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 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: One or both scouts (depending on their weight) pull up the bags (not by their arms, but simply holding on the handle & using their bodies to walk out 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 together until the proper height of the bags is reached). Then they can split apart to get into their respective positions to be ready to wrap the rope around their designated tree, one scout from each line's bear bag partners will feed longer stand-off sticks under the rope to protect the tree from rope wrap as his partner (the other scout) walks their line around the tree. After a half of a wrap, the force needed for 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 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 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.
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 (that is; they are small, don't weight much, and are not in the high school athlete clique), that weight savings (and bulk savings) may consequently become 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.".
Of course LNT stand off sticks address the first concern. For full Dyneema lines like Amsteel Blue the second concern of poor durability doesn't fit, for example our line is originally from 2011 and shows minimum to no wear (again, it is a full strength Dyneema rope after all ... which in large diameters, is sold as winch rope), And even at a small 7/16" diameter it is still very strong with an average strength of 1600 lbs! (Which addresses the poor strength concern)
To be fair about this Discussion Scenario, there have been cases that crews have brought paracord substitute or a 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). Understand though, Philmont ranger training doesn't include being able to tell the different line types (nor should it really - hence the 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.