RE: "The Amsteel is too hard to grip, requires wrapping it around sticks. It could slide thru someones hands and cut them badly under tension."
Simple Solution: Clove hitch the stick handle to the rope. This is good practice regardless of kind of rope utilized (because rope burns are a bummer regardless). The handle must be placed far enough out on the line to permit several wraps around the "tie-off" tree. The handle does not need to be removed ... it can be kept on the rope for the unwrapping process ... the handle will look like it is a part of the stand off sticks (note for clarity: the handle is is not, nor does it function as a stand off stick)
RE:"correct number of people to handle the bear bags is exactly 2 larger scouts".
Comment: Since Philmont mandates the double haul system. It is logistically easier if there are two scouts for each line of that double haul system (so a total of 4).
Per each line in the double haul system: One or both scouts (depending on their weight) pull up the bags (not with their arms, but by simply holding on the handle & using their bodies & legs to walk out away from the overhead steel cable ... because of the double haul system that will mean that there are 2 to 4 scouts hauling up the bags - have them physically stay close together until the proper height of the bags is reached). Then they can split apart to get to their their designated tree/pole to become ready to start wrapping the rope around their designated tree. From that position, one scout from each line's bear bag partners will then feed longer stand-off sticks under the rope to protect the tree from rope wrap as his partner (the other scout still on the line) walks their portion of the line around the tree. After a half of a wrap, the force needed to keep the bags up will be greatly reduced and the wrapping job becomes much easier. After multiple wraps around the tree, the job is finished. Excess line can be coiled or wrapped around the handle.
We did this process for a crew of 12 last summer (and we also did it in 2011 when stand off sticks weren't an official part of Philmont's approach)
RE: "IMO, the oops rope is not needed "
Just another opinion: We used the oops bag (and the double haul system for it) for that day's food (and the follow morning's breakfast) and all toiletries (and related smellables) that would be needed quick & easy access to. This also helped spread out the weight over two systems.
RE: Color coding the line to quickly see the difference between the main lines and the oops lines
As a color coding alternative to having the entire line a bright color, we used colored vinyl tape to mark the difference: at the ends of the line, and at the middle knot, and on the carabiner.
RE: Amsteel not permitted by the Ranger.
Yup, this is DEFINITELY a YMMV item.
We have been very fortunate both last summer and in 2011 in utilizing Amsteel line.
Our approach tries reframing the mindset of the situation by working with our Ranger (not debating them) ... think in terms of a partnership. See EDIT #2 for more info.
EDIT: More unsolicited advice: Enjoy the process.
I hope you & the lads in your crew have a great trek this summer.
EDIT #2: (This might be better as a new post on this thread ... but here it is)
A.) Based on our observations and measurements. This line dries much faster and will save 27.8 oz per 150' rope. Depending on the physical size and athleticism of the youth involved (meaning if they are small, don't weight much, and are not in the high school athlete clique), then that weight savings (and bulk savings) will be more important in spreading out the crew gear.
B.) It should be noted that one of the guided Discussion Scenarios in the Wilderness Guia's booklet for Plan Ahead and Prepare, is on "skinnier ropes". The guided conclusion in the booklet (starting at the bottom of page 3) is this:
"A thinner rope cuts into the bark of trees more, due to less surface area, causing more damage to the tree. A thinner rope has a higher chance of fraying and tearing. A thinner rope also has a chance of stretching which would lower the bear bags.".
So, the concerns are: 1.) LNT impact 2.) Durability 3.) Strength
Of course the LNT stand off sticks address the first concern. For full Dyneema lines like Amsteel Blue the second concern of poor durability (fraying & tearing)just doesn't fit, for example our line is originally from 2011 and shows minimum to no wear. (One must remember, Amsteel is a full strength Dyneema rope ... which in large diameters, is sold as use for winch rope), Even at a small 7/16" diameter it is still incredibly strong with an average strength of 1600 lbs! (Which by the way addresses the third & last concern of poor strength)
To be fair about this Discussion Scenario, there have been cases that crews have brought paracord substitute or a cheap home depot line (according to our ranger) that has had ALL of the problems listed in the Scenario (=Increased LNT Impact; Poor Durability, & Poor Strength ... well, minus the increased LNT Impact now,because as of 2013 stand off sticks address that concern ... the Scenario obviously was written before Philmont finally adopted that practice).
C.) Partnership: You need to understand where your Ranger is coming from. Understand that your Ranger wants & deserves to be respected and treated as such. Never undercut his or her authority (subtly or overtly) especially in front of any of the crew. Also understand that Philmont ranger training doesn't include being able to tell the different line types (nor should it really - hence the Ranger's reliance on Philmont issued gear) ... their first priority is to make sure that a crew can trek safely themselves, and successfully complete their Philmont adventure. (Which of course, is a common goal you have as well ... you'll need to establish creditability along those lines) These are important considerations that must be taken into account before attempting to frame your interactions with your Ranger as a partnership ... if you do take them into consideration, you'll have a much better chance of mutual success.