Assuming the hardware is uncertified and there is a genuine interest to replace it, the first questions should be:
1. What is the replacement cost .
2. Where is the money coming from.
3. Who will do the work.
4. Who will maintain it.
Anyone have any answers ?
In response to Rolf's queries, I think the first question is
0. What *should* the ladder look like (design)?
This would affect all of 1. through 4.
Without a helicopter's involvement, all the materials would need to be carried up on the backs of humans. This raises a constraint on materials and design... but one that could be overcome.
2. is the best question... where will the money come from? I'd bet that enough locals could band together to design the replacement, remove the existing one, and install the new one. But we might be looking at $500 to $1000 for a proper ladder.
It seems to me that DWB gets a pretty rough ride around here, no doubt some of it justifiable. Even I have cursed his name upon occasion, perhaps while trying to clip one of his dog leash chain links or laying eyes on a recent clear cut. Good stuff for ranting over a beer. At the same time however I suggest we should all raise our glasses to DWB - not to his relatively minor crimes but to the vast bulk of his work which no climber can help but appreciate, if they care to think about it.
I can't help noticing a tone of disrespect from some comments which should be noted, were likely soiling their diapers while DWB was doing the grunt work on the squaw, smoke bluffs, malemute and everywhere else, which he continues to this day. I'm not saying anyone gets a free pass on accountability, and times change. I'd be one of the first to agree that his style and engineering can run a bit rough but I'd also say stack his transgressions against his contributions over 4 decades and there's no contest. The man has unearthed more good climbing around here than anyone else and deserves much respect for it.
I think that even DWB will acknowledge that the odd one or two of his routes may need a little, oh... renovating shall we say. As these creations are after all not private property, such action should be decided upon with a healthy consensus of opinion. Good on you Peder for springing the question.
my vote is leave as is or upgrade if really necessary. I'll throw a few bucks and hours in the pot. The squaw / 3 peaks linkup is awesome.
Consider this, and other things that have happened at Squamish in the last few years, from the perspective of the public and of BC Parks. It concerns much more than just climbers, and those who live in Squamish. The Chief has been a provincial park since 1995 – it’s no longer our private playground, where climbers can do what we want. Some of the issues:
• Scandalously low funding for BC Parks, at Squamish and elsewhere. A chronic problem. Nonetheless, if a use or user group is perceived as a problem, particularly in terms of public safety, it eventually will be addressed by stricter management if not prohibition. If we manage ourselves, even if it means some self-restraint, it reduces the chances of someone else managing us more actively.
• Increasing commercial pressure on the Park, of all kinds.
• Public safety and environmental impacts, whether from construction of a substandard ladder system, cleaning (trundling and scrubbing), or otherwise.
• Risk to the public – I’ve spent time at the gap between the first and second summits, cleaning up garbage, and seen hikers going up. And seen a few hikers stranded at its top, and even near the top of the third (fourth) summit. In dry mid-summer the ladders were manageable for me – what about non-climbers, or in damper conditions?
• The precedent of allowing this to be built in the Park without appropriate planning, and of doing little in response. (Climbers in Squamish must have known it was being built, in early 2009 – why didn’t they do the right thing then?) The ladders are outside anything in the Master Plan – which needs to be updated – and far outside the Recreational Climbing Strategy.
• There is one ‘real’ via ferrata in the area already, at Whistler/Blackcomb, and room to build others outside parks. Shouldn’t they be kept in the commercialized places?
• The precedent in terms of other parks. Also, we don’t want the Chief, and B.C., to be overdeveloped like some other mountain areas.
• The full cost of removing the existing system, and replacing it with something engineered to a decent standard, will probably be considerable, in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, depending on how much can be done by volunteers, if available. There’s also the question of whether specialized “via ferrata” climbing equipment is available locally. If not, will the stores bring it in, and what about training the public in its use?
In my view, the focus should be to rebuild the existing trail network in the Park, to a reasonable and durable standard. That would be of greatest service to the public, and climbers. BC Parks did some commendable work on the trails over the last few months, but there’s much more to do. I also believe that the old mountaineers’ route from the Slhanay gravel pit parking (on the Stawamus River road) to the saddle should be rebuilt as a good trail, linking into the existing trail network and creating a loop trail. A low-level trail parallel to the road and linking the Slhanay parking area to the campground would add to this, and overall should much increase hiking use of the northern part of the Park. (With all the related management issues…) It should also help with increasing parking pressure at the Park. If the trail work led to removal or at least minimizing all artificial structures (ladders, chains) in the Park, so much the better. They were only added in the later 1980s, and for the most part aren’t needed.
If the ladders were to be rebuilt, and replaced in another more appropriate location, it should only be with BC Parks’ full cooperation, perhaps after updating of the master plan, and with appropriate discussion. It should be to accepted standards for such things.
On a historical note, the ladders also “over-wrote” some of the mountaineers’ route from the first to the second summit, as well as a route on the Chief’s north ridge, to the north summit. Neither was well known, but they provided pleasant, inobtrusive, alternate adventures.
