Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

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Nic Le Maitre
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Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Nic Le Maitre » Fri Jul 06, 2018 10:07 pm

Hi there

After the tragic accident on Arrow Final earlier this year, during our post rescue debrief, one of the major points was the time and effort required to build trad gear anchors good enough for rescue loads and redundant systems. Due to the rock removal for the cable way, the rock in that area is very unsuitable for trad gear and in future to save time and get help to the patients faster, we'd probably just place expansion bolts. These would likely become unsafe due to corrosion, and have to be chopped, leaving scars.

For these reasons, we, Wilderness Search and Rescue, have approached SANParks for permission to preemptively place bolts at the top of Arrow, directly below the UCWS, close to the top of the leaning tower. We have the time to scout and will determine exactly where to place them for maximum usefulness. These will be permanent glue ins, like the others on TM.

SANParks have granted us permission to place the bolts.

So if you come across new bolts at the top of Arrow, please don't whip out the grinder and remove them! We do this reluctantly and will place as few as possible while maintaining a suitable safety factor.

Note: We are NOT going to be placing a lower ab station, so these will not get you down with less than 100m of rope. Leaders will be able to use them to protect the scramble up next to the leaning tower.
Happy climbing
Nic

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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Gustav » Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:55 pm

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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Brussel » Sat Jul 07, 2018 2:08 pm

Hi Gustav,

It is a possible option, however at two in the morning in pouring rain one does not want to be hunting down drilled holes, placing anchors in holes that may or may not have grit etc in them. I'd want to clip bomber bolts and get the patient off the mountain as soon as possible wihtout wasting time or second guessing.

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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Nic Le Maitre » Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:17 pm

Firstly, TM already has a lot of bolts and those bolts are in less disturbed rock than where we want to place these.

Secondly, those removable bolts are not the same as glue-ins/expansions and tend to not like repetitive loading as is typical of rescue forces.

Lastly, Brussel is entirely correct. When we need them, we'll really need them, and there will be no time to stuff around and discover that we have to pry crap out of the hole to place the bolt securely.
Happy climbing
Nic

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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Marshall1 » Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:05 am

"Statistics and reality don't diverge, that's the entire point of statistics to reveal the signal in amongst the noise or show that it is just noise. Human beings are evolved to spot patterns, so much so that we find them where they don't exist, because from an evolutionary point of view false positives (seeing a tiger when there isn't one) aren't bad where as false negatives (not seeing the tiger and getting eaten) don't help you propagate the next generation. Statistics are there to show up real patterns rather than ones we think are there."

The statistics obviously prove that these bolts are a real need? Or is this sort of an example of what you are referring to in a previous post?

I'm not against any bolts, only wondering if there was some sort of data applied to this situation.

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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by mokganjetsi » Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:18 am

as far as i'm concerned discreetly placed ab anchors on TM to improve safety & access is not a problem. even placing a second & third set on arrow final to allow guys to ab down on normal 50s is just fine imho. as long as proper permission is obtained, and its not done cowboy style. the amount of metal and concrete works on TM already exceeds in multiples of millions any impact which bolted abseils will have.

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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Justin » Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:45 am

Marshall1 wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:05 am
The statistics obviously prove that these bolts are a real need? Or is this sort of an example of what you are referring to in a previous post?

I'm not against any bolts, only wondering if there was some sort of data applied to this situation.
Derek, that was quite deep :P (I feel relieved to live in Africa and not have to worry about Tigers :lol:

Seriously though...
Reasoning that I see for the rescue bolts to be placed:
- Statistically (I stand corrected), Arrow Final is the most dangerous climb on TM, having claimed more lives than any other route.
- Safety of the rescue team: They can go there, practice the scenario and come back in the dark and rain and repeat with confidence (think 'sport vs trad' on a rigging/rescue level)
- Public safety: Because the rescue team are faster, Cableway customers are not stranded at the top of the mountain for lengthy periods (when left at the top they all become potential risks due to hypothermia, walking down, stupidity in crowds, etc)

Something similar: The installation of ladders and new chains on Lions Head back in 2010

Seemingly way too much jet fuel was being used up ferrying injured people off one general area of the Mountain and so... (albeit for different reasons) bolts where installed.

Conclusion: Bolts make mountains easier and less riskier #CompressorRoute :pirat:
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mountainmailorder
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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by mountainmailorder » Mon Jul 09, 2018 12:15 pm

Take a look at the Petzl Coeur Pulse Removeable Hanger - R855.00

https://www.mountainmailorder.co.za/pet ... 76449.html
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Old Smelly
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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Old Smelly » Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:08 pm

I like the sting in the tail at the end of the last message Justin...nice one! :jocolor:

Yeah so Ok I see a lot of unnecessary "civilising" going on at the moment and by this I don't want a backlash - just to show some extreme persepective's and then request that some thought is always undertaken when people start "civilising" an area that in essence should be kept pristine/ wild.

