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Cob rock - new rappel route
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By pzman
Aug 5, 2013

Anyone had a chance to use the new rappel route yet? Curious what others think. See my comments posted here: www.mountainproject.com/v/northwest-corner/105748145


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By Mike Morin
From On the Road
Aug 6, 2013
Lincoln Lake

I think you have put forth some very thoughtful comments.

I will admit to it being quite some time since I climbed at Cob Rock, but developing a sustainable trail on the descent for Cob Rock would be a pretty significant undertaking if memory of the descent serves me right. Working with land managers to build sustainable trails can be very tricky. Developing a sustainable trail on a steep slope takes a great deal of engineering, requiring specific materials, equipment, and knowledge. In many cases simply installing a rap route is the most sustainable way to protect the resource.

The Denver/Boulder area is never going to be like it was. Impacts to the surrounding less durable resource are frequently the biggest cause of concern for land managers. It's my feeling that we as climbers need to recognize that and in some cases make concessions in the name of being good stewards of the land. With that said we need to be thoughtful and do our best to avoid impacting the character of climbs whenever possible.


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By pzman
Aug 6, 2013

Jason, thanks for the info. It seems if the top anchor were installed on the West face, a single rap with a 60 m rope would reach the ground, probably would require some walking down the slope though.


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By David Appelhans
From Lafayette
Aug 7, 2013
Imaginate

I'm very disappointed to hear of this rap route. I climb at Cob rock frequently, and the Northwest corner is one of my favorite routes because of its slightly runout nature and beautiful moves. I've often climbed between it and Emperor. It is pretty runout with small gear and now it seems climbers on this route will have to dodge tossed ropes and rapeling climbers. The walk off is very simple and safe. Perhaps if there were signs educating on what a switchback was, we could avoid the erosive beeline straight downhill. Instead we now have a rap anchor which changes the NW corner and will cause traffic jams.

This rap route doesn't belong here in my opinion and I'm sad to see it appear, changing the character of the Northwest Corner.

I suspect it will also create an unintended cluster, with some people using the top chains for a belay anchor, other parties wanting to rap, and still other parties trying to climb the NW corner.


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By Paul-B
Aug 7, 2013
Flakes of Wrath

David Appelhans wrote:
I'm very disappointed to hear of this rap route. I climb at Cob rock frequently, and the Northwest corner is one of my favorite routes because of its slightly runout nature and beautiful moves. I've often climbed between it and Emperor. It is pretty runout with small gear and now it seems climbers on this route will have to dodge tossed ropes and rapeling climbers. The walk off is very simple and safe. Perhaps if there were signs educating on what a switchback was, we could avoid the erosive beeline straight downhill. Instead we now have a rap anchor which changes the NW corner and will cause traffic jams. This rap route doesn't belong here in my opinion and I'm sad to see it appear, changing the character of the Northwest Corner. I suspect it will also create an unintended cluster, with some people using the top chains for a belay anchor, other parties wanting to rap, and still other parties trying to climb the NW corner.



+1 Worried David is spot on


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By Locker
From Yucca Valley, CA
Aug 7, 2013
...

Solution!

Add five more sets of "Convenience" anchors. (Maybe six!)


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By teece303
From Highlands Ranch, CO
Aug 7, 2013
Aiding.

I don't really know the rock that well. I bet I wouldn't mind the rap anchors at all.

But I gotta give props to David for disagreeing in a very respectful way. Nice job.


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By g.miller
Aug 7, 2013

Isn't there an anchor that could be used to rap from the top of that one 12- sport route to the right?


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By kevin murphy
From Lafayette, Colorado
Aug 7, 2013
road

Agree with David, rock fall as well.


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By Jason Haas
From Broomfield, CO
Aug 7, 2013

I had posted earlier, but took it down because Roger wanted to remain anonymous. However, because I posted the initial information of these two new anchors in the route database using my real name and because I have had complaints emailed to me (which I couldn't fully address as these weren't my anchors), I do think some transparency around this issue could be helpful. This rappel route was Roger Briggs' project, one that he had wanted to do for several years because of the extreme disrepair of the walk off. For those that don't know Roger, he's from Boulder and has climbed here for 40+ (50?) years. His name is on the FA and FFA of hundreds of classic lines in the Front Range. While Roger acted as an individual, outside of any organization, he is also the president of the Boulder Climbing Community (BCC) and is the liaison with the Forest Service. Roger has worked tirelessly behind the scenes developing a relationship with the FS, who is greatly concerned about user impact, especially on social trails, which they don't actually acknowledge as trails in their system. This was a proactive attempt to do something about the condition of the trail, with a larger goal to also later restore that trail, so that access does not become a problem with the Forest Service. So that's why it went in. Some could argue it is to save the existing trail/slope and some can argue it is a convenience anchor. Personally I see it as both.

