Echo Cliffs Vandalism Easter Weekend


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Jim Henson's Basement
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 5, 2013 - 09:31pm PT
Over Easter weekend someone decided to mark the trail down to the base of Echo cliffs by spray painting giant fluorescent orange arrows all the way from the parking lot. Although most were painted on the ground (which will wear away), at least 4 big arrows were painted onto rock faces in the descent stream bed/gully. The worst one was painted directly onto the slab at the base of the Grotto.

I'll post pictures tomorrow. I didn't have my camera today.

I appears that some person or group was trying to guide other people to the cliff base. I'm guessing climbers since the hiking groups always use removable flags or tie-tags and never go down the gully to the climbing area. Who the hell can't find there way down a giant gully with an obvious cliff at the base without giant arrows pointing downhill BTW?

What jackass thought this was OK? This is an absolutely unacceptable way to mark a trail. There are half a dozen ways to mark a trail that don't involve the permanence of fluorescent spray paint. This is vandalism pure and simple.

I'm deeply troubled by this and I would very much like to contact the person or group responsible. If anyone was climbing there last weekend and has any information please relay it.

I fully intend to start graffiti removal ASAP while the paint is fresh, but it's going to involve a lot of hauling to get the supplies down there. Anyone who is willing to help sherpa please contact me.
Bad Climber

Apr 5, 2013 - 10:21pm PT
Wow, what moron would do this? I've seen some straight up graffiti puke over at the High Desert climbing area near Apple Valley. Arrrrgh.


Social climber
Apr 5, 2013 - 11:06pm PT
She was apoplectic when I talked to her on the phone today, as she was hiking out.

You have to understand, she grew up just a few miles from the trailhead - it is like her backyard.

Who brings spraypaint to mark a wilderness trail?

Probably a gym climber.

Trad climber
greater Boss Angeles area
Apr 5, 2013 - 11:12pm PT
Do you think any of the gym owners will part with any of their profit to pay for cleaning up this mess?

Apr 5, 2013 - 11:18pm PT
Bring up your own can of spray paint. Send the suckers through poison oak or off a cliff, that will take care of the problem.

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
Apr 5, 2013 - 11:51pm PT
Total idiots. I can think of punishments that include massively improving our gene pool.

But speaking of idiots (this time those who don't know enough, not those who vandalize), where are you describing? Having seen you on Supertopo for years, I'm guessing these are in Arizona?

Big Wall climber
Classroom to crag to summer camp
Apr 6, 2013 - 12:12am PT
Echo Cliffs are socal right?

Jim Henson's Basement
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 6, 2013 - 12:29am PT
@MtnYoung This is Echo Cliffs near Malibu CA. We live in LA.

Yes.. "mud grubbing" indeed.. in one of the most beautiful spots in the Santa Monicas..
Choss paradise.

Totally speculating but... My spidey-senses are telling me this was some "group" or "event" choreographed by someone who is totally f*#king clueless.

Apr 6, 2013 - 01:24am PT
Ask these knuckleheads, they will be back again next Sunday:
$5 says it's them. Give them a good kick in the balls for me either way, tell them to stop spraying.
I am Sam

Social climber
232' Above Sea Level
Apr 6, 2013 - 01:27am PT
Not to condone this type of Full Throttle Dousche Bottle action in anyway, but if the paint is fluorescent orange, it sounds like an "experienced" outdoorsman who probably works for either CalTrans or a paving company hijacked a can of construction paint. While not an acceptable thing, the good news is it should be gone by the 4th of July.

the last bivy
Apr 6, 2013 - 03:17am PT
painted trail marks are routine in many other parts of the world ie mexico and south america, russia et al. So sorry to hear of this. We've done quite a bit of removal up here. Graffiti for it's own sake mostly. Must have been some large noob group to even think about spray painted arrows: church group? Meet up group? how about the boy scouts?

Apr 6, 2013 - 07:21am PT
I think I've already answered that question.

