Send us a suggestion!

Last Rap in the Subway - intervention?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ratagonia, Sep 18, 2018.

  1. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    4,651
    Likes:
    5,692
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
    Zion Subway.

    I do not have to go through Springdale and Zion Park much during the day, and I don't. Did this past week, to try to get a Pine Creek permit (unsuccessful). Way way more zooey than I have experienced before. For example, here is a photo from Jeremy Gorzalski from a recent Subway trip. Chaos at the last rap.

    One effect of the permit and lottery system is that it selects participants for competence - as in competence to navigate the permit system. Therefore competence in canyoneering becomes selected out. Is there anything that could be done?

    No, seriously, not rhetorically. Is there something that we (canyoneers) or the Park could do to make this safer and more pleasant?

    Tom
    wisconnyjohnny likes this.
  2. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

    Messages:
    1,294
    Likes:
    995
    A couple of weeks ago coming out of Imlay, the Narrows was more crowded by 2x than I have ever seen it. I wondered if it had to do with the trail closures.

    I'm all for allow free access, but it seems to be getting beyond crowded. Perhaps the permit system needs to be a bit tighter.
  3. gajslk

    gajslk

    Messages:
    497
    Likes:
    388
    A ladder would be cheap, effective, safe and would have minimal impact. If you're there for the challenge, you could still rap should you find that challenging.
  4. Zach T

    Zach T

    Messages:
    5
    Likes:
    6
    Get rid of Instagram.
  5. scottensign

    scottensign

    Messages:
    49
    Likes:
    78
    we did das boot/subway on the Sunday of labor day weekend. A lot of people in Subway. a ranger was just below the Subway, checking permits of people going up and coming down. According to our permit holder, she told him four large groups had already come down who did not have permits. She also told him there was nothing she could do about it (no citations issued) since she was not law enforcement. If that is true, there is no meat to enforcement of the permit system, unless they bring a LEO with them when checking permits. I also wonder about the safety of a single ranger down there if encountering a large group of unruly unpermitted people.
  6. Scott Byington

    Scott Byington

    Messages:
    104
    Likes:
    95
    Location:
    SLC, UT
    How granular do you want it to be?
  7. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

    Messages:
    973
    Likes:
    1,015
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    Curious what you think is unsafe about it? Did someone get hurt?

    I think the situation self regulates. As does all super popular, crowded venues. I say, "let it be".

    VERP

    Visitor experience? Its already permitted. Its a given how many folks could be there at prime time. Its plenty darn pleasant for the savvy.

    Resource protection? Adding anchors won't enhance protection of that canyon and could increase congestion by increasing carrying capacity.

    The Subway has been on the permit system forever. Its a marquee gig in the park and its already limited in traffic. Some enforcement of permits might help (we ran into park LEO right before the parking lot...very cagey).

    Anyhow...my two cents.
  8. Scott Byington

    Scott Byington

    Messages:
    104
    Likes:
    95
    Location:
    SLC, UT
    Perhaps the best scenario is when issuing a permit, you sign your life away and all those in your party. Then when SAR comes for you they are equipped with "Cash or Plastic" to pay for your rescue/extraction?

    For the most popular routes you make it by "Guide" only. Hiking to a point and then turn around and hike back. This is already used in many parks and they have set times to do so i.e. 8am, 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm. (Fee based guided tour based on a per/person helps pay for it)

    Then go in and remove all the bolts.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
  9. Evan Christensen

    Evan Christensen Evan C

    Messages:
    43
    Likes:
    32
    Location:
    South Jordan , UT
    It is so disappointing to hear that permit abuse is not being enforced. I have waited 1.5 hrs for the rappel in Subway wondering which of the annoying (not all were annoying) groups was there without a permit. I suppose there are more important problems for the LEO's to deal with. That is too bad because I'm sure they could bring in a lot of revenue with some hefty fines for permit abuse.

