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Tech Tip: Question Canyoneering 107 - anchor critique

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by ratagonia, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. Sandstone Addiction

    Sandstone Addiction Headed South

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    I would like to see how you wrapped that boulder with the webbing. Looks like it is just wrapped twice in the the same direction. Should it be wrapped on 4 sides like a birthday present in case the boulder gets pulled sideways?
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  2. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Sometimes yes. In this case the boulder itself was very rough thus sticky. The webbing is cow-hitched to the rock.

    Tom
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  3. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    So...making the anchor less able to hold a 200lb canyoneer is somehow mo' betta?

    In beginner canyons, wouldn't it be better to have more margin for error than less?

    How is making this anchor less able to hold a modestly more amount of weight (and, 200lbs is certainly in my bell curve of existance) a better solution given this is a "beginner" canyon? How is that considered a "good" anchor?

    A bolted anchor positioned below those visible rope grooves solves a couple of problems...less visibly obtrusive, less material moved (think of all the poor critters who were displaced who called the underside of those boulders home!), less material permanently removed with rope grooves, higher margin of safety given that the anchor could handle several people instead of someone weighing less than 200lbs.
  4. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    If EVERY 'beginner' canyon is bolted then beginners might stay beginners...
    And get the false impression that all canyons are bolted
    EXISTENTIAL QUESTION:
    Do we want to meet the natural world on it's own terms, or
    will everything we experience be manufactured by some 'expert'
    and processed for 'easy digestibility'.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
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  5. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Sure, lets "leave no trace". But, if you're stacking big piles of rock, leaving 50 feet of sling with a rapide at the end, and, causing multiple rope grooves...when a bolted anchor would do none of that?

    Which is closer to your natural world?

    What Tom is calling for in the above is an anchor "manufactured by some "expert".
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  6. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Brian
    A fair reply, and there is THE question-
    which is closer to the 'natural world'?
    For me the whole point of the classic cairn anchor is that it is temporary
    and never to be trusted at face value.
    It needs to be inspected (and often rebuilt).
    This form of natural anchor requires skill and judgement to set correctly,
    A useful tool in the 'tool box'.
    :)
  7. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    A fair reply, and there is THE question-
    which is closer to the 'natural world'?
    For me the whole point of the classic cairn anchor is that it is temporary
    and never to be trusted at face value.
    It needs to be inspected (and often rebuilt).
    This form of natural anchor requires skill and judgement to set correctly,
    A useful tool in the 'tool box'.
    :)[/QUOTE]

    Sure. And I don't discount that experience as part of canyoneering.

    But, that stack of rocks, leftover sling, rapide and resulting rope grooves are hardly "natural".

    Sure...the stack of rocks can be unstacked (but those poor displaced creatures were probably consumed by raptors...), the sling/rapide cleaned up. But...

    Boltergeist last rap.

    (last rap in Boltergeist a couple of weekends ago...from a "natural" anchor)

    Good times...
  8. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I'm not sure you have read the thread, Brian, since you missed the point.

    This thread is not really about the aesthetics of it, but that is certainly a big part of it. Every THING we leave behind is litter. Webbing, bolts, and piles of rocks - not the rocks themselves, but the artificiality of the pile. People come to the canyons to enjoy the natural environment, and distractions from the natural environment should be minimized. This is pretty much the philosophy behind the critique above, specifically:

    A. Minimize the pile of rocks. Learn what size of pile works, and do that. Pile on more is more litter.

    B. Place the pile of rocks close to the edge, to minimize the webbing required.

    C. Extend the webbing to a point where the rock will not be damaged by the rapid link bouncing around; and not by the rope being pulled.

    You make a big claim for bolted anchors: "But, if you're stacking big piles of rock, leaving 50 feet of sling with a rapide at the end, and, causing multiple rope grooves...when a bolted anchor would do none of that?" My experience in the field is that bolted anchors rarely meet this standard. On occasions, it is POSSIBLE for bolted anchors to meet this standard, but in practice they rarely do. The famous "comb" rappel in Spry Canyon is often tooted as an example of the kind of rock damage using natural anchors results in - but, it is in fact bolts that anchor the comb rappel.

    The nature of drilling a hole and filling it with finely machined metal implements is, in itself, a larger intrusion into the natural world than moving a few boulders a few feet. At least to me... your taste in aesthetics is obviously different than mine.

    This example in particular shows that so-called "natural anchors" can be easily erased without tools, though of course the rope grooves and banged up rock surface cannot.

    Your other point [What Tom is calling for in the above is an anchor "manufactured by some "expert"] is also a misdirection. My claim is that anyone out canyoneering in most of Utah should undertake to develop the expertise to build a good cairn anchor. It does not require very MUCH expertise to do so, but it is pretty much a required skill to safely travel canyons in Utah (excepting in Zion). People who are intermediates should certainly have that expertise in hand. It does not require an "expert".

    I am also perplexed as to why you have an interest in this subject. I appreciate that you like Euro-style canyoneering, but you don't like and don't do Colorado Plateau type canyoneering. If you do, I hope you will participate in the established local ethic. And of course, I know you like poking me in the eye with a stick from time to time, which I thank you for, as it makes me ponder the choices I personally make, and that I try to enroll other canyoneers into.

    T
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  9. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Wait! You went canyoneering???? In Utah???????
  10. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    The person in the photo is not wearing a helmet and the webbing isn't black.

