If you were trying to free the Direct NWF of HD?


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Social climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 29, 2006 - 09:45pm PT
Would you leave a couple of haulbags fixed to a rope about 6 feet off the ground over the winter with a bunch of food inside? Hopefully the answer is no.

Two Sundays ago (June 18th) I found a similar scene. The main difference was that one of the bags, a large duffle bag, had been torn apart and off of its fixed line.

The culprit?

A bear.

The guilty party?

The climber who left his or her food fixed (to low) on the Direct NWF.

After several climbers complained to me about the “nightmarish” state of the base of the “steep side” of Half Dome, I went up there with another Ranger to check out the scene.
What we saw was deplorable. We picked up three huge bags of trash that included the usual array of plastic bottles, empty and full cans of various unidentifiable food products, and, our favorite, the delightful crap bag.

Sadly, the mess didn’t end there. About 100 feet to the (climbers right) west of the Direct NW Face Route we found the duffle bag that had been mauled by a bear. Spewing out of it was all kinds of trash leftover from a destroyed stuff sack/food bag, and lots of other climbing gear. The worst part about it was the chewed up cans, they looked like sliced swiss cheese, and obviously could have sliced up the bears mouth. A couple of tuna cans had some tooth punctures in them, exposing the old fish to the elements, and leaving the smell of rotting carcass to waft around the whole area. Finally, for dessert the bear got his teeth around a sweet can of WD-40.

Potentially that bear was seriously harmed by the incident. Moreover, the bear, if still feeling lively, will include the base of HD in its patrol schedule harassing climbers and their bags. If the bear becomes overly aggressive towards humans as a result of succeeding in getting food from humans the NPS puts down the bear.

Still hanging from the line we found a haul bag I could touch with my head. This one appeared to have been there over the winter judging by the gravel stuck to the sides and base of the bag. Also, according to local climbers I have spoken to about these bags they have been there since last fall. Given that a bear has already successfully obtained food at the base of H. Dome, and that this bag was easily accessible for a bear to rip into I had no choice but to take this bag down to check for food as well. Sure enough we did find food in this bag along with a bunch more gear.

The nature of the gear/equipment left in the bag led me to believe that the climber who left these bags there was trying to free the route. I know this route is really hard, like 5.13c/d or harder. I realize that it takes a lot of time and effort to climb a route like this, but climbers have to be willing to put just as much effort in completing there projects in good wilderness style without harming wildlife or having prolonged use of fixed lines and gear food caches.

We ended up taking down both the duffel and the haul bag, and impounding them in The Valley. Usually Wilderness/Climbing Rangers have tried to contact the owners of equipment and have them remove it themselves. However, when it directly endangers wildlife it’s a totally different story. I hope all of you understand that there is no tolerance for leaving food caches anywhere in the back-country that can be obtained by bears or other wildlife.

If the owner of these bags would please contact me I can arrange to release the described equipment. If anyone knows whose gear this is they can contact me or forward this information to the person, and have them contact me directly.

Thanks for reading,

Climbing Ranger
(209) 372-0354

Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 30, 2006 - 01:20am PT
Link was a great climbing ranger but certainly that didn't stop bear #46.

and there has been plenty of irresponsible caches of the years.

And the base of Half Dome has been thrashed and cleaned up befroe too.

This is nothing new except that via a sad series of circumstances some climbers left too much stuff up for too long and, while they made some effort, didn't hang it high enough either.

Removing stuff from the base of Half Dome is bust ass. I'm sorry that Jesse had to clean up after climber's mess and sorry that we have a new bear derelict.

Part of the rest of the trash on Half Dome and the trash on El Cap on Camp 5, 6, and the summit has to do with the laziness and desperation climbers feel when exhausted, scared, or 8 miles from the road. We have to suck it up and do our best.

Free Climbing something like the Direct is a big project at this time in our evolution but those studs who can do it should do their part to keep the excess camps, fixed lines, and stuff to a minimum and managable level or it will invite regulations and restrictions on us all. When Skinner was trying to free it, he hiked a hangboard up there to workout! But at least he hiked it out and didn't leave it for the winter.


Mick K

Northern Sierra
Jun 30, 2006 - 11:25am PT
There is no excuse for leaving that mess up there for so long.

Very Good work.

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Jun 30, 2006 - 11:55am PT
Sometimes I wonder if most climbers know much about the wilderness at all. It might be worse now, with climbers coming out of guys, and not backpacking and peak bagging as in years past, but the fact is Half Dome and El Cap have been dumsters for years, and it really is a crying shame no matter the reasons (as mentioned by Karl, and all valid). I wonder what kind of climber could afford to lead all their tackle up there for so long.


hither and yon
Jun 30, 2006 - 12:03pm PT
"Sometimes I wonder if most climbers know much about the wilderness at all. It might be worse now, with climbers coming out of guys, and not backpacking and peak bagging as in years past..."

There's a climber that keeps trying to come out of me. Fortunately I've been able to keep him trapped by adhering to a strict alcohol consumption regime.

Trad climber
Jun 30, 2006 - 12:08pm PT
Good Work on the clean-up.....That is a shame to hear about....Another bear is going to be killed due to this..

It would be my guess that the individuals responsible for this are from out of the country. I have met many climbers in the valley from other parts of the world and they really are just ignorant. They just don't know or understand how hungry those bears are, how high they can climb and how much snow there is in the winter.
Can I suggest information materials in other languages?

I think everybody here on supertaco is WELL AWARE of what do to with your food in Yosemite and would certainly know not to leave it unattended for a long time no matter what the goals are.

