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Rock climbing ethics from an origional Stone Master-Martin Veillon
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By Christian
From Casa do Cacete
May 10, 2012
"Stonemaster" Martin wrote: "..the useless, worthless people who are just taking up space."

That reminds me of a little man named Adolf.

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By NateHawke
From San Diego, Ca
May 31, 2012
To Martin V:

I’m probably the guy you need to talk with about Descanso, as I was the one who retro-bolted all the climbs.
I understand you are planning on trying to remove all the FIXE 1/2in glue-ins that I placed—while I can somewhat understand your frustration and need to vent your anger, I do not think destroying an excellent climbing area, such as Descanso Crag, is a good idea. Try not to let your ego destroy Descanso as Art’s ego destroyed El Cajon Mt.
Regarding your routes: I lived in both Descanso and Pine Valley for nearly 3 years, and during that time I climbed in nearly all the East County crags, and at Descanso many, many times. When I first went to Descanso crag (only 8 mins from my house), it was in a poor state: Bolts were missing on the center wall routes from nearly all the starts; the right side had no suitable routes for beginning climbers (ie. 5.6-5.8); the left side Wave Wall was void of any hard climbing (5.13+ or above); the “complete” routes that remained at Descanso were protected by old, unsafe pins and 1980’s era, 1/4in button heads; the “anchors” of the climbable routes were merely Metolius rap anchors that were not close enough to the edge to facilitate reasonable TR anchors or rapping; and the access trail was in miserable shape—just to name a few problems with the area. Descanso, when I found it, was hardly a climbing area worthy of mention.
As a “local” of Descanso/Pine Valley, and an avid climber with 15+ years of climbing experience from around the US and internationally in sport, trad, and bouldering, I saw Descanso as an area that needed some love. I believe in supporting the climbing community by helping update and maintain crags so that future generations of climbers can safely enjoy the resource. As no one ‘owns’ Descanso crag, due to its location in the National Forest, the responsibility for safe keeping lies in the San Diego climbing community, of which I am an active member. After climbing at Descanso for a full year and asking people if anyone was ever going to update the cliff—to which the answer was always a resounding no—I elected to spend my own money, time, and effort to update the wall and make it safer, improve existing routes, add new routes, establish four 5.13+/5.14 sport routes, and do trail maintenance. In my opinion, and in the opinion of other climbers who have climbed at Descanso since I finished my work, the crag is a better place to climb for all levels of climbers—beginner to expert.
Regarding your particular climb called “Into the Eye of the Son”, I did add bolts to that line and also established a direct start and a variation from the termination of the crack, which then ascends to the upper right. You are correct that “your” line can take cams—it does nicely—but the line should be labeled appropriately as a ‘mixed’ climb because you cannot—as I am sure you know—climb this route free with only gear. Furthermore, if you look closely at the crack section, approximately 6 inches to the right of my glue-ins, you will see that someone once had bolted this crack—long before I ever arrived. There was precedence for the line to be a fully sport route before I updated it. As a principally ‘sport crag’, which Descanso most assuredly is, it seemed appropriate to updated this route so that climbers could enjoy the full wall without traditional gear.
Aside from adding harder lines to Descanso, I also added 7 climbs--with anchors with chains—that range from 5.6 to 5.13a, which opens Descanso Crag up to a wider range of SD climbers.
I also spent considerable time updating the trails, moving rocks to improve erosion prevention, and keeping the trails wide enough so that rattlesnakes can be spotted and avoided easily—as Descanso Crag is a natural habitat for rattlers, it was important for me to improve the trails so that people would not disturb the snakes in their nests around the base of the wall.
One of the last additions that I made was to add chains to the top of the wall in order to facilitate a more pleasant climbing experience for younger climbers who wish to lead, TR, and then clean the route without multiple hikes up and down the wall to get gear—again, now Descanso is a better climbing crag because of the anchor and trail updates.
If you are still angry about the retro-bolting and crag updates, feel free to email me and we can schedule an appointment to meet in person. My email is Nate@andramine.net
In the meantime, I suggest allowing Descanso Crag speak for itself: Does the climbing community, as a whole, enjoy the crag more now than before? If the answer is yes, then the answer about your chopping desires should be a definitive “absolutely not”.
Please think about the future generations of climbers before you decide to destroy an excellent crag to satisfy your ego.

