Tree Incident and Environmental Responsibility


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Sport climber
Vacaville, CA
Oct 21, 2013 - 06:29pm PT
I just laughed at the irony and supposed self importance of climbers related to this thread / discussion. Don't get me wrong, I am not condoning the actions previously discussed, nor am I saying that taking steps to help educate new climbers on environmental responsibility is not a good idea. The context of this thought was while I was reading the other thread on my couch while taking a break from working on my laptop when, no joke, a commercial for the "AXMAN - I CUT DOWN EVERYTHING IN SITE!!!" extreme logging TV show came on. No joke, it was crazy ironic.

Hyper vigilance of such a small percent of the overall population (<<<1%) is kind of like asking me to be more mindful of my monthly budget to prevent any further global economic meltdown. Not asking everyone, but just asking me.

I am not endorsing being apathetic to this issue, just that I think the battle we are facing on this topic is way bigger than most people realize. What I think is more alarming than the unfortunate and misguided act of a few people is the desensitization of the general public to the real value of the outdoors and nature as a whole. Want to see a tree beyond your yard/sub-burb? Make sure you spend $50 on a Action Pass if you want to pull your car over in an national forest. Want to see a National Park? Sock out $50+ for you and your family. Hell the county opened a local OPEN SPACE, aka a field, and slapped a mandatory $15 DAY USE fee on parking the middle of nowhere with a portapotty. $15 to look at a field???? Unfortunately this area is near a low economical / social class part of the town which only guarantees that NONE OF THEM will actually experience what the place has to offer.

When going outside to a Park or Forest is more expensive then taking your family to see a movie, what do you think people will do? When TV glorifies chopping down trees at the fastest rate possible as "cool", what do you think the perspective of the next generation will be?

The fact that some climbers make it out of the gym is a good thing, not something that we need to scorn them about. My guess that fewer and fewer will even bother in the future. I am sure you are thinking, "cool less people impacting my local area.." WRONG. It means less people to actually fight to keep access to local areas at all.

Self Policing climbers on environmental responsibility is a good idea and I am sure will save a few trees that are around the cliffs we climb at. Meanwhile, we as a society will continue to deforest everything in sight and think its cool.

Oct 21, 2013 - 07:20pm PT
Nice to see a decent discourse starting up. This issue is much bigger than this tree as there are so many nuances, although the tree is part of it of course.

Today was an amazing late fall weather day, rae in our area of the Pacific Northwet. So I did the logical thing and played hookey from work to go for a hike on a trail with the wife and daughter that was illegally put in by outlaws. (this is what happens when you don't preplan and your climbing buddies don't return your calls to do a lap:-) These folks cut a hell of a lot of trees. Lots and lots. Without permission from anyone -on YOUR public land. They did it because they felt it was the right thing to do. It's about 8 miles long and is fully forested. This trail is both the best trail in an area known for outstanding trails, AND now has the forest service's blessing, support and (huge) financial backing. In fact, the FS rework of the trail took it from "great" and made it world class. No question about it. The .gov put in at least one multi-million dollar bridge and several other significant wooden ones (you paid for it if you are a taxpayer of course).

The outlaws who installed this trail without permission cut the holy sh#t out of the forest. One of them was caught, convinced and fined early in the process, but the rest hung on and made a Sistine chapel that is loved and supported by everyone who has hiked it. Everyone. The local environmental and preservation groups were the ones who got the FS on board. Were they (The outlaws) wrong to do this? Yes. Did they do the wrong thing? No.

I'm not saying that Joe Kinder was right to cut this tree. Don't misunderstand. He was wrong to do so. Yet consider that he did see another viewpoint and followed his heart, his heart that though that YOU, or should I say, US, all of us whom would follow: would benefit. Please give that some thought, walk a mile in young Joe's shoes with a lean towards being a bit more charitable and understanding. Thanks for the interesting discussion, there are many viewpoints to this still not discussed, certainly reducing our impacts is something we can all work towards and do a better job with. Hopefully this discussion can remain civil too.



Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Oct 21, 2013 - 08:21pm PT
I can not speak for NY, CT or MA but in VT and NH I do not know any serious new routers or back country skiers who are not handy with a saw and a pair of loppers. Heck I have cut down trees new routing with the help of a state cop.
100 years ago Vermont was sheep country and 80% clear cut. It is amazeing to see the old photos. Hikeing in the woods you come accross stone walls on top of mountains. A reminder that these were open fields once. Now they are full of 70-125ft tall maples, oaks, ash, etc. despite being logged regularly. A birch tree grows to 70ft tall and over a foot in diamiter in about 25 years here. It is a struggle to keep my cabin from getting over grown. Every year you need to trim stuff back. Fields need to be cut every year or they dissapear in a decade.

I like Clint Cummings post. 99% of climbers have absolutly Zero clue how much work went into creating the routes that they play on.

Oct 21, 2013 - 08:24pm PT
I don't care how you spin this, but cutting down tree or trees for a stupid personal climb is totally lame.

The whole thought of it is just plain lame.

Leave the tree.

If you fall into it then that's the hazard or just walk away and bail if you can't handle the hazard.

This is my personal opinion.

Oh !!!! but it's the best route ever!!!

Tough sh!t, leave the tree .....

Dave Kos

Social climber
Oct 21, 2013 - 08:27pm PT
I'm not buying the attempts to frame this action as originating with good intentions.

It was a selfish act that hurt a fragile environment and did no service to the climbing community.

Common sense: If there are no consequences, we will continue to see more of the same.


Gym climber
South of Heaven
Oct 21, 2013 - 08:29pm PT
A birch tree grows to 70ft tall and over a foot in diamiter in about 25 years here.

And out here, where this incident took place, it could take 1,000+ years for a juniper like that. Get it, yet?
Wade Icey

Trad climber
Oct 21, 2013 - 08:30pm PT
Yet consider that he did see another viewpoint and followed his heart, his heart that though that YOU, or should I say, US, all of us whom would follow: would benefit.

or at least those who can follow 5.14...

Social climber
Oct 21, 2013 - 08:31pm PT
But dude, I can WATCH bamboo grow. Totally same thing right?

Trad climber
Bay Area
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 21, 2013 - 08:39pm PT
It is a struggle to keep my cabin from getting over grown.
Ditto for my house in the Santa Cruz mtns. Well, not really a struggle, but a significant amount of annual work including felling on average 1 tree every 2 years.

And that's the difference between your boreal forest, my coastal Douglas Fir/Black Oak forest and Juniperis Occidentalis eking out a 1000 years of existence on a barren granite ledge.

Werner. Well said.

Oct 21, 2013 - 08:56pm PT
I like the direction of this thread as well.

I agree that the message needs to be delivered in person. A flyer or poster just doesn't have the same impact.

Better yet, delivered by a star of the community. Kids will listen to them.

I also think this message needs to be proactive - drill it into the heads of the kids as much as personal safety. It will stick, it just takes more effort to get the message across when you are not directly in the environment you are talking about (e.g., crag and gym).

Gatherings like the one posted above are great ideas - thanks to the Access Fund for taking the bull by the horns, as well as High Traverse.


Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Oct 21, 2013 - 09:16pm PT
I totally get it. just giveing some background on where the kid is comming from. Still think he should have known better but not sure it is worth killing the clueless dude...

Trad climber
Bay Area
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 21, 2013 - 09:20pm PT
but not sure it is worth killing the clueless dude...
Yes, that's what I meant to say in my first post and why I started this thread.

Gym climber
South of Heaven
Oct 21, 2013 - 09:37pm PT
totally agree tradman. No way in hell I would be as psyched on finding new boulder problems if I lived back east.

Oct 21, 2013 - 10:03pm PT
I find it ironic that the Access fund fights for access to lots of areas which are closed due to environmental reasons.

