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Philmont Bear ropes
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Ty Wagner
(ty27wagner) - F

Locale: Wisconsin
Philmont Bear ropes on 05/13/2010 22:22:02 MDT Print View

What is the length of rope issued by Philmont for the bear bag rope. The 2010 guide lists 100'on page 18. I've seen both 150' and 100' listed in various places and was wondering what they actually issue. We have already purchased 300' of the blue amsteel rope so we are set in either case.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Philmont Bear ropes on 05/14/2010 17:31:59 MDT Print View

You can get by with 100 feet if you stay on Philmont property and don't use an OOPs bag. I'm told that some of the campsites in the Valle Vidal don't have bear cables and need more rope ... will find out this July.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Bear Ropes on 05/17/2010 17:57:07 MDT Print View

We took 2 lengths of Blue Amsteel 150' each. It was too much rope. I think 100; would be fine if you haven't already cut it down in half. Also, the rope is hard to work with when new. It's best to get out and get it dirty, wet, etc. as it becomes a little more pliable. You can also wrap the rope around a stick to help haul it up.

Glenn Smith

Locale: Southern Arizona
Re: Philmont Bear ropes on 05/18/2010 21:28:51 MDT Print View

We took two 150' lengths last year which was actually too much. Two 100' lengths on a non Valle Vidale trek should work fine. I agree with the comments about the rope being difficult to use when new. Our crew had a tough time keeping it untangled. This can become quite frustrating and time consuming. I would definitely practice or devise an alternate solution. We plan to do something different for our trek in 2011.

Make sure you have the specifications with you for the rope because you may need to convince your ranger it is acceptable. Each one is different. The rope when untangled is terrific.

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Philmont Bear ropes on 05/19/2010 19:11:24 MDT Print View

+1 on frustration with tangles

Just stuffing it in a stuff sack rather than rolling it up reduced the problem with tangles. This is because tangles are caused by "loops" pulling through each other and rolling the rope elbow to wrist as the boys like to do creates lots of loops for the next use.

On our next Philmont trek, I plan to wrap the rope around a flat 4"x12" rectangular plastic sheet with V notches cut in the 4" sides.

david richardson
(drichi) - MLife

Locale: midwest
plastic sheet on 05/27/2010 18:36:12 MDT Print View

Al, what kind of plastic sheet did you have in mind? I am looking for something as well to try and put our ropes on. dave

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: plastic sheet on 05/27/2010 22:12:36 MDT Print View

Hi David,

I was thinking of using something light and rigid such as foam poster board. Here is a quick sketch of the idea to keep from tangling the 150' of Amsteel bear rope.
Keep bear ropes from tangling

If you give it a try, let me know how it works.


Edited by geist on 05/27/2010 22:47:28 MDT.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: plastic sheet on 05/27/2010 22:15:05 MDT Print View

I did that same thing with paint stirrers--those pieces of wood that are about a foot long, an inch wide, and 1/8 inch thick. I cut it down to about 6 inches, put notches in the end, and it holds about 75 feet of Kelty triptease. Weighs almost nothing. However, plastic might be more durable, since the wood these stirrers are made out of is slightly better grade than balsa wood!

david richardson
(drichi) - MLife

Locale: midwest
foam poster board holder on 05/31/2010 18:42:39 MDT Print View

Al, I made a holder out of 3/16" foam poster board today from your sketch. It holds 150' of Amsteel rope very well. I will let you know how the boys do with it. May have to come up with some kind of dirt bag or something to get the rope over the bear cable. thanks for the idea, dave

Brian Barnes
(brianjbarnes) - M

Locale: Midwest
re: rope storage on 05/31/2010 19:18:54 MDT Print View

My 0.45 ounce solution (from an old Camel Back dryer). I ended up clipping the ends a bit closer to reach the 0.45 oz mark.

Edited by brianjbarnes on 05/31/2010 19:23:06 MDT.

Bob Summers
(SM498) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
In 2009 we took 300' on 06/14/2010 23:02:22 MDT Print View

For our two crews in 2009 we got 300 feet of 7/64 Amsteel Blue from Redden Marine. We cut 2 - 100 foot pieces for the main ropes. I don't remember for sure but I think we had 2 - 50 foot sections for the oops bag. We also spliced in a small loop at the center of the main lines. We used the loop to clip in a carabiner and a climbing pulley to make raising the oops bag easier.

We didn't have a problem with tangles; I've got my guys trained to put up ropes in a monkeybraid/daisy chain.

One thing to remember is to not let that rope hang free. When it's over the bear line make sure to tie the ends together with a loose knot so that it forms a loop over the bear lines. We didn't do that once and with a little wind we got a tangle 25 feet above the ground. It took some fussing to get our rope back.

michael mercer

Locale: Northern Virginia
Bear Bag Hanging on 06/23/2010 11:57:27 MDT Print View

Our crew liked Al's block and tackle system. The boys managed to set one up at just under 16oz. One of Al's articles suggested Philmont was "evaluating" the technique but had not yet approved. I called today and talked to the Chief Ranger (Adam H) who appeared to only have a vague recollection of the idea and does not recall that anyone actually evaluated anything in the off season. We are going to bring Al's setup and demonstrate it again to any of the four Assistant Chief Rangers Adam named (Christine S, Alex K, Kirsten A, and/or Matt P). Sounds like we need to be prepared to fall back on the Philmont way - at least with our ligher ropes. We will see if we can get a formal ruling out of Philmont this year. Other crews should consider doing the same.

