Donít Leave Your Garbage on Top of El Cap!!!!!!!


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Social climber
The Deli
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 1, 2013 - 03:57pm PT


Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 1, 2013 - 04:06pm PT
So why didn't you scare him off?

Gym climber
sawatch choss
Jan 1, 2013 - 04:08pm PT
Thanks B.

Man, that little guy is cut! I wouldn't tangle with him.

Trad climber
Nome, Alaska
Jan 1, 2013 - 04:19pm PT
Looks like the little guy learned a invaluable skill that will probably lead to his untimely demise.. Cute though and shows how crafty they are for a meal.

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Jan 1, 2013 - 04:28pm PT

and don't tell a stranger what to do, i litter if i want,

next punk-ass cliomber that tries to boss me around gets shot, and i do mean that,
The Call Of K2 Lou

Jan 1, 2013 - 04:39pm PT
What route did he do?

Trad climber
Jan 1, 2013 - 04:56pm PT
Don't litter c*#k sprock.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Jan 1, 2013 - 04:57pm PT

I was thinking he was gonna throw the bag off the top too!!!

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Jan 1, 2013 - 05:15pm PT
ok, i will never litter,

but i did take a dump in my buddy's cat box,
he rushed the cat to then vet,

it was about a 3 lb brown trout i left in the litter. is that littering?

don't procrastanate, it is bad for the colon,


Trad climber
Jan 1, 2013 - 05:21pm PT
I hope that's true, it would awsome.

Social climber
San Francity, CA
Jan 1, 2013 - 07:41pm PT
So that's what happened to my favorite haul bag!

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Jan 1, 2013 - 09:41pm PT
actually, zz top drummer frank beard, the only guy without a beard,

was the cat box guy, back when he was swiggin and giggin,


Social climber
The Deli
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 3, 2013 - 11:14pm PT

Sorry the video is so shaky. I was quite a ways away and had to zoom in to see the bear clearly. My Canon G12 only has an optical zoom of 5x, so I used digital zoom, which greatly compromises resolution. But you get the picture.

So why didn't you scare him off?

I did, but it didnít do much good.

Hereís the story.

I was working on mapping the various rock types on the summit of El Cap in great detail last summer, over the course of several days. While having lunch early in the afternoon one day, a juvenile bear popped up from behind a boulder a few tens of yards in front of me. The bear smelled my sandwich and obviously wanted something tasty for lunch too. I watched the bear for a few minutes and then told it that it couldnít have any. ďThis is my sandwich!Ē I then tossed a couple of rocks near it and told it to go away, which it finally did.

After lunch, I continued mapping, crossing back and forth on the summit in an irregular grid pattern. A couple of hours later I eventually worked my way down to the rim of the Dawn Wall where I spotted a haul bag lying on the slab. I figured that Iíd get to say hello to some fellow climbers but when I came to the haul bag, there was no one around. There was, however, a big mess. The bear had obviously found the haul bag after being denied a bite of my sandwich.

The haul bag was sitting on a small flat area of dirt near the edge of the cliff and I was surprised that the bag didnít roll down the slab and take the big ride as the bear extracted its contents of garbage that was packed into empty water bottles that were taped closed. There were a couple of small haul bags too, as well as a collection of empty water bottles. Trash was strewn about here and there.

When the wind blew, plastic wrappers were further dispersed and empty water bottles rolled down the slab and over the edge, on their way to who knows where along the base of the wall. A stuff sack hung from a branch on a tree, next to the tattered remains of a white plastic grocery bag that no longer held its contents.

I dragged the haul bag up the slab and propped it above the tree so that it wouldnít roll down the slab and go over the edge, potentially endangering climbers on the wall or at the base. I also gathered up the loose water bottles and leaned one of the small haul bags against the pile so that the bottles wouldnít blow around in the wind.

A small fire ring had been built and contained what was left of sh#t bags that didnít completely burn. I could smell human feces as I initially approached the haul bag and this was obviously the source of that unpleasant odor.

The little bear had seen me coming and was standing a ways away from the scattered mess, wondering why someone was interrupting it from its garbage feast. I yelled at the bear and chased it away, but it only decided to go closer to the edge to where it became cornered.

I yelled at the bear some more and told it what a mess it had made. Yosemite bears understand English, you knowÖ They just donít reply to anything that you say.

It was getting later in the day and I had lots of work to do, so I continued on my way to the east and left the bear to do as it pleased. The bear wasnít about to be convinced otherwise.

A little while later, while on my way back towards the summit of The Nose, I found that the bear was till up to no good. This is when I decided to take the video clips, as well as a few more photos.

When I returned to my camp at the end of the day, I found that my bear canister was out of place and had fresh scratches on it, but was still intact. The mischievous little bear had obviously been through my camp earlier in the day, before finding the smorgasbord that sat atop the Dawn Wall.

While continuing my work the next morning, I was surprised to find that the bear was still making a mess, spreading garbage across the summit. The fury little animal hadnít given up and had been there all night.

It had dragged the haul bag a good 50 or 100 feet to the east, pulling out garbage along the way. I just shook my head in disgust and went back to concentrating on my work. I didnít have time to spend hours cleaning up someone elseís mess.

When I passed by again at the end of the afternoon the bear was gone but a raven had taken over instead.

I never saw the climbers return to retrieve their garbage and gear and still wonder how many days passed before the mess was cleaned up (assuming that it did get cleaned up). I also wonder if they ever bothered to walk the base of the wall to the East Buttress to pick up what had blown over the edge. It is unfortunate that these climbers couldnít be bothered to carry their garbage down when they first descended to the valley floor. There are bears on top of El Cap, as well as at the base, and to leave garbage abandoned on the summit of any wall is totally irresponsible. A situation like this is not only unhealthy for a bear, but it teaches them bad habits as well. It also makes climbers appear to be disrespectful of public lands and it creates friction with land managers.

There is no excuse for leaving garbage unattended on any summit. If you can haul it up the wall, you can carry it down. Please keep this in mind the next time you top out.

Tuolumne Climber

Jan 4, 2013 - 01:47pm PT
Good report & pix.
Hope people learn the lesson.

Trad climber
Ridgway, CO
Jan 4, 2013 - 01:56pm PT
Inexcusable. Some climbers are just ignorant, selfish slobs.

You know who you are.

Trad climber
Toshi's Station, picking up power converters.
Jan 4, 2013 - 02:03pm PT
I can see you telling the bear that it's your sandwich. Excellent.

Jan 4, 2013 - 02:06pm PT
That's really sad, but thanks for the heads up. Habituation may very well lead to that little feller's untimely death. As well, there are a lot of animals up there; deer forage in the early season when the forest is full of snow. That plastic gets in their gut and it doesn't come out.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jan 4, 2013 - 03:41pm PT
Don't leave ALL of your garbage on top for the bears.....throw some off, the bears at the base are hungry too.

Jan 4, 2013 - 03:49pm PT
Why did they not haul it down or leave it hanging off the wall? (Shaking my head in disgust.)
Stupid people.


Jan 4, 2013 - 03:53pm PT
Bet that lil guy would haul your bag down for a can of sardines if the language issues could be overcome. Thanks for the great video Bryan.

The climbers who came up on the wall might have had some issues (sick, sprained ankles from a fall, soaked from a cold rainstorm etc etc) and were planning of making it down alive and then coming back for their stuff. Boy will they be surprised when they return for their gear. No one just leaves a $200 haul bag and walks away for no reason. I suspect exhaustion, perhaps even weather, played a role.
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