    With all the visitors and chaos in ZNP I have been exploring other areas. I'm certain that I'm not the only one staying away.
    ratagonia and Tom Collins like this.
  10. deathtointernet

    deathtointernet

    Messages:
    115
    Likes:
    278
    I'll say this... no, no one was hurt, but people could have been. Quite a few folks jumped across the gap by the falls to get to the other anchor, feeling it was the only way to get down in a reasonable time. And yes, it isn't super far and I've done it myself a number of times. It can be done. But people have seriously injured themselves on that jump, and I will say that not everyone who jumped felt safe about jumping. People started getting a bit desperate. Done enough someone will hurt themselves again on it, which doesn't seem like it should be necessary.
  11. deathtointernet

    deathtointernet

    Messages:
    115
    Likes:
    278
    Unfortunately I know Zion has struggled with a limited LEO budget. It's just part of the big slashing of funds for the parks. And a lot of what they have needs to be focused on the main canyon dealing with the near-chaotic situation along the highway.
  12. Kip Marshall

    Kip Marshall Bshwakr

    Messages:
    75
    Likes:
    46
    So you think adding guides into the mix will fix all the problems? Laughable. Also, SAR is a separate budget and is covered when you purchase a legal permit.
  13. Kip Marshall

    Kip Marshall Bshwakr

    Messages:
    75
    Likes:
    46
    Tom, we all took part in the planning process; we also knew that there were 'sacrificial' canyons like The Subway. Unfortunately, it got complicated when the log got washed out and a hand-line was no longer possible without jumping the waterfall gap. Bolts were then added without consulting the canyoneering public. Are you asking what can be done to make this exact problem of North Creek safer?
  14. deathtointernet

    deathtointernet

    Messages:
    115
    Likes:
    278
    Removing all bolts and making the canyons guided are two contradictory ideas. At least in the Zion area I've never met a guided canyon that wasn't soon heavily bolted. Adding (sometimes enormous) amounts of hardware tends to be the solution amongst many companies around here. And if you think guides make things safer, remind me to tell you the story of the guide who didn't know the longest rappel in Birch Hollow :D

    Obviously the idea of essentially selling the most popular canyons to a few companies so they can make a profit is not going to be super popular amongst a lot of the canyoneers here. Zion has a long history of supporting self-reliance and opposing commercialization and I know changing that is not something I would ever want to see happen. I kinda like the idea of "skill" and not "money" being the determining factor in whether or not you can do a canyon.
  15. deathtointernet

    deathtointernet

    Messages:
    115
    Likes:
    278
    My own two cents is that the 12 person group limit is simply too unwieldy. How many stories have we all heard in the last few years of close calls and near disasters involving 12 (or close to) person groups? Almost every massive bottleneck in the Subway and Pine Creek end up being caused by one of these groups. In this trip of mine, the root cause of the entire problem was that group. Things were flowing fine throughout the canyon (more or less anyway) until that group parked itself over the rappel and everyone bunched up behind them. I honestly think a 12 person group is inherently unsafe. It changes the situation from a team working through problems in a somewhat dangerous environment to a social get together. People are simply not safety conscious in a group that size. Almost every 12 person group ends up being people with a very low skill level, perhaps led by one or two people with some competency. They often lack anywhere close to enough gear and that slows things down considerably. The environmental impact ends up being much greater, because people in massive groups like that tend to be less concerned about littering or staying off fragile areas. Basically the bigger the group the worse individual behavior gets. It's simple human nature. I would be happy to see Zion eliminate the 12 person group sizes. A smaller group size would keep people focused on the canyoneering experience instead of the social experience, and I believe it would also tend to have some effect of weeding out folks who are not as dedicated to (and skilled at) canyoneering... since I have a feeling that a lot of 12 person groups are filled by getting the permit and then grabbing everyone they can think of to fill it. Instead the groups would be made up more of people who really want to be there. Which would also be a plus for the permit system itself. Obviously it wouldn't always be the case.. we've all seen plenty of small groups get themselves into trouble due to a lack of skills... but I think it would be a step in the right direction.
  16. Kip Marshall

    Kip Marshall Bshwakr

    Messages:
    75
    Likes:
    46
    I absolutely agree that in trade routes, rather than decreasing the available amount of user-permits, limiting the max group size to 6 would improve the problem. You would need to deal with the issue of scout groups/church groups/social groups who then split their large groups. Bigger fines, better enforcement possibly?
  17. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

    Messages:
    973
    Likes:
    1,015
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    Those are all great points, but, I'd disagree with a number of aspects.

