Apr 21, 2010 at 6:58 pm #1258006
I read about the PCT method on here today, tried it out, then tried it without the mini-'biner, tying a bight loop above the food bag, then tying the bag on. After pitching the rope over the branch, I ran the free end through the bight loop, pulled the bag up, tied my stick and lowered the bag down to it. It seemed to work alright — is there a disadvantage I'm missing? I know a 'biner doesn't weigh much, but c'mon, when you're cutting the tag off your shirt…. : )
JohnAApr 27, 2010 at 6:27 am #1602669
@johnnybgood4Locale: New Hampshire
You may have issues with the cord fraying, melting, or breaking – all depending on the type of material the cord is made from, the diameter of cord you use, the weight of the food bag, and how quickly you lower and raise the bag.
Considering a mini biner can be had for 0.1oz, and also offers the benefit of convenience, I would stick with that.Apr 27, 2010 at 10:29 am #1602766
@sharaldsLocale: Gallatin Range
If you don't have very much weight in the food bag the rope-on-rope friction in your system will be enough to hold the bag up in the air. The smoothness of the 'biner won't hinder even a really light bag from being able to come back down.Apr 27, 2010 at 6:39 pm #1602940
Yes, it doesn't weigh much I guess. Plan on taking one (I think there's a medium-sized one around here somewhere) and maybe keep the 'binerless option in mind in case I forget/lose it.
I usually hang my cook pot and other things too, so it might not ever get quite to that point, but my one test run did have a pretty good sized can of yams in there. I was using 7/64" Amsteel Blue too (Is that what BPL sells as their heavier bear hanging cord? Well, rather, cord for hanging food to keep it away from bears; though I suppose it *would* be strong enough to hang a bear….); pretty slippery stuff.
Thanks for the feedback.
JohnAApr 27, 2010 at 6:46 pm #1602941
The disadvantage of these methods is that you have a rope hanging down for the bear to bite on and yank the whole works down.
–B.G.–Apr 27, 2010 at 7:16 pm #1602954
Barbed wire for hang cord? No. Electrifying it? Fun, maybe, but the battery and solar charger from the farm store are heavy.
The solution is to use counter-balance?
I've almost always been in Michigan. Bears are out there, I guess, but I've never seen or heard one. Maybe some scat, maybe a print, but the only critter vs. food problems I've ever had were skunks and raccoons in state park campgrounds next to the RVs. I could use some educating before I get to someplace where it's a bigger concern.
JohnAApr 27, 2010 at 8:05 pm #1602980
The Two-Rope Counterbalance Method
1. Divide your food into two bags, weighing roughly the same. Let's call those Bag A and Bag B.
2. You have two ropes or cords. Let's call those rope 1 and rope 2.
3. Tie rope 1 onto a rock, but you could use a rock sack. If possible, find a live tree limb that is 20 feet up, and ideally it tapers from the trunk out to very skinny where you want to hang this, ideally 10 feet out from the trunk. It also helps if the tree limb is slightly down-hanging, because that makes it harder for a bear cub to climb out on it. Throw one end of rope 1 over the limb, and you have two ends hanging down temporarily.
4. Tie Bag A onto one end of that first rope. Prepare to pull on the other end of the first rope.
5. Take rope 2, and loop it around Bag A so the middle of that rope is rubbing against the first rope. Both ends of rope 2 are temporarily dangling on the ground.
6. Pulling down with the opposite end of rope 1, slowly pull Bag A up until it barely touches the limb. As you did that, the second rope is still looped around Bag A, and it is still dangling down. The second rope will later be the "pull-down rope."
7. Still with the opposite end of rope 1 in hand, reach up as high as you can reach on that rope. Twist that rope to make a small loop. It will be between the middle and the opposite end of rope 1 still in hand.
8. Choices here. If you have a small carabiner, you can put it through the small loop to snap around rope 1. If you do this wrong, the carabiner will fall to the ground. If you do it right, the carabiner will be caught in the loop.
9. Attach Bag B to the carabiner. If you didn't use a carabiner, then make a half hitch around the bag's neck. In either case, Bag B is now attached to the low end of the rope 1.
10. You have some excess length on rope 1. Tie a bowline or any closed loop on the end. Stick the excess length into the neck of Bag B with just the bowline loop exposed and hanging just an inch below Bag B. Alternatively, you can dangle the excess length through the Bag B attachment loop.
11. Now with rope 2, slowly pull both ends at the same time, and this will cause Bag A to slowly descend, and that will cause Bag B to slowly ascend.
12. When both bags are dangling together, stop pulling. The bags are counterbalanced. Ideally, they are several feet higher than what you can reach.