Social climber
Apr 6, 2013 - 10:04am PT
Skip(Justthemaid here).. sorry forgot to sign Erik out.

So the "construction paint" degrades? Can it be washed off?

Emails being sent to probe further. I can't find a record of last weekends events. I was aware of the Malibu Creek meet-ups. There are some Groupon-type deals floating around as well.

Regardless of whether they sprayed the paint.. at this point. I'm sick of this sh#t. I'm sending all the links to the park service. If they are charging.. they are guiding, so it's all illegal without permits and insurance according to park regulations. I doubt a team leader with "2 years climbing experience" has gone through the channels.

Captain...or Skully

Apr 6, 2013 - 10:06am PT
"Construction" paint is water based stuff.
It's still lame.

Jim Henson's Basement
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 6, 2013 - 10:27am PT
Really lame.. it's not going to rain again for like.. 8 or 9 months here... Washsable or no.. it could be there a very long time. Might stain if it gets baked on there all summer in the 100+ temps, so it still needs to be scrubbed off by hand. I'm heading out this morning. Fingers crossed that it's washable.

Edit: Looks like they aren't charging and they have a sorta-liability-release on pg.1, so they're tip-toeing around the guiding and insurance issue.

Big Wall climber
Apr 6, 2013 - 11:52am PT

i would'nt worry bout it cuzz it's been seen before.

lot's of Tri-athlete stuff goes on out there.

P.s with all the excessive bolting along with spray painting trail work I'm suprised it's not closed already!

Sport climber
Los Angeles, CA
Apr 6, 2013 - 04:08pm PT
Wow, this thread is an example of the internet at its best and worst.

Thank you so much Skip for your efforts to get a crew going for the clean up of the graffiti and to bring attention to this incident.

To answer your question, the goal of SoCal Climbing is to provide a place for friends to get together with other friends to go climbing, and to make new climbing friends in the process. There is no cost to attend the group's climbing meetups. Occasionally, money is collected ahead of time for events that cost money, like reserving a group campsite. If desired, members are free to donate money to the group to help pay the $144/year fee Meetup charges the group to exist, and/or to the event host(s) for wear and tear on their gear.

No one in SoCal Climbing is allowed to charge money to instruct people or take them climbing without having the appropriate AMGA/PCIA certification, insurance, and permits in place. I've had to have long conversations with people to defend this policy, but this is the way it has to be.

I would be shocked if anyone in my group was involved in this incident, and no actual evidence has been presented yet that would suggest this, but I am looking into it. If I find out anyone in my group was involved they will be kicked out and the appropriate authorities informed.

Coincidentally, there is an joint SCMA/NPS Rangers Stewardship clean up happening at Echo Cliffs on Saturday May 11 from 9am to 3pm. Hopefully any graffiti remaining by then could be addressed during the clean up.


Trad climber
lost, far away from Poland
Apr 6, 2013 - 04:23pm PT
Nice petroglyphs Locker!

Big Wall climber
So Cal
Apr 6, 2013 - 05:49pm PT
Sorry Skip (JTM), I was taking a bunch of inner city urban graffiti artists to Echo for their semi annual "Tag -a- Crag" day. I just wanted them to be able to follow the trail & thought the paint option would be most familiar to them! These kids don't know the signs of a trail so I went with something they;d recognize. ;)

Seriously, I am bothered by your news of paint on the trail. Really lame.

Oh yeah, I heard that the Overlook is now closed. Can anybody else conform this. I heard from Jeff that there are signs saying that Overlook is closed.


Apr 6, 2013 - 05:58pm PT
next time they should go with earth tones or paper plates and ink marker

Jim Henson's Basement
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 6, 2013 - 06:50pm PT
OK.. update.

I hauled in a 50# pack full of water, brushes and cleaner and spent my entire day on my hands and knees, scrubbing rocks. The majority of paint has been removed. This did seem to be the non-permanent type of paint, BUT it took a lot of elbow grease to remove it and some of it just wouldn't come off. Hopefully, natural weathering should take care of the rest. Water based or no.. it's still a totally inappropriate way to mark a trail IMO. Visually offensive and just plain dumb.

