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Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 5, 2012 - 01:44am PT
Steve, sorry to hear about your ropes - in context of existing community mores, it seems reasonably clear that they weren't out of place. It must have been a shock. Knowing such things sometimes happen isn't the same as having them happen. And the issue of equipment, of practical value to the owner if not of any great monetary value, being taken is separate from whether it ought to have been there to begin with. The latter question being somewhat but not entirely abstract.

It's maybe a bit like parking your car in a risky area, coming back, and finding it broken into. You get mad at the thief, and a bit mad at yourself, too, for knowing better but doing it anyway.

If you turn it the other way, whoever removed the ropes surely knew that they weren't abandoned, that no one had appointed them as fixed stuff police, and that someone was depending on them being there. They weren't ratty old lines to Heart Ledge, and Steve had been quite public about his plans. No excuses for doing it.

The Rules

Property left unattended in Yosemite for longer than 24 hours is considered abandoned and may be impounded. However, the National Park Service recognizes that there are circumstances when it is impractical for climbers to return to fixed ropes within 24 hours. In such cases we ask that you leave ropes and equipment in place only as long as you are actively using the lines.

• Fixing ropes to get a head start: if you decide to fix ropes part way up a route before beginning your ascent, do so only immediately before beginning your climb and remove them once you commit to the route.

• Fixing ropes to "work" a route: If you plan to return to a route regularly, leave your ropes in place only when you are actively working the route. (This does not include taking a week off to rest.)

• Established fixed ropes: Ropes like those sometimes found below Heart Ledges on El Capitan are not maintained or condoned by the National Park Service.

• Mini Traxion Lines: Same rules apply; If you fix a line for training, remove it the same day. As a courtesy, do not leave ropes or gear on popular routes that might be an eyesore or an inconvenience to other climbers.

The Reasons

Stashed gear, food, water, and fixed ropes in particular, take away from the sense of risk and adventure that climbers and other Wilderness travelers expect to experience. Most of Yosemite's climbing areas are in designated wilderness and must remain "without permanent improvements or human habitation… with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable."

Wilderness, and climbing in particular, is not intended to be convenient or easy (ironically that's why many are drawn to it). Please do your part to maintain Yosemite's wildness. In 2011 volunteers and rangers removed over four thousand feet of trash rope from Yosemite's walls, not including a few thousand feet of junk rope from the Heart Ledge rappels by conscientious climbers.
The user formerly known as stzzo

Sneaking up behind you
Dec 5, 2012 - 01:45am PT
Personally I think treating everything as booty is ill-advised from a number of standpoints. Would you lead on a rope you found lying at the bottom of a cliff?

I wouldn't, but what any one person chooses is not a good basis for resolving a communal problem.

We have a good illustration of this right here in this thread.

I will go on.

All too often we respond out of our reptile brains to minor problems. Steve's ropes are not the functional equivalent of facing an enraged grizzly while holding only a pen knife. Sometimes I have trouble understanding why mature and very intelligent people sink this low - so regularly.

I wouldn't lead on a rope I found lying at the bottom of a cliff. But I might find other uses for it.

Thanks for the clarification. I appreciate the legal perspective for the rationality of the argument.

Edit: Anders for the slam dunk (final argument).

Shipoopi, I hope you get your ropes back. It sucks to lose stuff.

Trad climber
Dec 5, 2012 - 02:02am PT
And even if you are all uptight about some park service regs, who actually strips ropes off and then says nothing?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 5, 2012 - 02:08am PT
I believe the "24 hours = abandoned" definition is mostly useful so that people (with public interest in mind) can remove stuff which has clearly been there for months/weeks without having to do extensive checking. Usually stuff like bleached/trashed ropes.

I don't think the 24 hour definition should be used to define abandonment in general.

Several times I've dropped 1-2 ropes from below Sickle Ledge, so that we were not taking 4 ropes all the way up the Nose. We planned to pick them up after topping out. But usually they were taken. Adding a note to the ropes with a pickup date and contact info might help. Nowadays I use a note but just use my worst old ropes and figure they will most likely be taken anyway. It was frustrating, though, because I figured people should use a "4 days = abandoned" definition for ropes (with no notes) on the ground below Sickle, to give people a chance to top out and then retrieve. We could have also left our extra ropes fixed instead of dropping them, to make it harder for people to take them. But that adds to congestion on an already crowded set of anchors. Probably best is to drop ropes there with a note to help clue people in.

All summer Roger and I had fixed ropes up for days and weeks at a time, for bolt replacement. Mostly in places with little traffic, and always with signs stating it was a rebolting project. I wouldn't like it if people felt they were free for the taking after 24 hours. In the past when we have fixed in areas with more traffic, including 2 ropes where Steve's were fixed (when Roger replaced the bolts on Rock Neurotic), in addition to the signs Roger tried to do the work very fast so that the ropes were down quickly. Last year one fixed line was forgotten in a miscommunication and was up until December, yikes. A friend asked me about it and I took it down immediately, but that was embarrassing.