SO - before the backlash- I understand where you are referring too - have seen chopped bolts in that area and know that there is a LOT of damage to the rock due to the cable way etc. I also get that in some places one actually diminishes the impact on an area by placing a few discreet bolts and thus simplifying rescues and the danger involved when it comes to these rescue operations (in the dark and rain etc.)

Moving on from these accepted points and how they relate to the particular spot in this case- I find a disturbing tendancy to unnecessarily "civilise" bits of nature due to 2 very pervasive thought patterns:

1. Lots of people are going to an area - thus there is a High Demand for access and so to make things safer it is decided to modify the area according to the number of people there - examples - Sentinel Path (great big brick path on the mountainside), India Venster - multiple chains and staples, Lion's Head - multiple chain and staples, Sentinel Chain Ladders (great big steel ladders to ease how hikers get up to the escarpment) - Some of these are viewed as necessary to keep people safe and alive but no one can argue that they do detract from the original Experience of going there (maybe not to the masses) - but they all are a bit like Maestri's bolt Ladder....

2. Safety - we alter an area forever in the name of safety when maybe we should be preventing those who cannot keep themselves safe in that environment from entering the area. Yes there will always be an element of risk but this is a case of dumming down for the lowest common denominator.

Should we be spoiling Nature for eternity to accommodate these approaches? I think not. This is all the thin end of the wedge - we know climbers who are questioning whether climbers should go to certain areas because of the human impact, but do we not owe it to ourselves and future generations to limit and even keep secret truly pristine nature from the consumer culture? Would it not be better to keep much of nature as inaccessible or risky to access as possible in the hope that it would deter most of the population from getting to it?

It seems to me that it is the very consumer culture that demands "Safe Access" to many places in Wilderness Areas that should in fact be denied from those places by appearing Dangerous or Risky and in so doing limits teh Environmental Impact on those fragile places. (Of course it is tool late if S&R are rescuing them...)
Really, its not that bad...I think it's my shoes...

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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Nic Le Maitre » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:50 am

Marshall1 wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:05 am

The statistics obviously prove that these bolts are a real need? Or is this sort of an example of what you are referring to in a previous post?

I'm not against any bolts, only wondering if there was some sort of data applied to this situation.
Hi Derek

There have been several rescues of fallen climbers on Arrow, and at least 3 fatalities that I know of as well as some very severely injured climbers who survived. I've not explicitly checked the stats for Arrow since that level of area specificity isn't available via the public portal, but I'll ask the database manager to check when he gets a chance and get back to you.

Given what we know about the difficulty of placing anchors there, on the next rescue, we'd take a drill and place several expansions, because we'd need to use them ASAP. Those expansions might then corrode and would not be trust worthy long term, so the next time, we'd have to place more etc etc.

To avoid this, we'd like to preemptively place proper glue-ins that will last forever and make sure that we get the in the best spot.
Happy climbing
Nic

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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Nic Le Maitre » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:54 am

mokganjetsi wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:18 am
as far as i'm concerned discreetly placed ab anchors on TM to improve safety & access is not a problem. even placing a second & third set on arrow final to allow guys to ab down on normal 50s is just fine imho. as long as proper permission is obtained, and its not done cowboy style. the amount of metal and concrete works on TM already exceeds in multiples of millions any impact which bolted abseils will have.
IMO abbing down Arrow is a bad idea, there is so much loose stuff on the ledges, you are guaranteed to pull something down if you do. There are plenty of other much safer ab lines in very close proximity.
Happy climbing
Nic

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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Nic Le Maitre » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:57 am

mountainmailorder wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 12:15 pm
Take a look at the Petzl Coeur Pulse Removeable Hanger - R855.00

https://www.mountainmailorder.co.za/pet ... 76449.html
Same issues as the other ones from climbtech, they're not really designed for the kind of cyclical loading you get on rescues (during hauling) and I really don't want to have either search for tiny holes in the dark and the rain to find that someone has jammed something in it. Also, that price is eye watering!
Happy climbing
Nic

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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by mokganjetsi » Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:36 am

Nic Le Maitre wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:54 am
IMO abbing down Arrow is a bad idea, there is so much loose stuff on the ledges, you are guaranteed to pull something down if you do.
you're right! i guess my main point is if there's good reason to bolt an abseil on TM, and proper permission is obtained, we shouldn't have a problem with it :thumright

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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Russell Warren » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:26 pm

Maybe I missed the gist of Old Smelly's mail, but it would be serious stretch of the imagination to call TM pristine wilderness area. I'm am however not saying that the argument isn't valid for wilderness areas in general though.