@David.. Thank you for clarifying and I hope you talk to your people. I'm glad you chimed in about the So Cal Climbing group to clear up any speculation. I was not going to point fingers until I had spoken directly with you to get accurate information. All the better if you guys are clear of blame.

@Levy I was present at a recent meeting with the park rangers about the Lookout closure. The official closure still only applied to the main obvious rock face that is directly over the road where falling rocks could hit cars. The Lookout itself was still open, but parking in the regular pullout is now off limits making access more difficult but not prohibited.
...Unless something changed in the last few months..?

@Pyro. Well, I was "worried about it" so I got off my ass and did something about it. From my observations, the athletic competitions almost always use tie-tags or flags these days.


PS: Now we can get back to blaming the usual suspects.. Euros and gym climbers.

PPS: I'm sunburned and cranky. I need my binky and a nap.

Trad climber
Santa Barbara, CA
Apr 6, 2013 - 09:16pm PT
A big cheer for JTM! All the idiotic paint will probably dispear soon as the sun bakes it. Thanks!!

Social climber
Apr 6, 2013 - 09:17pm PT
All right I edited some pictures - she's tired and crabby. It was flat light so I had to overdo the saturation and contrast to show the real color of the arrows.

NPS sign:

Credit: justthemaid

All of the following are pretty much gone, as of today. The arrows were 18"-3 feet long.

Upper Gully tag:

Credit: justthemaid

Middle gully tag (as if it wasn't obvious which way to go - duh!:

Credit: justthemaid

The only useful arrow (still ridiculous) - the curved arrow at the bottom of the gully:

Credit: justthemaid

Off-trail tag, out of the gully. Really?:

Credit: justthemaid

And, finally - the Grotto tag on the face to the right of where you actually go (she had to hang over the edge to clean some of this one):

Credit: justthemaid

They don't call her "justthemaid" for nothing.

Big Wall climber
Apr 6, 2013 - 09:18pm PT
Good for skip.
I always thought the tags meant poison oak.
Echo is a great place.
Potter is always rad with his crew!
Captain...or Skully

Apr 6, 2013 - 10:30pm PT
Definitely Grader's paint. Still seriously Lame.
I dig Just The Maid's Grit. She's of The Real. +So many.

Don't be a dick, Hedge.

edit:Not doggin', it seems you miss the point at hand. Just sometimes.
I reckon we all do, though. <<sigh>>


Social climber
Apr 6, 2013 - 10:35pm PT
Good work there Skip :) thanks for alerting, sometimes people get the strangest ideas...
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Apr 6, 2013 - 10:36pm PT
Skip Thank you for taking care of this. Slapping it down fast is the best solution.

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
Apr 6, 2013 - 10:38pm PT
You know, there is such a thing as good citizenship. Justthemaid went way beyond just "good." Thanks for what you did.

Social climber
Apr 6, 2013 - 10:43pm PT
Funny how bolts, chalk and trail erosion are OK, but paint's not

Like to hear how the "Leave All Natural Features Undisturbed" sign is reconciled with what we do as climbers, especially at Echo, which is basically an outdoor gym

jhedge: you bring up an interesting point. One that is difficult to reconcile with our sport, rock quality and steepness, and mitigating danger due to rock-fall.

I feel that the "work" done at Echo Cliffs falls roughly under the "multiple use" umbrella - and given that 95% of the route development was done well before the usage parameters were defined.

Spray-painting is, well just a simple defacement. It doesn't "fall" under any "outdoor use" parameters.
Captain...or Skully

Apr 6, 2013 - 11:09pm PT
Mister E drives my nail.
10 penny, too.

