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Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 14, 2012 - 06:34pm PT

Let us not just let San Franciscans decide the fate of Hetch Hetchy. It should be at the very least a California issue, if not a nationwide vote.

I have been following the arguments on this issue.

I may not have the right, or at least for the time being, of voting in my home state, but as I see it, the arguments for freeing Hetch Hetchy Valley outweigh the so-called benefits for San Franciscans (SF, a city I love and worked in and played semi-pro soccer in - and professionally on the reserves of the Golden Gate Gales - American Soccer League - and partied in, I love The City By The Bay, or as Herb Caen put it, "Baghdad By The Bay"). If SFers are going to vote in favor of keeping HH a 'prison', then these people are being selfish. There are alternatives. I have been reading just about every argument in the past few days.


In John Muir's spirit, FREE HETCH HETCHY.

Hetch Hetchy is the nation's property, not the yuppies of San Francisco. Our collective property, not a bunch of West Bay Snobs. Up East Bay Grease. Tower of Power.

FREE HETCH HETCHY, for future generations. I have hung out in the HH Valley, climbed some there (probably put up a couple of FAs in the mid 1970s, who is to say, I don't care), dodged the rattler on occasion, soaked in the beauty of a valley inundated by the greed of water-hungry San Franciscans.

I am getting worked up about this, even though I am about 6,000 miles away. That valley needs to be returned to whatever original 'state' it was prior to SF meddling/mudding whatever waters there was.

We had the excellent movie and screenplay (always used as an example of scriptwriting) of Chinatown (1974) about the power of water struggles in SoCal.

I am trained in scriptwriting, I have three scripts on the back burner. Anybody interested in collaborating with me on a feature or documentary (two disciplines I have also studied and worked in) on Hetch Hetchy, contact me.


Let's make it a statewide issue, indeed nationwide if need be. If it is just on the San Francisco ballot, those people who live there will vote for the dam staying. But it is a bigger issue than just one city.

Let us finally vindicate John Muir. Destroy the dam and let nature take its course. I may not see the fruits of such an action, but your children and grandchildren will. Let us look to the future.

I have climbed and hiked in the valley a number of times. In some ways, it is just as special and spectacular as the Valley.


ChrisMac, maybe someday you can come out with a guide to Hetch Hetchy, if so, I can contribute some. I love that valley, though it does have a lot of buzzworms. When the Ditch became too crowded my partners and I would retreat to Hetch Hetchy, while most would head to the Meadows (when 120 was open). I reckon Brian, Craig and I did at least a dozen FAs. Perhaps not. I don't care. Just being in a (an accessible) place where there were few climbers and the beauty, admittedly even the lake/reservoir, was wondrous. And the granite is as good as anywhere. I sometimes wonder, back in the mid 1970s, why other climbers did not see the the allure of Hetch Hetchy, to the best of my knowledge.

And CMac, Highway 108 has loads of climbing, perhaps a guide would be useful, Dingus knows better than I do, since I last climbed in that area in 1977 and I am sure there have been 'developments', so to speak. I know that I did some FAs back then, but never recorded them. Doesn't bother me so much, I just liked climbing on new territory. (Though I am a bit envious Dingus and Brutus did some routes off of Donnells Reservoir that I had eyed back in 1975. Kudos to you Dingus and the late Brutus).

Another EDIT
You know, I did, with partners such as Steve Fish, Brian Southworth and others did do some FAs in Hetch Hetchy, Highway 108, and Castle Crags (Castle Crags State Park), Patrick's Point State Park and a couple of other places - in the early 1970s (1972-1975).

Perhaps I should have notified the American Alpine Club, or whomever. But do you think I really ever cared. I climb for love, not for notice. There may be climbs out there that some may think they did the FA, when I did, yeah sometimes I wonder, but at the end of the day, I have more important issues on my agenda.

Being a full-time carer to a woman I love and keeping her out of state care... you can have your Astromans, K2s, Cerro Torres, whatever, but caring for a loved one... better than any peak (though I'd love to do the Cassin Ridge on Denali).

Social climber
Oct 14, 2012 - 07:40pm PT
I second that vote
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Oct 14, 2012 - 07:47pm PT
Dammit, you beat me to it!

Third it!
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 14, 2012 - 07:56pm PT
Thanks you two, what can I do from Ireland to help the cause? Free Hetch Hetchy.

And I will bump this thread when I can, to highlight the issue, not for any self-aggrandizing on my part.

We all need to get involved, for John Muir's sake at least. And more.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Oct 14, 2012 - 08:08pm PT
Sierra Club's reading list for those whose memories are weary and those too young to have them yet. If I find more stuff that's of interest to the restoration efforts, I will post up.

