Gear theft in Western Washington area


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A long way from where I started
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 3, 2013 - 10:02pm PT
I just got a call from Mari, who had headed out to do some scrubbing on a crag we are working on about 30 miles from Seattle. She couldn't rap in to do any work because our anchor and static rope were gone. All that was left was a bit of sliced webbing.

I'm hesitant to point a finger at any climber, because the only three climbers who knew about the place were Mari, me, and Mooser. And if you knew Mooser, you'd know that gear theft doesn't really play a big part in his life.

Despite its location near Seattle, the crag is remote. Not visible from anywhere, and accessible only by logging truck or mountain bike. We park 2.5 miles away and ride logging roads to get to a clearing, from which we've cut and flagged a trail through insane blackberry jungle to the top of the cliff above the river.

Strangely, Mari said there is new flagging. Bizarre. The trail goes only to a place that no one but a climber would care about. It's not even scenic, unless you're a Pacific Northwest jungle pervert. (Original TR about it is at;

So I haven't got a clue who could possibly have found the start of the trail, let alone reflagged it to the clifftop (which doesn't even look like a f*#king clifftop until you hang onto a tree and lean out over it). Nor do I have any idea if the person/s who reflagged it are the ones who took the rope and anchor gear.

But for the record, if you see someone with a 30 meter black static rope, you might ask them where they got it.

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Apr 3, 2013 - 10:08pm PT
Watch the new sitcom , " Honey Boo Boo Tweakers " and you might spot your gear...?

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Apr 3, 2013 - 10:17pm PT
Seems like more of a deal, or at least you'd get better target audience coverage.

Northern Mexico
Apr 3, 2013 - 10:30pm PT
That sucks Ghost!

Had the same happen to me, hiked up to finish cleaning a route and found parts of the static line lying around. I thought it was rats at first but there was no 'fuzzy evidence' on the ground.

Good luck finding your gear.


Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Apr 3, 2013 - 10:36pm PT
Sounds like a call to Vinny is in order. Too bad he don't do logging roads.

Apr 3, 2013 - 10:55pm PT
Whew! My black static is longer than that.

Strange and troubling story.

Apr 3, 2013 - 11:59pm PT
I currently own a 30M black static too. Sterling HTP for me, but it's not yours. I got the bro deal when I bought the 300 meter spool. Same thing happened around here to us, with 3 full sized ropes being stolen in a single day. Last time was another cliff, also off the beaten trail, had the full sized yellow colored 60meter twin to the black Sterling stolen. Wasn't too painful as I'd had it out for 3 seasons elsewhere an it was stiff as a wire rope.

Not sure why that happens... Hope you get yours back or solve the mystery.
Captain...or Skully

Apr 4, 2013 - 02:13am PT
Bump. Seriously weird, man. Why reflag, if you did the labor already?
Big Mike

Trad climber
Apr 4, 2013 - 03:39am PT
Some punk is gonna have some bad karma leading on that static rope cuz he obviously doesn't know any better.

oh look! Someone left me a free rope and anchor! I'm gonna take it! Sweet!

Hopefully darwin wins

Jim Henson's Basement
Apr 4, 2013 - 09:18am PT
You clearly finked someone's super-secret proj ;)

The message is loud and clear. Next thing you know you wake up with a horse-head in your bed :)

But really? Some person does (what I can only imagine as) a soggy bush-thrash out in the middle of nowhere, takes the time to replace markers and snake a rope? Someone clearly has too much time on their hands. You might try leaving a shiny new model airplane kit lying on the trail as a distraction technique.

Trad climber
Apr 4, 2013 - 09:31am PT
That's a bummer, David! And talk about a relatively remote and obscure place to think you can't leave things in place without them getting ripped off! (And yeah, that cliff top will do you in if you walk to the edge and don't already know it's there!)

With the flagging, it sounds too ambitious for your random vandals/thieves. If it was other climbers, well...that's just lame.

Apr 4, 2013 - 10:19am PT
It's probably other climbers who discovered it themselves, independently of you. The rope might have looked old, sketchy of mossy. They may have took it not out of malice, but to clean up what they perceived as garbage.

