Leaving No Trace and Cleaning Up After Others


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Trad climber
Clovis, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - May 12, 2010 - 02:32pm PT
So after climbing various routes in Yosemite Valley for the past few weekends, I'm seeing more and more old rap slings on various points on routes. Part of me wants to keep these routes clean and void of any past traffic. On the other hand, if people ever feel the need to bail, they could do so at those points that I have found left gear.

I haven't removed anything yet and want to get some wisdom from the more seasoned climbers before I do so.

So, what are your thoughts?
The Alpine

Big Wall climber
May 12, 2010 - 02:36pm PT
Is that random tat on reeds still there? I've got a solid new policy of carrying a knife specifically for cutting nasty tat off of routes.

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 12, 2010 - 02:37pm PT
I'm not a Yosemite local...

But, in WA, if I were to find old tat that isn't a random bail (might clean it, but depends), I'd replace it if I were to rap from that location (take the old stuff with me and throw away) - preferebly replace with some dark color.

Trad climber
Clovis, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 12, 2010 - 02:40pm PT
To be specific, it was about 3 or 4 old slings on the "horn" on P4? of the Nutcracker. The more I climb in Yosemite, this being my first season, I'm finding many trees with slings on them. The routes being the most popular ones.

Where is the line? If it's new (relatively) leave it? And cut it off if it's old?
The Alpine

Big Wall climber
May 12, 2010 - 02:41pm PT
If its in the middle of a pitch - chop it.

Trad climber
Clovis, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 12, 2010 - 02:43pm PT
I think it is bad practice when people become accustomed to knowing there is gear at certain points on a route and then saying, "well we can leave the webbing in the car." Then finding themselves in a bad predicament when they need to bail and the gear they planned to be there is no longer there.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
May 12, 2010 - 02:55pm PT
I carry a knife with me and cut off everything I have time to.

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
May 12, 2010 - 03:16pm PT
No need to ask, just cut and replace.

Or Remove if it is an obvious bail anchor.

I always have a knife, rap rings/quick links, and 1/2" tubular in some fashion.

Good on you for taking the time to make the anchor situation better for all.



May 12, 2010 - 03:28pm PT
This is a small collection of the tat & bail Krap® left behind on my local crag over the past few years:

I try to clean anything that is obviously unnecessary anytime I encounter it- it's good for one's mountain karma. For some odd reason, I've been saving it.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
May 12, 2010 - 03:51pm PT
I don't think I'd chop EVERYTHING I came across, but definitely worn 'Death Slings' that are faded and falling apart. Especially that rainbow sling in apogee's pic, that woulda been gone in a heartbeat. Not because it's gay, but because it's ghey! Try to use natural colors, man!

That's just me though.

EDIT: Apogee, that BD quickdraw looks like one of mine, can I have it back?

A pile of dirt.
May 12, 2010 - 04:03pm PT
Clean it but be careful that it's not an actual rap anchor. A lot of trees are rap anchors for routes.


Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
May 12, 2010 - 04:13pm PT
Kev, I've noticed at many Valley belays.A bunch of slings around a tree! Shouldn't you just sling the tree, clip it and belay off that. When it comes time to rap, clean your slings (after you're secured on rap), and ONLY use the tree to rap. Do tell.

That tree at the top of pitch 1 of Sloth Wall is a good example. Why have 4 'permanent' slings around it with a ring? Just rap off the tree! Eco damage to the poor tree? The slings don't hurt it?

Top of Oak Tree Flake and Grant's is the same...I'm curious.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
May 12, 2010 - 04:18pm PT
I suppose pulling rap lines around the tree will cut into the tree, the slings are just sitting there statically...??

Trad climber
Fresno CA
May 12, 2010 - 04:19pm PT
Around the time I first started climbing in the Valley (in 1968 or 1969), someone was killed descending Goodrich Pinnacle when an anchor sling broke. Since then, I've always taken a knife and extra sling (usually granite grey, although I was recently forced to leave one dyed bright orange -- fortunately around a chockstone deep in a crack, but I still want to go back and replace it with a more appropriate color).

My basic rule is to remove all bail-generated sling from mid-pitch or not on an established rap route. I'll illustrate why with this example: When I first did Marginal on the Grack, the first bolt was full of junky sling, obviously used by more than one leader to bail. It clogged the hanger so I couldn't clip in, and the sling was too old to rely on. Cutting that was no picnic, but then, I guess, neither was placing the bolt in the first place, so I shouldn't gripe too much!

Anyway, I applaud anyone thoughtful enough to ask that question. I hope you enjoy your climbing, and i look forward to meeting you around the Valley or here in town.

Josh Higgins

Trad climber
San Diego
May 12, 2010 - 04:33pm PT
Granite grey slings.... So jealous! REI refuses to carry anything but bright red (in the 9/16") and other terrible colors. I buy more neutral colors when I'm in other shops and I see it, but I'm currently out!

I clean sometimes and not others. Bluering, you nailed it. Don't pull your rope off a tree. It wears the bark down and damages it more than a sling.


Social climber
May 12, 2010 - 04:37pm PT
Nomad carries grey 1" webbing, perfect for replacing old tat.

That would require you to drive past Return Everything Immediately and head on up here and bug me :D

I'll see if I can get some thinner stuff today...

Oakland: what's not to love?
May 12, 2010 - 04:39pm PT
I carry a tiny, fold-away, serrated knife that I bought for $1.49 at the gas station up the road from Sugarloaf at the bottom of my chalkbag. Handy, always there, not in the way, cheap, not heavy...

May 12, 2010 - 04:41pm PT
"REI refuses to carry anything but bright red (in the 9/16") and other terrible colors."

Yet another fantastic reason to avoid the big-box out-of-touch evil empire, and support your local outdoor retailer.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
May 12, 2010 - 04:53pm PT
I make it a habit to have some tied slings (and a partner with a knife, since I loose every knife I get) and rap rings to replace stations that are old.

Certainly this is not just an issue for popular routes, but also in obscure areas... at first you wonder why everyone used white slings, BITD.

Just adding slingage without cleaning up old slingage is definitely a problem, as the slings grow to the point that there is abrasion on the "outside" slings of the group through rings where pulling ropes can burn the newer slings... this is a bad thing for those following.

Also, there was a thread here a while back, make sure you check the entire length of slings you're planning on using, visual and tactile, to confirm that the sling is in good shape and not rodent gnawed, etc... take your time and make sure it's ok before your life depends on it.

Mountain climber
hanging from a crimp and crying for my mama.
May 12, 2010 - 04:54pm PT
Well, a small confession needs to be given... I am so bad at following routes that I am scared of camouflage anchors and slings.

I love the idea of keeping the wall looking pure but in my world, I'll be off leading into a blank wall. That is why I am going to say that sometimes seeing things isn't a bad thing.

Just my two cents.

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