As to the anchor itself, people do not have all the facts correct. No loose rock can fall down - it's a clean rock face. However, the rope could be thrown down on an unsuspecting climber, that is true. Roger believed the proposed location would not interfere with any existing routes. I personally do not know if the real Northwest Corner route goes where that anchor is, or if it's a variation, or what. Roger was confident it did not impact the Northwest Corner route at it is located above where that route cuts right to the arete in the photo in the D'Antonio book. To be fair, I thought it did, but he was confident it didn't and I deferred to his judgement since he's been climbing in Boulder Canyon longer than I've been alive (literally).

I spoke with Roger this morning about people's concerns. He said that he would go back up there and re-examin the anchor this weekend.

As far as a controversy is concerned, especially one here on Mountainproject, I appreciate all the constructive criticism handled in a respectful manner. The intent was to do a community service, and if it's deemed to be against the wishes of the majority of the community, I'm sure it will be fixed.

Jason Haas


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By CJC
Aug 7, 2013

I was climbing up there a couple of weeks ago next to roger and he mentioned installing a rap route because of concerns regarding the walk off erosion. after he finished his route he set up an anchor to check out placement of this anchor. kind of forgot what he was up to and went over to the direct start of the NW route...the finger crack. was a little surprised when roger's rope ended up pooling right in front of me as I was racking up. if this is the rap route he ended up installing its a pretty shitty scenario since it drops ropes right on people doing this route. mr. briggs is a hell of a nice guy and an amazing climber but this is a poor decision. seemed obvious to us at the time that wasn't going to work since he was 5' from us pulling his rope as we were getting on the pitch. maybe he didn't notice?

anyway not in favor of any rap route that impinges on any of the routes at cob. not too hard to pick your way carefully down the slope.

edit: just read the comment that the runout face on the NW route is now bolt protected using the anchor? wtf man that's ridiculous. chop em.


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By CJC
Aug 7, 2013

nice edit brah


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By teece303
From Highlands Ranch, CO
Aug 7, 2013
Aiding.

"Convenience anchors" are quite often the lowest impact solution. Sounds like it here.


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By ABB
Aug 8, 2013

I'm not taking sides here. Many are quick to judge from the comfort of a chair but rarely, if ever, get involved with stewardship projects. Give something back to the areas where you climb. Leave the rack and rope at home a couple times per year and do something for the greater good. Build trails. Replace bolts. Collect trash. Build trails. I wish the adage about 10% of the people doing 90% of the work were true but in our world I'd wager it's closer to 1% doing 99% of the work. So whaddaya' think about being a one or two-percenter?


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By CJC
Aug 8, 2013

ABB wrote:
I'm not taking sides here. Many are quick to judge from the comfort of a chair but rarely, if ever, get involved with stewardship projects. Give something back to the areas where you climb. Leave the rack and rope at home a couple times per year and do something for the greater good. Build trails. Replace bolts. Collect trash. Build trails. I wish the adage about 10% of the people doing 90% of the work were true but in our world I'd wager it's closer to 1% doing 99% of the work. So whaddaya' think about being a one or two-percenter?

I agree with much of what you wrote, but this wasn't a 'stewardship project'. It was one guy deciding for the rest of the community that his rap line is necessary to solve a problem he feels the community should be concerned about. He acted unilaterally without any input from the climbing community, except now it appears we're supposed to say how we fell about it now that its already there lol.


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By Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
Aug 8, 2013
Got Milk? How about forearm pump? Tony leads "Alan Nelson's Bulging Belly" (5.10, X) on the Lost and Found Flatiron. Belayer is Mark Ruocco. Photo by Bill Wright, 10/06.

CJC wrote:
He acted unilaterally without any input from the climbing community, except now it appears we're supposed to say how we fell about it now that its already there lol.

I don't disagree with everything you said, but you got this part wrong.
Just because he didn't ask you didn't mean he didn't seek input.
And I think I read that he's going to re-assess based on the feedback, but I didn't see where he said how you should feel.
So perhaps you should reconsider your own reaction.
It's fine that you don't like the bolts, but you are painting people pretty liberally here.


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By Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
Aug 8, 2013
Got Milk? How about forearm pump? Tony leads "Alan Nelson's Bulging Belly" (5.10, X) on the Lost and Found Flatiron. Belayer is Mark Ruocco. Photo by Bill Wright, 10/06.

ABB wrote:
Give something back to the areas where you climb. Leave the rack and rope at home a couple times per year and do something for the greater good. Build trails. Replace bolts. Collect trash. Build trails. I wish the adage about 10% of the people doing 90% of the work were true but in our world I'd wager it's closer to 1% doing 99% of the work. So whaddaya' think about being a one or two-percenter?

