Joshua Tree Ethics

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steelmnkey

climber
Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Mar 25, 2012 - 05:31pm PT
Awesome work all of you!!! Hope we can help the next go 'round.
bit'er ol' guy

climber
the past
Mar 26, 2012 - 12:48am PT
8,000 short grainy squeeze job slabs is 7,999 too many. Ban first ascents!!!
Rocman

Trad climber
Reno,NV
Mar 30, 2012 - 11:07am PT
My first trip to jt was 1978,bolting on lead,running it out,to save the rock,they had BIG BALLS,thats want I rember from my trip,then climbing got SPORTY
FreeCoffee

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 15, 2012 - 10:57am PT
The area in question is the Underground Chasm on Queen Mountain. The Chasm is located in designated wilderness and a 2 hour hike from the trailhead, NW of Lower Walt's Rock. The 11 routes have not been reported on mountainproject and as far as I can find are only listed in Robert Miramonte's new guide. A member of the climbing community, pointed the crag out to me. It appeared to him like some holds may have been 'enhanced.'

I hiked out to the Chasm in March and found a lot more than possibly enhanced holds:

 9 steps chiseled into a ramp in the chasm proper
-An established and abandoned campsite
 2 fire rings with the remnants of burnt joshua tree limbs.
 a bench
 a cache of water
 cooking pots
 dozens of cut scrub oak - laid out to make a bridge-like structure leading into the chasm.
 a crowbar
 trash
 approximately 120 bolts spaced 4-6 feet apart (11 routes)
 11 sets of anchors
 a fixed rope
-evidence that the rock faces had been aggressively cleaned

Joshua Tree's management plan states that bolts may be replaced, bolt for bolt in wilderness areas, but no new bolts may be placed without a permit. No permits have ever been issued for Queen Mountain.

Powerdrills may never be used in wilderness areas - per the Wilderness Act.

Queen Mountain is a day-use area - to protect the native animals.

No fixed ropes may be left any where in the park.

Vegetation may not be collected or cut for any reason

Chipping, scraping, gluing, and gardening holds is prohibited.

Law Enforcement Rangers did a full investigation on the Upper Chasm area, but unfortunately it was inconclusive. Meaning, there is no way to prove who permanently altered the rock on Queen Mountain. We are currently discussing how to effectively restore the area. Anybody interested in this restoration effort can contact me directly.

What happened on Queen Mountain is unacceptable behavior - the most egregious of all are the 9 chiseled steps. Their scar will outlive all of us. I aim to prevent activity like this from happening anywhere else in the park, but I can't do it alone. I need all of your help.

Also, during that same trip up Queen Mountain, I removed the crashpads that were stashed at the Underground bouldering area - 2 well-worn, well-chewed on pads. I'd like to return them to the owners, no harm done.

Please contact me with questions and / or comments.

Bernadette Regan
JT Climbing Ranger
bernadette_regan@nps.gov

1 of the 9 chiseled steps
1 of the 9 chiseled steps
Credit: FreeCoffee
enhanced or natural hold?
enhanced or natural hold?
Credit: FreeCoffee
Underground Chasm, Lower and Upper Walt's Rock
Underground Chasm, Lower and Upper Walt's Rock
Credit: FreeCoffee
bivy at entrance to chasm, the bridge of scrub oak is to its left.
bivy at entrance to chasm, the bridge of scrub oak is to its left.
Credit: FreeCoffee
enhanced or natural hold?
enhanced or natural hold?
Credit: FreeCoffee
gathering vegetation for any reason is not allowed in joshua tree np. ...
gathering vegetation for any reason is not allowed in joshua tree np.
firering is less than 50m from Underground Chasm.
Credit: FreeCoffee
gathering vegetation is not allowed for any reason in joshua tree np. ...
gathering vegetation is not allowed for any reason in joshua tree np.
fire pit is less than 10m from entrance to chasm.
Credit: FreeCoffee
the bridge of cut scrub oak leading into the chasm
the bridge of cut scrub oak leading into the chasm
Credit: FreeCoffee
1 of the 9 steps
1 of the 9 steps
Credit: FreeCoffee
cache found less than 50m from Underground Chasm
cache found less than 50m from Underground Chasm
Credit: FreeCoffee
Chiseled stairs lead up a ramp, to access the fixed line that you can ...
Chiseled stairs lead up a ramp, to access the fixed line that you can jug to get to the Upper Chasm. OR you can do 3rd and 4th class moves and avoid the man-made approach.
Credit: FreeCoffee
Survivor, 5.13c , climbs up the sharp arete.  14 bolts, 120 feet.
Survivor, 5.13c , climbs up the sharp arete. 14 bolts, 120 feet.
Credit: FreeCoffee
Even in green pants and sneakers I was able to scramble past the fixed...
Even in green pants and sneakers I was able to scramble past the fixed line to access the upper chasm, the anchor the line is fixed to, and 4 other rap anchors. If you could climb 5.13 do you think you'd need to jug this line?
Credit: FreeCoffee
2 of the 11 anchor stations
2 of the 11 anchor stations
Credit: FreeCoffee
Russ Walling

