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Tech Tip: Question Canyoneering 107 - anchor critique

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

  1. Andrew J Farrow

    Andrew J Farrow

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    if bolting is dismissed as " incompetant violence " then i SHOULD respond with some pithy retorts about some of the ideas touted by others . but i am here to learn - not argue so i bit my tongue and just say :

    " bolting " // " fixed anchors " subsumes a lot mmore techniqies and technologies than just petzl studs and plates

    however - one point i must address - regarding inspection of anchor integrity :

    people who take the issue seriously - will inspect all elements to thier satisfaction - regardless of the time // effort required . people who dont take the matter seriously - will not inspect anything regardless of how easy // obvious such inspection would be
  2. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    A couple points -

    1. The Asimov quote does not talk of incompetent violence. And it is originally about fictional politics, though it seems pertinent in these dark days.

    B. Placing bolts in our soft sandstones requires a great deal of competence, perhaps best shown by the many incompetently placed bolts scattered across the Colorado Plateau.

    iii. Bolting a place with an abundance of natural anchor materials is like a climber placing a bolt next to a cammable crack (to me). Thus I consider it violence.

    d. "regarding inspection of anchor integrity" - while I agree with you in THEORY, in practice, making a cairn anchor easily inspectable leads to much more and better inspections. This is a beginner canyon right next to the road - competence should not be assumed. My experience in the field is entirely at odds with your claim; that experience being mostly with non-beginner canyoneers, who consider it a chore to inspect large cairns.

    Tom
  3. vanizzle17

    vanizzle17

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    and happier.
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  4. Scott Byington

    Scott Byington

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  5. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Perhaps this needs it's own thread?
    We (the Vegas canyoneeering community) have recently dealt with a bolting rampage in our mega-classic:
    Ice Cube Canyon, rated 4B IV.
    While being bolt free for decades (think: classic traditional rock climb, OLIVE OIL:thumbsup:),
    It begin to 'grow' a bolted anchor here and there then a newcomer to canyoneering went and bolted EVERY SINGLE DROP (violence and incompetence)
    As you can imagine, this dramatically reduced the difficulty of Ice Cube, and as word got out it became a THING for local rock climbers
    to amuse themselves on rest days by 'checking out' canyoneering.
    We met such a group, as they were pulling out a bowl and getting wasted mid-CUBE (because advanced canyons are just so 'chill'):facepalm:.
    While experienced climbers they had not bothered to bring helmets, wetsuits, dry bags, extra sling, or really much else besides their ATC's:disagree: -
    And really, with Ice Cube bolted head to toe, what more do you need?
    Happily, last year, every last offending bolt was removed, restoring the Cube to it's original glory (and it's REPUTATION is restored).
    4B IV :twothumbs:
    With down climbs / sequencing / partner assists / advanced (non-permanent) anchors, etc.
    Most of it can be ghosted (no sling left behind), and frequently is.
    Wandered off topic?
    Feel free to set up your tent
    and start drinking heavily...
    :D
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
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  6. brokedownjeep

    brokedownjeep

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    That thing has grown a bit since I used it last November. About double actually. When I was there the webbing was easy to inspect. I can’t remember if it extended to the edge or not. As someone who is in the over 200 club I appreciate a little more heft to an anchor, however that is a bit ridiculous. I imagine every group that descended Morroco since November added a rock or two. If one is good, more is better right? Thanks for the lesson Tom. I for one appreciate it. As a self taught “intermediate” canyoneer I’ll take what education I can get since I don’t hang out with all you masters out there. Thanks!
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
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  7. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    As some have pointed out, the anchor need not be sturdy enough for the heaviest person in your group (although, it is a good idea for it to be so), but only for the lightest experienced person.

    Thankfully this is not a very good place for a jump-rappel start.

    Tom
  8. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    What Scott Byington said:

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

    To your point, I found a recent pic of the last rap in Morroco

    Last Rap in Morocco.JPG
  9. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    correlation.
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  10. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    But then again....if we only knew the size of the first dude that went down this "mammoth" drop?

    Late to the discussion party, but before reading the replies my first raised eyebrow was the massive rock pile...even when contrasted with Mr. Jones (winter layover notwithstanding). And they didn't use the 3 small rocks in the left foreground...an obvious oversight.

    Posturing!

    (@ratagonia always looks dapper and chic!)
  11. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Mom said posture is important!
    Posturing?
  12. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

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    I recognized that as the first drop in Morocco as soon as I saw the pic..

    There is a trend I have noticed on hiking trails and along rivers and such.. people build cairns all over the place. Sometimes they build dozens of them along the river banks, or rock islands within the river, or other places rocks are available. They make them as tall as possible, sometimes like something out of a Doctor Suess book. My guess is they think they are being artistic- I think it's obnoxious, but YMMV.