    Large groups can be super efficient and super safe. Any of us who've done trips with large groups could probably attest to that (mostly European rendezvous...some of these groups were 20 or more!). Really depends on the group. And, very hard to regulate with a permit system the fidelity of a group.

    I think limiting group size is tough in Utah specifically, but, even in general if you have groups of folks coming from great distances who canyon well together and are efficient. Or aren't. It really depends on the group and their specific leadership (or lack of). That's a very hard thing to regulate for.

    Having seen large groups in action...an efficient group of 12 can move those 12 people though a single rappel point faster than 6 groups of 2. And inefficient group of 12 or 2 could slow that whole process down for all groups. But, the time suck does get magnified to a greater degree when the larger groups are inefficient.

    I don't want to dictate to anyone what their experience should be. That should be up to the visitor. And absolutely not up to the park service.

    I very much enjoy "social" canyon trips. And, I also go with a single person or even solo at times. My call. I should be able to have that diversity in my canyon experience.

    Again, with permit system in place, and, the numbers allotted to the Subway, as Kip pointed out above, you'll see those kinds of numbers in the canyon. Ditto Pine Creek on a weekend. Its a given. Any savvy canyoneer would know this. Very small actions on the part of the savvy person can mitigate this. Banging into a large group in peak season should be expected. With that known, there are options. Enhanced communication for playing through. Offers of instruction. Helping with safety. I'm not sure condescending remarks about lack of helmets is super appreciated...(ha ha).

    All that said above...it does sound like the bottle neck in this specific location would be alleviated by a well placed fixed anchor. Even though it flies in the face of requiring folks to have higher skills and could lead to proliferation into non-anchored terrain outside the park. All things to be considered.

    I'm sure Tom will decide what to do and go do it. I'm glad he at least tossed the issue out there for public comment prior.
    ratagonia, Jman, Kuenn and 1 other person like this.
  18. Kip Marshall

    Kip Marshall Bshwakr

    Messages:
    75
    Likes:
    46
    Brian, all good points. I do think that it is faster to play through a small inefficient groups vs a large inefficient groups. Constrictions in canyons like Pine Creek make it so that large groups are often dispersed over several rappels; communication is poor and individual members may not even understand the concept of playing-through.

    As for the Subway constriction, I propose that we move the North Pole and create an homage to the original ladder in Kanarra Creek. Haha.
  19. Evan Christensen

    Evan Christensen Evan C

    Messages:
    43
    Likes:
    32
    Location:
    South Jordan , UT
    I vote for an additional well placed bolt at the last rappel in this situation. Subway is what it is and will always have high traffic.
  20. Kuenn

    Kuenn

    Messages:
    1,454
    Likes:
    1,554
    X200

    The last time I was there (ours was a party of 2) we encountered gridlock at the last rappel with 2-3 groups, hard to determine. We convinced them that we could all move through faster if they would allow us to setup the rappel and "assist them down". A few complaints, but we proceeded with our plan. Using our rope since we would obviously be going last. Not sure how much time was saved, but it was a savings...especially if you consider that accident potential would have slowed us all down.

    We also encountered a "aged" woman that had no business being there, below the subway proper. She had a large party helping her exit, but there was no way they were going to get out before dark. Hated to leave her....
    Alas, Anne Morrow Lindbergh framed it best concerning these realities of life. She wrote, "My life cannot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds."
    ratagonia, hank moon and Tom Collins like this.
Similar Threads: Last Subway
Forum Title Date
General Discussion Bill Wolverton using a chainsaw to remove the last tree Dec 11, 2018
General Discussion Last chance to comment on Utah’s monuments, Nov 15th/30th. Nov 10, 2018
Trip Reports Fat Man's last weekend Jun 14, 2018
General Discussion Last Rap anchor in Not Mindbender has changed Nov 21, 2017
General Discussion Watch "Last of the Great Unknown" Free Today - And Comment on the BCMP! Apr 4, 2016
Trip Reports A Blast from the Past-HEAPS- Oct. 2010 Aug 10, 2015