Consensus on cleaning up gear from well traveled routes


Original Post
Nick Blankenberger · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 35

After a run up the Bastille crack in Eldo, the gear left behind got me to thinking. What's the general consensus on a climb specifically focused on cleaning up gear? I thought about making a climb taking my time and some extra tools to clean up the numerous gear littering the route. Many pieces are lodged due to falls making the gear difficult to remove, but others are just out of reach due to poor placement or dumb luck. Being a highly trafficked route, easy pieces are plucked by more determined climbers, but many pieces remain. Now of course, who doesn't love booty, but I thought about removing pieces and posting a thread where those who lost a specific piece can comment and claim their losses and I will happily pass the pieces to their rightful owners. Anyone else ever thought about this? There were many pieces that were not lodged but walked beyond reach. Just wanted to see what other climbers thought. Two notes: no attempt to damage the rock will be made, sometimes the rock will claim gear forever and chiseling and scarring the climb would be unacceptable. Second, being a popular climb, an early morning weekday ascent for this purpose would prevent slowing traffic on the popular climb. Thoughts?

-Nick

20 kN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,352
Summitseeker91 wrote:After a run up the Bastille crack in Eldo, the gear left behind got me to thinking. What's the general consensus on a climb specifically focused on cleaning up gear? I thought about making a climb taking my time and some extra tools to clean up the numerous gear littering the route. Many pieces are lodged due to falls making the gear difficult to remove, but others are just out of reach due to poor placement or dumb luck. Being a highly trafficked route, easy pieces are plucked by more determined climbers, but many pieces remain. Now of course, who doesn't love booty, but I thought about removing pieces and posting a thread where those who lost a specific piece can comment and claim their losses and I will happily pass the pieces to their rightful owners. Anyone else ever thought about this? There were many pieces that were not lodged but walked beyond reach. Just wanted to see what other climbers thought. Two notes: no attempt to damage the rock will be made, sometimes the rock will claim gear forever and chiseling and scarring the climb would be unacceptable. Second, being a popular climb, an early morning weekday ascent for this purpose would prevent slowing traffic on the popular climb. Thoughts? -Nick
I would say good on you. Go clean it up. Good luck through, removing well-fixed cams without some heavy duty power tools is not going to be easy.
George Zack · · Orting, WA · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 280

I rapped into a popular route in Washington last summer to try and clean a stuck green alien from a crux placement that had been there for years. This placement and a few old pins were what was keeping you off the deck through a thin 5.10b dihedral from 60'. Most people routinely clipped and trusted the mangled fixed cam like it was just another piece of fixed gear, as I did when I first lead it because that's all you got. Long story short, I attacked it with my roto-hammer and 1/2" bit, and after getting through one of the lobes and into the axle a bit, was able to funk it out with a few light tugs. Ended up with a good (and removable) .3 placement in its stead, so I was pretty happy with my decision to remove it.

Mathias · · Loveland, CO · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 290

I still haven't climbed the route. How much fixed gear is up there? Either way, I think cleaning it up is a good idea.

Rob Dillon · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2002 · Points: 710

Hopefully the park will let you use a battery-powered sawzall. I wouldn't worry about 'rightful owners', who have abandoned their gear and thus any claim to getting it back. Plus that stuff is likely to be pretty mangled. It's a public service and good on you for tackling it. Put a note at the base so people don't get their thongs in a wad.

Nick Blankenberger · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 35

I recall seeing about 6 pieces on the first short pitch. As the climb continues, the abandoned gear decreases but is still present. The first and second flakes on pitch 1 are deep and tend to swallow up gear. I've thought about leaving some of the pitons, I've heard several mention them as route markers for specific moves/route finding, although route finding is pretty straight forward.

Tradgic Yogurt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 55

Wouldn't the pitons be left as historical parts of the route? Or have people put new ones in?

Nick Blankenberger · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 35
Tradgic Yogurt wrote:Wouldn't the pitons be left as historical parts of the route? Or have people put new ones in?
Most appear historical, some are fairly mangled and weathered. I had planned to leave these for that reason.
ViperScale · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 230

Removing gear that has been there for years could be a bad thing. Someone who has climbed that route alot and is used to it being there could get screwed over if they use the only piece they have below because they know a piece of gear has been there for years.