That's what happens

Mountain climber
Apr 4, 2013 - 10:54am PT
how about not leaving your stuff out at the crags?
Big Mike

Trad climber
Apr 4, 2013 - 11:03am PT
You ever develop anything squishy?

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Apr 4, 2013 - 11:34am PT

Hey Ghost. Sorry about the theft. I joked in your previous thread about reverse engineering the location of the crags from the photos, but I've had no luck (I didn't even try of course). With no basis whatever, I'm guessing not climbers. Static line and biners might be useful to the ORV crowd up there. I know! Cavers!


Jim Henson's Basement
Apr 4, 2013 - 11:39am PT
Well, as much as I dig ya Ghost... I agree a bit.. argueably, if you leave gear hanging about it's going to look like booty or trash to someone elses eyes. I always assume people are going to mess with sh#t. When E and I work on stuff we always hide/stash ropes we don't want to shlep back an forth.

It is just weird this happened in such a remote location. I can see where you just didn't expect it to be an issue. Any chance this is private property or something?

Side note: I hide a solo TR rope out at a local crag and always leave a note with a date. "Rope in use [date] Please don't take!" just in case someone finds the bag. Probably still get stolen at some point.
Off White

Tenino, WA
Apr 4, 2013 - 12:37pm PT
Oh cut the man some slack! David used to be an alpinist and schlepped rope all over and back, but most of us here aren't getting any younger, and I can't criticize any effort to extend the autumn season of our climbing lives. Hell, I've got a rope hanging on a wall right now for convenience sake, so I can sneak in a pitch after the ibuprofen kicks in but before the light gets too bright to confound my cataracts.

In all seriousness though Mr. Ghost, I sympathize with your outrage. It could have been worse, there was a similar incident at an obscure crag in central Western Oregon a few years ago, but the louts simply vandalized, cutting partially through the rope and leaving it in place as a life threatening hazard. Fortunately no one got hurt, but Sarte was arguably correct, "Hell is other people."

Trad climber
greater Boss Angeles area
Apr 4, 2013 - 12:46pm PT
If the thieves don't know it's a static rope, and climb on it anyway, they'll be grtting a good surprise.

Social climber
Apr 5, 2013 - 01:01am PT
David any chance this newly flagged trail might lead to an outdoor grow op ?

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV.
Apr 5, 2013 - 01:39am PT
That was my first thought as well Tami.

Apr 5, 2013 - 11:17am PT
I wonder if it's the same rock climbing location that Ira Spring's daughter wrote about almost thirty years ago?

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Apr 5, 2013 - 11:33am PT
how about not leaving your stuff out at the crags?

I agree with Mr. Squishy.

Social climber
North Vancouver BC
Apr 5, 2013 - 11:56am PT
Grow op was also my first thought. Shawn Bent stumbled across the remains of a good sized grow at his new area in Porteau. He thinks the perps abandoned it during the Sea to Sky expansion.
Be careful out there Ghost.

Big Wall climber
Apr 5, 2013 - 11:58am PT
Sucks you got your gear stolen. I guess I don't think only a few people know about this area if its 30 min from Seattle. Judging by some of your pics it looks to be north of highway 2, possibly reiter road or west of there. I don't have to tell you that there is a ton of tweakers, crazy Motor bikers and stupid hillbillies up there. My advise to you is to let more people know about your little "secret" and to let them help out or at least watch your back going in there. Now that someone has stolen your gear I'd be nervous about going in there without at least a few good friends. Be safe Bro!

Big Wall climber
Apr 5, 2013 - 12:00pm PT
And "grow op" 30 min outside of Seattle.... Hmmmm doubtful!!!!
Darryl Cramer

Social climber
Apr 5, 2013 - 05:43pm PT
Ghost - from the pics it seems possible the your crag is on DNR land in the recreational area. There has been a concerted effort to catalog all the trails in the area. Was the flagging visible from the road? I am guessing your rope would be hard to see from a distance but a flagged trail might have attracted some of the volunteers that have been roaming the region.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Apr 5, 2013 - 05:49pm PT
Big foot, tweakers or mountain dope heads.

You should read a book called Vortex......
Russ S.

was Seattle, now Spokane
Apr 5, 2013 - 06:22pm PT
how about not leaving your stuff out at the crags?

