NPS fixed anchor policy

Discuss vertical caving, equipment, & techniques. Also visit the NSS Vertical Section.

Moderator: Tim White

Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby Scott McCrea » May 20, 2013 11:13 am

Sweet! That's a heck of a cave! Nice work! Got pics?
Scott McCrea
SWAYGO
User avatar
Scott McCrea
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 3198
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 3:07 pm
Location: Asheville, NC USA
NSS #: 40839RL
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Flittermouse Grotto
  

Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby iceclimb » May 20, 2013 11:33 am

thanks for the link.. it's pretty interesting. I'm intrigued by what the interpretation of "Practices such as gluing or chipping holds, and damaging or removing vegetation..." with regards to opening new passages, digging, and moving rocks to make passages.. umm... passable.. will be. Lumping climbing in with caving with regards to anchors makes some sense, but the sports are pretty different when it comes to travel over the terrain.

I've always thought the no power drills ban to be a bit silly, but I do understand why it's in place.

What I find most interesting though is that the climbing forums aren't talking about this.. but cavechat is.
iceclimb
Infrequent Poster
 
Posts: 16
Joined: Jun 22, 2009 2:23 pm
NSS #: 36048
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Nittany
  

Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby KENTO » May 20, 2013 8:30 pm

Okay, please someone explain the magic bullet point I am missing here that a climb up a 200 foot pristine wall done by a succession of daring hook moves stuck in a hole hand drilled every one foot or so because, " Falling is not an option " is no impact or acceptable impact in the Wilderness setting but a 200 foot climb that was accomplished by a caver/lead climber placing 10 well set holes with a power drill now is willing to take a chance on falling 10 feet or so on a dynamic rope and maybe he/she uses a hook move or 2 or 3 , also a natural anchor or 2 if lucky, quite a few daring friction moves because of that good bolt just below, in other words less alteration of the rock surface up this route. This route, accomplished with that unfair technology , the Hammer Drill is against the Wilderness Ethic and would really cause the environment , In a Cave ? to suffer confirmed impacts while hand drilling and the less than optimally placed fixed anchor where there is a BFR causes the cavers to deposit muddy footprints etc and cause rope wear nightmares for the management of the project once the need for the trade route to going cave is established, this is equated with acceptable/allowable impact? When a well placed bolted rebelay trade route could be achieved easily that results in zero contact with the cave walls.
Many people go BackCountry Skiing and Snowboarding in NPS Alpine Wildernesses all the time in Winter using a plethora of gadgets, avalanche transcievers , altimeters with Li-Ion batteries that would impact the environment harshly if lost or left behind, the latest and most expensive plastic/Foam mountain boots that use up the Earths finite resources, yet I hear no one suggesting for the sake of Wilderness Ethics that we only ski on old fashioned wooden or better yet Bamboo snowboards and use only the old fashioned Avalache cord streaming backward in a trail of brightly colored 3mm nylon 50 feet away or so in hopes someone could find me in time if I was covered by snow. That stuff used to get left behind and was an impact in Wilderness areas.
So why are there no longer conversations about Hammer Drills and Bolt routes on the climbers forums? Is it because there " Style is everything " , The Object of Climbing is not to make the climb easier , but for the Climber to get stronger, more artistic and skilled to do harder or more " Aesthetic routes " up the same Hill. In the Climbing World it became obvious quickly that any person could buy a Hilti and start scarring Smith Rocks ,Oregon/ El Cap in Yosemite/ Eldo Canyon in Colorado. What's more , every body was forced to listen to it and look at it. So it was an easy Sell for Climbers to Band together as The Access Fund to lobby for preservation of climbing areas by enforcing the ban on Hammer Drills but " Grandfathering " of the practice of Fixed Anchors.
But this is a caving forum for cave EXPLORERS , yes we need to guide ourselves to the future debating ethics now and then. But for golly's sakes let's climb up , push past limits, go deeper than before into the UnderGround Wilderness without so much attention to shoe horning a criterion that was designed for above ground Wilderness. Logistically, there is a reason there was no major Breakthrough in Lech after 1989 until Oz , the cave is indeed so unique it must be explored with a more preservationist approach. Now , it sounds like they may find another entrance out on the Western End, which would be a good thing with a carefully designed environmental gate again.
There are a butt load of more leads staring down at explorers below in that cave , all protected by corrosion residue and rotten rock , if the latest technology was sanctioned for one time only use on a case by case basis, Lech might be 200 miles now and growing. As long as we didn't leave the Li-Ion batteries behind and removed a few intermediate bolt sleeves and packed the holes once a permanent anchor high above was fixed, " I think the Underground Wilderness would survive just fine. "
KENTO
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 138
Joined: Sep 9, 2005 10:48 pm
Location: Orange County, Indiana
NSS #: #18,986
Primary Grotto Affiliation: BloomingtonIndiana Grotto
  

Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby Stan Allison » May 21, 2013 8:58 am

One thing to keep in mind about climbing in Lechuguilla Cave is that there are many places where having a hammer drill would not make the climbing any safer. I've helped with two 200 foot plus climbs in Lechuguilla Cave. There were two cruxes on the Capitol Dome climb in the Far East. Larry Shaffer led the first crux by aiding up about 20 feet of overhanging aragonite and popcorn blobs loosely attached to the walls. Even if Larry had a hammer drill it wouldn't have done him any good unless he had a chisel attachment and chose to chisel through however many feet of aragonite were between him and the bedrock. James Hunter led the second crux which involved a long section of free climbing. He found a stance to hand drill a bolt and found that there was a thin calcite layer on top of a layer of extremely weathered bedrock and it wasn't possible to place a bolt by any means. Once again, the only good a hammer drill would have done is to potentially chisel down through who knows how much weathered bedrock to try to get to good rock. There are some places where a hammer drill might make the climbing safer in Lechuguilla, but I think a bigger factor in the spiciness of Lechuguilla climbing is that there are a lot of places where the rock quality isn't good enough to support a bolt placement whether it is placed by hand or hammer drill. Thus the need for creative climbing techniques like hooking and aiding up equalized webbing on popcorn and aragonite blobs and climbing on horribly weathered bedrock. Fortunately bomber natural anchors and bolts placements are available often enough that no one has had to do anything as crazy as 200 feet of hook moves.

As for Lech not being 200 miles due to hammer drills not being allowed, I would argue that the biggest detriment to Lech not being 200 miles long is the character of the cave. The first 50 miles were quite big and easy. In recent years the leads have been generally pretty nasty. A typical day in Lech involves surveying through some sharp nasty passage and only getting 300 feet of survey even with an experienced hard working crew. The limited access to Lech also probably has much more to do with it not being 200 miles than hammer drills as well. Besides, isn't 136 miles of cave pretty good!

By the way, congratulations to Derek and Pete on their hammer drilled climb in WV. I have no problem with such climbs and would be happy to assist with such a climb. The world is full of places where people can happily plug bolts into a cave dome with hammer drills. I also think that it is pretty neat that there are places like Lechuguilla Cave where climber/cavers have to meet the cave a bit more on the caves own terms. Lechuguilla is by far the longest cave in a USA federal wilderness area and provides some amazing and unique wilderness cave climbing experiences that aren't available elsewhere.
Stan Allison
Occasional Poster
 
Posts: 45
Joined: Jun 6, 2007 5:08 pm
  

Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby KENTO » May 21, 2013 6:50 pm

Yes, 136 miles is quite good. And the commitment to those teams putting up with the spiciness of that particular cave while protecting it the best they can is admirable beyond all else. My memory of the two visits I had to the cave , were it is the most miserably humid caving experience of my lifetime. So my helmet goes off to all who have helped tally the miles earned , especially with regards to the techniques utilized in exploring.
KENTO
Prolific Poster
 
Posts: 138
Joined: Sep 9, 2005 10:48 pm
Location: Orange County, Indiana
NSS #: #18,986
Primary Grotto Affiliation: BloomingtonIndiana Grotto
  

Previous

Return to On Rope!

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot]

cron