Is there a reason to use counter balance vs PCT?
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Trace Richardson
(tracedef) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Is there a reason to use counter balance vs PCT? on 03/06/2012 17:26:24 MST Print View

Hiya. Noticed someone mentioning counterbalancing when hanging bear bags in another thread. I didn't know people still did that since it seems like PCT and similar are easier, imo.

Don't want to make any assumptions since all I've ever used is PCT, but when I think of counterbalancing, I tend to think of it as an out of date method, but maybe there's an advantage, something I'm missing or maybe is it just personal preference?

Please enlighten me, any feedback appreciated!

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Knotless PCT on 03/06/2012 18:11:57 MST Print View

It's especially easy when combined with the Knotless PCT method outlined here:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/myog_knotless_pct_bear_bag_hang?m=00485XmTmGtNf-oeK_bTrOh0iFA

edit: dangit - how do we do embed links here?

Edited by Kieran on 03/06/2012 18:12:33 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Is there a reason to use counter balance vs PCT? on 03/06/2012 18:32:21 MST Print View

The advantage of the PCT method is that it uses only one food bag and one rope. The disadvantage is that it leaves the rope dangling down to the ground (which can be bitten and seized by a bear). This is commonly used by a solo camper.

The advantage of the counterbalanced method is that there is no rope dangling down to the ground. The retrieval person needs a short branch to get the pull-down rope. The disadvantage is that it requires two food bags which weigh roughly the same, plus two ropes. This works better for a large amount of food, like for more than one camper.

--B.G.--

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Is there a reason to use counter balance vs PCT? on 03/06/2012 19:29:05 MST Print View

"The disadvantage is that it requires two food bags which weigh roughly the same, plus two ropes. This works better for a large amount of food, like for more than one camper."

There is another disadvantage to counterbalancing. If a bear goes to work on the hanging limb and starts shaking it, he can cause one bag to start sinking lower, to the point where it can be reached from the ground. This is not possible with the PCT method. As for a bear grabbing the rope in his mouth, use a thin slipppery rope, perhaps kevlar/spectra, and it will slip right thru his teeth. A thick rope will decrease the effectiveness of the PCT method for that reason. Different tools for different tasks. I have searched for, and never found, a documented case of a bear biting into/seizing the rope of a PCT hang and thereby gaining access to the food bag. If anyone can supply that documentation, I think this would be a great place to post it. There is a reason why most people who hang their food use the PCT method instead of the counterbalance method.

Trace Richardson
(tracedef) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Thank you. on 03/06/2012 19:33:42 MST Print View

Gotcha. I've always used knotless PCT with a little bit of PVC pipe like Kier linked to .... but wasn't thinking about the no-rope hanging aspect of counter-balancing .... your replies give me a little bit more insight ... different strokes for different folks.... thanks for the feedback!

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Is there a reason to use counter balance vs PCT? on 03/06/2012 19:51:49 MST Print View

"If a bear goes to work on the hanging limb and starts shaking it, he can cause one bag to start sinking lower, to the point where it can be reached from the ground."

Tom, if the two food bags weigh differently, then this can happen. But, if the two food bags weigh roughly the same, it doesn't happen. It was much more likely to happen with the old steel cables that were used in Yosemite thirty years ago, but not with a normal tree branch with normal bark and a normal rope.

Of course, thirty years ago we didn't have thin slippery Spectra ropes for this purpose.

--B.G.--

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Is there a reason to use counter balance vs PCT? on 03/06/2012 20:09:30 MST Print View

"But, if the two food bags weigh roughly the same, it doesn't happen."

Most of the time, but I think it also depends a lot on just how hard and persistently the bear shakes the limb. In any case, it isn't an issue at all with the PCT method. Pay your nickel and take your chances, I guess. Me, I like eliminating even the possibility. I sleep better that way. ;)

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Is there a reason to use counter balance vs PCT? on 03/06/2012 20:26:48 MST Print View

"But, if the two food bags weigh roughly the same, it doesn't happen."
I think theoretically if the bear were to only shake the limb up and down then that's probably right. In reality, I'm betting the bear is going to be a bit more vigorous.

My PCT rope is so thin that it would be pretty difficult to get much grip and pull with much force. And I don't really care if a bear chews through the extra bit that's hanging down, I can still reach up and pull the slack towards me and undo it.

Don Amundson
(amrowinc) - M

Locale: Southern California
Counter balance vs. pct on 03/06/2012 20:32:22 MST Print View

There is the issue in the Sierras (SEKI and Inyo) where you are allowed (but not encouraged) to hang your food. The counter balance method is the only one allowed. I've never heard of anyone being cited for using the PCT method but the powers to be are locked into the CB method for whatever reason.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is there a reason to use counter balance vs PCT? on 03/06/2012 20:36:18 MST Print View

It's kind of a moot point for me. I haven't hung food since 1998.

Thirty years ago we would be camped at some nice lake in Yosemite, and the backcountry rangers would come around just before dark to see who had done it right and who had done it wrong. There would be a quiet pause for about an hour or so. Then the sounds would start up from the next lake over. We could hear people banging pots and pans, trying to scare off one of Yosemite's finest. I could almost set my watch by it, because I knew I had about an hour before the bear made it up to where my group was camped. I always had the group food bags up in the same tree, and two of us guys would have our sleeping bags around the trunk of the tree. That bear was going to have to come through us in order to climb the tree. It was all good fun.

Needless to say, the bear never scored against us. For the beginners at the next lake, it was not so easy. Many would have lost their food, but the rangers made them clean up after the bear the next morning. That's one thing that you really don't want to be forced to do, clean up after a bear, especially if that was your last food.

--B.G.--

Karple T
(ctracyverizon)

Locale: Mid-Alantic
"Is there a reason to use counter balance vs PCT?" on 03/06/2012 20:45:51 MST Print View

Hey Trace - is that a Vizsla in your avitar?

Edited by ctracyverizon on 03/06/2012 20:46:31 MST.

Trace Richardson
(tracedef) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: "Is there a reason to use counter balance vs PCT?" on 03/06/2012 22:37:11 MST Print View

Hoss has papers saying he's purebred chocolate lab, but he's not, he's got some Chesapeake Bay Retriever that snuck in there somehow ... :)

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is there a reason to use counter balance vs PCT? on 03/06/2012 23:31:02 MST Print View

" That bear was going to have to come through us in order to climb the tree. It was all good fun."

Awesome story! :-)

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is there a reason to use counter balance vs PCT? on 03/06/2012 23:57:06 MST Print View

" " That bear was going to have to come through us in order to climb the tree. It was all good fun." "

"Awesome story! :-)"

Dave was on the other side of the tree trunk from me. I was tired and fell asleep. I woke up about an hour later with the sound of a blood-curdling scream from Dave. He had fallen asleep also, and he woke up with the bear standing next to him and looking at his face. So, Dave screamed Bloody Murder, which scared the bear off, woke me up, and also woke up the six or so others in my group. They came over a minute later wanting to see who had been dismembered, judging by the scream. But that sent the bear packing. The bear went back to the other lake where the bear bagging was simpler to snag.

(about 1991)

--B.G.--

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is there a reason to use counter balance vs PCT? on 03/07/2012 11:22:25 MST Print View

Haha that's excellent!