NPS fixed anchor policy

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NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby firemedic1015 » May 15, 2013 4:36 pm

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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby Extremeophile » May 15, 2013 5:10 pm

firemedic1015 wrote:http://www.accessfund.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=tmL5KhNWLrH&b=7903133&ct=13134839&notoc=1

I wonder if this will affect anchor placement in NPS caves?

This rule specifically includes caving. I don't see this really changing existing management policies regarding fixed protection. Fixed protection will continue to be allowed but is expected to be minimized, as is already done. All the NPS units I work in require authorization to place fixed anchors. They all will generally allow fixed anchors when they are necessary for safety. It's also already policy that power drills are not permitted in areas designated as Wilderness.
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby tncaver » May 15, 2013 7:10 pm

From Extremophile's post: " It's also already policy that power drills are not permitted in areas designated as Wilderness."

That is unfortunate, because a power drill can set an anchor that is much deeper and stronger (therefore safer) than self drive anchors.
Some rock is not sufficiently strong enough to be safe with a short little hand driven anchor. Some limestone is simply not good enough quality
to be safe with a short hand driven anchor, yet a power drill can set an anchor 4 to 6 inches deep or more if necessary. Hopefully their policy
is flexible. If not then they are not really concerned about safety but more concerned about policy. Please tell me this isn't so.
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby rjack » May 15, 2013 7:44 pm

tncaver wrote:Hopefully their policy
is flexible. If not then they are not really concerned about safety but more concerned about policy. Please tell me this isn't so.


Power tools have been prohibited in wilderness areas for at least 20 years, and its never been a flexible policy. You don't have to set a power drilled bolt. If a hand drilled bolt won't be safe you can turn around and leave it for some future generation to figure out an alternative.
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby tncaver » May 15, 2013 8:21 pm

rjack wrote:
tncaver wrote:Hopefully their policy
is flexible. If not then they are not really concerned about safety but more concerned about policy. Please tell me this isn't so.


Power tools have been prohibited in wilderness areas for at least 20 years, and its never been a flexible policy. You don't have to set a power drilled bolt. If a hand drilled bolt won't be safe you can turn around and leave it for some future generation to figure out an alternative.


Sad.
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby gindling » May 16, 2013 12:28 am

Just because you can't use a power drill doesn't mean that you can't drill a deeper hole than a self drive Spit, it just takes longer. A lot longer. But if you're worried about safety and you're in the wilderness, then thats what you have to do.
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby NZcaver » May 16, 2013 1:43 am

I thought battery drills used to be allowed in wilderness areas. Several years ago a trail crew on a wilderness trail in Oregon were using drills and micro blasters to clear rock because jackhammers and Bobcats were a no-no. I guess if drills aren't allowed any more, then my battery toothbrush is banned too?
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby tncaver » May 16, 2013 7:16 am

Many deep set anchors such as expansion bolts can be removed after they are used and the holes can be filled in with dirt, or mud. The anchor area
can be made to look as if there never was an anchor set. Yet, hand driven anchors such as Petzl are pretty much permanent. The deeper expansion
bolts can be a larger diameter shaft, which should be stronger as well. Seems to me the power drill anchors have all the advantages. Maybe it's time
for the NPS to rethink their policy.
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby PeterFJohnson » May 16, 2013 9:28 am

tncaver wrote:Many deep set anchors such as expansion bolts can be removed after they are used and the holes can be filled in with dirt, or mud. The anchor area
can be made to look as if there never was an anchor set. Yet, hand driven anchors such as Petzl are pretty much permanent. The deeper expansion
bolts can be a larger diameter shaft, which should be stronger as well. Seems to me the power drill anchors have all the advantages. Maybe it's time
for the NPS to rethink their policy.


