NPS fixed anchor policy

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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby rjack » May 16, 2013 11:11 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?


Allowing fixed permanent anchors AT ALL is already a compromise if you interpret the Wilderness act to the letter. The NPS/USFS have taken the policy position that permanent anchors are a historical use which promotes safety, but they are only compatible with wilderness when hand placed and their presence is limited. At least in climbing areas (such as Yosemite), the use of fixed anchors actually pre-dates the Wilderness act and that's a huge reason why they are even allowed at all. Those anchors are all drilled without power tools.

Since hand placed permanent anchors are already a compromise, and one which is generally accepted by both the NPS and conservation organizations like the wilderness society, I don't think reopening this battle (and it was a battle in the 1990s) is fruitful. There are far more pressing access/conservation issues than the limitations posed by prohibitions on power drills in designated wilderness.
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby hank moon » May 16, 2013 12:00 pm

Coming soon - the Hilti Silencer :)

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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby Myrna Attaway » May 16, 2013 12:11 pm

I had a long conversation with some rock climbers about this issue inYosemite some years ago. Climbers can get bolt happy if allowed. There was a prliferation of bolts beginning to appear before this ruling. One guy loved to hammer and was having his expenses covered by a fellow climber to replace existing old bolts. Because of his efforts there was an overall reduction in bolts, because one good bolt could allow the removal of some multi bolt placements, where new bolts had historically been placed next to old ones.

There seemed to be some climbers who were of the opinion that its ok to use power drills if you didnt get caught.
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby Anonymous_Coward » May 16, 2013 2:23 pm

I have used a power drill, in a cave, in a federal wilderness area, legally. Some sites are allowed to grandfather it in for trade routes. This particular site allows power drill bolts for maintaining existing trade routes, but not for exploration, where only hand-drill is allowed.
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby UnderGroundEarth » May 16, 2013 3:10 pm

Reminds me of something that Bill Putnam wrote up for TAG Net a few years ago. He recently gave me permission to re publish it in our next grotto newsletter...


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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby NZcaver » May 16, 2013 5:46 pm

UnderGroundEarth wrote:Reminds me of something that Bill Putnam wrote up for TAG Net a few years ago. He recently gave me permission to re publish it in our next grotto newsletter...

A classic tale. I blame caver Alan for not doing it properly and setting bolts in the first place. :tonguecheek:
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby Stridergdm » May 16, 2013 7:55 pm

hank moon wrote:Coming soon - the Hilti Silencer :)



Now that Hilti has been mentioned can we declare Godwin?

Oh wait.. never mind. :rofl:
Cavers rescue cavers!
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby KENTO » May 16, 2013 9:25 pm

I have always thought that the rule against power drills was like the old argument how many Angels can dance on the head of a pin? They fly big noisy Mountain Rescue Helicopters and sometimes even crash one now and then; thereby causing a huge pollution mess up in the fragile mountain wilderness. Whose values are offended worse by the short quick brrrrrrrrp of a power drill than the Bamm, Bamm, Bamm, oh Shit I hope this holds being yelled repeatedly on cliff's everywhere in the NPS. Some day , but I hope not , we may see another rescue in one of the world's most delicate and vulnerable and , because of policy, most dangerous caves. Just how likely would all of our wilderness values be impacted, beyond the aesthetic sensibilities of the climbing team there the day they discovered Oz in Lech? If they had used a hammer drill? The answer to the BullShiteaucrats is ...more lives put at risk, heavier impact from a larger and prolonged assault with Ropes placed on BFR's and Natural Bridges leaving wear against walls and around corners all over the place with a need to replace fixed ropes an ever present worry as soon as those brave cavers put up with all this bullshit and did the original climb in the prescribed, delicate supposedly most earthfriendly way. Hand drilling of Bat hooks may seem the only fair way to recommend sitting in a NPS office but , if they only knew and if they just recorded the sound decibels of a Helicopter heading up to the saddle of the Grand Teton once in awhile, one might expect a different policy. I can only hope. and go caving on private property, looking for booty. I know what I'll be packing.
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby NZcaver » May 17, 2013 12:40 am

Stridergdm wrote:
hank moon wrote:Coming soon - the Hilti Silencer :)



Now that Hilti has been mentioned can we declare Godwin?

Oh wait.. never mind. :rofl:

Ha! I briefly thought the same thing the first time I read that.

I had a theory about why this would be, but thankfully I was wrong. Turns out there are more than twice the number of Hiltis on the forum as there are Hitlers. :big grin:
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby Stan Allison » May 18, 2013 9:33 am

Hand drilling of Bat hooks may seem the only fair way to recommend sitting in a NPS office but , if they only knew and if they just recorded the sound decibels of a Helicopter heading up to the saddle of the Grand Teton once in awhile, one might expect a different policy.