NH

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By Martin Veillon
From El Cajon, Calif.
May 31, 2012
Thanks for the history of what you've done at Descanso and I will contact you soon thru your provided e-mail address.

Yes, we should get together to discuss further why I have some agreements and disagreements to your reply.

No, I don't own the rock and I also don't consider Descanso as a "sports" climbing area although some have been added since the last climb I did there several years ago.

What I obiviously object to is the adding (retro-bolting) of bolts to the climbs I put up in traditional style.

I also put in one bolt on rappel on "Black Rattler" to see for myself what the new hype was all about as sports climbing was fairly new to Calif. at that time.
I found that this style was not satisfying for me and therefore stayed with old school methods.

As you'll also note, I have not tampered with anyone else's bolts and chains on climbs that I did not put up as the rock is for all to share.

If I and my other partners that are still alive were to consider ourselves as the "climbing community" for Descanso then we could find it OK to remove and/or add bolts to these other climbs-but then that would not satisfy us either.

It's obivious to me that we all need to play well together and this is possible as long as we respect the Rock first and the 1st ascent 2nd.

For example: when we first arrived at the main wall back in the 1980's, all that we could find established was what we refer to as "Space Ramp" that has only the one fixed piton at the crux.
We did not remove the piton nor add any other permanent pro as the climb was a work of art with the one piton.
A row of bolts and such would have ruined that climb from the perfection it is.
And had we found it with a row of bolts all the way up the crack we would have thought that it could have been done differently but we would not have chopped them but have wondered why would anyone put in a row of bolts next to a crack which would have surely taken away from the wonderfull climb it is with the one piton.

I have found a way to remove the epoxied in bolts but my primary focus right now is to continue work on the trail system.

Thanks for all your efforts on the trail as you have made my work easier for sure.

I will be replacing some of my old bolts with newer ones that need to be replaced.

And as expected, I will be removing the ones added to my 1st ascents to restore as much as possible the origional routes' artistic intent.

As noted before, I went thru much effort, thought, time, and discussions with others before adding a route to my topo as completed, as I did not want to just have several runnout climbs, but just a couple.

We could have left many of the climbs there without any bolts being added latter on and had numerous climbs with only dashed lines on paper.

A good example of such is "Snake Dike" on Half Dome that was put up by Jim Bridwell and others with major runnouts but then fixed pro later on added for the enjoyment of others.

As a Stone Master I must say that most often "Less is more!"...-and no, I did not give myself my nicknames, others did.

To climb a climb that has no need for any fixed pro is a wonderfull experience and to climb a climb that has as few bolts and fixed pro as possible is also wonderfull.

I want to climb my climbs the way I put them up and not have several bolts in my face while I'm putting in a nut or cam. - putting in pro is part of the art of climbing.

What needs to be done is for people to have a similar mindset.

After all, Descanso has always been a traditional climbing area since the day we first went there, but it can be shared as there is so much rock there, like a barely tapped Mt. Woodson.

I even once had the thought of going there and removing all of the bolts and fixed pro there, even the top-rope bolts and rap chains, etc.
Then it would once again be a virgin area again and sit back and wait to see the joy of when someone else would go there for their first time and see how they would treat the Rock.

I also thought after the last time I went and removed bolts from my climbs that I would remove the ones I added to my climbs that I put in at a latter time to escalate the complaints and whinning.
But that would be like what I've been accused of by some as all about my ego.