As gindling pointed out, hand drills like Petzl Rocpec accept SDS drill bits up to at least 12mm. So the bolts you are referring to can be placed with a hand drill. There are other safety concerns, but diameter, depth, and bolt choice are roughly equal for hand drills and rotary hammer drills - limited of course by your time and arm strength.
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby Marlatt » May 16, 2013 9:40 am

PeterFJohnson wrote:As gindling pointed out, hand drills like Petzl Rocpec accept SDS drill bits up to at least 12mm. So the bolts you are referring to can be placed with a hand drill. There are other safety concerns, but diameter, depth, and bolt choice are roughly equal for hand drills and rotary hammer drills - limited of course by your time and arm strength.


And it does wear down your arms (unless you've got big guns like Derek). However, as Peter notes, you can hand-drill anything that you can power drill. It takes much longer, requires more dedication - and consequently, it leads to fewer, more thoughtfully placed bolts. Overall, I think that is a very good thing.

As rjack mentioned, this policy has been in place for >20yrs. It certainly has been in place during the whole of the history of Lech exploration. In earlier days, this was something of a hot controversy amongst Lech cavers - but the policy has stood, and it doesn't appear that vigorous, safe exploration has been prevented.

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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby Extremeophile » May 16, 2013 9:46 am

There does seem to be a fine line regarding what can and can't be used in Wilderness. We can use electric headlamps, laser Distos, and cell phones (which generally contain electric motors), but the motors in battery powered drills are not permitted. I don't think the policy has as much to do with the idea that battery powered drills disrupt the wilderness experience as it has to do with the goal of limiting fixed anchors. If every anchor has to be hand drilled then it's more likely that every one of those anchors is very necessary, and this then limits impact.

The Access Fund has taken the stand of supporting the ban on power drills in Wilderness. It's not clear to me whether this is their true desire, or whether it's a politically divisive issue that they don't think they could ever win. Sometimes you have to pick your battles, and if the primary goal is to get fixed anchors permitted in Wilderness areas, then maybe you need to concede on issues like using power drills.

I agree that there are instances where the ability to use a power drill could enhance safety, but there are also cases where the availability of power drills has led to over-bolting and unnecessary impact.
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby Extremeophile » May 16, 2013 9:49 am

I would also like to refer you to an article in the current issue of the NSS News that demonstrates what is possible with hand drilling alone.
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby Crockett » May 16, 2013 10:17 am

In theory you can portray the policy and the NPS as dysfunctional but in practice both work. It's better to have a conservative policy then consider exceptions because eventually some jerk may come along and push a liberal policy to the limits inappropriately and claim they are still following the rules. This speaks to the inability of some to recognize the spirit of the rules, or anything else, so they cling to the letter of the rules, and everything else, and in the end that is just not good for our wilderness, or the cave, because it is as much a spiritual thing as a physical one. I feel like I need to quote Ed Abbey here, how about this?

"The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders."

While Abbey had no love lost for the "government" he recognized that there are individuals who work within it with the right spirit. In fact that is a major theme from him distilled into this saying:

"A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government."
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby tncaver » May 16, 2013 10:35 am

Extremeophile wrote:I would also like to refer you to an article in the current issue of the NSS News that demonstrates what is possible with hand drilling alone.


It may be possible to swim from Florida to Cuba...but is it practical?
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby Extremeophile » May 16, 2013 11:02 am

tncaver wrote:
Extremeophile wrote:I would also like to refer you to an article in the current issue of the NSS News that demonstrates what is possible with hand drilling alone.


It may be possible to swim from Florida to Cuba...but is it practical?

Pete Johnson and I will be working on a big dome climb in WV this weekend. This is not in designated Wilderness, and we will most definitely be using a battery powered rotary hammer. I guess I was just trying to make the point that when the rules are different cavers / climbers are able to adapt to accomplish their goals. Maybe this means using different techniques, and maybe at times it means devoting more time and energy.

I am glad we have a few places left in the world that are protected from development. Wilderness areas are unique places and I am okay with a ban on power drills if that also means no permanent structures, no roads, no chainsaws, etc.
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