Birds of Fire Chiefshead


Original Post
Igneous · · Estes Park, CO · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20

Anybody have an update on the bolt situation on this route? The comments on the route page from a few year back make it sound like they are becoming ticking time bombs...

I would offer to help with the rebolting but as I've never placed a bolt about all I can offer is a belay and time, strong legs. 

Brandon Gottung · · Moab, UT · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 1,451

If they really need to be replaced, that's an effort I'd contribute with. Just have to make sure to pull the original bolts properly and re-use the holes. You know what kind of bolts they are? Buttonheads, hopefully, since they are easy(ish) to pull.

Dylan Cousins · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 155

I attempted to organize a crew to go back there last season and replace the bolts. Unfortunately, we never got a good weather forecast that coincided with everyone's schedules. It will be a gigantic effort to replace 39(ish) bolts on a wall that is at least 7 miles from the trailhead. If you have no prior rebolting experience, then you could still help by carrying equipment back there. I've concluded that the easiest way to do this route is to rebolt in two passes by rappelling the route from the top. First pass to do the anchors, second one to do the lead bolts. Just a two man crew for the actual rebolting is the least problematic. 

Of course, nothing ever goes as planned with these things so it will probably require more than two rappels down the wall. More people and hammers on the wall would help, but it becomes a logistical problem if you have too many folks on the wall trying to share anchors. Once the anchors are replaced in the first pass, sending four people down the next time would be less problematic. The other issue here is that you don't want to use up the 10 weekend days per season that this route is actually pleasant to climb on (July-ish). So mid-week is best.

Another issue this year is the huge May snowstorm walloped that zone so the ledges at the top of the route will probably take a good while to melt out to provide easy access to the anchors at the top. 

The bolts are all 3/8" and are a mix of rawls and wedges. The holes with rawls should all be able to be reused so long as the bolt does not snap while initially loosening it. The wedges could be a bit more problematic because spinning them is difficult without a power drill. Dan Merrick (I think) has made a handheld bolt spinning tool that could be of use. Since the holes are 3/8", taking the extra time to get it out cleanly will save a HUGE amount of time from having to drill a fresh hole in that bullet hard stone. 

I've been in contact with Rossiter and he suggests moving one or two around for better clips/ route/ whatever. I can dig back through the emails to find which ones. He expressed some interest in being up there for input on that.

Igneous (and anyone else who is interested in humping gear back there), send me a message with your email and I'll keep in touch about it. I don't know how much time/ motivation I'll have to try to get that route done this summer, but I can put you in touch with other folks who may be interested in taking care of that this season.

As a final note, if this is not done this season, I know the AAC/AF has a grant for bolt project replacements. It would help tremendously if we could get one of these grants (probably through the BCC) to purchase the hardware for this route. I think it's too late to get it for this season, but if the route doesn't get done this year, it is certainly something to keep in mind for 2018.

Whew, that was a long one. Great job if you read this far.

Cheers,

Dylan

Jordan Moore · · Berthoud, CO · Joined Feb 2011 · Points: 80

I'm very interested in contributing to this effort. I have a hand drill and some bolting experience, but nothing like this. I would be able to spend time out there during the week for a few days in July. Has any progress been made since the time of the posts above? If we want to get it done this season, a Go Fund Me page posted to Mountain Project could help. 

Greg Barnes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,763

Hey Dylan, the ASCA is happy to provide all the hardware. Did you see the box of hardware for Birds of Fire last year, or was that only Lenny? In any case it was returned last fall, I can easily get everything together again.

I'll contact Dan (and Bruce H.) to see if the hand spinner tool that they used at Pinnacles might be available (or more likely, instructions on replicating it, since there are TONS of old 3/8" stud bolts at Pinnacles that could use replacement, and since the rock is softer it's more likely to work there to begin with).

Brandon Gottung · · Moab, UT · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 1,451

I was up on Spearhead two weeks ago and there was massive amounts of snow at the base of Chiefshead, not to mention the melt from above. I doubt the wall will be climbable before August. 

This is a project I'd be happy to help with, but this might not be the year for it with the double-average snowpack. If folks begin work on it, let me know. I've put lots of bolts in sandstone and have replaced some buttonheads and wedge bolts in Cochise. We'll want one of Geir's bolt pulling tools.  Thanks Greg, for offering the hardware! 

There isn't much more satisfying than resurrecting classics with stainless hardware.

John Tex · · Estes · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 25
  1. From  June 25
Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 300

Hi Dylan, 

Just curious, why do it in the two passes you describe? Just to divide up the work since there are so many bolts, or some other reason?

Cheers, 

David 

Dylan Cousins · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 155

David,

The idea there is that it would get complicated to be trying to replace the anchors with multiple parties on the wall. If one team does the anchors in the first pass, then it makes the logistics much easier to have multiple teams up there for the second pass. It would be great if one team could do the whole thing in a day of course, but that is fairly unlikely (39 holes IIRC). 

I suppose it would work to send two teams up there to do the anchors the first go and have one team do, say, the bottom 4 anchors while the top team does the upper 4. The problem with trying to replace the whole route in the first go with multiple teams is that there could potentially be a lot of waiting around (hanging in a harness no less) while a lower team finishes a pitch. Make sense? Maybe not... I'm certainly all ears to any other game plan that eliminates waiting around on the wall.

-Dylan

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 300
Dylan Cousins wrote:

David,

The idea there is that it would get complicated to be trying to replace the anchors with multiple parties on the wall. If one team does the anchors in the first pass, then it makes the logistics much easier to have multiple teams up there for the second pass. It would be great if one team could do the whole thing in a day of course, but that is fairly unlikely (39 holes IIRC). 

I suppose it would work to send two teams up there to do the anchors the first go and have one team do, say, the bottom 4 anchors while the top team does the upper 4. The problem with trying to replace the whole route in the first go with multiple teams is that there could potentially be a lot of waiting around (hanging in a harness no less) while a lower team finishes a pitch. Make sense? Maybe not... I'm certainly all ears to any other game plan that eliminates waiting around on the wall.

-Dylan

Thanks Dylan, definitely that makes sense. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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