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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Justin » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:40 pm

The bolts are going in for safety purposes (for both the rescued and the rescuers). The bolts are seemingly not going across anyone’s route or messing with an existing route.

I havent been rescued (yet), but having spoken with people who have - rescues are better done faster and with maximum safety (which is what these bolts will bring).

As per Russell’s ‘TM not being a pristine wilderness area’ comment - I fully agree!
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Old Smelly
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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Old Smelly » Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:27 am

I think you did miss the gist of my post

I guess I won't put it down to literacy issues but rather lack of interest.

I do think you made my point nicely though.

I would like to think that large parts of Table Mountain are pristine wilderness areas (or at least worth preserving) - so how much of TM are we willing to sacrifice to "commercial" abuse and the vagaries of tourism and general humanity. Clearly the spot you are talking about at the top of Arrow Final has already been sacrificed - but who decided that? - someone who cared not one bit about the mountain but cared about short term gains and commercialism.

Now if I was an eco terrorist (which sounds like fun) I would blow the cable way up and attempt to restore TM to its original form. So that can't be done but every time people build a concrete path or a bridge or hammer pegs into the ground they detract from the original wilderness nature and their argument is that it reduces the impact - but it has an impact. My major concern is that this happens more and more without checks. Why not put bolted rescue points all over the mountain? That would be expedient. No question about the ones at the top of Arrow Final - maybe how many more...

So all I am asking is that we have more people who are concerned about what is done in the name of progress. Doubtless we do have many here on this forum and it is up to us to question the "improvements" that are happening.
Really, its not that bad...I think it's my shoes...

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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Nic Le Maitre » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:10 pm

So not getting into this argument. This was a post to inform the climbing community of what is happening. We've sought permission from the correct authorities and it's been given. We're doing it specifically to prevent the bolting that would be required if we had a rescue, that would be worse. If you don't want us to do it, and have a cogent argument as to why not, please feel free to object to SANParks.
Happy climbing
Nic

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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Nic Le Maitre » Sat Sep 01, 2018 6:16 pm

The bolts went in on Saturday, on the same level as the ledge with the Magnetic Wall abseil and the tat anchor. I hope that we never have to use them for real.
Happy climbing
Nic

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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Forket » Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:53 am

Nic Le Maitre wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 6:16 pm
I hope that we never have to use them for real.
The next accident that requires bolts, that isn't there, will most likely be in a completely different place. And then I'll ask again.

Why don't you just bolt safe abseil anchors on strategic points across the entire length of the area of risk?

Ebert Nel

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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Thermophage » Mon Sep 03, 2018 11:39 am

Forket wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:53 am
Nic Le Maitre wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 6:16 pm
I hope that we never have to use them for real.
The next accident that requires bolts, that isn't there, will most likely be in a completely different place. And then I'll ask again.

Why don't you just bolt safe abseil anchors on strategic points across the entire length of the area of risk?

Ebert Nel
I'm also not sure why this hasn't happened yet either to be honest. The "protect the rock" force is too strong and doesn't make sense at all as a blanket bloody policy on TM (or anywhere for that matter).

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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Justin » Mon Sep 03, 2018 12:13 pm

2 thoughts...

1. Most of the (roped climbing) accidents/rescues on TM have probably taken place in this area.
2. The rock below the cable car station is bad/fragmented from blasting that took place (during the revamp of the cable car station in 1997). From a rescue perspective, I imagine there are not enough quality and/or adequate gear placements to suffice for a rescue setup.

A possible thought might be, why not just bolt the route for safer climbing? But I'm not asking that :)
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Re: Rescue bolts on Arrow Final

Post by Nic Le Maitre » Mon Sep 03, 2018 12:24 pm

Forket wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:53 am

The next accident that requires bolts, that isn't there, will most likely be in a completely different place. And then I'll ask again.

Why don't you just bolt safe abseil anchors on strategic points across the entire length of the area of risk?

Ebert Nel
Hi Ebert

We've put bolts in there for two reasons:
1) There have been at least 2 fatalities and 2 very severe injuries on Arrow that I know of. Because of the Cable Car lines, there is no way to access that cliff directly from a helicopter, making rapid access very tricky.
2) As Justin said above, the rock there has been blasted making trad gear placements tricky and time consuming, so much so that had we had another rescue there before these bolts, I'd have taken a drill and placed expansion anchors that would later have had to be chopped.
3) Elsewhere on the Ledge, there is abundant natural protection, meaning that bolts are not necessary.
Happy climbing
Nic

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