OK, so since you mention that, perhaps people know, or did not, that I help coordinate a volunteers list and action for trail work and maintenance at climbing areas. We work with State Parks, Boulder City/County, Jeffco, etc...
Anyone who does wish to be a 1%-er (actually, I guess it's closer to .1%) is free to Email me and I'll add you the list of folks.
The net trail project we are doing is with Eldorado Canyon State Park on Friday Night after work, August 23. Dinner and drinks will be provided.


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By Mike Morin
From On the Road
Aug 8, 2013
Lincoln Lake

CJC wrote:
I agree with much of what you wrote, but this wasn't a 'stewardship project'. It was one guy deciding for the rest of the community that his rap line is necessary to solve a problem he feels the community should be concerned about.


One guy doing something in an effort to reduce the impact on the land qualifies as an act of stewardship just as much as 20 people showing up to work on an organized project. As was pointed out above, the Forest Service is greatly concerned about the impacts of social trails. I'm biased for sure, but it seems like the community that is causing these very real impacts that the land manager is concerned about should be concerned about it as well.


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By ABB
Aug 8, 2013

CJC, I was referring to the bigger picture in broader terms. I recognize that not everyone regards this particular rap route as 'stewardship'.

The implication is that if people get involved with volunteer efforts, good things happen, such as trail-building. If someone sees something needing attention in their backyard, contact a local climbing organization (LCO). Get on the email list of your LCO's, attend a meeting. LCO's and land managers need more involvement from what, in the past, had been a very apathetic user-group. We should all ask ourselves, 'What have I done lately?' Join the rarified crowd of one-percenters. Thanks.


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By Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
Aug 8, 2013
Got Milk? How about forearm pump? Tony leads "Alan Nelson's Bulging Belly" (5.10, X) on the Lost and Found Flatiron. Belayer is Mark Ruocco. Photo by Bill Wright, 10/06.

Here is the thing about Cob Rock - the BCC is working with the USFS to get permission to fix the erosion/trail problem, but that takes a process that moves with the glacial speed that only a federal bureaucracy is capable of... and so the BCC can't organize a trail day there at this time. But we are working on it, and have been for 2 years. There is some progress towards the long-off goal of having permission to build trails on these lands, but we're talking MOU, NEPA, etc...


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By Tyler Tylerson
From The Swamp
Aug 8, 2013

I heard Ken Nichols was gonna take a road trip over there with his tools.

Chop chop.


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By CJC
Aug 8, 2013

Tony B wrote:
I don't disagree with everything you said, but you got this part wrong. Just because he didn't ask you didn't mean he didn't seek input. And I think I read that he's going to re-assess based on the feedback, but I didn't see where he said how you should feel. So perhaps you should reconsider your own reaction. It's fine that you don't like the bolts, but you are painting people pretty liberally here.


not really following you tony, didn't say anything about roger saying HOW I should feel, only that he's soliciting input after the fact. maybe you misread/misinterpreted my comment?

I was standing right there he could have asked my input and I would have given him the same response. by the way I'm not entirely opposed to there being a (temporary?) rap route somewhere on cob but like I said before I can't support one that impinges on any of the routes there. btw the 'middle' rap station is unecessary, as it is apparently intended to facilitate single rope raps. the definition of convenience, and completely out of character with the nature of climbing at cob.


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By Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
Aug 8, 2013
Got Milk? How about forearm pump? Tony leads "Alan Nelson's Bulging Belly" (5.10, X) on the Lost and Found Flatiron. Belayer is Mark Ruocco. Photo by Bill Wright, 10/06.

CJC wrote:
not really following you tony, didn't say anything about roger saying HOW I should feel, only that he's soliciting input after the fact. maybe you misread/misinterpreted my comment? I was standing right there he could have asked my input and I would have given him the same response. by the way I'm not entirely opposed to there being a (temporary?) rap route somewhere on cob but like I said before I can't support one that impinges on any of the routes there. btw the 'middle' rap station is unecessary, as it is apparently intended to facilitate single rope raps. the definition of convenience, and completely out of character with the nature of climbing at cob.

I did misread 1/2 of your comment, indeed.
But I know he did some asking around about the raps before he went up there. It is regrettable that he didn't ask your input that day though - and/or that you didn't know what he was up to in order to offer it.
I don't have a strong opinion about the anchor at this point, as I have not seen it/used it/climbed the routes by it since it was installed and I am a "see for yourself" type of guy for this sort of thing. But if it indeed is clipable from the route, then I'm in agreement with your suggestion that it should be elsewhere.

Where we apparently differ, however, is in that I don't mind an anchor set for a single rope rap. The point is to get people to use it, and most people don't climb on double ropes, so... if they are going to use it, it needs to be set to be used.