13. There should be just a tiny bit of loop dangling an inch below Bag B.
14. Now with rope 2, let go of one end, and pull on the other end. That rope will pull out around Bag A and drop free. You're done. There is nothing hanging to the ground.
In the morning, grab a stick or tent pole, reach up and catch that tiny dangling loop. Grab that end of the rope, pull down Bag B. Release it from rope or carabiner. Lower Bag A down, then remove your rope from the tree limb.
When you read this, it will seem complicated. Practice it a time or two, and it will become second nature. With lightweight food bags for one person, one person can do this solo. With heavy food bags for a group, it will probably take two people to do it.
It is thought that a bear can easily reach up as high as a man can, or maybe a hair higher. So, you want to get the food bags and loops a couple of feet higher than that. That's why you need to start with a limb that is about 20 feet high.
It is thought that few adult black bears can climb a tree very far. However, black bear cubs can climb very well. So, the mother bear typically sends one of her cubs up the tree to get the food. Some bears will actually attempt to chew the entire limb off the tree trunk. Sometimes the cub will climb high above the tree limb and then jump outward, attempting to grab the food bags on the way down. That is called a Kamikaze Bear.
For extra credit, take an ordinary empty brown paper sack and tie some bright white cord on it, and dangle it carelessly by another tree. That is the decoy. The bear may go after it first, and the noise will give you more time to wake up and defend the real food bags.
For more extra credit, take your metal pots and pans and tie them around the trunk of the tree at about 5 feet off the ground. Place one small rock into each pot. If the bear tries to climb over that, it will make noise to warn you.
–B.G.–Apr 27, 2010 at 8:08 pm #1602982
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"The disadvantage of these methods is that you have a rope hanging down for the bear to bite on and yank the whole works down."
In theory. In practice, are there any documented occurrences of this? Bears don't have opposing thumbs, and most PCT'ers use ropes so thin that a bear wouldn't be able to get any purchase with their mouth.Apr 27, 2010 at 8:09 pm #1602983
The bear would have to be lucky enough to get the cord wrapped around a body part in order to pull the rope.Apr 27, 2010 at 8:44 pm #1602993
@bleanLocale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
The Two-Rope Counterbalance Method
If I am understanding correctly, this is the standard counter balance method, except that the second rope is used to pull down on the high bag instead of using a stick to push up on the low bag. Assuming you can find a suitable push-stick, isn't that easier, and probably kinder to the tree limb, because of lower friction over the tree limb?
Am I missing something here?
–MVApr 27, 2010 at 9:06 pm #1603001
"Am I missing something here?"
I don't think so. With a group-size pair of food bags, the push-stick method never works for me. With the Two-Rope Counterbalance Method, the stick is used only for snagging the pull-down loop, so it doesn't need to be very big or strong.
For a solo-hiker with tiny food bags, the standard PCT Method could be simpler, but for groups, this method works pretty good.
It is nice to have multiple skills.
–B.G.–Apr 28, 2010 at 3:12 am #1603039
IMO a method that requires two bags, two ropes, an equalized amount of weight in each and 14 steps to explain on top of the typical hassles of hauling a bear bag is too complicated for me. If it works for you, go for it. I might just be slow. I will stick with the PCT Method.
I'd love to see a picture of a cub jumping kamikaze style off a branch like a trapeze artist. I'm sure it has happened before, but seems a little farfetched to actually plan for. After all, lightning could just strike the tree and bring your food down with it right?Apr 28, 2010 at 3:22 am #1603041
@bleanLocale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Are you familiar with the traditional counter-balance method?
Bob G's is the same thing except you double a piece of rope around the first bag before your hoist it, and then use that to pull the bag down to its counter-balance position. Bob G points out that, in some cases, that is easier.
–MVApr 28, 2010 at 6:16 am #1603068
@kieranLocale: Seattle, WA
it's my understanding that the beauty of the PCT is that first, the rope you use is too small for a bear to get a decent grip on and second, even if they do get a grip on it, pulling it will only raise your food bag higher. and chewing off the rope will only get rid of the slack, but not affect the integrity of the hang.
if i understand correctly, i think those advantages over traditional bear hangs negate bob's critiques of the method, and keep it simpler than a counter balance method.Apr 28, 2010 at 8:15 am #1603103
Many backpackers hike solo and hang their food solo. That's fine. They probably use skinny hang cords and tiny food bags.
OTOH, some backpackers go as a group and hang food as a group. They probably use hefty hang cords and large food bags. Bears can bite hefty ropes.
My instinct tells me that the standard PCT method is probably better for the solo hanger, and maybe the Two-Rope Counterbalance Method is better for the group.
Unfortunately, in Yosemite National Park, neither method is acceptable to NPS.
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