Jim Henson's Basement
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 6, 2013 - 11:28pm PT
Funny how bolts, chalk and trail erosion are OK, but paint's not

Well, that's a separate issue (also worth discussing). Climbing, along with the bolts that make the climbing possible are currently sort of "grandfathered in" and are permitted by the park service. Trail erosion is always an issue with any area that sees a lot of use. Land managers in every park in the world have to mitigate these issues. Realistic non-draconian compromises are often made in order to allow people to enjoy public land while at the same time not totally destroying it. The current guidelines are reasonable and should be followed even if they weren't in the past.

Unnecessary brightly colored spray-paint in the wilderness, is pretty much universally condemned. I'm guessing any ranger who caught someone spray painting rocks wouldn't just walk on by and give them a thumbs-up.

Fortunately I'm not a land manager, I'm just someone who really f*#king hates graffiti.


Jim Henson's Basement
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 7, 2013 - 12:46am PT
Park Rangers reading this thread might just wander down there and have a look around, and not quite feel the same about things as we do, and bye-bye Echo Cliffs

There is a great deal of alarmist rumor about Echo Cliffs that floats around on the web - perpetuated by people who don't have accurate information.

The park rangers can and do wander down there. They are well aware of the impact we have. I've been told we(climbers) are actually the smallest group they have to deal with compared to the large numbers of hikers and bikers that use the trails.

Having spoken with the head rangers face to face.. I can assure you that Echo Cliffs is not currently teetering on the brink of closure. They completely reasonable people. Their goal is to work with the public to resolve any issues that come up and keep the area open.. not find a reason to shut it down.

Captain...or Skully

Apr 7, 2013 - 12:53am PT
Don't be a puss, Hedge. I think they'd be stoked knowing that some folks actually Care.....

edit: you're edging towards "dick" again.....Life in a Vacuum, or some such.
BTW...Fuck you.

Social climber
An Oil Field
Apr 7, 2013 - 01:28am PT
We have had some problems with graffiti at one of our climbing areas. It was local tweaker kids.

This was full on spray paint on granite. I talked to a buddy and he said that they had good luck with a power washer hauled in there with a generator.

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Apr 7, 2013 - 11:08am PT
Hedge...good point about bolts and chalk but i think that bolts are hard to see for the non-climber...Chalk may be easier to see but in the big picture they have low visual impact...IMHO...

Ice climber
Happy Boulders
Apr 7, 2013 - 11:17am PT
Thanks, JTM
Jebus H Bomz

Peavine Basecamp
Apr 7, 2013 - 11:17am PT
I am certain there are many that are opposed to slamming metal bolts and hangers on to pristine rock...

You've been to Echo right? Bolts are actually an aesthetic high point, lol.
cali kat

Apr 8, 2013 - 11:46am PT
This reminds me of when I was at Malibu Creek and saw a trail of goldfish crackers going all the way through the park. Picked up as many as I could....

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Apr 8, 2013 - 12:09pm PT
I'm guessing any ranger who caught someone spray painting rocks wouldn't just walk on by and give them a thumbs-up.

Monday morning humor interlude.

An old friend was a ranger in Glacier NP BITD. It was past Labor Day so he
figured he had weathered another summer's worth of azzholes and idjits. He
was taking a nice cruise up and over Going To The Sun Pass. He gets to the
crest of the pass and sees a family outside their car. Thinking they might
need help he slows down. Now he needs help, with his blood pressure, when
he sees they are spray-painting the road cut! He gets out and confronts the

"What the hell do you think you're doing?"

With a smarmy sneer the dad answers, "What does it look like we're doing?"


The azzhole looks around him and says, "I don't see any sign saying I can't."

My buddy looks around and says, patting his .38, "I don't see any sign saying
I can't blow your fool head off, either."

After explaining the serious trouble the idjit was in my buddy decided to
cut them some slack and himself a bunch of paperwork. He just happened to
have a bunch of tools in his truck including a number of wire brushes. As
I recall the clean-up took a good three or four hours.

JTM - keep up the good fight!

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Apr 8, 2013 - 12:12pm PT
Skip.... Thank you for cleaning up.

I was there yesterday, didn't notice a thing... cause you had finished up.