I hope that is is comforting to know that bolts, if removed correctly, leave holes that can be patched up nicely with care taken, so that they are not easy to notice. If they are moved, I am sure that will be done. If it is not done well, I will do it myself and try until I get it right.


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By CJC
Aug 8, 2013

Thanks Tony...you're a class act.

I'm not vehemently opposed to a setup for single rope raps, unless it requires bolts to be placed on or clippable from existing routes.

The only reasons I didn't discuss the placement with Roger that day were because 1. he just mentioned he was looking around for possible locations for a possible future rap route 2. my partner was talking his ear off about some other stuff 3. I was focused on climbing the next route and 4. It seemed obvious the rap he tried wasn't going to work. I'm sure it will all get sorted out, Roger seems like the respectful kind of guy that would want to get it right.


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By David Appelhans
From Lafayette
Aug 8, 2013
Imaginate

I'm glad the conversation has stayed constructive and respectful, I think we are all reasonable and on our way to working out a solution. I have a ton of respect for Roger (and his brother). I'll get out to Cob Rock soon to see the anchors for myself too.

I've built some trails when I was younger and would be happy to help build (or maybe just delineate) a more sustainable descent trail. As I understand it we don't have permission to help fix the trail, (which supposedly doesn't exist in the FS eyes)?


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By Roger Briggs
Aug 13, 2013

Im late in joining this discussion was out of town last week when most was said, and Ive thought a while about my words.

Climbers started walking off of Cob Rock about 60 years ago, and now, with ever-increasing numbers of climbers, our footprints on the ground have become huge. We have destroyed the steep, loose slope on the west side of Cob Rock. Its a 30-foot wide swath of scorched earth, where nothing grows, save a few trees that are hanging on as their roots get exposed more all the time from erosion that climbers and water cause. This is one of the worst examples in the whole front range of the negative impacts climbers can have on the ground as they get to and from the rocks. This is where we have the biggest impact on nature, as we approach and descend from crags, not really when were on the rocks. The Cob Rock slope keeps getting worse each year - can we just continue hammering this once pristine mountainside, business as usual, destroying it more all the time? We caused this and I think we need to do something about it.

About 3 years ago when I first got involved with the BCC, I became very concerned about the Cob Rock situation, and we began working on a relationship with the local US Forest Service office. Cob Rock is on Federal land managed by the Forest Service and soon we found out it would take years of study and compliance with regulations before climbers could do anything on the ground to address this damage. Now, several years later, we have made great progress with the Forest Service, but it will still be some time before any actual work on the ground can be done. And even if we had permission, it would be a huge and costly undertaking to restore the west side of Cob and build a sustainable trail.

Much of the idea behind the BCC is for climbers to take care of our own climbing areas and to keep them as pristine as possible. We dont really want or need the government to make those decisions for us right? When we can gain their trust, so they see us as good stewards who want to take care of the lands we use, I am finding that land managers are eager to turn over significant management to climbers, because they cant do all these things themselves. We would like to make our own decisions about how to minimize impacts and still maximize our freedom to climb. I think we can do a very good job of that, even with all our controversies.

So, here are some real steps we can take right now as climbers to help solve the problem on the west side of Cob Rock. First and foremost, stay off of it. Keep our feet off the ground. We can do this by having a voluntary closure of the walk-off descent route down the west side. We would be imposing this on ourselves pretty radical not because of any threats or regulations, but because we believe this is the right thing to do. This would be the first step in the healing process of that slope. Maybe soon we can start some replanting and restoration of the slope, and someday have a sustainable trail again.

Of course, if we close the walk-off, climbers still need to descend, so we would need a rappel route down Cob. Pretty simple solution, I was tempted to think. This would be the one thing we could do as climbers to stop the deterioration on the west side of Cob. I finally got around to looking at it this summer and studied many possibilities, keeping in mind that many novice climbers would be using it, and knowing where 80+% of the traffic goes on Cob Rock. A pretty obvious line that minimized negative factors really stood out. It seemed far better than any other option.

The rap route was installed in early August by a small expert team, acting independently of the BCC or any other group. This is not at all unusual in Boulder Canyon where there is no fixed hardware approval process as there is for Eldorado and the Flatirons. I was very happy with how it came out, and still think that the rappels are in the best place possible. If anyone finds a better location that solves the west side problem, please let us know. The four bolts that were placed can easily be removed, the holes patched nicely, and the anchor stations re-located.

In the meantime, a new rappel route is now there to use, and many climbers might even like it! I hope we can come together in overwhelming agreement that a voluntary closure of the west side descent would be a very good thing for us to do right now as climbers. And for now at least, the rappel route allows us to do that.


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