So let's get something straight right now people:
1-What ego?-I climb for the love of climbing only.
2-I don't own the Rock, but neither do you.
3-I don't tamper with other people's climbs and expect to be treated likewise.
4-I strive to put up climbs in good style with safety in mind but as we all know, there is risk in climbing and it is healthy to have some.
5-I'm not trying to tell people how to climb and protect climbs, but to have respect for each other or else nothing will ever work out and that would be bad for us all.
6-My climbs are my works of personal art and I love to share, so have at it and enjoy as I've found my "climbing soul" and hope all others do so as well.
7-I want World Peace and I want it NOW!!!-please help me with this-thanks.

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By Darren Mabe
From Flagstaff, AZ
May 31, 2012
wham bam hand jam. Wrapping up the final moves of ...
Martin Veillon wrote:
I'm not trying to tell people how to climb and protect climbs,..


really?

Martin Veillon wrote:
I want to climb my climbs the way I put them up and not have several bolts in my face while I'm putting in a nut or cam... What needs to be done is for people to have a similar mindset.



however, perhaps Nate could have sought out Martin and discussed his want/'need' to retro the routes before he acted, out of respect for the early pioneers. this might be the biggest issue...

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By Alex Whitman
May 31, 2012
Luxury Liner, Indian Creek
NateHawke wrote:
. As a principally ‘sport crag’, which Descanso most assuredly is, it seemed appropriate to updated this route so that climbers could enjoy the full wall without traditional gear. NH


Nope.

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By Jeff Chrisler
From Boulder, CO
May 31, 2012
simply looking at one of the photos of one of the routes in question, i've gotta say i agree with martin on this one. it pains me to say it, because assuredly his long-windedness will come back to haunt us all, but it's clear that nate should have at least consulted him before throwing bolts in. who the hell cares if bolts had been there... you should have asked, and perhaps not put in so damn many!

oh, finally, this is getting good!

p.s. martin, you still haven't gotten any better at paragraphs- now, it's just too many

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By Martin Veillon
From El Cajon, Calif.
May 31, 2012
No, I'm not angry anymore, that was just my initial gut reaction like if you went out to check the mail and found your car keyed.
Do you pay to fix it or live with the vandalizim?

I just want to climb again one day soon as I love it.

I sometimes now wish I hadn't added any other bolts later on to several of my climbs and should have left them the way I first did them.
But I didn't because I care about others as much as myself and added some for others.

What I think would be a good idea is to meet up at the next climbers meeting that I was invited to from Randy Leavitt and others on the last Tues. of the month-I didn't make the one on 5-29-2012 as we're packing and moving once again and thus busy.

At the meeting we could schedule a date and go to Descanso and review what's in place currently.
Then make a decision as to which fixed pro stays and which goes, which gets replaced, etc.
And then we should all agree to love and accept it.
I think the problem with that is that this would take the efforts of all 1st ascent parties and not all may be available.
I guess then we could just deal with the ones in attendence and leave the others alone or at least restore to the origional 1st ascent condition.

Would I want some removed or added to mine, not especially, but I have an open mind and would expect the same from others.

I've thought my climbs through and feel that they can't be improved but I expect some would say that I put in too many bolts on some, not enough on others and just the right amount on a couple.

But never can be ruined are the memories I have of putting the trial system up, letting the Rock show me the climbs and then doing them, the jokes and laughter with my son and other partners, the exploration and discovery and the joy of it all.

Now for the next bump in the road-who is the "climbing community" that should get to decide on this?
I'm thinking everyone but once again if all are not in attendance and/or agreement, then we learn to live with the majority vote?

I've heard about Eldorado Canyon in Colorado that has a committee that reviews new 1st ascent requests to discuss and decide on what and how much fixed pro goes in and such and that this seems to work well.

I sure miss the days when you just walked up to the Rock and climbed it.

I think a classic case in mind is when Royal Robbins and partner went up Warren Harrdings' and partner's "Dawn Wall" on El Cap and began to erase the route, then stopped and climbed it to the top and of all the lessons learned from that concern.

Now I know why Reinhold Messner was always against bolts and such.

So I still want World Peace, so please let's all work together on this-live, love and be happy. Works for me!!!

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By tom donnelly
May 31, 2012
I just want to thank you guys for staying civil and discussing it with cool heads.