Gym climber
Poofter's Froth, Wyoming
May 15, 2012 - 11:13am PT
The FA crew that was out there was like a chippers Hall of Fame. F*#king sad that these guys are still doing this sh#t, and some of them have been doing it for decades.

WTF???
Grampa

Trad climber
OC in So Cal
May 15, 2012 - 11:58am PT
Motion activated game cameras. The high-end models will send an image to a email address in real-time. Also need a high-end radio link to get the signal out of the canyon. Remember to disable the camera flash, it startles the game, I mean, criminals.
RtM

climber
DHS
May 15, 2012 - 11:59am PT
The individual implicated has also been accused of pulling the same sh#t at other areas, including: Shuteye Ridge, Riverside Quarry, and several small areas around San Diego/Fallbrook.

So, hows the "dealing with it inhouse" coming along?

I have never walked into the base of the Chasm, but it sounds like the moki steps had been there for years. I also hear that the majority of the routes there are au natural, save for a few of Gary Henning's!


Bernadette - I have been asking around about the pads, nobody has claimed them. I know that there were several pads that had been stashed at the Underground for at least the past 10 or 12 years, curious if they are the same ones. I heard that they had blown away on a windy day tho
susan peplow

climber
Joshua Tree, CA
May 15, 2012 - 12:10pm PT
This story makes me physically ill, you know when you get coffee-tummy? The only thing that brought any humor to it at all was this statement which made me audibly laugh. You got 'em on that one Bernadette!

"Even in green pants and sneakers I was able to scramble past the fixed line to access the upper chasm, the anchor the line is fixed to, and 4 other rap anchors. If you could climb 5.13 do you think you'd need to jug this line?"
Gary

climber
"My god - it's full of stars!"
May 15, 2012 - 12:17pm PT
9 steps chisled into a ramp in the chasm proper
-An established and abandoned campsite
2 fire rings with the remnants of burnt joshua tree limbs.
a bench
a cache of water
cooking pots
dozens of cut scrub oak - laid out to make a bridge-like structure leading into the chasm.
a crowbar
trash
approximately 120 bolts spaced 4-6 feet apart (11 routes)
11 sets of anchors
a fixed rope
-evidence that the rock faces had been aggressively cleaned

I'm ashamed to be a climber. Maybe I was never a hardman, but at least I always climbed in good style.

So, Russ, who is it? They need to be outed, badly.
steelmnkey

climber
Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
May 15, 2012 - 12:23pm PT
I'm with Sooze 100%. This makes me ill. It's so f(*king wrong.

Glad that the rangers know that this sort of sh*t does not fly with the majority of the climbing community. This is the kind of stuff that can cause some serious issues between climbers and the park dudes. I'd volunteer to help with a major cleanup out there if it's needed. Seems like some had already been done. Have crowbar, will travel.

Time to heat up the tar, get the feathers out and out the m**her fu*8ers.
froodish

Social climber
Portland, Oregon
May 15, 2012 - 12:28pm PT
Wow. I'm just dumbfounded that anyone could think that was acceptable. This is way worse than I imagined from the initial description.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
May 15, 2012 - 12:43pm PT
Ugh...that's bad stuff.

