Nuthouse

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Nuthouse

Postby sd » Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:43 pm

FYI, I got a call back from Mike at the front desk of the LPNF Ranger District Office in Ojai. The Pine Mountain road will open as scheduled on May 1, but the Nordhoff Ridge Road (that we use to get to Chiefs Launch) will remain closed due to fire damage. They plan to survey the road and hope to be able to open it soon, but don’t currently have a projected dated due to uncertainty about the scope of work. so… we might consider doing some work on the lower Nuthouse trail, like cut some switchbacks or steps and or install fixed ropes?

There is an issue that a sliver of the very bottom of the old trail is on private property, (see image at http://scpa.info/sites/ojai/nuthouse) so we would need to be discrete or perhaps move the trailhead 100 yards to the other side of the SE spine. There have been suggestions that we build a trail up SW spine, which about 700 yards to the WNW, but the SW spine is significantly more inside the private property boundary line, plus, the base of the SW spine is 30 to 40 feet lower than the base of the SE spine we have been utilizing, so more vertical to hike. The SW spine is also a longer walk from most of the LZs. One possible advantage of building a trail head on the north side of the SW spine is that it might offer more shade while hiking?

Fixed ropes and switchbacks are somewhat mutually exclusive. Fixed ropes work best when going straight up a fall line? Fixed ropes might require less labor than switchbacks? If we elect to fix ropes to get past the initial steep slope at the bottom of the SW spine, then perhaps we should move 100 yards west so we aren’t on private property?

If we opt for a shallower grade and elect to employ switchbacks, then following the old route up the canyon on the east side of the SE spine seems like the better option. The private property is only a tiny sliver at the very bottom. Once you walk up the canyon just a short way, you are on forest service property, so we wouldn’t need to do much if any actual improvement on private property.

If we fix ropes, then we would also want to cut some steps but wouldn’t need as many compared to switchbacks. For cutting steps, I think a basic round point shovel is the tool of choice and they are cheap ($6 at Walmart).

To fix ropes, we would need to drive in earth anchors, which might add a couple hundred dollars to the material cost. There are various offerings based on the same concept of driving (hammering) in a 3 or 4-inch head with a cable attached, about 30 inches deep. The drive rod tool is removed, and the cable is pulled tight to rotate and “set” the head sideways. The anchor drives in like penetrating arrow, but after rotation it holds firm under the overlying earth. One of many examples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TZfep4K8qY

I’m sure many of you know more about rope selection that I do, but from my research, I’d recommend ¾ inch double braided polyester due to its UV degradation resistance and low stretch. 600 feet (standard size spool) of ¾ is about $750 http://www.contractorsrope.com/polyester-composite-double-braid-prices.html, but the more significant cost is labor? Climbing ropes and “fixed” ropes are usually smaller diameter to interface with climbing gear, but in our application, I think a thicker rope will be easier to grip and require less inspection and repair? We might also want to tie some knots at intervals to provide some degree of spaced anti-slip security like call boxes along a freeway?

We have a short window after the fire to add some more launches. The current launch is right on a thermal trigger. It is usually reliable for experience pilots, but newer pilots might benefit from hiking up another 300 vertical which will give them time to settle in after launch before needing to crank and bank. We have talked about lower launches in the past. Experience pilots could likely get up from about 200 feet lower if you pick the right cycle, but the existing launch offers some buffer if you launch into the end of a cycle (which I did last Saturday, 4/21/2018). Once you get 2 or 300 feet below launch, the SW spine works better than the SE spine.

The wooden handles of our tools burned in the fire. We had a pick-axe (cutter mattock) a bow rake, and hedge clippers. The cutter mattock is the main tool for maintenance and should be put back in service, so we will need a new handle. The tapered ID of the head (2.75 x 2.95 inches) accepts a standard 36 inch mattock handle (similar to an Ames model 2421300, 36-in Mattock Handle, $11 at Lowes, https://www.lowes.com/pd/Ames-True-Temper-36-in-L-Wood-Pick-Mattock-Handle/3730163). No tools needed to affix a new handle, it simply slips on and stays in place due to the taper. If you carry up a replacement mattock handle, please post so we don’t bring up more than we need.

The bow rake is also useful for occasionally cleaning debris off launch. The old head is still on launch, but it is likely easier to simply take up a new assembled unit. For the cutter mattock, the head is heavy (about 5 pounds) so it’s easier to just carry a new 2-pound handle.

The hedge clippers were rarely used, so I wouldn’t bother replacing them, but a bypass lopper might be functional for the scenario. We used to have a leaf rake, which was arguably more useful than the bow rake, but leaf rakes are flimsy, and the poly-plastic didn’t survive in the sun. I think wooden handles are better for storing in the sun than fiberglass, plus the wooden handles are less expensive.
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