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Time to selectively bolt North Wash?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ratagonia, May 22, 2017.

  1. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Correspondence from an active canyoneer:

    "Hi Tom,

    We've likely corresponded a bit in the past. I have been canyoning around Hanksville for the last 10 years. Our core group are experienced mountaineers and expedition cavers. We've got a lot of experience with rigging and setting anchors, especially as cavers since we have to be very careful of rope rub, and all ropes get re-ascended.

    So far we've avoided placing bolts and stuck to traditional rigging. I've noticed a slow increase in the number of poorly placed bolts in the more popular canyons. I've also seen a lot of unsafe rigging. And I've seen a lot of unsightly rigging: 30 foot slings winding around corners. Finally, I'm seeing a lot more rope grooves.

    Do you think it's worth starting a discussion among the more experienced canyoneers around properly bolting some of the more popular canyons? I'm willing to help out with this. I think it would increase safety and lower the environmental impact. And I think we could be selective around what canyons to do it in.

    If so, who else should be involved in this discussion? I don't think it needs to be a formal thing. Probably better if it's done anonymously if only for liability reasons. But if some of the leaders in the community speak out in favor of selective bolting maybe we can avoid the bolt chopping wars that have plagued various climbing communities as well as setting some social guidelines around when and where bolting is appropriate.

    Regards, xxxxxxxx"
    darhawk and LonePeak like this.
  2. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I think this is a very very bad idea. Will elaborate later.

    Tom
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  3. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Looking for comments and opinions, preferably supported by logical arguments here.
  4. wisconnyjohnny

    wisconnyjohnny

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    IMG_6175.JPG eyes on this thread.
    wow.
    i saw last weekend how selective bolting looks in The huntress.
    I'm new but i've seen pretty good placement there.
    for instance this stone at final rap in hogwarts not being used because of the rope grooves that would follow. (at least i think that is why it is not slung)
    maybe the crack in it, however plenty to farm right there if they wanted to groove out the lip.
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  5. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    The problem with the final rap in Hogwarts is that the place indicated is often under water, and people do not want to use a sling sitting in the water. I don't want them to, because they will use it without inspection, if the inspection includes getting wet.

    Is there a problem with the final rap in Hogwarts?

    (I am looking for a discussion about the proposition in general, although the discussion might be served by discussing a couple specific locations)

    Tom
  6. wisconnyjohnny

    wisconnyjohnny

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    there's no problem with the final anchor but man personally, that solution pocket anchor is iffy.
    that would be a good place to farm some rocks for a cairn type anchor.
    Havent been in the game long enough to have an opine on bolting vs no bolting.
    just here to watch thread.:cigar:
  7. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    The Huntress was bolted by a local bolt-happy guide for the sake of guiding. I think this is unfortunate, but removing the bolts would not work because:

    A. Most of the traffic in The Huntress is guided traffic.
    B. That style of bolt is essentially impossible to remove.
    c. If I took them out, they would just replace them, AND be pissed off at me.
    D. It is a high-traffic canyon, and in several places the bolts are probably appropriate.
    E. It is a lame canyon, so it is hard for me to care.

    Tom
    wisconnyjohnny likes this.
  8. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    What solution pocket anchor? I think we call those huecos, and the hueco is not the anchor, the bridge formed by adjacent huecos is. Wisconnyjohnny, I hope you realize if you don't like an anchor, you should not use it. There are about 5 hueco-bridges in that area that can and have been used as anchors. (etc, Tom's normal ranting and raving)...
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  9. GLD

    GLD

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    As a crappy trad climber first and a crappy canyoneer second I probably understand something about the issue. In the climbing, the argument against bolts generally follows as
    1) if its next to trad placements, you need to learn to trad climb.
    2) An eyesore
    3) something about ethics and occasionally first ascent rules. ("I'm a badass climber who leads 5.12 and I solo'd that 5.6 slab, so forever onwards it shall remain blank", forgetting the fact some lizard went right up their grid - bolted 5.12 a few hundred thousand years ago without even wearing fancy climbing shoes or grunting excessively.)

    I don't understand the same arguments in canyoneering so what are the new ones?
    To address the above arguments for climbing
    1) Most trad gear gets pulled by your second (at least if it is your rack you really hope they clean it and if they are competent and still can't, well it was your fault placing the gear). Ghosting is the equivalent, but the sages on here have already said ghosting isn't for everyone. So the alternative is building cairns, slinging blocks, trees and logs, deadmen, etc. and leaving behind trash (once all that nylon crap gets washed down canyon, it's trash) which brings me to (2).
    2) eyesores. In climbing if the bolts aren't painted and just on a slab or on a wall with no pro I tend to agree it's an eyesore. Well painted bolts I generally don't find an eyesore. In canyons, I find WELL PLACED BOLTS with appropriately colored slings (or gasp chains to a quicklink) less of an eyesore than deadmen, cairns, 20 ft slings going from a natural anchor to the lip, farmed dirt that destroys a lovely hanging garden, etc. I get this is an aesthetic and therefore open to different perspective. But I do struggle to understand the opposing point of view.
    3) canyon ethics? first descent rules? (crap we get enough first descent arguments over naming rights-no way there will be agreements over method of travel ethics)

    If you still want to have fun and practice different techniques simply enjoy ghosting, go ahead and ignore the bolts. But I don't think you can say ghosting isn't for everyone (but please still go attack the easier frequently used canyons with other techniques and don't disturb the ones I like) AND no bolts either without addressing the eyesore aesthetic and recognizing it as just that, an aesthetic.

