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Emergency Bolt Kit - Grand Canyon

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ratagonia, Sep 9, 2021.

  1. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Subject: Bolt Kits
    Message: Tom,

    I live in Flagstaff and have been successfully canyoneering in Grand Canyon a number of times. The list of technical descents I've been a part of include Badger, NF Soap, Rider/House Rock, Shinumo Wash (Silver Grotto), Tatahoysa, East Fork Papago, Royal Arch, Lower Deer Creek Narrows (in 2011, before it was made illegal in '12) and Rocky Point Canyon (Tuckup Tributary). I've rarely had to build anchors beyond replacing webbing I've found. We built a rock-pile/deadman-type anchor in EF Papago in 2011, but beyond that, not much. However, I understand how to build a number of natural anchors, and always make myself prepared to do so when dropping into a canyon, should I ever be presented with the challenge.

    I'm about to hike in and join a river trip at Phantom (on Sept. 24th) and lead a small group of river runners through Stone and Panameta Canyons (Panameta being a tributary of Matkatamiba). I have prusiks w/long loops for ascending, should the rope get caught. I've been thinking about buying nice ascenders and a bolt kit, in case of an emergency. I see you have two bolt kits for sale through this website, one for hard rock & one for soft.

    What is the difference between the two? Do you think I should carry a bolt kit for emergencies? I'm beginning to eye more and more technical canyons and I don't want to have any regrets.

    Thanks, (some name)

    ----------------------------

    Good questions, (some name). Congratulations on getting to spend some time in the Big Ditch!

    First let me say, you should listen to this podcast with Rich and Todd, the Grand Canyoneering Maestros...

    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podca...-and-todd-martin/id1548557089?i=1000533996412

    Second, carrying a bolt kit is a waste of treasure and weight, in most places, but especially in the Grand Canyon. The Redwall Limestone is friendly to natural anchors, especially knot chocks. It would be useful to carry a couple different sizes of webbing and cord, but in general we have been able to find plenty of spots. The ONLY place you would expect to NEED a bolt kit would be on first descents, and since I have done Panameta, I don't think you need one.

    There are some tools you can bring to improve your capability, the first is actual training. It sounds like while you have quite a few canyons under your belt, that perhaps you have rarely needed to come up with anchors on a blank slate. When I do canyons in the Grand, I generally consider every drop a blank slate, partly because I consider myself better at finding anchors than the previous party, and more picky about things like the line of rappel and ease of starting. Todd and Rich in particular have a different taste in anchors than I do, and I thought on many occasions they made poor choices of anchor locations. And I chose different locations.

    You can also improve your anchor game by bringing and using a Fiddle Stick and Super pull cord. These are more-useful in Sandstone Canyons, but in ALL canyons they allow you to use anchors that are quite far from the actual drop.

    So congratulations on not needing to spend money on a bolt kit. Please use ONLY Black Webbing when in the Grand Canyon, and it is a good color choice in all canyon areas.

    Ascending gear - another matter! Helps to have good tools.

    Tom
  2. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    Somebody used an "emergency" bolt kit on nearly every drop I did in four Grand Canyon canyons this spring. Certainly a lot more like Zion that way than most of the Colorado plateau. People had bolted obvious captures. I don't recall a single rappel that could not have been done without the bolt(s). My first time to the area so I assume that's the ethic, but it was kind of sad to see after spending so much time in ghostable canyons.
  3. Moab Kevin

    Moab Kevin

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    TIL there's a 'Canyons are calling' podcast. How is that not sticky'd !?!? Woot.
    But yes, GC has plenty of opportunities for natural anchors, save the weight and expense. Load your boat down with more beverages instead!
  4. Bogie

    Bogie

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    I carry a homemade Lt.Wt. kit for new canyons.


    1 lb. total, including hammer, 2.5”X 5.5”. 1 quarter inch bit, 2 bolts, 2 hangers. No eject pin or wrench necessary (drive-ins), handle doubles as a blow pipe. Works in sandstone, limestone, or granite, not quartzite. Slow drilling. Emergency Only. I have never had to use it.


    As an OLD mad-bolter, it eases my mind, because I’m not an experienced ghoster and usually solo.
    Yellow Dart and Jenny like this.
  5. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    YOU, sir, are a magician... carefully drilling 3/8" holes, my strikeout rate on 3/8" holes in Zion sandstone is around 60%. 1/4"???? That's magic!

    Tom
    Yellow Dart and Jenny like this.
  6. Bogie

    Bogie

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    Finesse comes from the many, many placements in my early years. Ghosting is a better skill to know. :thumbsup:
    Yellow Dart, Jenny and ratagonia like this.
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