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Remove the Chasm View rappels on The Diamond?


Chris N · · Loveland, Co · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 590

No .... and replace the cable!

J. Albers · · Colorado · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 1,791
Tank Evans wrote: In contrast, I don't know if I have ever seen someone come down the Chasm View raps and NOT dislodge something catastrophic.
I have rapped in via Chasm View and not pulled single rock down with me. Now I am pretty diligent about where I run my rope when rapping, and I am only one data point, so perhaps I am not a good example. Still, my example clearly shows that you can rap CV without causing a catastrophe for those in NC. Personally I still think coming in via CV sucks because if there is snow on Broadway, then the traverse can be pretty sketchy without a rope, which as you state creates another opportunity for generating rockfall.

Thus having done the CV raps, I wouldn't use them in the future. Nevertheless, I still don't think you should remove the anchors. I feel like you are dictating what you think to be the safest way to do something in the mountains despite the fact that your opinion is based on completely anecdotal evidence (there is no way you have been up to the Diamond enough times to create a reasonable sample size). Personally I am way more afraid of rockfall from others above me in NC than I am from rockfall coming in from CV, which really negates your whole safety point.

To be clear Tank, I think its great that you started a thread like this instead of taking action unilaterally. Cheers.
WadeM · · Golden, Co · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 340

If everyone did the chasm raps there'd be no one to knock rocks down on...

That being said, I've never used them. I'm always first to the North Chimney or I take another approach (climb something on chasm view, crack o delight)

^^^^ I agree w/ Albers. Always way more afraid of people knocking stuff down in the chimney than from the rappels

Colin Simon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2009 · Points: 355
Bill Wright wrote:a fixed 300-foot rappel line that is never pulled down.
Interesting idea, except I think that would increase traffic, and it is not as clean as a place like the East Ledges of El Cap. Those ropes get real fuzzy real quick.

J. Albers wrote:there is no way you have been up to the Diamond enough times to create a reasonable sample size
I think if you add Tank and one or two of his most common partners they have a few hundred trips up there between them. I'd say that's a good sample.
Joseffa Meir · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2003 · Points: 50

Wow, I love the Chasm View raps and have done them 3 times and don't ever recall sending any rock fall down. For me that's my safest preference as I don't really like the North Chimney.

Tank Evans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 125

Nice this is turning into a good discussion!

I appreciate all the input and I think it is safe to say that removing the chasm view raps is not in favor. Any ideas? Would a fixed line down the chasm view raps help by eliminating rock fall due to the rope pull? A fixed line on the lower east face is not practical because it will get blasted by rockfall.

I have not climbed up there for as long as some people in this thread, but in the last 5 years of consistent time on the diamond I have noticed a real increase in the amount of rockfall.

All I am trying to accomplish at this point now is to have some sort of "best practices" to employ when climbing up there. Disseminating these through word of mouth when climbing up there would even help.

Also, could we not belabor the whole "data" issue. I've worked in research for about 8 years so I get it. Yes its anecdotal, but unless someone wants to sit up there with a clicker for a whole season its all we got.

Jeremy Kasmann · · Denver, CO · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 0

Even some detailed online beta might help - the best line isn't very obvious the first time.

Eliminating the bivies would thin the crowds a bit...

topher donahue · · Nederland, CO · Joined Sep 2007 · Points: 185

I always thought the best solution to the Diamond access would be a Via Ferrata near the Crack of Delight raps.

But, it will never happen, being in a National Park and in America where such things are frowned upon (we chop bolt ladders in the name of style, right?). With a via ferrata, 20 parties in a row could monkey safely to the base of the Diamond, one right behind the other.

For me, the rockfall issue is significant enough that I've decided the Diamond isn't worth the risk and rarely go there anymore; but I'm a chicken about that kind of thing. Removing the Chasm rap bolts isn't the answer - people were rapping in there before the bolts were placed and they'll continue to do so with or without the bolts in order to avoid the North Chim. A seasonal fixed line on those raps, like the Black Canyon NPS maintains in the Cruise gully as others have mentioned, would help a lot. Adding a fixed cable across the top of the North Chim so people don't feel the need to rope up across that section would also reduce rockfall and eliminate the bottleneck that happens in that zone.

Joe, er, Tank, you have an excellent point and thanks for bringing it up this way instead of just removing the bolts - take the issue to the Longs Peak Climbing Ranger with this thread and see what they say.

Tank Evans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 125

Thanks Topher,

This is starting to gel into an idea. A seasonal fixed line down the chasm view, a cleaned, stabilized path across broadway to the top of the north chimney, a short fixed line to clip into to cross the north chimney.

This could be done with minimal effort, probably a day of work.

Add to this a topo or route beta photo of the "best" option up the North Chimney, which is kind of a whole other can of worms...