    So what remains? I know I'm ignorant so please enlighten me.
    LonePeak likes this.
  10. Ram

    Ram

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    One of the issues facing canyoneering, is there are so many sources to get information. Or NOT get information, as not all beta sources talk about ethics. Add that even when information on "HOW TO" prevent rope grooves IS provided, the information gets skipped over, in the rush to beta. This is an opportunity to reach more people and teach methods such as "anchor extending" in conjunction with "Courtesy Anchoring," one of the very best ways to prevent grooving. I philosophically hate the idea of leaving information at canyon entry points, but if there is a way to do so, without being too intrusive, more people can glimpse ideas on HOW to canyon more ethically. North Wash is a beginner venue. A place to teach and introduce ideas to unseasoned folk. If bolts are placed, it will send the message that drilling, a form of vandalism, as far as I am concerned, is not just OK there, but everywhere.

    Our sport, through the innovation of its members, is tracking the course toward less intrusive methods. Lets find a way to reach more people. Remove the bolts, patch the holes, mentor and provide information, perhaps at canyon entries, that challenge people to be the best stewards possible. Get um early!
  11. LonePeak

    LonePeak

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    I'd rather see a few well-placed bolts than excess webbing and deadman's and rope groves. I've inspected a number of bad anchors in the area, including deamdans that hardly held body weight. I'm not for excessive or amateurish bolting, but I think some could reduce impact and greatly enhance safety.
  12. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    " ...and greatly enhance safety."

    In what way would it greatly enhance safety?

    I was unaware of there being numerous accidents in North Wash due to anchor failures. Could you provide a list of these accidents?

    Tom
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  13. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

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    This is depressing to see people wanting to do this to yet another area.

    I would rather the humans adapt themselves to the environment rather than adapt the environment to themselves. Placing bolts would be an example of "adapting the environment to themselves" IMO.

    If safety is an issue, then those who's safety is at risk due to lack of experience need to learn more rather than change this area to suit what they are used to.
    Rapterman, Bill and ratagonia like this.
  14. Sandstone Addiction

    Sandstone Addiction Headed South

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    There are plenty of bolted canyons already. IMHO, unless there is a rappel that is lacking natural anchor options, leave it the way it is. I can't recall any raps that I've descended in the North Wash area that fit this description (only been through most of the beginner canyons though).

    Like Ram so eloquently stated, I too, believe education about how to rig and use extended courtesy anchors would alleviate a lot of the issues.
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  15. GLD

    GLD

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    Come on, you know better than anybody you don't need an accident to show that something is unsafe. ChrisH's rope hadn't broken yet...

    [later edit] maybe your emphasis was on greatly, but that will shift the debate further into degrees of safety increase and their upsides/downsides and value proposition. [end my later edit]

    As you stated there are lots of inexperienced people in the area and I doubt many of them fully dig up deadmen and evaluate. In fact, I've bypassed that before on dead men and cairns by adding a meat anchor and 'proving' it for all but the last.
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
    LonePeak likes this.
  16. AW~

    AW~

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    Like I dont know this is a safe space for the outdoor tourism industry. They deal 'REI', while someone new is muscling in 'ice'. If the populace wants 'ice' they will win. Not hard to figure out the status of the negotiation. I mean when the sign says "NO BOLTING" and this guy says "Now about that bolting thats gonna happen...do you want to join or?" .
  17. GLD

    GLD

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    If you aren't ghosting I fail to see this as anything other than an aesthetics/preference difference. Can you elaborate more?

    Edit: I get the difference to you as you descend a canyon and you prefer to solve the problem naturally, bolts don't stop you from doing so. In fact I rather like the problem solving as well.
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  18. GLD

    GLD

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    I think I follow. I'm merely trying to point out the capriciousness of the choice made. Some places have bolting bans but almost all places have littering bans (I don't know the regulations of the particular area in question).

    Like it or not canyoneering, like climbing, is being commoditized. In fact, the OP is one of those doing so and I appreciate it. I would never have found canyoning without it and I have experienced a serious accident that was the result of lack of training (to be fair to myself there is conflicting guidance on my choice of knot from the mountaineering community). We are going to have beginners and not all of them are going to seek instruction or guidance. We also can't foam pad the entire world. So if bolts vs. webbing isn't anything other than your preference (which I've yet to see) what kind of authority (moral or otherwise) do you have?

    [edit] I lied about not continuing thouigh I really will try to stop. I see the argument as protectionist and elitist or at best wistful remembrance of the days when men were men, women were women, sheep were sheep, and canyoning was less well known. [end edit]

    At this point I'm going to stop replying, though I'll keep reading. I should work occasionally.
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  19. GLD

    GLD

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    misedit on the previous post
  20. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Speaking from my own experience as a climber type turned noob canyoneer:
    If the only tool one knows is the hammer then every problem becomes a nail
    EDUCATION is the key.
    Without the shared knowledge of the experienced, there will be a tendency for every canyon to get bolted up.
    Because that seems 'safer' to the uninformed.
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