Joshua Gray
(coastalhiker) - MLife
Re: Bear Bag Hanging on 06/23/2010 12:21:24 MDT Print View

Michael, just wanted to let you know you are going to have to be VERY persistent with Philmont to adopt something new! Even when rangers suggested things to the administration in the past, it took a couple of seasons. That being said, all of upper leadership in place in the ranger dept now are great (we were all rangers together back in 05&06). If you can get any of the ACRs excited about it, you will be more likely to succeed. Also, make sure if they do like your proposal, that you sit down with Adam and Mark Anderson (the head of philmont and who will actually be the one to make a decision about changes in the backcountry).

Joshua Gray
(coastalhiker) - MLife
Official Length on 06/23/2010 12:32:58 MDT Print View

Oh and just for info everyone, the offical bear rope length is 100'. Just measured mine that I took from the ranch back in '06. Don't think anything has changed since then.

EDIT: I do think if you are bringing your own rope, 150' is definitely a better length as there are a few lines that are way up there and doing your own hanging in the valle, it will be easier with the longer length.

Edited by coastalhiker on 06/23/2010 13:39:53 MDT.

tkkn c
(tkknc) - MLife

Locale: Desert Rat in the Southwest
Bear Bag Hanging on 06/27/2010 18:34:46 MDT Print View

Just got back from Philmont. The amsteel worked well, except for tangling and untangling the rope. It frustrated a few Scouts in our crew. I would suggest having the scouts practice untangling the rope. Some of our Scouts could not get the concept of shaking the rope to remove the tangles. Instead the wanted to pull the rope through, which just made more knots.

michael mercer

Locale: Northern Virginia
Philmont's Answer on 06/28/2010 18:18:05 MDT Print View

The response from Philmont below. I'll let you know how it goes when I get back in early August. Many thanks to Al for the great ideas.


From: Adam Herrenbruck
Sent: Friday, June 25, 2010 3:41 PM
To: Philmont Camping
Subject: Re: FW: [Philmont 2010] alternate bear bag procedure

To all it may concern:

I spoke with one crew advisor on the phone about the bear bag system as
proposed by Al Geist.

I explained to him that it would be best to demonstrate it to the Ranger
who can then determine if it will work.

I also requested that he stop by the Ranger office and Ranger Leadership
can look at the system and give a ruling on what we think based on our
Philmont experience. The system is not, as far as I can tell, in
violation of our policies. I do however have some concerns and seeing
the system set up would be helpful.

The system can be stored in a crew locker if it is determined inadequate
for the trail.

Adam Herrenbruck
Chief Ranger
Philmont Scout Ranch

Sarah Kuhn
(SCKuhn) - MLife

Locale: Mountainous Ohio
Bear ropes on 07/08/2010 09:05:42 MDT Print View

Don't count on using ANY alternative Bear rope method this summer at Philmont. There have been multiple incidents with bears this year and any deviation from 'standard' procedure is greatly frowned upon. None of our 4 crews were allowed to use our Amsteel blue on our treks in late June... prior to most of the bear incidents.... Some ounces aren't worth the hastle - enjoy the hike!

Edited by SCKuhn on 07/08/2010 09:06:39 MDT.

Perry Clark
(peterlake) - F
Don't bother with special ropes on 07/08/2010 16:15:28 MDT Print View

Just returned from 2010 trek. Saw only one bear, not a threat. No incidents with our crew/gear.

Rangers and staff at PSR are very strict regarding bear precautions. Whilst the provided ropes are not perhaps the best, they work more than adequately using the prescribed procedures. Lighter ropes may save a few ounces, but unless you're carrying much stuff that's not needed, the rope weights won't be a significant issue.

We did hear of several bear incidents, but I cannot report with confidence on the credibility of the reports. Widely variant reports on same incidents cropped up repeatedly.

My recommendation is to follow PSR procedures for hanging smellables, and use their gear. Effective, and the staff are comfortable with their procedures. Small gains in using non-prescribed methods/gear don't outweigh cost and time involved in arguing with staff.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Philmont Bear ropes on 07/09/2010 12:41:47 MDT Print View


The ONLY Philmont provided gear that our crews have used in the last few years have been the bear ropes & bags.

The weight impact across a crew is a few ounces per hiker.

There are many worse problems to have.

Have a GREAT time at Philmont!

Nate Ward
(tdaward) - F

Locale: The woods of the South
ropes on 07/09/2010 21:34:14 MDT Print View

I just returned from PSR on Tuesday....we used our 1000lb kevlar rope without any questions, got it approved at the issue point. There are no cables in the Vidal, that's where the extra lengths come in play...We ended up finding a Philmont issued rope and used it with three loops tied in it about 2' apart, hooked beaners up to those and looped our Kevlar trough them. Hoist that rope up and then we pulled our bags up through the beaners. That made it easy....As far as the issued bear bags...why carry an extra bag to put your stuff sack in? TieOur bear bags a loop in the rope and clip your bag on the rope...