Josh Janes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2001 · Points: 9,015
topher donahue wrote:I always thought the best solution to the Diamond access would be a Via Ferrata near the Crack of Delight raps. But, it will never happen, being in a National Park and in America where such things are frowned upon.
Ha! Awesome! Except it'd become the new most popular route on the Diamond and you'll end up choosing the N. Chimney just to beat the Longs Peak Via Ferrata crowds!

Tank, haven't you sent the entire Diamond anyway?
JPVallone · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2004 · Points: 195
Tank Evans wrote: Justification:The Chasm View rappel route is littered with loose rock, which gets dislodged by human error during rappels and also just by pulling the ropes. Furthermore, the section of broadway below the rappels is extremely loose with numerous large blocks. The rockfall caused by people rappeling and pulling ropes, though rarely making it to the North Chimney, rains down on Mills Glacier below, where people may be approaching or waiting for other parties to exit the North Chimney. Additionally, climbers traversing broadway from the rappels to access the left side routes cross directly above the North Chimney and often dislodge rock that goes tumbling straight down the chimney. This is exacerbated by the fact that many of these people rope up for that traversing section, which increases the chances of dislodging rocks. People take the Chasm View rappel route to avoid the dangers of the North Chimney, but in doing so make the North Chimney far more dangerous for everyone else. It is my opinion that if you do not feel ready to climb the North Chimney, even if you have to rope up for the couple of short steep sections, then you should wait to climb the Diamond until you feel ready.
It is for all these reasons that you have stated that I propose we just remove the North Chimney
Bill Wright · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2001 · Points: 390

Kudos to Tank for starting this discussion and the very respectful manner in which it has gone, with lots of good information and suggestions.

I love Topher's idea of a via Ferrata up the Crack of Delight. That is what they'd do over in Europe, but, as he said, it won't happen here. No way. But the idea of a fixed rappel line down from Chasm View and a fixed line across the hairiest part of the traverse would make things much safer.

I'm not ready to give up on the Diamond yet, but I hear Topher's concern. I know top climbers can do a route on the Diagonal Wall and then do the Diamond but is getting into the very elite category of climber, so that's not a good option for most of us. I've heard that the Park service is aware of the issues and thinking about solutions, with possibly a permit system, which would suck.

topher donahue · · Nederland, CO · Joined Sep 2007 · Points: 185

With the Via Ferrata a bit of a stretch, another more realistic thing that would help would be to put in a few bolts on the clean rock to the right or left of the top of the north chim where everyone knocks rocks down when they mistakenly stay in the chimney. (I always found it best to leave the chim and go right onto a clean, easy slab about 50m below broadway.) Add a bolted anchor top and bottom (top anchor could be shared with the traverse cable), and a couple bolts to the slab on the cleanest line with easy climbing - the main goal to help with route-finding and keep people moving quickly on solid rock.

If this is done, don't camo the bolts like the rap bolts on the Diamond that cause people to get off route! Paint them bright colored or at least leave them silver so people can find them - even brightly colored, they still will not be visible to non-cimbers. The whole point would be to use the bolts to lead people onto the solid rock.

If you talk to climbing rangers, mention that this problem has existed for 40 years - a permit system, unless limited to one party per day, isn't enough. (And I agree, a permit system would really suck.) In fact, it would be great to pitch these ideas as an alternative to a permit system with hopes that it doesn't come to that.

Mike Soucy · · Longmont, CO · Joined May 2006 · Points: 81

It seems like you're distilling it down to a few good ideas Tank. Thanks for the discussion.
As Topher mentioned, maybe chatting w the climbing rangers about this further would be a good plan. I know that they just replaced those anchors last summer, maybe they have a few thoughts as well.

Your idea of better beta for the uninitiated climbers is a great one to start with. It prompted me to pick up the new guidebook and look at the North Chim description. It certainly does not present the route that most of us take out on the slab, or escaping left before the munge up high. In fact, the photo shows it going straight up the gully.
Additionally, a more accurate description here on MP with a beta photo would be useful. It is currently only included as a mixed route or embedded in the Diamond approach description.

A fixed line would certainly be a relatively novel idea for the Park. Though I'm not totally against it, I wonder what the increased weathering would do relative to other places that are less exposed, i.e. the Black or El Cap. The line(s) might wear pretty quickly.
I think that we could also do some good with a bit of gardening/cleaning on the traverse over the top of the Chimney.

Wally · · Denver · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 0

Saturday there were about 40 people on the diamond. Woa. Twas really crowded. From what I could see from over on the far left side (we were on Pervertical), folks were getting along well. I believe 2 of the approximate 40 rapped in from the top of the diamond, working hard stuff up high and right of D1. Maybe 7 people or so rapped in from Chasm View. The rest presumably came up the north chimney. There were parties starting their routes from Broadway in the early afternoon. Perhaps a good strategy on bomber weather days.?

Good discussion here. Yeah, crowding is a problem. Perhaps what is being proposed here is a good idea.