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By Leavittator
May 31, 2012
Randy Leavitt
I should have posted this here, but posted it a few weeks ago under route descriptions. I guess I don't spend much time on forums and posted it in the wrong spot. Anyway, I will post it here, although late. Martin and Nate - hopefully you guys can make the next meeting. I will be there, unless I am out of town. Randy

"Martin,

Thanks for your input and hard work on first ascents. There is a local "access fund" type of climbing organization that was formed here in San Diego (www.alliedclimbers.org). I am sure they would love to hear what you have to say. The meetings are the last Tuesday evening of every month (see website for specifics). Allied Climbers of San Diego have worked very hard on access issues throughout Southern California. This monthly meeting would be the perfect place for you to discuss your concerns. Just for a little background - The local climbing community is still reeling from a bolt chopper who left a lot of damage in his wake. However, the good news is that it left the climbing community unified as never before. So it is a pretty diverse group. Please bring you son and meet everyone :)
Regards, Randy Leavitt"

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By x15x15
Jun 1, 2012
L G wrote:
+1 for the updating. There are so many crags and routes that go unclimbed because some people erroneously feel that they have a right to impose their notion of risk or "style" upon others. We don't request permission from the workers that laid our pavement to install a new one or widen it, we just repair or upgrade as necessary to make it most useful. I think we can acknowledge the original construction effort, and then move forward. I don't feel that this is a threat to gear routes as the opportunities to lead on gear remain manifold and the crack still exists.


you're kidding? you should try to repair or upgrade public property pavement that was put in for the people. the enviromental studies, permits, and headaches are real. shucks, you can't even put up a sign on a roadway without approval. you're logic is full of holes.

but, getting back to your argument that upgrades are okay, i would like to know what is an upgrade, and whose call is it? I believe that bolt removal is the best upgrade that can be done. I want to be in charge. Screw tradition, history, and culture.

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By Unassigned User
Jun 1, 2012
L G wrote:
+1 for the updating. There are so many crags and routes that go unclimbed because some people erroneously feel that they have a right to impose their notion of risk or "style" upon others. We don't request permission from the workers that laid our pavement to install a new one or widen it, we just repair or upgrade as necessary to make it most useful. I think we can acknowledge the original construction effort, and then move forward. I don't feel that this is a threat to gear routes as the opportunities to lead on gear remain manifold and the crack still exists.



Hey bro nobody imposed anything on you... Come on out to SB there are tons of routes bolted every five feet. Nothing wrong with wanting a safe route that you can't hurt yourself on. But leave those bold routes to those that are up to the challenge. Me, I love the run out. If you can truly climb at that grade then you will have confidence to finish, if you are trying to fall your way up a route you might want to pick a different one for that.

Leave the run out for those of us that love it.

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By Jeff Ludwig
From phoenix, Az
Jun 2, 2012
Mr Hawke pointed out the real issue here. 1/4" button head bolts and purposefully hangerless bolts. Forget the "run outs." Mr Veillons reasoning for hanger less bolts? " To teach new climbers how to deal with this situation." If that is not the definition of inane, i don't know what is.

Bolting good cracks? sketchy grey area at best.

Some people should just not bolt.

I am glad Mr Veillon is not angry anymore because i took offense to his comment directed at myself that some people " are useless, worthless people who are just taking up space."

Its great to see the parties involved communicating.

BTW, just so nobody thinks i am some arm chair observer, my first foray to Descanso crag was in 1987. Yes I still climb.

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By Darren Mabe
From Flagstaff, AZ
Jun 2, 2012
wham bam hand jam. Wrapping up the final moves of ...
Retrobolting someone elses routes without permission is bad style. Placing bad bolts is bad form and there is no excuse. Replacing those buttons and hangerless ones seems like a good compromise? Is there not enough rock around those parts for folks to find their own new stuff and put up routes in their own style? It takes a little legwork..