Thanks for doing your job and protecting our bears...

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Jun 30, 2006 - 12:27pm PT
"I wonder what kind of climber could afford to lead all their tackle up there for so long."

Perhaps the kind that gets paid with gear and whose money bonus is tied directly to whether or not spending weeks fixing and frigging will allow them to get rid of their last point or two of aid a glory route such as the one in question?
the Fet

Jun 30, 2006 - 01:19pm PT
Sheesh should they even get their gear back? What's the rules on "abandoned" gear? I hope they at least get a fine to get their gear back.

Otherwise, give it away for prizes after a climber clean up? Or SAR cache?

Social climber
kennewick, wa
Jun 30, 2006 - 01:45pm PT
Good Idea. Dont give the gear back. Make the culprits work it off by hauling garbage off of a wall. That may be a valuable educational tool.

Social climber
Davis, CA
Jun 30, 2006 - 01:47pm PT
Kind of related...

The climb has been freed before, correct? Skinner?
Jerry Dodrill

Bodega, CA
Jun 30, 2006 - 02:02pm PT
Sick. Sick. Sick. Jesse, Sorry you had to deal with this. Thanks for your hard work, and report here.

What happened to good style? A successful climb isn't just doing the route, or freeing all the moves, it's doing it in a manner which inspires future generations. Having to admit that, "yeah, we freed the DNWF, but fixed ropes for a year and killed a bear when he ate two haul bags and a can of WD-40" certainly taints the ascent. The negative style points outweight the effort. Apparently it's faster and easier to climb hard than to develop an even basic mountain sensibility. You don't hang bags that low from a tree branch when backpacking. So why do it on a cliff, when there is so much more height to work with?

We should take these matters into our own hands, cleaning up the mess -looking after ourselves- rather than making rangers clean up our embarassing disaster. Heard of Adopt-A-Crag? This kind of situation doesn't help the case of climbers who regularly streeeeetch the rules anyhow. As these events continue, the noose of regulation slowly tightens around the neck of climber's "freedom."

I was distraught last month when during one day on The Nose I saw THREE shitbags come floating down in Ziplocks from higher on the route. The guilty tossers were not foreigners. Watching the bags fall, slide, and lodge into cracks wasn't pleasant. I just see no excuse for such behavior in this day and age.


Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 30, 2006 - 02:36pm PT
Funny you should mention that JD. I picked up three ziplocks full of the brown frown at the base of Mescalito last month. Fresh. Maybe the same floaters, drifting to the right of the Nose?

I also wanted to mention the contrast of the Huber-Film operation. I went up to the top of the Capitan on Monday to do some Monitoring for their Commercial Use Permit. On the way down I was passed by one of their hired hands...a monkey..carrying a pack full of their a-hem human waste. I think he received a bit of hazard pay! This was not from time on the wall, but just from their base camp on top. Other than overnight wall trips, you are only required to bury your poo 6 inches deep 100' away from water or trail, and pack out the TP. Setting the bar higher than than our Wilderness regs is pretty cool.

Otherwise, these guys weren't drilling new bolts for rigging, had bear canisters for all of their food, were packing out their excess trash daily, and had wilderness permits for their crew staying on top.


Jesse McG
Jerry Dodrill

Bodega, CA
Jun 30, 2006 - 04:40pm PT
"The climb has been freed before, correct? Skinner?" That's right, depending on who you ask. There are some questions that remain unanswered, and a lingering haze of doubt. I'm not the guy to fill in all those blanks though.

Jesse, those sound like the turds, though I saw one disappear into a crack adjacent to Dolt Tower. Maybe it floated out. They were all flying East, as if on a great turd pilgrimage. (where's Ouch!?)

Good on the Hubers for their respectable practices. Hopefully they will succeed in their hard sought after efforts.
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Jun 30, 2006 - 05:26pm PT
Flying turds. Good grief Charlie Brown, what have we come to?

On a serious note, Jesse, it sounds like you are a good choice for what you have been chosen to do (climbing ranger). Hopefully you will not be antagonized by certain elements of the climbing community. (Of which I hope to be part of again someday - the community, not the antagonistic aspect.)

And climbers being environmentally conscious? LOL

Maybe years ago (and I mean years) but climbing is now attracting all kinds of people, not just those who love the ‘great outdoors’.
Ben Rumsen

Social climber
No Name City ( and it sure ain't pretty )
Jun 30, 2006 - 05:31pm PT
" Flying turds. Good grief Charlie Brown, what have we come to? " -

There is no excuse for that anymore. There needs to be a $1000.00 fine per turd for that behavior!

Aug 2, 2006 - 05:19pm PT
I just want to make sure you don't give credit to someone who doesn't deserve it.

If you go back up to HD now, you will notice that the 500'+ of rope that was fixed on the wall has been removed...it's now part of the death slabs aproach. I want to be clear that the pre-madonna who left it on the wall is not the person that removed it. I removed it...it was a major pain in the ass, and the pre-madonna is still an a-hole.

I had a lot of time to think about how these sponsored people think gear is garbage because they get it for free, and apparently they have no problem leaving garbage in the woods, writing letters, raising hell, yada, yada, etc. Then I realized that whoever this climber is will probably just laugh his ass off when he hears about us making a fuss over it, and he'll still be sponsored, and the next time he solos some "sick" route, he'll be forgiven by most everyone, so why waste my energy?

The only "good" idea I had was to suggest to the corporations that hand this stuff out that they institute some sort of inventory policy...as in, "we gave you 600' of static line, we want it back when you're done with it." This would ensure it's NOT left in the wilderness...good luck with that.
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