The meetup was there... but they were OK and well behaved and were climbing the usual climbs, I did stroll through after they left and picked up some litter.... mostly banana and orange peals.

ECHO was extra beautiful cause of all the flowers blooming and it was dead calm while everyplace else was having the "wind episode" .

So thanks again for cleaning up.

Gym climber
South of Heaven
Apr 8, 2013 - 12:17pm PT
Do you think any of the gym owners will part with any of their profit to pay for cleaning up this mess?

Chaz, wouldn't that be like asking gun shops or manufacturers to pay for all the gun related deaths in their area? Come on, where is all that "personal responsibility" the right wingers are always talking about?

Apr 8, 2013 - 12:18pm PT

Social climber
Apr 8, 2013 - 12:31pm PT
My wife is a rock star.

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Apr 8, 2013 - 12:41pm PT
Thanks, JTM. That's awesome.

Fools and paint is nothing new, unfortunately. Up on Strawberry Peak, on the route to the third class from Josephine Saddle, somebody spray painted purple arrows on the route so people wouldn't get lost. The use trail is 2 feet wide, on the right side is a six foot high impenetrable wall of buckthorn, on the left is a six foot high impenetrable wall of manazanita.

Apr 8, 2013 - 12:45pm PT
Thanks Skip

Credit: Tork


Trad climber
Ventura, CA
Apr 8, 2013 - 01:00pm PT
I was just down there Saturday and didn't notice any of the said graffiti. Could be that I wasn't looking for it, but if it was there, it wasn't obvious. In regards to the clean up, anyone have anything I can put up at my gym (Vertical Heaven) to get some of us Ventura climbers out there to lend a hand.

Sport climber
Los Angeles, CA
Apr 8, 2013 - 04:17pm PT
A friend of mine sent me a PDF flyer for the echo clean up on 5/11 but I couldn't find mention of it on the SCMA website. Here's a link to the PDF flyer from my google docs.


Jim Henson's Basement
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 8, 2013 - 07:59pm PT
Well, looks like we probably won't find the culprit. My internet sleuthing and slew of e-mails came up with nothing. Could have been anyone. BTW- So. Cal Climbers didn't have any meet-ups that weekend to they are innocent.

Like I said.. now we're back to blaming Gym climbers and Euros

David mentioned the cleanup day on May 11th. We'll get a separate thread going for that.

@BASE: If you haven't been to Echo.. hauling a generator and power-washer in there would be very difficult. It's a long hike with a very steep section at the end to get down to the cliffs.

@Reilly: Funny story LOL. I get kinda nutso with litterbugs. Good thing I don't have a gun to threaten them with.

@Willy: Giant orange arrows were definitely "obvious". You may have hiked in after I'd already removed them, or you may need to get your eyes checked for color blindness. ;)


Trad climber
Mt. Rubidoux
Sep 21, 2014 - 04:39pm PT
Levy.....sorry for the late (untimely) response, but the Lookout hasn't been closed, just the southern-most formation that overlooks Yerba Buena Road. Ranger Herbaugh claimed that a rock dropped from the top would hit the center line of the road. I don't believe the face is that overhung, but the NPS is seriously concerned about their liability, so that formation ONLY has been posted, NOT the Lookout as a whole. A local climber named Russell established the routes on the south face of that formation and the NPS agreed to allow him to send the routes and then he agreed to pull the bolts and anchors.
As for the May 11th Echo Cliffs Cleanup (sponsored by the NPS & SCMA) ....that stewardship event was cancelled due to the Camarillo Springs fire. Again, the NPS was concerned about liability, as the fire was not fully contained prior to the May 11 scheduled event, so the NPS pulled the plug.
Signage bolted to the SOUTHERN-MOST formation at the Lookout. <br/>
Only t...
Signage bolted to the SOUTHERN-MOST formation at the Lookout.
Only the southern-most formation (just uphill from Yerba Buena Road is closed to climbing.
Credit: rurprider
While the sign may indicate that the Lookout is closed, it only applies to the southern-most formation, which this sign is affixed to.
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