I agree with Mr. Squishy.

It's not a crag until it's been cleaned, until then it's one of a gazillion vegetation covered hunks of rock with potential...

A long way from where I started
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 5, 2013 - 06:23pm PT
Man, leave the forum for a couple of days and all kinds of weird sh#t pops up.

First things first: as much as I appreciate the nice comment from Off White, I am not outraged at what happened. I didn't post about this to whine, or complain, or bitch about thievery (although thievery is pretty low). Nope, I posted more out of amazement than anything. As in, there might be a harder place in the world to find a rope to steal, but this was about as invisible as it's possible to be. And yet the rope is gone. All that's left behind are a couple of neatly sliced slings.

To all those who waggle their fingers and say "fixed ropes at the crag are disgraceful and open for booty," all I can reply is that you have no idea where this place is. It's not even a crag. We weren't adding routes to a crag, we were attempting to put the very first routes in on an unclimbed little cliff.

And no, there was no visual pollution. You can't see the ropes, or the crag, or even the trail to the crag, from any place you can get to in a car, or easily from a car. The start of the trail is on the far edge of a small clearing reachable only by some disused logging roads on which cars are not permitted. So the only thing we could think of was that someone from the logging company had gone in to check the old grown-over clearing, spotted the first bit of flagging, and bashed his way in out of curiousity, eventually finding the clifftop and the rope, and stealing it in a moment absent of morality.

But that doesn't seem likely.

I suppose it's possible that some fixed-rope jihadist happened to read my old TR (it's had a couple of thousand hits) and got all bug-eyed and went on a mission to find the place and rid the world of sin. Anybody heard of someone in the northwest who's into that kind of thing? Taking fixed lines and biners, and leaving behind neatly cut slings?

But really, there's a lot of sin in this world that's easier to get to, so that doesn't make a whole lot of sense either.

Oh well. Probably just one more mystery that will never be solved. "Aliens took my rope!"


Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Apr 5, 2013 - 07:59pm PT
thats Puyallup Tribal land out there,

your lucky your scalp ain't hangin off a jeep cherokee bumper,

or the rear view of a Pontiac Firebird.

You Entering Indian, You Beware!

you see any copper creek salmon on the way in?

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Apr 5, 2013 - 08:16pm PT
Sprock, HahaHaHa! Long ways from Puyallup land. But not so far from
Zeke's I'm thinking. Maybe they sensed an interloper fixing to put in
a cragside burger joint.

Apr 5, 2013 - 09:37pm PT
. So the only thing we could think of was that someone from the logging company had gone in to check the old grown-over clearing, spotted the first bit of flagging, and bashed his way in out of curiousity, eventually finding the clifftop and the rope, and stealing it in a moment absent of morality.

But that doesn't seem likely.

No, it is actually very likely.
Peter Gruenwoldt

Apr 5, 2013 - 09:48pm PT
0lney falls?

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Apr 5, 2013 - 10:03pm PT
only accessable by log truck. hmmm... log trucks only go to loging areas, which have choke setters - last months meth heads. hey..hey man...i mean come dude this ropes worth like $300, come on man give me $20 for it..ok just one hit then....

sincerely sorry about the loss of your rope.

Mountain climber
The Library Window
Apr 6, 2013 - 12:00am PT
Ignoring for the moment the impenetrable mystery of new flagging, did you look below the tree at the bottom of the crag?

Especially during this part of the year, demand for nesting materials might be the reason the slings were cut.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Apr 6, 2013 - 12:05am PT
Be careful about them bug eyed Jihadists.

You may have solicited more sport climbin' adherents than what you bargained for:

Credit: Jim Brennan


Trad climber
South Slope of Mt. Tabor, Portland, Oregon, USA
Apr 20, 2013 - 06:46am PT
I like the logging company surverier therory myself. those guys go every where and are always flagging stuff..


By the way the reason I am posting at this crazy hour is cause I have Alaska on rhe brain and can't sleep.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Apr 20, 2013 - 08:29am PT
A friend of mine had a bunch of gear stolen - and a few days later the missing gear showed up at the local Play It Again Sports shop.

The thief was easily identified.

Trad climber
Apr 20, 2013 - 08:35am PT
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