4) in all the Portuguese sea-cliffs with titanium gear. However, this will be a Titanic Task, so we will start with the most dangerous sectors – the most popular ones and those with the most corroded gear – and within these, we’ll start by re-bolting the routes equipped with A2 AISI 304 bolts (as the A4 AIS 316 is known to have a better resistance to corrosion). Until today, more than a dozen A2 bolts broke with extremely low loads, as mentioned before, so BE AWARE IF YOU COME CLIMBING TO PORTUGUESE SEA-CLIFFS. Be informed. The “TITAN PROJECT” joined the Portuguese climbing community and identified the crags and sectors with the highest risks.

These include:

Meio Mango – sectors “Poças” and “Baía” (bolted in 2009, mostly with stainless steel A2 and where some bolts already broke)

Sesimbra – sector “Dente de Leão” and part of the sector “Portugal dos pequeninos” (bolted since 2001, and showing different levels of bolt corrosion at this time)

Casal Pianos – a trad climbing area also bolted in 2009, where one of the 2 bolts of an anchor broke just from a climber hanging on that anchor.

Cabo da Roca – a trad climbing area with several development phases, with the oldest bolts dating from 1995, and where several anchors have been tested and broke at extremely low loads.

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Filipe in one of the many amazing routes at Cabo da Roca. Photo by Ricardo Alves.

Sagres – a truly international climbing area in the most southwestern corner of Portugal, it had several development phases with crags being bolted in the late nineties and others between 2008 and 2012. On these sea-cliffs some bolts broke with extremely low loads, e.g. just from clipping them.

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Isabel climbing in Sagres. Photo by Ricardo Alves