The DAV (German Alpine Club) have issued a safety alert for lower-off units from manufacturer Fixe, some of which have been reported to fail by cracking of one of the chain links. These units are primarily designed for use at indoor walls, but are also sometimes installed outside with the hangers mounted onto expansion bolts to provide an outdoor lower-off.
Initial problems were reported by the DAV back in 2015, when the top link chain was found to have cracked on a couple of lower-off units manufactured by Fixe. Subsequent issues have lead the DAV, which manages a large proportion of climbing walls in Germany, to issue a safety alert recommending all Fixe lower-offs be replaced.
The ABC (Association of British Climbing Walls) have warned climbing walls which may have these units about the issue. The BMC has issued this warning both to alert individual climbers, and also because some of these units may have been installed at outdoor crags.
What should you do?
If climbing indoors, the wall management will be responsible for checking and replacing any lower-offs which may be affected. If unsure, check with them first.
When climbing outside, things are a bit more complicated. You may well come across lower-offs which have not been checked or replaced. Be extremely cautious and do not use a Fixe lower-off unless you can confirm it has been replaced or without backing it up.
If you are a bolt fund or installer and have installed Fixe lower-offs outside, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance and assistance.
DAV has issued an updated alert, following additional information and a statement issued by Fixe, the manufacturer. Fixe have stated that as the cause of the cracking is stress corrosion cracking (SCC), then this issue should only affect units manufactured from AISI 304 material, which are clearly marked "INOX". In addition, because SCC is linked to environmental factors, locations at risk are those in the vicinity of swimming pools, industry, busy roads and of course seacliffs.
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