    Maybe people are following a similar habit here of adding a rock to the already existing cairn anchor ?
    It seems a bit like adding a sling of webbing to an already rat's-nest webbing anchor that we all have seen before.
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  13. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Dr. Suess cairns ARE obnoxious-
    and when positioned on cliff-tops (say, summit of Angel's Landing)
    they are death-bombs waiting for the wind to topple them onto unsuspecting hikers and climbers...
    We are seeing cairn building EVERYWHERE at Red Rocks- a common 'game' to keep the kids occupied
    :facepalm:
    If we could just include the scattering/ leave no trace part at the end...
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  14. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

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    Most times I see people building them, is when they are hanging out smoking their bowl, usually with an unleashed dog or two running around.
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  15. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    ...snicker...
  16. MrAdam

    MrAdam

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    I saw some recent pics from Ice Cube on a friends facebook page...... The bolts are back again. Not sure how many but at least the last rap and a couple others have bolt and chain anchors again.
  17. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Icecube...recommend separate thread.
  18. andrew vaughan

    andrew vaughan

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    I am new to the canyoneering community and have yet to for a strong opinion on the bolt/no bolt debate. What I have never understood and a question I would throw out to the community at large is why remove bolts. If you don’t like them and want to do a canyon in its natural state why not just ignore the bolt and run the canyon as you please?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  19. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    People will offer a number of reasons.

    Some will say the bolts are illegally placed and removing them shows land managers that local canyoneers are willing to self police.

    Another is to keep the canyon style of descent sans bolts.

    Also sends a message to the greater community that the canyon is bolt free and should stay that way.

    Might help to keep proliferation of bolting in check.

    Sends a message. Cleans up the canyon.

    All reasonably valid reasons.
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  20. Scott Byington

    Scott Byington

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    I’ll share my opinion and of course welcome the spirited debate on the bolt/no bolt issues. (Of course this should be its own thread.)
    Let’s establish common ground first:
    • Not every canyon is the same
    • Treat every canyon as if it had no bolts
    • Planning for a canyon should include a contingency plan
    • Higher trafficked canyons present moral dilemma:
      • Does the higher amount of traffic using a natural anchor create more scarring?
      • Would a different type of knot reduce scarring?
      • Would a properly placed bolt reduce scarring?
      • Assumptions that a bolt will reduce/eliminate scarring?
      • Not limiting anchors to bolting, we could also include (but not limited to) Dead Man as well.
    Granted there are a number of other items we can assume as common ground but for keeping the debate simple (no congressional hearing required).
    Now we can address the issues:
    1. Would your current skillset and those in your group be able to complete the canyon without bolting?
      1. If you are unsure if your current skillset is sufficient to complete the canyon without bolting, take the position it is not sufficient (lowest common denominator).
    2. IF your skillset wouldn’t allow you to complete the canyon without bolting, look to strengthen your groups skillset either by learning the necessary skill or adding another member who has the skills and can share/teach the skill.
      1. IF you are unable to strengthen your skill set or group skill set prior, (Please skip the canyon).
    If your perspective was “only bolt” if your life depended on it and I would determine that literally if I don’t bolt I will die in 2 hrs. or less. If that criteria isn’t met, then hopefully your contingency planning should allow you to solve the problem.
    If you are doing the canyon without the skill sets required on the premise there are bolts, I would ask why (beyond the obvious answer)?
    • By doing so are you increasing the risk to others if something goes wrong?
      • Bolts can fail…
    • If you had to be rescued and someone died while rescuing you and it is later determined that you lacked the skills or the equipment, are you willing to accept the responsibility?
      • Involuntary man slaughter 3-5 yrs. In Federal Prison.
    If the canyon has been bolted; but there are plenty of natural resources to maintain an anchor without additional scarring, why keep the bolt?
    • Does the bolt allow additional traffic in the canyon that would normally be capped by skill level?
    • Is the rational for the bolt to open the canyon up to those with less skills?
    • Is/are the person/group with less skills prohibited from learning more skills before entering the canyon?
    (These aren’t questions that I’m asking someone to answer, more rhetorical in nature.)
    Everyone’s moral and ethical compasses will have them pointed in various directions. Myself as the enthusiast, if I take the perspective of reducing impact, I will learn the skills necessary to reduce impact and look for ways to preserve the canyon and prevent scarring.
    Now the idea of removing a bolt that is already in place that isn’t necessary (natural anchor materials available /non-life threatening); your moral compass will direct you. If you take with you the notion that there may not be bolts in the canyon (because someone may have removed them) and your skills aren’t sufficient, then strengthen your skill set so you don’t have to place any bolts.
    Moral and ethical compasses plus beer = (My belief) your skillset shouldn’t be dependent upon bolts.
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