When we did Horse Chute some years back, there were 2 ropes fixed on Dihedral Wall, but nobody showed up on the 2 days we also fixed and went up, so I dropped them to the ground. Only later did I think of the concept of people fixing one weekend, going back to work, and returning 5 days later to go up? A note would have stopped me from dropping those ropes.

In general, defining abandoned fixed ropes can be a big gray area. An extreme example would be Father Time - Mikey had ropes up there for most of 2 summers. 24 hours would be way too short there. The ropes were not at much risk for being taken, though, because very few people go up there.

Trying to put myself in Steve's shoes, I would feel frustrated for these reasons:
 I could have easily left a note on the ropes but didn't; probably thought I would be back sooner, or that a note was not needed.
 out some decent/safe static lines
 wondering why some (anon?) people think the WoS confession seems to brand him as a "permanent bad guy" instead of an "errant youth". Steve is really a good guy and it speaks greatly to his honesty and good spirit in helping the WoS climbers heal up and stop feeling persecuted. He volunteered the confession; did not have to do that and I don't think he feared being outed. [Edit: graniteclimber, maybe I missed the "outing" in those long WoS threads, but even if it was a prompted confession, it's still a good thing]. Many of us (me included) have done things we regretted in the past and citing "karma" is pretty insensitive and ironic.
 imagine driving up solo to the Valley with just jumars, but now needing to lead 3 pitches to reach the 1 rope that is stranded up higher! So a wasted trip that was meant to clean up the wall. And probably he could have easily done those pitches if he had just brought some gear and a rope.

Steve, I have many retired lead lines that you can have if you are short of ropes for fixing for future stuff. And Roger may have some stiff 11mm statics that he is retiring which still have lots of use left in them. Maybe not as nice as the ones you had, though.

[Edit to add:]
Steve had been quite public about his plans.
Public as in a few posts on the supertopo forum, yes, but not everybody who walks along the base of El Cap would have seen those posts and know whose ropes those were, not to mention if/when he'd be coming back. The solution to this uncertainty about abandonment is to leave a dated note, and refresh it if plans change.

Dec 5, 2012 - 02:29am PT

Leave the poor guy alone and answer the question... Did you or did you not see the ropes when you were walking at the base of El Cap? Oh wait, many of you have not gotten off the couch for months, but still have shiest to say.

Shut Up!

Don't bother speaking up unless you have an answer to his simple question. Everything else is just plain "word garbage."

At least Ship is still climbing, and he fessed up to a past mistake... Let the guy work the scene so he can find his ropes. As for the past, he was honest, got forgiven from the person that matters and that is that!

Damn fools, bunch of wankers talking sh#t while I bet most have done their share of pooping up their lives, never had the balls to clean it up like Steve.

All this is making me irritated.

Trad climber
Dec 5, 2012 - 02:49am PT
How many people on this thread have completed a route on el cap?

Trad climber
Cali Hodad, surfing the galactic plane
Dec 5, 2012 - 02:50am PT

IMHO, there is nothing more apt to bring upon oneself ill (bad karma, or whatever you wish to call it) than being unforgiving. Particularly after someone has expressed sorrow for their actions and asked for forgiveness, not only personally, but publicly. That is about as humble and deserving of forgiveness as it can get. To drag that person back through the mud again and again, over something that has already been resolved, serves absolutely no purpose. It is a sinister attempt to impinge the healing process and disrupt their peace of mind, etc!


Obviously you feel as though he shouldn't be, or shouldn't have been forgiven. The fact is, he was, the moment he confessed and asked for it, regardless of whether you or anyone else, for that matter, forgave him!

So dood, I suggest you consider your own life, because there may very well come a day when you also ask for and desire forgiveness for something. And it could very well be right here on this very same forum!

edit: I haven't read all the posts, just the first page. So if you have already apologized to Steve, then please disregard this!

Trad climber
The Illuminati -- S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Division
Dec 5, 2012 - 03:03am PT
Steve is really a good guy and it speaks greatly to his honesty and good spirit in helping the WoS climbers heal up and stop feeling persecuted. He volunteered the confession; did not have to do that and I don't think he feared being outed.

Clint, he was outed here on Supertopo about a month before he publicly apologized.

Dec 5, 2012 - 03:36am PT
Outed... Seriously? Since when did that stop anyone from continuing lying? I've outed out others and they still claim bleached white virgin innocence, that they are actually the real victims. When someone wants to stay bad, they just twist reality. The darker the person is, the more twisted things can get.

Nope, his confession shows great character. A person that deserves his peace.

