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Yet another Stuck in Zero G

Discussion in 'Accidents and Near Misses' started by Steve Kugath, Aug 17, 2017.

  1. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    I think even the "sport routes" are a bit sporty. The folks I know who've put up a bunch of the routes are seeming to do a bunch of it on lead.

    Bolts (and other fixed protection like drilled angles) have been used for climbing for many years. I've never heard fixed protection being an issue in the area.
  2. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Not a good assumption. Rules change. The routes may have been put up when bolting was legal (most likely the case). Bolting may or may not be legal now. Certainly, the BLM does not station a posse of LEs out at the reef. Protected by obscurity.

    T
  3. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    You must be using "popular climbing area" on a sliding scale. Yes, the routes occasionally get done. But generally, a popular climbing area is one where people say: "no one goes there anymore, it's too crowded!"

    T
  4. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    By popular, I mean in comparison to a few years ago as compared to now when there is a good chance of running into climbers. The Reef certainly isn't like Wall Street or Little Cottonwood.
  5. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    There are still new routes being put up (or at least they were being put up very recently). It seems the older routes go up the face of the Reef on the Navajo, while these newer routes are slab climbs on the tilted plane of the Wingate in places where it is steep enough.

    Anyway, I can't find anything on the BLM or other websites that spells out bolting rules for the San Rafael Reef WSA specifically. In the general WSA rules, I did find this in the BLM 6330 Publication, Management of BLM Wilderness Study Areas, dated 7/13/2012:

    https://www.blm.gov/nlcs_web/sites/...policy/blm_manual.Par.31915.File.dat/6330.pdf

    Rock climbing and caving will be allowed as long as these activities meet the nonimpairment criteria. The use of power driven (i.e. fuel or electric) rock drills or permanent anchors (e.g. bolts) is not allowed. No marring, scarring or defacing resulting in adverse impacts to the wilderness value of naturalness will be permitted, nor will permanent installations be permitted. Exceptions to the above may be allowed for: (a) emergencies, such as search and rescue operations; and (b) authorized actions needed for access travel within WSAs which are the minimum necessary for public health and safety in the use and enjoyment of the wilderness values. Any impacts from emergency actions (a, above), must be reclaimed to a substantially unnoticeable condition following the emergency situation.

    So apparently, at least since 7/13/2012, bolting other than for SAR is technically illegal.

    On another website I did find this added to the above, but it doesn't provide a linked policy document:

    Generally, fixed anchors placed prior to FLPMA (Federal Land Policy Management Act, 1976) will not be removed unless their presence creates—directly or indirectly—impacts that exceed the non-impairment standard.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2017
    ratagonia likes this.
  6. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    I don't claim to know or even understand the bolting rules in most of Utah. For the record I rarely bolt anything, not because of any strict credo. But it sounds like this particular place could stand for some Torosion. (Colloquial caving term for improving a route primarily for safety reasons.)

    And again maybe I'm off-ethics a bit, but at the very least this route could stand for some modest, informative signage. Something at the trail head describing the place, risk, and frequency of rescues. Possibly even a couple of permanent markers at the squeeze spot. Marking where-to and not-to descend. Try something less invasive before a weary-rescuer or do-gooder plugs it - or worse. (Like micro-blasting, but that's a whole new can of worms.)
  7. Ram

    Ram

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    It is quite disturbing that so much garbage was left. Thanks for taking with. Here is a news report

    https://www.ksl.com/index.php?sid=45463512&nid=960
  8. Lindsey Hargrave

    Lindsey Hargrave

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    Hey! I was actually the one who got stuck here (sorry for the mess!) That is my rope and chaco and I am really hoping to get them back! Please let me know!
    hank moon likes this.
  9. Steve Kugath

    Steve Kugath

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    I agree with Shane's comment regarding the placement of a bolt above and perhaps slightly out from the chockstone... too much S&R happening in this little canyon. If the county tires of the rescues it would be all too easy for someone to drop rocks down into the birth canal sealing that cool option up for good...there are a number of large rocks on the shelf above that could be used for this poor solution.

    Rapping off the chokestone is doable for experienced folks (made safer with spotters) but the angle is all wrong creating a swing back in toward the birth canal and possible leg/ankle fracture. You do need to stem out some past the chokestone and do a bit of down climbing as it is still fairly narrow right by the chokestone. Obviously the last few folks that have gotten stuck going low should have gone high but didn't see it as a very good alternative... a bolt in the right place might encourage larger folks to go high and create less work for SAR there in the future.

    Some of the past rescues, as Shane points out, have been high just past the chockstone. One November we did the canyon when there was ice in the potholes. Had my 4 Mil farmer Johns and 5 mil Jacket on...went high to make sure everyone could clear the Birth Canal...stood on the chockstone to aid them back up if needed. Started to climb down right by the Chockstone and the extra rubber I was wearing stopped me...feet dangling in mid air I somehow made it back up with a few friends pushing on my feet from below. Stripped off the wet suit and made it though without a problem the second time. Some have not been so lucky though and ended up quite wedged feet dangling in mid air until rescued.

    An option I'll use if someone of questionable size is along... I'll tie off a line from the boulders located on the above shelf (a 200 footer works well) and drop it into the canyon out past the chokestone on the hike in (this means hiking back up later just a ways after finishing the canyon).... takes a bit of time but much less time than getting someone stuck. With that angle you can work out the bombay to a wide enough drop in point without any swing. No trace left behind after...not sure though if a party were ahead if they would be offended by a rope hanging there.

    Spidey told me once he sets up this last section as a zip line out the bombay attaching the end of the rope to the large cottonwood across the pond at the base. Not sure where he attaches the rope to at the start. Sounds exciting!

    A worthy case I believe for the American Canyoneers leadership to look into and pursue viable options before someone makes a poor decision to drastically alter the canyon. Would be great to keep both the birth canal and high option available.
  10. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    There has been a bolt there this summer, placed by a member of the public.

    I don't know WHERE the bolt is - stated as ON the boulder.

    So. OK. DONE!

    Seems like there are still plenty of rescues.

    Tom
  11. Iceaxe

    Iceaxe

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    I would like to hear about the bolt at the Bombay from someone familiar with the canyon who has been through in the past week.... because it's my understanding there WAS a bolt, which eventually had it's hanger removed, and then was pulled. It's my understanding there WAS no bolt at the chokestone for much of this year.

    But since the last SAR I'm told a bright and shiny new bolt has appeared right where I suggested.... Anyhoo if anyone does Zero G in the next couple of weeks please report back and a couple pictures would be nice.
  12. jmack

    jmack

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    I went through the canyon on July 13th, 2017 and can confirm that there was then a shiny bolt on the left side of the canyon (LDC) about 4 feet above the chockstone and maybe 1 or 2 feet downcanyon from it, allowing for rappelling through the bomb bay.

    I'm skinny and have always dropped through with no problems. The other two in my party are larger and they both took advantage of the bolt. There was still a bit of a pendulum effect off the bolt, but because it was a higher anchor point than the chockstone, the swing was reduced substantially.

    I thought it was useful given the history of this particular problem and the accessibility of the canyon, but as Tom points out, the bolt (assuming it was still there) didn't help in this instance.
  13. Iceaxe

    Iceaxe

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    This last SAR she got stuck skipping the rappel and trying to go under the chokestone, so the bolt would have been of little use.
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