At the very least, I don't see it a whole lot differently than the myriad network of tatty but quite useful fixed hand lines scattered all over the place. I haven't seen any tourists kill themselves on any of those yet and they're about as obvious as the rungs.
I have seen tourists monkeying up the grandwall descent for instance, or poking around the entrance to the penthouse.
You want to see some wild fixed tourist gack just go down to angels landing in zion or the cables on HD. No fatalities that i've heard so far.
As for precedent, I think if something truly stupid were to appear, it will cross the line.
where's the line? maybe determined through consensus, possibly by a forum like this.
The ladder system is an embarrassment to the climbing community, and it's our responsibility to do something about it if we reasonably can. It would show that we not only claim to be but actually are responsibly self-governing, in the public interest.
Rebuilding the hiking trails at the Chief, and adding to them, would also be an opportunity to 'manage' climbers' trails, those that aren't generally suitable for hikers. Some low-profile signage, concealed starts, and so on.
The proliferation of scruffy hand lines is another concern. Yet more 'convenience' add-ons, potentially a precedent for worse. But very often they don't really make the situation safer. An example being the rope placed on Broadway two years ago (photos somewhere here). A fifty year old route, which can easily be belayed and protected, both ascending and descending, and also rappelled. Better to leave Broadway and the Apron descent as they are. Discourages hikers from going up, and inappropriate installations. In this case, a major one would be required to make any real difference. This ain't the Alps. Although the trail in the forest could do with some work.
There will always be pressure to make climbing at Squamish more convenient, often for commercial motives. A short, steep and slippery slope, and something to guard against. Climbing ain't ever safe, and ain't ever convenient.
(A few years ago, there was a handline at the start of South Arete, a real mystery. Not to mention all the bolts added on its second pitch.)
http://squamishclimbing.com/squamish_cl ... ht=ferrata
Keep the ladder, its awesome!
And no not all European Ferrattas are done to "safe standards" They have the same sh*t, missing rungs old bolts and such.
Ive seen plenty, they all look just like those.
I continue to believe that it's up to the climbing community to clean up its own messes, and to prevent them where possible - particularly where park values or the public are affected.
Certainly construction standards for these things vary. However, I suspect that modern European ladder systems, particularly in public parks, must be built to a fairly high standard. Not that Squamish or B.C. is or should be like Europe.
Some of the rungs bend a bit, but I can't see them fail any time soon, and even if they did, you're always on several of them at the same time. I felt more uncomfortable on some of the pulley-ropes, not just on the VF but in other places as well.
I originally voted to get the thing removed but I changed my mind. Someone needs to use the hot-tub time machine, and prevent the thing from being built. I guess I'm annoyed that someone randomly built the VF but what good is online bitching after the facts?
the "via ferrata" is not a mess for the majority of people who spoke out on this thread, it's a valuable community asset.
I'm afraid that we'll have to disagree on that one. And this concerns many more than those few climbers who read and post on this forum, but all climbers, and the public generally. And BC Parks. A few may think the thing, for all its shortcomings, an asset. Jumping from there to saying that it's a valuable community is a long jump indeed.
There's been considerable fuss over the last few years about 'cleaning' operations on Milk Run and Crescent Ramp, Crap Crags, right of the Sheriff's Badge (harihari), and elsewhere, the ladder disaster being discussed here, and anchor standards, often involving many of the same people. Perhaps what this illustrates is that whatever the master plan and recreational climbing strategy say, it's time for climbers to back off a little in terms of these activities. For example, for it to become the community standard to post information about plans of any substance, e.g. cleaning of more than a single pitch, "logging", or where such operations might affect other routes, public safety, or climber safety. Posting it here and elsewhere, so that those who might contribute to discussion of any related matters have an opportunity to do so - before it occurs. It might be the end of the "secret cliff" silliness, but so what?
Something like this wouldn't really apply to something like the rungs and chains, given that they are much more than just a climber issue, and well outside the master plan and climbing strategy. Short of changes to both documents, a non-starter.
Speaking of BC Parks, the centennial of the creation of the first park is in March. There was a good article in the Sun on Saturday about this, and related management and planning problems. http://www.vancouversun.com/travel/park ... story.html
Fre, your comment a couple posts up about running into some Japanese hikers with a didgeridoo at the base of the via ferrata is a funny image. It seems to me that non-climbers are going to end up climbing this thing quite often throughout the year. Should that be a concern to climbers? What would happen if there was an accident on the vf -- what would Parks do? Whose responsibility is it to maintain the vf?
Another tangent thought: My understanding of the vf's in Europe is that they require a harness with two daisy chain kind of attachments (Petzl Scorpio Via Ferrata Lanyard avail through MEC for $111) so the person is always anchored in. I don't think anybody is going to be using lanyards on this very short vf. So in a way it will never be in compliance even if the hardware were upgraded.
I have to say I'm not attached to the vf never having used it. I can see letting go of it would be more difficult if I used it -- it sounds fun and convenient. I consider it a liability to climbers and our freedom to self-manage ourselves.
When you reach the top, keep climbing -- Zen proverb
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