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By Leavittator
Jun 3, 2012
Randy Leavitt
Late yesterday afternoon, I made my first trip to Descanso Crag in San Diego because I wanted to see what was going on regarding the “controversial” bolting of climbs. Before I went, I called both Martin and Nate to see if they could come out with me. They called me back to say they could not make it. So, with Martin’s topos in hand, Zach Gelbart and I hiked 20 minutes up the well-maintained trail to the base. This area has obviously had some recent, regular usage.

We warmed up on a 5.4 route on the right – a 4-bolt face climb (glue-in ring bolts) to a chain anchor. The next route we did was an excellent, bolted blank shallow dihedral, "Icarus" (5.11a). Then we top-roped Martin Veillon’s quality slab climb "Masterpiece" (5.11b), which has four, extremely rusted ¼” bolts that look unsafe (that is why I did not lead it). These probably should have been replaced (and slightly relocated to more follow the natural line) 15 years ago. Finally, we climbed "Eye Of The Son" (Sun?), which is a very classic 5.11d. This is probably Martin’s best route there. I don’t know how it was first protected, but there were many ¼” holes (some near crack pro) that evidently housed old bolts. Primarily, this route is a face climb, but it starts on this really cool diagonal seam, that opens up in many places that would accept pro. The majority of the route has no natural pro. In it current state, it is 100% sport bolted with stainless ring type bolts.

From a personal perspective, I can understand both points of view (Martin’s and Nate’s) on whether bolts should or should not have been added.

On one hand, I have had bolts added to my climbs. The most egregious example would be a 5.10+ (100%) trad lead I did, which was later bolted (and renamed!) by an original Stonemaster. This was done, despite the fact this guy had first-hand knowledge of my lead and he never asked for my blessing.

A favorable example of a climb being retro-bolted, was "Hot Flyer" in Boulder, Colorado. A local there asked me for approval to sport bolt this 5.12a heady, semi death route I had led a few times, including the first ascent in 1981. Since the retro-bolting, "Hot Flyer" has become a mega classic for the area. Climbers can still appreciate what it would be like to lead this without any of the 11 bolts. However, I would not want to see all of my scary routes bolted. I grew up climbing in an era were bolts were a last resort, so I can understand how a guy like Martin would find some of them offensive.

On the other side of the coin, I have had a number of my climbs chopped. The most extreme example of this would be at El Cajon Mountain (San Diego) where a guy chopped many climbs, under the premise that he was climbing his new routes “ground up” while we were not doing our first ascents that way. He was, in fact, rap bolting some of his leads, and those that he would do “ground up” were merely a diabolical mix of bat hook holes (later filled) and poorly located bolts (later corrected on top rope). But at least he could claim he was climbing in better style. His climbing partner at the time eventually stopped associating with him because of his behavior.

I can appreciate Nate’s point of view as well. The bottom line is that hardly anyone would bother to climb at Descanso if it were not due to Nate’s “updating” of the crag. Martin had not been replacing his old bolts (a mixture of rusty ¼” bolts and hangerless studs) and the area needed some attention. While I don’t agree with everything Nate did out there, he was the guy who took his own valuable time and money to do something for the climbing community.

Martin and Nate are willing to try and resolve this without having a bolt war. I respect them for this, as well as their climbing achievements. Martin did some scary ground up stuff at Descanso that is unlikely to get repeated in the same style. Nate is an extremely strong 5.14 climber, who I have climbed with at the gym.

Contributors on the forum are quick to throw in absolutes and offer their hard and fast opinion on how things should always be done. Like politics, there is gray area in this subject. “It comes down to a bolt by bolt and a climb by climb basis” as local first ascent climber Chris Hubbard has often said.

- Randy Leavitt

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By CJC
Jun 4, 2012
NateHawke wrote:
In the meantime, I suggest allowing Descanso Crag speak for itself: Does the climbing community, as a whole, enjoy the crag more now than before?


so NOW you are asking for input from the climbing community??

bullshit

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By 1Eric Rhicard
Jun 4, 2012
It is a good sized roof. Photo: Jimbo
Upgrading old bolts to new is good. Adding bolts to others routes is not cool whether you climb 5.14 or 5.4. Add routes to the area, retro the ones the FA teams agrees you should, replace the old worthless bolts with new stainless ones, leave the old test pieces there. The argument that you can always do it without the bolts is a bit lame. You can always figure out a way to top-rope the thing too.