Wally

The Blueprint Part Dank · · FEMA Region VIII · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 460

Going in the night before, climbing Crack of Delight and bivying on Broadway becomes a more and more attractive option every year. Yet to actually do it, because I'm lazy-ish. But I'm pretty set on at least experimenting with that strategy in a couple weeks myself

Scott Bennett · · Michigan · Joined Jan 2008 · Points: 1,260

Props to Joe for starting this discussion in a productive and non-negative way!

Many things about climbing are dangerous, especially in a remote alpine zone like the East Face of Long's. That's not to say that we shouldn't take commonsense steps as a community to make it safer, though. And I think that's what Joe is suggesting.

For many of the reasons mentioned above, however, I don't think that it's practical to remove the CV raps. There are some good reasons why folks might want to rap there, and probably people will just rebuild the anchors anyway.

So, maybe the best thing we can do is spread the word that the CV raps are loose and potentially dangerous to others, and encourage climbers to consider alternatives.

I also like the idea of some trail building and trundling on the section of Broadway above and the to the right of the North Chimney. If done in the late afternoon, with an eye out for folks below, I think this could be safe.

I also like Topher's idea of bolting a preferred line in the North Chimney, which would avoid the loosest spots. This would reduce traffic on the CV raps, and keep everyone safer.

Thanks for getting the discussion started, this is something that every Front Range climber has thought about and MP seems like a good place to discuss our options.

-Scott

MauryB · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 311

Personally I'm beginning to approach Topher's salty state of mind that the crowds and attendant danger are making the Diamond less and less attractive.

That said, I think the perceived accessibility and underestimation of the Diamond are a root issue. If you are roping up in the North Chimney (which causes a lot more rockfall) you probably shouldn't be up there, and you probably don't have the comfort level and wherewithal to mitigate your own rockfall at the same time as climbing. No real way to address this, unfortunately; we aren't going to ban roping up, and with 4 new gyms about to go up in the front range traffic is only going to continue to skyrocket.

Nonetheless, I appreciate Joe et al trying to take some proactive steps rather than just complaining (like myself). If a consensus is reached, I'm happy to contribute some time putting in anchors, fixed lines, or whatever.

Andy Hansen · · Longmont, CO · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 2,567

Perhaps the most civil discussion on an otherwise uncivil forum regarding a touchy subject. This is pretty great to see.

Scott, when you say "common sense" I can only wince because more and more these days it seems as though our community is becoming far more diverse and losing (or not even knowing from the beginning) sight of what exactly the best common practices are- especially when approaching the Diamond. It used to be "never climb beneath another party" when in the N. Chimney. Now it's "climbing alongside another party is OK and if you have to climb above them just be sure to shout "rock" and hope that everything ends up for the better which may or may not be the case and in the case something catastrophic does happen, well, I can't let that get in the way of sending the Casual Route..." which is just a consequence of climbing becoming more and more popular and many more climbers who are under prepared approaching and attempting routes that may or may not be beyond their abilities. That was a very long sentence and now I will punctuate my next thought with a paragraph.

Many viable solutions have been brought up. Some of these perhaps go against the ideals we as climbers uphold but never the less they have been brought up and do provide for great discussion. I can imagine with the increase in Climbing Rangers in RMNP that a fixed line, as an option, down the CV rappels is feasible and relatively easily maintained by the rangers. While this doesn't entirely eliminate the possibility of rock fall down the N. Chimney and Mills Glacier, it does alleviate some of the problem.

Topher's idea of a via feratta is, in my opinion, the best solution but the least likely to be implemented. If the Diamond is going to be downgraded to "crag" status that any Boulderite (or non-Boulderite) can access without too much trouble, might as well make it easily approachable to alleviate larger problems- like rock fall.

But really the larger problem exists with over crowding of a fantastic climbing venue that everyone should be able to enjoy. But because everyone "should" be able to enjoy it, we, as a larger community, fail to educate the uneducated with regards to "how to climb in the alpine" and therefore newer folks to the alpine treat these areas as if they are just crags. The N. Chimney is climbable without dislodging rock and practices to ensure this can be achieved are what we lack to teach fellow climbers.

Andy Hansen · · Longmont, CO · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 2,567
MauryB wrote:Personally I'm beginning to approach Topher's salty state of mind that the crowds and attendant danger are making the Diamond less and less attractive. That said, I think the perceived accessibility and underestimation of the Diamond are a root issue. If you are roping up in the North Chimney (which causes a lot more rockfall) you probably shouldn't be up there, and you probably don't have the comfort level and wherewithal to mitigate your own rockfall at the same time as climbing. No real way to address this, unfortunately; we aren't going to ban roping up, and with 4 new gyms about to go up in the front range traffic is only going to continue to skyrocket. Nonetheless, I appreciate Joe et al trying to take some proactive steps rather than just complaining (like myself). If a consensus is reached, I'm happy to contribute some time putting in anchors, fixed lines, or whatever.
Maury, I agree with mostly everything you've said but "if you need to rope up in the N. Chimney you shouldn't be attempting to climb on the Diamond." There are elegant solutions to using a rope in the N. Chimney and still not causing danger to other parties.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Colorado
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