Thanks, PS, and I agree this should make it into the ST newsletter.

It is important to know WTF one speaks of when arguing a point.

There will be fireworks over this issue. It is like the elephant in the living room: you cannot ignore it for long and it won't go away.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Oct 14, 2012 - 08:11pm PT
The centenary of Muir's death will be December 24th, 2014 - maybe a propitious time?

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Oct 14, 2012 - 08:23pm PT
what can I do from Ireland to help the cause?

Well, how about calling out those two-faced SF liberals to walk the walk?

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Oct 14, 2012 - 10:06pm PT

I third the vote!!!

Social climber
Oct 17, 2012 - 10:54am PT
This is important.
All you bay area folk who love climbing in Yosemite Valley, imagine if it too was under water. Or better yet, imagine two Yosemite Valleys right next to each other.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Oct 17, 2012 - 11:02am PT
Like so. Only more real.

Imagine that lake in Hetchy in YV.

Somebody oughta photoshop that one, with Tom Frost sailing in a Dutchman Jr., racing Jeff Mathis.

Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Oct 17, 2012 - 11:15am PT
Where will the replacement storage be located?

mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Oct 17, 2012 - 11:18am PT
Always a good question. Alternatives. Hmmm...

Dam good, DMT.

But Khanom, that's owned by the Turlock ID, I believe. http://en.wikipedia/wiki/New_Don_Pedro_Dam*

they are looking at raising the dam again at Exchequer on the Merced, but again, Merced ID.

The PG&E dams, doubt that, and they generally don't store that much.

Maybe a rig like in It's a Wonerful Life?

*Just look it up on Wikipedia.


Boulder climber
Oct 17, 2012 - 12:23pm PT
I agree....set he free!!

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Oct 17, 2012 - 12:26pm PT
In addition to where the replacement will come from, the question also comes to mind, as to how will a nearly bankrupt state and country pay for it?
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oct 17, 2012 - 02:17pm PT
how will a nearly bankrupt state and country pay for it?

Speed up construction of the Fresno-Merced bullet train, double the ticket price and like magic, you will pay for the train and have billions to use to drain HH.

If you doubt that plan then how about the Republican version, an across the board 20% tax cut, the economy perks up and billions in extra taxes will be collected.

Trad climber
Oct 17, 2012 - 02:28pm PT
It doesn't cost anything to start the restoration of Hetch Hetchy. Just open the valve and let all the water out. Removal of the damn dam can be done anytime in the future as funding becomes available.

San Francisco has not only been taking the water, it has been illicitly profiting hugely in the generation of electrical power for 100 years. Require SF to use these many billions of illicit profits to fund everything that is needed.

The Granite State.
Oct 17, 2012 - 02:33pm PT
It doesn't cost anything to start the restoration of Hetch Hetchy

The water has to go someplace. Don Pedro would need work to handle the new water level. That costs money.

Oct 17, 2012 - 02:36pm PT
it has been illicitly profiting hugely in the generation of electrical power for 100 years

This claim has been debunked several times.
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Oct 17, 2012 - 02:47pm PT
The problem with this whole issue, is the crackpot-y feeling involved with it.

When I see postings "just open the valve" "just raise the dam" "just don't worry about the lost power, the lost makes me think that there is nothing serious behind this, other than

I want what I want what I want!

Well, good for you. Others want other things.

Beyond ANY doubt, we have a major water shortage problem in this state, and it is ONLY going to get a lot worse. Advocating for potentially losing part of that, without any clear path, reeks of the "don't cut any trees, ever" mentality, "don't build any homes anywhere, ever" type of thinking the Sierra Club group is famous for. "We'll screw things up, and it's your problem to fix" that they are so frequently advocating.

Besides, I'm a fan of the two water temples associated with HH
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Oct 17, 2012 - 02:47pm PT
From Galen Rowell's "Hetch Hetchy: First Impressions" (1970):

I lay alone on the ledge watching the sunrise change the murky shadows across the valley into bold relief. As I looked across at the steep cliffs, I thought to myself that this could just as easily be Yosemite as Hetch Hetchy. Upon looking down, I suddenly realized how different things were. I saw no roads, buildings, or campfire smoke. I heard no motors, shouts or horns honking. I only gazed at a large dark pool of water, rippling quietly in the respective location where thousands of people swarm in Yosemite. I tried to reassure my old beliefs by repeating to myself, "Hetch Hetchy was ruined; Yosemite Valley was saved. Hetch Hetchy was ruined; Yosemite Valley. . ."
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