Exactly! I dont know how many times while ascending Boulder Falls in Lechuguilla Cave my wilderness reverie has been marred by the thunder of a passing rescue helicopter. They are considerably louder underground than they are on a mountain saddle. On a busy holiday weekend with multiple rescues due to hand-drilled bat hooks failing, the amount of helicopter traffic in Lech can initiate flashbacks in Vietnam vets!

:roll:
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby KENTO » May 19, 2013 8:14 pm

Stan , I am needing to emphasize , here a little further, why I bothered to mention the Helicopters in GTNP. I may have sounded a bit like a cyberflamer, mebbe, the post was between after some night shift work and perhaps I was low on sleep.
1. Ed Abbey was not a Caver and I appreciate everything he wrote about Wilderness values. Having said that, ...just how much of the criteria for evaluating impacts to the Wilderness experience in Slot Canyons with petroglyphs , Climbers carrying Boom boxes and large hammer drills for bolting sport routes on El Cap in Yosemite can be transferred to the evaluation of Wilderness ethics for us Cavers in our underground Wildernesses? I have been to Boulder Falls and elsewheres in Lech also back in the days before L.E.A.R.N. I witnessed a lead climb done very delicately and in good clean style with some good and not so bomber intermediate anchors placed. While waiting below, our exploration party witnessed a faint humming sound up above I am going to attribute to the sound of our lead climber attending to some hygiene issues with his lightweight electric razor. Everything was packed away by the time I got up there and he was looking relaxed and well kempt. This was during that phase of time when the NPS was beginning to roll out the rules for Electric drills and fixed anchors in the above ground Alpine Wildernesses caused pretty much by all the Activity up on the Yosemite Big Walls and a few other areas. Contrary to what is mentioned above the early mandate and guide in Lech was not firmly anti hammer drill or clearly understood as such. Carbide lamps were outlawed for exploration a few years after the breakthrough in 1986 because of Native Sulfur presenting a risk for a fire that could never be put out.
Should we outlaw the use of Carbide lamps above ground in our Wilderness areas because they are a light source that is a confirmed potential source of chemical pollution and they might start a fire? Gene Espy carried a Guys Dropper from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail during the second ever " End to Ender" or " Thruhike " as they say. Nowadays I use LED's above and below ground of course , I hammock hang and practice LNT. Bury my poop , pee on flat rocks away from Water sources. Does anyone know why I mention that? Why that is a recommendable practice around areas where campers congregate in Wilderness areas above ground? Please ask me.
And yes , I would still advocate for reasons of efficiency and human safety , that limited well thought out use of power drills might be worthy of consideration in designated underground Wilderness areas, some times.
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby Extremeophile » May 20, 2013 9:58 am

KENTO wrote:I would still advocate for reasons of efficiency and human safety , that limited well thought out use of power drills might be worthy of consideration in designated underground Wilderness areas, some times.

That sounds reasonable, and as Andy has already pointed out, there are instances where power drills are permitted in underground Wilderness. I think Bill Putnam's well written argument shows that at times a series of well thought out reasonable decisions can still result in excessive impact and no net safety benefit. While I agree in theory that the restrained use of electric drills for critical anchors in underground Wilderness could be beneficial, I know from first hand experience that allowing power drilling certainly will result in the establishment of more fixed anchors.

You will certainly be able to describe any number of actual or hypothetical anecdotes where the use of power drills enhances safety with minimal human disturbance and impact to the resource. I could respond with an equal number of anecdotes where the use of power drills has a negative impact on the wilderness experience and unnecessarily impacts the resource. Policy-wise what's needed is a balanced approach that will never be perfect in every situation. I think the decision by the NPS to continue to allow fixed anchors but not allow power drills in designated Wilderness strikes the correct balance.
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby Extremeophile » May 20, 2013 10:10 am

Extremeophile wrote: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.

We placed another 40 bolts this weekend and, despite a bit of traversing, were able to climb another 100-110' to about the 270-280' level. We can see at least another 100' above our high point to where water vapor and mist obscure the view, and there is still no ceiling in sight. This may end up being 400' high. :yikes:

For reference, what we've climbed so far is similar in height and diameter to Mystery Falls, but it seems destined to go more than 100' higher. :banana_yay:
Last edited by Extremeophile on May 20, 2013 10:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby Scott McCrea » May 20, 2013 10:24 am

Extremeophile wrote:
Extremeophile wrote: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.

We placed another 40 bolts this weekend and, despite a bit of traversing, were able to climb another 100-110' to about the 270-280' level. We can see at least another 100' above our high point to where water vapor and mist obscure the view, and there is still no ceiling in sight. This may end up being 400' high. :yikes:

Is this a secret? 400' dome in WV? That's big. What county? What cave? Need help?
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Re: NPS fixed anchor policy

Postby Extremeophile » May 20, 2013 10:40 am

Scott McCrea wrote:Is this a secret? 400' dome in WV? That's big. What county? What cave? Need help?

It's a dome in Germany Valley discovered in 2011 by Mark Minton, Yvonne Droms and Bob Alderson. The climb was started in 2011 by Aaron Moses. There has been no hand drilling.
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