If this is the only wall within 100 miles and Martin had soloed every route and said no bolts that would be different. That would be selfish and egotistical. He has done some hard for him and bold for him climbs. Let them stand. It doesn't sound like there is no climbing to do there if his routes are left unmolested.

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By Martin Veillon
From El Cajon, Calif.
Jun 4, 2012
I'm glad Randy Leavitt went out to Descanso this past weekend and I wish I could have joined him there, but am once again selling and moving for the last time I hope.

I'm also glad to see by what he's written here is that this crag deserves to be maintained.

I always knew that my old school, hand drilled, 1/4" and 5/16" diameter by 1 1/2" long Rawl drive bolts would need to be replaced and I have new 5/16" to replace them with but if someone would rather use bigger and longer ones-have at it.

"Into the Eye of the Son" (for Jesus Christ) is one of the very best climbs we put up and my topo shows where and how many were placed with one added (the fourth one) later on. And the hangerless one added next to the lead one at the 1st crux just before you reach the roof, that way if you can get past this crux, you can loop a wired nut over it and not just lower off of the lead bolt alone.
And yes these need replacing as well.

Extra bolts have been added in the right area that Randy mentioned that really serve no great purpose as this area has much oppertunity for clean pro.

So it's good to have gotten this far as what I'm seeing is what I'd hoped for:
1-trail assistance.
2-communication.
3-progress.

What also must be mentioned about Descanso is that when you get near the "Main Wall", the trail takes you right to the Fire Fighters Memorial Plaque bolted to the rock for a lost fellow Fireman.
You have to stop at it and reflect, offer a prayer and know that this area means more than just rock climbing-it's an outdoor Church for many.
Another reason why this area, like most, be preserved for the enjoyment of all.
These are not just Rocks to me, these are a part of me as I am a part of them.
I just wish someone would have been there the day I free soloed "Into the Eye of the Son" and filmed it as it was one of my very finest moments in life.
If you've ever climbed it or even attempted it, put yourself in that mindset of free soloing it and then you'll sort of know what I'm talking about-defining moments to say the least.
Life is grand isn't it? - yes it is, yes it is!!!

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By roundhead
Jun 4, 2012
thank you randy.

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By Stone Nude
Jun 4, 2012
When dumb people have disposable income, hilarity ...
No, no, no-you guys are missing the point. The guy retrobolting climbs *5.14*! So he's a better human being, just look at the numbers!

Nate, I tip my hat to owning up. I also want you to know that what you did was wrong.

The ASCA and ARI exist to allow situations like Martin's old sheisserbolts to be fixed. There's no argument from anyone that old bolts that are necessary to climb the routes (no other gear options) should be replaced (at least so far).

But determining that "this is a sport crag, therefore I am changing existing routes to meet a different standard?"

Come on. If I lived close enough, those bolts would be gone tomorrow. Respect is a rare commodity in this site and sometimes it seems in the real world, as well. Nate, what you did is known as "meddling". It's offensive and self-serving, no matter who you claim to be doing it for.

Again, respect to everyone who's posted up and kept it civil. Get rid of the retrobolts, keep the dialogue going, and try to keep in mind the difference between a first ascent and an established route.

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By Stone Nude
Jun 4, 2012
When dumb people have disposable income, hilarity ...
PS Dave Sahalie and the paragraph police, please continue making the rest of us smarter. It's like saying Kennedy was a terrible president because of his poor tie selection.

Obscure the message and you lose the lesson.

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By Darren Mabe
From Flagstaff, AZ
Jun 4, 2012
wham bam hand jam. Wrapping up the final moves of ...
wutchoo tawkin bout Killis?


EDIT: sorry i have been dyin to say that.

FLAG


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