Trad climber
Alb, nm
Oct 21, 2013 - 10:10pm PT
I can't believe dean potter has sh#t to say when this guy is personally responsible for deforesting portions of rmnp. Pot kettle stfu

He chopped a huge tree to try the "end direct " at emerald lake

Dood needs to stfu
Todd Eastman

Bellingham, WA
Oct 21, 2013 - 10:16pm PT
Rule #1: Don't piss off the land managers

Rule #2: Don't piss off the land managers

Rule #3: Reference Rules # 1 and 2...

Social climber
Oct 21, 2013 - 10:17pm PT
hey there say, all... i am kind of new to all this 'what happened with the tree and route', as to the threads... i barely heard the situation, from a share...

but, since i do love trails and nature and know climbing folks, i reckon i can just share a bit on what i thought--not sure if it does any good, or anything, but it has to do with how we 'DO WHAT WE'VE LEARNED' from when we were young...

what my mom taught us... as, she lived in the woods that they were lucky enough to purchase for their home, when she was growing up... was to have a simple respect...

the key, was always:

don't hurt something that can't grow back...
(meaning some things can be trimmed)...

don't over pick a flower, and make sure enough seeds are left...

AND--make trails were nature routes seem to be, as you walk...

HOWEVER all this was on their OWN PRIVATE property...
(i know national parks, etc, don't allow you do certain things)...

so then:
when she was on public land, i know she taught us to
respect the NO TRESPASSING... and not to disturb something
that might not grow back... (this was along road sides)...
though if there was an abundant of a wild-flower not endangered,
she take a seed or young one home to plant it, as, it was natural
california dirt and it'd grow and produce easy for her...

so, it seems we all pretty DO what we grew up with...
and thus:
we all need to LEARN the RULES and the 'hows and whys' of where-what-ever area, it IS that we hike or climb...

so to me:
THE WHOLE situation, from what i read, is very sad for all...
i sure hope things settle and that some good will come out of all this...

*i am not a climber, but i 'innocently' thought, that when you were climbing, you just CLIMB around stuff... or you just don't go that way...
(kind of like what werner said, but in different words)

you know, like the goats, etc. do ... :)

however, if there IS loose things that are dangerous in a trail, or,
on a climb that is already a route:
i DO understand how folks feel to help the next climber, and clear the
path... ( but i still am just learning all this--but it seems the cautious? thing to do)...

well, happy to see that you are sharing info on all this, IN some helper-ways...

happy to see billygoat make a nice post, too, edit = AS I DID NOT KNOW = did not know who started the other thread, or how it fared... just saw the tail end of it, as it was deleted...

Trad climber
La Crescenta, CA
Oct 21, 2013 - 11:18pm PT
This thread is awesome. Since climbing gyms are popping up like crazy and introducing thousands of people to climbing who don't know much about the outdoors, they should offer free classes teaching people some simple etiquette. It'd be cool if the access fund could develop a short course or some kind of free dvd to pass on to all the gyms too. As well as courses designed to teach people about outdoor climbing. I saw some sketchy stuff in J tree this week and told a group how dangerous they were being and told them some stuff to help them be safer in the future.

Santa Cruz
Oct 21, 2013 - 11:28pm PT
This blog post by Haven Livingston is worth a read.

someplace in-between
Oct 21, 2013 - 11:54pm PT
This thread is headed in a positive direction. Thank you all for contributing.

Stewardship is best taught face to face, mentor to pupil. Unfortunately, more and more climbers' sole background in climbing is the time (often brief) they spend in the gym. Gym climbers don't usually have experienced mentors anymore. What makes matters worse is that it is not hard for these climbers to frequent outdoor crags without ever coming into contact with seasoned wilderness veterans. They drive to the crag with their fellow gym climbers, they climb with their fellow gym climbers, and they are usually avoided by the seasoned vets because, well, they're gym climbers.

Personally, I usually try and steer clear from the crowd but in light of this event and the overall trend in climbing's changing demographics I'm going to do my best to offer a word on environmental stewardship to those that are clearly ignorant of this responsibility. I'm sure there will be times when the advice won't be welcomed but I'm not willing to sit idly pointing my finger at others or playing Monday morning quarterback with our natural resources.
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