Lets just say I was only planing on climbing 1 pitch of a route onetime because there was "fixed gear" at the first anchor. Well someone ended up removing all but 1 piece and I was left rappelling off a single piece and ended up having to leave some of my own gear behind because of it.

Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 549

I think you should talk to Mike McHugh before you break out the power tools.
http://www.mountainproject.com/u/mike-mchugh//107953925

And talk to the ACE Board before you mess with any of the fixed pins.
http://aceeldo.org/

Removing fixed nuts and cams is generally a public service.

Nick Blankenberger · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 35

All good thoughts here. The only fixed gear that would be removed would be pieces that are inaccessible for a climber to clip. During the climb, I came across only one piece that could have been clipped, but it was a wonky cam, lobes fully extended and only held in place by the constriction of the rock, similar to a stopper. Also, there is no planned use of power tools but if it does come to that, will check into both resources.

Edit for clarification: By fixed gear, I mean lodged or abandoned stoppers, cams, and hexes.

Sam Spuds · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 65

Do it man! Could always pack a small hacksaw up there with you would be a little tiring though! And wow no one is throwing a bunch of crap at the OP a MP first!!!!

calebmmallory · · Seattle, N.Carolina, &Hong ... · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 405

Had the same thoughts after climbing Rewritten in Eldo....brand new metolius ultralights stuck already!

slevin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,003
Summitseeker91 wrote: I've thought about leaving some of the pitons, I've heard several mention them as route markers for specific moves/route finding, although route finding is pretty straight forward.
Removal of fixed pitons is not allowed in Eldorado Canyon State Park without a permit.

To obtain a permit you will need to go through the Action Committee for Eldorado permit process, which involves public input, review by the ACE Fixed Hardware Committee, and final approval by the Park.
Nick Blankenberger · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 35
slevin wrote: Removal of fixed pins is not allowed in Eldorado Canyon State Park without a permit, which will also require public input to approve. Please do not attempt to remove any fixed pitons.
Thanks for the feedback, fixed pins will remain as planned. Only stoppers, hexes, cams and the likes are to be removed.
TheDrak · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 20

One hypothetical scenario/question: If you begin hacking at a piece and cannot completely remove it do you leave a note? Or do you just go on with your public service and hope nobody tests the mangled gear?

Just something to consider before going out.

You could surely snip cables and thumb loops to avoid that issue if it happens.

Nick Blankenberger · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 35

With the planned route in particular, all pieces except one are inaccessible to clip or use. I think a judgement call at each piece like this will determine whether to leave the piece as is or clipping to remove functionality. If I were to come across a piece that appears to be safe and usable, especially if placed in a location that does not leave many other options to protect, I would leave as is. The main goal is to clean up, without hindering future climbers.

Squeak · · Perth West OZ · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 23
TheDrak wrote:One hypothetical scenario/question: If you begin hacking at a piece and cannot completely remove it do you leave a note? Or do you just go on with your public service and hope nobody tests the mangled gear? Just something to consider before going out. You could surely snip cables and thumb loops to avoid that issue if it happens.
That's what i was thinking, make the gear un-usable if it's unsafe.
GroundTarp · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2013 · Points: 30
ViperScale wrote:Removing gear that has been there for years could be a bad thing. Someone who has climbed that route alot and is used to it being there could get screwed over if they use the only piece they have below because they know a piece of gear has been there for years. Lets just say I was only planing on climbing 1 pitch of a route onetime because there was "fixed gear" at the first anchor. Well someone ended up removing all but 1 piece and I was left rappelling off a single piece and ended up having to leave some of my own gear behind because of it.
awwww man and take the adventure out of climbing? That being said clean up and unneccesary tat, no point in being dependent on some old gear, depend on yourself
20 kN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,352
ViperScale wrote:Removing gear that has been there for years could be a bad thing. Someone who has climbed that route alot and is used to it being there could get screwed over if they use the only piece they have below because they know a piece of gear has been there for years. Lets just say I was only planing on climbing 1 pitch of a route onetime because there was "fixed gear" at the first anchor. Well someone ended up removing all but 1 piece and I was left rappelling off a single piece and ended up having to leave some of my own gear behind because of it.
The route he is talking about is quite literally a splitter crack in every sense. You could place a piece every two inches if you wanted.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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