I'm gettin' me some green pants. Thanks for the tip!
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
May 15, 2012 - 12:53pm PT
Thanks, Bernadette - sad news. The vandals seem to have caused a lot of selfish damage.

The saddest news of all is that there are people who behave in a similar manner in all climbing areas. They behave as though they own the place, and the rules (if any) don't apply to them. Certainly we have such people in Squamish. Such people usually know very well what is and isn't appropriate behaviour. Short of occasional arrests, and making examples of people, what do you do?
James Wilcox

Boulder climber
The Coast
May 15, 2012 - 12:59pm PT
Locker,

I'd suspect that the comments about Riverside Quarry, and the one climb that Freecoffee included a picture of, would indicate the focus of attention. But that's just a hunch on my part....
RtM

climber
DHS
May 15, 2012 - 01:00pm PT
I am trying to be tactful here Locker. I want to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, but all fingers are pointing that direction.

Also, I hear, there are drilled steps at Shuteye, Quarry, and local SD areas that lead straight to his routes, which also have penned in names/ratings, as well as enhancements.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
May 15, 2012 - 01:03pm PT
I don't get why a 'hard man' would need chiseled steps to get to a 5.13 climb, or any climb.
RtM

climber
DHS
May 15, 2012 - 01:05pm PT
not to get off-topic, but has anyone done much hiking around Utah? Apparently, welling out steps is an acceptable practice amongst hikers there, because I come across them frequently. Guess they figure if the natives did it...
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
May 15, 2012 - 01:07pm PT
RtM, as you no doubt know, most hikers aren't carrying children and baskets
of corn. Besides, it was their land. :-)
socalbolter

Sport climber
Silverado, CA
May 15, 2012 - 01:15pm PT
Let me be VERY CLEAR about this:

I am NOT responsible for these acts! Nor is Grahm Doe! He and I both climbed in that area some time ago, but all of the recent development there has been at the hands of others. I've been speaking with Robert, Kevin Daniels, Tom Murphy and others about this behind the scenes and am trying to find out for sure who is to blame for this.

My last visit to the area was a few years ago when Robert wanted to shoot some photos on Survivor. I remember there maybe being a piece of fixed rope there then and I've been racking my brain to try and remember if the drilled steps were there then or not. I can't say for certain as I did not go up into the Chasm proper on that trip. Prior to that day, it had been years since I was out there.

To think that someone would think this was acceptable behavior is mind boggling to me. Yes, it is a long walk, but to me that long walk always added to the overall experience of climbing on Queen Mountain and other remote JT areas. I would never contemplate backcountry camping and fire pits, and the rest of this. Further, it is very easy for climbers good enough to climb the routes there to access all areas of the Chasm. There is absolutely ZERO problem accessing the routes. It makes no sense at all why a fixed rope or drilled steps could be rationalized as necessary. As climbers, we are tasked with being stewards of the areas we visit. These actions do not reflect very well on our stewardship. I can only take solace in the fact that these are the actions of one or two people and not the community as a whole.

I have only climbed a few of the routes in the Chasm, and on those routes there were no manufactured holds. I can only imagine that what Bernadette saw must have been on the more recent additions. The rock on that wall is very dark, so I imagine any manufacturing of the rock would stand out in sharp contrast color-wise. I also remember that wall being pretty featured in its natural state.

I have my suspicions as to who may be involved, as does Robert above, but those are based on similar enhancements at other areas by that person. I asked him point blank about this and he vehemently denied his involvement. I also asked his partner about it and he too denied being involved or any knowledge of his partner doing any of it. Short of an admission of guilt or definite proof, I'm not sure what can be done about this. What I do hope is that this will create a very public notice that this type of behavior is NOT ACCEPTABLE EVER, and that anyone contemplating something similar will refrain.

 Louie Anderson
ana dablam

climber
mother earth
May 15, 2012 - 01:16pm PT
Blame Canada!

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