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My twin brother's laundry room
Oct 20, 2013 - 01:04pm PT
If people have a problem with these guys' actions, it'd be better if they contacted them directly instead of talking sh#t on the internet or bad mouthing their sponsors.
The Larry

Moab, UT
Oct 20, 2013 - 01:07pm PT
I haven't seen anybody bad mouths their sponsors. The point is to contact them and let them know what lame sh#t their "ambassadors" are doing.

Oct 20, 2013 - 01:08pm PT
Cutting down trees is not new at all to gain access to a climb.

There's been a few trees cut down in Yosemite also.

One time I told the potential culprit not do it.

The tree was blocking in front of a stupid boulder problem.

Fell on deaf ears as far as that went. He cut it down.

Two other times I was able to do routes with trees close enough to the climb where one could stem back to it or lean back onto it without ever touching the tree.

Both those trees have been cut down also.

This so called Pringle tree incident is not looking good either.

It's so much easier to walk away or do it with the tree in the way.

Those trees are so beautiful next to the rock and enhance each other.

Why do we need to do this kind of damage anyways?

Just plain stupid .....


Social climber
mammoth lakes
Oct 20, 2013 - 01:14pm PT
Such an act illustrates a great divide in the "outdoor community". Such disregard for others subsequent experience demonstrates a complete disconnect from both nature and community.
These guys deserve whatever fate has in store for them. Total bonehead manuver.

Oct 20, 2013 - 01:18pm PT
Can someone assemble and post a list of sponsors for each and include the sponsor's mailing address?

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Oct 20, 2013 - 01:18pm PT
^^^ ncrockclimber +1

Gym climber
South of Heaven
Oct 20, 2013 - 01:19pm PT
what ncrockclimberguy said

Time for sponsors to stop pouring resources into more "radness" and start investing in education about the natural world we share. Honestly, who gives a fuk about another 5.14a? Especially if the developers feel the need to inflict that kind of damage.

FWIW, Joe and Ethan both seemed like decent guys when I crossed paths with them years ago. But how they interact with other people at the crag is not the issue. They are clearly clueless about the natural world they exploit for their radness. At this point the best we can hope for is that they (and others) learn from this stupid mistake.

Social climber
Oct 20, 2013 - 01:24pm PT
+ another one for what ncrockclimber wrote.

The Desert Oven
Oct 20, 2013 - 01:28pm PT
My understating is that one of them denied it and one wrote a cryptic comment about "lessons learned" via social media. The comment was subsequently deleted and both of them are now being silent. They delete any posts about it on their FB pages and will not respond to e-mails regarding the issue. These are guys that post up on FB to spray about an ascent within minutes of it taking place. Their silence leads me to believe that they are laying low and just hoping that this issues goes away. I think that shows a lack willingness to take accountability for their actions.

Trad climber
Oct 20, 2013 - 01:48pm PT
when a tree falls in...My mythos sometimes make a farting noise. Please let Sportiva know. Imbeciles! The money spent on sponsership should be going to education and design improvements.
Tan Slacks

Joshua Tree
Oct 20, 2013 - 02:03pm PT
Joe speaks


When I was a little kid I was always rambunctious and running around the neighborhood. My dad used to always say, “Ok buddy, you are gonna learn the hard way”. Whether I was leaving the hose on and flooding the yard, eating too much candy, sneaking out and getting caught or constantly missing the bus… I learned the hard way. The Fall of 2013 is surely another one of these moments with a healthy dose of remorse and a painful lesson learned.

I have been putting up routes for over 6 years now. My mentors have included famous climbers and people from areas I frequently climb at. Putting up a new route is a creative process, which is why I love it. But like any creative process, there are many decisions to be made that influence the final outcome. Not all of those decisions are justifiable and not all are correct. My recent decision while new-routing has offered me one of the most intense learning experiences I have ever known.

To make a long story short, I was recently informed that I had done something wrong last month while establishing new routes at an underground crag in the Tahoe region of California. I cut down two trees. Not just any trees, either. Junipers.

I’d like to try to address and speak about the specifics of my actions, but in doing so, I want to make no mistake that this was a regrettable error on my part. I am deeply apologetic about what I did. I was wrong. I F’d up. And I’m very sorry. Now, I’m using my blog, my voice and my position in the climbing community to bring awareness to an important issue of route development in order to prevent people who may be as ignorant as I once was from doing this in the future.

Last July, my friends showed me a new cliff that utterly blew my mind. We climbed various warm-ups, and then jumped on “Tree Beard,” one of the best 5.12c’s I have ever done in my life. The route begins by climbing up a giant tree to reach the rock. I thought this was awesome as it immediately made for interesting experience. You clip fixed gear on its limbs while scampering up through the branches to reach the start of the rock climbing. Ultimately, you stand on the tip-top of the tree and transfer to the rock and continue up the wall.

Anyway, the climbing was really great, and I saw potential for other amazing routes on this granite wall. I come from New Hampshire and cut my teeth at Rumney, so I have an affinity for granite climbing and know how special they are.

I got in touch with Chris Doyle, a local climber who has established routes here. Chris, obviously is stoked and enthusiastic about this wall. Chris and I exchanged Facebook messages about the possibility for me to put up a route or two on this wall. Chris was supportive of that effort, and he even generously offered me one of his own projects to try as well. That felt really good, and having the green light from a local climber great.

This wall is one of the best USA crags, no doubt. I couldn’t stop thinking about the climbing here and how inspiring it was. About three weeks ago, I finally got the chance to establish a new route here.

I went out alone one day and made my way to the top of the wall—an extremely terrifying experience, to be honest. Putting up a new route is not just a lot of work, but risky in these ways that most climbers don’t normally think about. I rapped down, worked for hours and lowered to the ground.