    Anyway, it seems to me (from what I have seen at least) that cairn anchors get bigger with time. Some cairn anchors start out small (but adequate) and get added onto by other groups. Usually it isn't the first party that made the anchor that makes a giant rock pile.

    The same is true of sling anchors (perhaps even more so in climbing). The person first making the anchor usually doesn't add more than one sling, but a lot of people add more slings without cutting away the old ones. The good news is that things might be getting better. I don't see as many anchors with a rats nest of slings than I did a few years ago. At least that's been my experience.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
  11. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Yeah, Tom, I'm still in the game, baby.

    Of course I have always liked canyons on the plateau, and, otherwise. I just don't have free time to do everything. And, I'm not here to be just a pain in your ass.

    And, yeah, I read the thread. You need to be less cryptic than posting a title called "anchor critique" and a photo with a big pile of rocks if you want us lemmings to follow your tune. Set some boundaries if you want a narrow (minded...ha ha) scope of response.

    I agree that a fair number of bolted anchors for canyons (and a few for climbing) aren't done well, or, located in locations that make the best sense. That doesn't mean "experts" couldn't do it better. And, maybe should. Well positioned fixed anchors would eliminate rope grooves. I also wonder if double rope rappelling would help (some testing may provide interesting results, or, not).

    To your point about misdirection... Skinnying down an anchor to a thin margin to be possibly seen and used by beginners in a beginner canyon isn't a good idear IMHO. Best to add a rock to ensure that the 100 kilo crew won't pull it down on top of them. I don't recognize an anchor that won't hold much weight as a "good" anchor to leave as an example.

    Sure, there's a balance between huge stacks of rocks and the narrow margin you choose employ. What would most rational folks would consider acceptable? My guess is most folks experienced in building anchors for rappels in technical terrain wouldn't consider your anchoring acceptable, with regard to having much margin for safety (see the Supertopo thread you dipped your toe in for example...geez, you even got compared to Trump...har har). If that's the game you want to play...you can have it.

    You asked for anchor critique. What you do with the feedback is up to you.

    Lighten up, man. Don't be such a...well...you know. Maybe grow the f up. Ha ha! (For those following along at home this is an inside reference to Tom being less than kind to a mutual friend and my neighbor).

    Cheers! And...remember, this is supposed to be fun. Read it that way. If you would.

    Thanks!
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  12. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    We were not yet IN the canyon, and working hard in the full sun. Don't worry Scott, we applied brain buckets before getting on rappel.

    I did not replace the webbing with black webbing as the color of the webbing matched the environment well.

    Good points.

    This was among the cleanest anchor we found in the trade route north wash canyons we did this weekend.

    Tom
  13. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Maybe next time I'll bring the load cell and a few extra people, and we can see how much my "good for most people" anchor actually holds. Would be an interesting experiment.

    T
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  14. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    I was just joking about that stuff. I already know you always where a helmet in tech canyons.;)
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  15. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    My deepest apologies, Scott. I should have applied a wink wink symbol to indicate that I got our long-running joke.

    T
  16. Scott Byington

    Scott Byington

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    :banghead:So, to have a little fun with this conversation (nothing malicious)… I don’t carry a bolt kit, I’ve never bolted anything (now I have travelled with a party in my group who has carried a bolt kit, I’m not claiming some type of purest philosophy). I like being creative with my anchors (I blame the adrenaline rush). I believe being natural where possible, but won’t turn a blind eye to using a bolted option. Obviously just past the dead-man there at Morocco, perhaps 75 feet, you can down climb it (I have done it twice). Granted everyone’s skills vary and everyone’s approach to an obstacle will vary.
    Perhaps I’m off the mark, but I think the biggest thing as enthusiasts is to be mindful of our impact and look for ideas/ways to minimize that impact. What may work in canyon “A” may not work in canyon “B” and so on.
    This should present us with the opportunity to learn from those who have led before without burning the bridge as they cross it.
    I don’t want to put words into Tom’s mouth (he’s very capable) but what I took away from his post/pic is to make the anchor easier to inspect when possible. Using physics, mechanics, techniques, or whatever you want to call it so that the anchor supports your heaviest person (usually me in this scenario @ 225LBS).
    I remember the 1st time I did Morocco the last rap was off a stone weighing about 2lbs. and was about 4x10x2, it was awesome. When I was there on Feb 28, 2018 there was a pile of rocks UGH!
    I’m reminded frequently just because I’m semi experienced, doesn’t mean I couldn’t do it better differently. Of course my son is 16, so he knows everything.
    We all have that proverbial son, so keep it up and pour gas on the banter fire. :banghead::banghead::banghead:
  17. Outdoors24

    Outdoors24

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    Is there another name for a Jumper Knot? Also would a butterfly knot work as well?
  18. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Probably a Tom-term. Since it is in webbing, an overhand works better. Usually quite small.

    Tom
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  19. Outdoors24

    Outdoors24

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    Thank you!
  20. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I've done that downclimb, and I would describe it more, for us brittle old men, as a meat anchor and catch. Given that we are two brittle old men, and only two, I thought the rappel was a safer alternative. With more people, I would do the downclimb because it is more fun.

    However, since I was going to rebuild the anchor anyway, I consider it fair play to then USE the anchor.

    Tom
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