Now I am done ranting. I have better things to do.

Dec 5, 2012 - 03:42am PT
Anyone else notice posts disappearing?
raymond phule

Dec 5, 2012 - 04:29am PT
I remember several threads where other climbers complained about his fixed lines on other routes. One possibility is that someone got tired of his fixed lines and took them down.
On-Site Flasher 69

Sport climber
Dec 5, 2012 - 04:56am PT

Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Dec 5, 2012 - 05:24am PT
Jstan, concerning your question:

Of course your premise is correct if that was the behavior that was displayed. A pretty big and unlikely "what if" though.

When our gear was taken, it was tied to fixed ropes, not just sitting in the forest. This happened around 1981-2 when hardly anyone climbed at Squamish compared to today.

We asked around and eventually got the phone # of the guys who had the gear. They seemed to believe it was booty and were very regretful for having taken it. We made an arrangement to meet them at their house in Bellingham and they gave the gear back to us.

Craig and I weren't really happy but there was no plan to assault anyone, we just wanted our stuff back. If they hadn't returned the gear we would have called the police for what that's worth.

Dec 5, 2012 - 05:43am PT
PTPP clarified:

Nope. The entire "karma" and "what goes around comes around" argument is invalid.

It was invalidated when Steve faced up to what he regreetted doing and apologized to Mark and Richard, and asked them to forgive him. It was further invalidated when Mark and Richard did indeed forgive Steve. The case has been closed.

Forgiveness is freedom from burden, and all involved in the WoS sh|tting episode are accordingly freed.

Quoted for truth. Where did I put my pony cannon...

photo not found
Missing photo ID#228964

Trad climber
SF Bay Area
Dec 5, 2012 - 06:26am PT
People can be really mean, or jerks , or ***Os :[

Hope you get your ropes back!

Big Wall climber
Denver, CO
Dec 5, 2012 - 07:46am PT
You are as real as they come.

I'm with Pete on this one. Steve, I remain impressed with and humbled by your present character. To compare incidents decades removed is ridiculous. Different people involved! We are different (and better) than we were decades ago. So, no comparison between then and now should be attempted.

I totally understand the mental trauma involved in "working up to" your apology, and I reject the idea that because it took time it is somehow "forced" or invalid. So, I'd like to go on record in this context to again say flatly that the WoS thing is past, over, and done. You and I are right, Steve. And, just as you and I recently talked on the phone, I am honored, seriously, to know you now as a friend. If that's "mushy," then so be it. Few people have the courage you have displayed as a CLIMBER in every sense of that term.

Hopefully whoever took your ropes will quickly realize how indefensible that act was and contact you soon with at least a small fraction of the decency you recently displayed to Mark and I. It's not just the loss of the gear; it's the sense of being violated. The takers need to make that right. And I'm sure you would respond with grace.

IF the people that took your ropes are on the Taco, I sure hope they get the message that we are a community and need to act like one! We all screw up at times, and we sometimes step on each other's toes. But we're all trying to be CLIMBERS, with all the nuances of meaning packed into that word. Hopefully the takers will rejoin the CLIMBING community by making this thing right.

I wish you ALL the best, Steve!

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
Dec 5, 2012 - 08:03am PT
It seems to me that whether leaving fixed lines is right or wrong is NOT the issue here. What is troubling, in my opinion, is that someone tried to right what they saw as a wrong, by becoming a thief. Where is the logic in that?

It never ceases to amaze me how many climbers seem bent on simply tearing one another down. Really sad.

"Let us then say the things which make for peace, and the building up of one another."

The Apostle Paul
Captain...or Skully

Dec 5, 2012 - 08:08am PT
I agree with Craggy. Sorry to see that someone's decided to f*#k with you, Steve. That sucks.

Social climber
Dec 5, 2012 - 08:11am PT
Sorry for your ropes and the pain in the ass it had to be to fix that portion of the wall, seems pretty steep to me...

As far as Graniteclimber goes he is faggotry of the highest order.

(I mean that in the South Park version of the word :D)

Big Wall climber
Kalispell, Montanagonia
Dec 5, 2012 - 08:16am PT
Steve, The ropes were in place at 11:00 am on the 16th of November(may have been the 17th). That is the last time I went by them. The bottom rope had not blown out of reach and the lines looked good enough that I would have jugged them.

As far as the trash left arguement goes, I was planning on going up these lines with Steve to finish the attempted line. I am kind of a safety nazi, and looking at them on several of my times by in the previous week, I saw nothing wrong with them that would have caused me to not jug them. They were used, but sound appearing. Typical of any line I would have left for a fixed line.

Sorry to hear about the theft. I hope someone gets a guilt trip ride of their life over this. Just plain wrong, no matter how they try to justify it.

Burly Bob
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