I lowered through a tree that was blocking the start of a route. I pushed my way through the tree and got down to the ground. The tree was about 10 feet tall and 10 inches thick. A neighboring tree (below the route next to this) was smaller, dead, and in the same predicament.

My main goal when it comes to putting up a new route is: Will this climb be something high-quality, something safe and something that climbers will enjoy? I try to make decisions that answer those questions as best as possible.

This tree I lowered through was in a dangerous spot due to the fact that there was a difficult part on this route near the ground. Essentially, a fall from this lower section might have left a future climber injured: stabbed by tree limbs or worse. This was a serious concern of mine. I left the cliff thinking about that tree, not sure what to do.

I returned a week later with my friend of over 15 years Ethan Pringle, a local California climber. As Ethan and his girlfriend were warming up, I thought more about the tree making hazardous the start of this new route. Ethan didn’t know I was going to cut the Juniper down and wasn’t included in my decision or action. I decided to take the initiative and make the climb safe for the future climbers. As the developer of this route, I wanted to leave behind a resource for everybody, something that my climber folk could enjoy and not hurt themselves on. I spent about ten minutes and sawed them down.

That day was extremely fun. I got to climb with my old buddy. We tried the new project. We laughed and saw new potential along this amazing wall. We were stoked.

Ethan returned to the crag shortly thereafter and did the first ascent of my route (I don’t often red-tag projects). I was proud of him. Ethan said it was one of the best routes he had done in his life. This was satisfying to hear. It’s the greatest compliment that any route developer can receive.

Later that week, I was at Mount Clark with my friends. I received a message from Chris Doyle. I opened it giddily, thinking it would be some exciting news about more route development at this Tahoe-area cliff. Unfortunately, his message was a shocking note of concern over my tree removal.

I lost my breath. I felt faint. I responded immediately. Chris informed me that this was a precious, respected tree: a juniper, perhaps very old. Junipers are some of the most respected trees and they can survive for a very long time, upwards of a thousand years.

Hearing this I nearly died. I had no clue and I felt completely awful. I had really F—d up.

What followed—and perhaps rightly so—was a lot of angst and anger directed toward me—through climbing forums, through Instagram, and other social media channels. My phone number was posted publicly, and I received some heinous calls, threats and other messages of hate.

I understand that I am a high-profile sponsored climber, and so even though I am deeply embarrassed and ashamed from my actions, I also understand this reaction even if a lot of the outcry is made worse simply by my role in the climbing community.

My only hope now is that I can use my position, blog and voice to bring to light this issue of route development ethics, whether they are “grey” (like cleaning rock) or just downright wrong, like cutting down a precious tree. I hope that people who read this can share this message with people in the community and perhaps share it in a positive way.

This whole event has really hit me emotionally. I’ve been thinking long and hard about it lately and feel broken.

Dean Potter told me recently, ‘the Juniper will be happy to know you learned a major lesson … We are nature too, Joe, and everything is connected.”

It’s true. It’s kind of funny, but I also thought about that Dr. Seuss book, the Lorax. In it, the Once-ler cuts down all the trees, and there’s only the Lorax there to “speak for the trees.” The book ends with the word: “unless.” Meaning, unless someone says something and cares about the situation, then the situation won’t improve.

So, I hope this blog can be my version of “unless.” My attempt to make this wrong right is… speak to local climbers, land managers, and even a botanist friend for suggestions.

Again, I have learned something from this and I am extremely sorry for my actions. I hope that I have relayed that my heart was in the right place, but my actions were not correct. I hope that this message offers some pause and reflection for the future generations of climbers and route developers so that they don’t have to “learn the hard way” like me.

Thanks to the Tahoe climbing community, especially, and I look forward to climbing and hanging with you individually on a personal friendly level in the future."


The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Oct 20, 2013 - 02:17pm PT
Wow, even this "apology" comes off as spray. No offer of redress, just me, me, me. Talk about a culture of entitlement.

Trad climber
The Range of Light
Oct 20, 2013 - 02:18pm PT
A neighboring tree (below the route next to this) was smaller, dead, and in the same predicament.

This tree I lowered through was in a dangerous spot due to the fact that there was a difficult part on this route near the ground.

Dead...but still green?

Damn tree choosing to be in a "dangerous spot." How dare it grow in the way of a climb?
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Oct 20, 2013 - 02:19pm PT
Did you chip those boulders in New England with crowbar and hammer?


Trad climber
Less than a second shy of 49 minutes
Oct 20, 2013 - 02:19pm PT
Holy _ _ _ _ !

Is this guy REALLY as arrogant as that poorly written BlogEntry makes him seem?


Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Oct 20, 2013 - 02:21pm PT
Didn't know it was a juniper?

Not very credible...


Gym climber
South of Heaven
Oct 20, 2013 - 02:27pm PT
Our savior Jesus Christ taught forgiveness. You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

Although actions speak louder than words. Hope to see Joe involved in more community service/restoration projects in the near future... mandatory or otherwise.

Trad climber
Oct 20, 2013 - 02:32pm PT
when faced with the reality of having a very small dick, you may have to place it on the bent trunk of an old juniper and someone else step on it for you.

Gym climber
the big bang
Oct 20, 2013 - 02:39pm PT
Wow internet soap opera at its finist. Take that days of my lives.

I have to admit I feel sorry for the guy. We as a society quickly like to prop people up and just as quickly take them down. How does that make us any better? Anyways the junipers, while not that specific one, will long out live us as a species and will probably have the last laugh.

The Granite State.
Oct 20, 2013 - 02:43pm PT
I come from New Hampshire and cut my teeth at Rumney, so I have an affinity for granite climbing and know how special they are.

Rumney is schist, not granite.
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