From Whence Cometh the Booty?


Original Post
Jaren Watson · · Boise, Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 1,195

I accept that for the majority of climbers, the subject of bootied gear is not an issue of right or wrong. Rather, it's an accepted standard established long ago.

But I am curious where and why this practice began. For those of you who started climbing decades ago, how did the concept arise that it was acceptable to claim someone's left gear?

Again, I am NOT arguing that this shouldn't be the case. I accept that most people are ok with the practice. But I think the majority will agree it's certainly interesting, especially considering it's hard to think of another context where it is normal when someone leaves something by accident, then it belongs to me by default. In other contexts (the beach, the theater, etc.) "most" people go to great lengths to return other people's belongings. In climbing? The reverse is the standard in most cases.

I'm just curious about it, that's all. Thanks for weighing in with your experience.

Jaren

20 kN · · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,128

I think the idea is if you intentionally leave gear up on a route without returning to claim it, it's considered abandon. There is a difference between losing or forgetting an object and intentionally leaving it behind. 

Jaren Watson · · Boise, Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 1,195
20 kN wrote:

I think the idea is if you intentionally leave gear up on a route without the intention of returning to claim it, it's considered abandon. There is a difference between losing or forgetting something and intentionally leaving it.

I agree knowing the original party's intentions could sway a lot of following parties to return the gear, but considering it's often impossible, or at least rather difficult, to know those intentions, that's kind of a tangential issue, isn't it?

Additionally, would you agree there is a substantial segment of the climbing population who wouldn't care whether the gear was left intentionally or not? 

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 15

Here we go!  Oddsmakers say 5 pages of bickering over booty and theft and morality.

Thanks for getting this started, Jaren.

Jaren Watson · · Boise, Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 1,195
FrankPS wrote:

Here we go!  Oddsmakers say 5 pages of bickering over booty and theft and morality.

I sure hope not, FrankPS! I tried my best to make clear what precisely I'm asking. I am aware, however, at the apparent inability of most anonymous internet commenters to stay on topic. :)

All I'm asking is where the practice came from. That's it.

Edit to add: I'm shocked and dismayed that you have such a low opinion of your fellow MPers, sir. :)

Allen Sanderson · · Oootah · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,115

It really has nothing to do with climbers but goes back to Roman Law, "Finders, Keepers". 

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 15

The practice came from the concept of "finders, keepers."

Edit: Allen beat me to it. Drats!

Brian Abram · · Celo, NC · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 228

To me it's more of a sort of shaming. I left my gear up there because I fucked up somehow, so I get to pay the price of giving it up to the next person to come along who is able to get it. If he's a nice guy, he might give it back, but I don't get to ask for it

Jaren Watson · · Boise, Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 1,195

Roman Law. Are you guys sure about this, or does this just sound like a sensible explanation? I guess what I'm respectfully asking is for you to provide, you know, evidence and stuff. Thanks!

Scott Phil · · NC · Joined May 2010 · Points: 191

In large part it was because of the near impossibility of locating the party that left the gear. There was no MP, no Facebook, no email, nothing but a piece of gear left somewhere. There were very few ways to get the word out to the wider climbing community that something had been found. At best you could leave a note at the local outdoor store--if there was one--or maybe leave a note at the trailhead if you thought the owner might be back that way.

I don't recall anyone discussing what to do with booty back then. 

Scott M. McNamara · · Tucson, Arizona · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 35
Jaren Watson · · Boise, Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 1,195

Thanks, Scott Phil. It's those earlier recollections I'm hoping people will share.

Scott McNamara, is posting a wikipedia article on the notion of Finders Keepers meant to be humorous? I guess it is, in a way. 

Kevin Mokracek · · Burbank · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 50

If I leave ANY gear behind knowingly or unknowingly it becomes fair game.   Over the years I have left lots of bail gear on peaks in the Sierra Nevada and elsewhere that I never expect to see again.   I bailed off Mithral Dihedral on Russell a few years back due to an impending thunder storm and probably left $200 worth of gear.  When I got into Lone Pine I told the guy behind the counter at the local mountain shop that there was some free gear on Mithral for the next person on the route.   We did find a BD ice axe on the descent so it took a bit of the sting out of it.   I have been climbing 39 years now and it's pretty accepted practice that left gear is up for grabs save for extenuating circumstances.

Scott Phil · · NC · Joined May 2010 · Points: 191

You're welcome, Jaren.

There is another forum on marking gear that reminds me that I always understood marking gear as a way to separate my gear from my partners at the end of the day. No one expected adding their mark to gear  meant that they would get it back if it were left on the climb. 

Bill Czajkowski · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 15

I left it because I had to leave it as part of my experience; I gave it up deliberately. It's not mine anymore. Different than losing it. 

Tom Sherman · · Bristol, RI · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 81

I feel so honored that I could be first to post:

https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/108335653/booty-rules

Welcome to the game!

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 136

What about gear that's left behind because someone gets injured, provided you actually know that's why the gear was left?

I think it also depends for some people what was actually left. I won't think twice before taking a bail biner or quickdraw, but if I booty a cam or a set of nuts I will put some effort into trying to find the owner because I've lost a few cams and I sure as hell wished someone would return them. 

Allen Sanderson · · Oootah · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,115

BITD, late 70's for me gear was expensive relative to my income. Similar for most climbers. As such, finding gear was one less piece of gear that needed to be purchased. Or when one needed to bail, booty gear would be left without breaking up one's own rack. So more money for food, booze, and ganja. 

At one point I almost a full rack of booty stoppers. Today, it is still fun to find gear. In fact I found some today (multiple pieces, all dropped). Often it is the challenge is in the puzzle to remove suck gear. Perhaps, the best near return of gear introduced me to a new partner and now good friend. Regardless as I posted above it is finders, keepers - the only exception is an accident, then one returns it for good karma (done that too).

ViperScale · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 165

Females?

Jaren Watson · · Boise, Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 1,195

Maybe the conversation will get derailed. I hope it won't. I'm grateful for and interested  in the comments that describe the thinking in decades past.

s.price · · PS,CO · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 1,038

Climb long enough and it all comes back around. You win some, you lose some. Since I have been on MP I have always at least run a found thread thru the system.

If I leave gear I never expect to see it again. I had a rope stolen out of the back of my truck once. Plain theft. A young man tried to sell it to me a few days later on a trip to Rifle. Still had my name on the inside of the ropebag. Guess he thought he would never see me again. That is the only gear I have ever recovered. Kinda feel like I deserved that back.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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