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Fatality at the Garden of the Gods
Submitted By: Frances Fierst on Mar 7, 2006

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COLORADO SPRINGS - A college student has died after a fall at the Garden of the Gods.

Investigators identified the 22-year-old climber who fell more than 100 feet to his death on Friday as Christian Fink.

Rescuers say he was doing what is called "scrambling" which is a form of climbing without using ropes or any other safety equipment.

Firefighters say the climber was taking an unnecessary risk. Officials say if you're going to do any kind of climbing that takes you above 10 feet you need technical equipment, including ropes, and a harness.

Fink was on the rocks when his friends say he fell. His friends called for help but by the time the rescue teams arrived, it was too late.

Fink was from Silver Cliff and attended the Colorado Springs campus of the University of Colorado.

Fink did not have the required permit to climb the rocks in the Garden of the Gods.

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By "H" Lampasso
From: Manitou Springs
Mar 7, 2006
Feel bad for this guy, his family, and friends, but when they label people like this "climbers" as they did on the local news here it makes the rest of us look bad and then you have people thinking "hey maybe we should ban climbing altogether in the park?"
I don't climb there anymore, but when I did I saw A LOT of people scrambling up the rocks where they had no business being and the staff they had roving around their said nothing. Maybe if they enforced the fines, it might make people take a second thought.

I believe a woman also fell in Red Rocks Open Space within the last week as well.

By Jeremy Monahan
From: Fort Fun, CO
Mar 8, 2006
I agree completely with you Harold. It is a shame that they continue to label irresponsible people who are in way over their heads as climbers.
By Chris Cavallaro
Mar 8, 2006
um..How do you know that he wasn't free-soloing?

By Buff Johnson
Mar 8, 2006
ok, what makes this incident irresponsible?

Other than not registering to climb, which is not directly attributable to the incident, Christian was just out enjoying his public park & not endangering anyone else. His acceptance of risk level was his own personal choice.

Is scrambling up to the base of the headwall on the Crestone Needle, going up the Third Flatiron, or working Torrey's or the Sawtooth any different?

And who is the "official" in the position to dictate the manner of climb? OSHA regs are 6' falls, should we all climb with OSHA regs and an air bag, bolt every 6' on 4th class & higher terrain, and strap on a parachute & reserve, and yeah, Matt, don't forget the helmet? Man, if I fell 500' and didn't have my helmet on, oh the shit would really hit the media fan!

Sure, we could all prevent an incident like this by sitting on a park bench and watch the world go by; but it's just not in me to take that option. (Although, I'm a helmet fanatic - won't climb without it - but that's my choice!)
By Matt Juth
From: Evergreen
Mar 8, 2006
I'm surprised they didn't end the article with the typical "According to the El Paso County Sheriff, he was not wearing a helmet"...
By "H" Lampasso
From: Manitou Springs
Mar 8, 2006
According to local news (reliable or not) he was just "scrambling" up rock. I have seen many people (non-climbers I am guessing) scrambling or as the media call it "climbing" in places where they shouldn't be (no gear). There are quite a few "ramps" where one can go; One such place, 'TOURIST trap gully." A fairly easy "scramble" for some of us to get to climbs on that face, but the search and rescue teams have placed huge eyebolts in order to facilitate easier extrication of people who get stuck, hurt, or worse. Take a visit there on a busy warm day and just observe. (course it is always easier to sit at our computers and judge. Sad that a young man's life ended too early and now his family and friends bear the pain.)

Soloing is not allowed in the park as anything over 10 ft requires gear. I for one love to have the rope and gear.

By his actions and the outcome of those actions he did endangered the lives of the rescuers who had to recover his body. Whether or not those actions are accepted by the rescuers.

I guess we could debate this back and forth, I will concede and agree on some points. I am however, surprised they haven't tried to ban climbing in the park w/ all the accidents they do have there.
By Buff Johnson
Mar 8, 2006
That's total bs that a climber endangered the lives of rescuers by taking a fall.

Any vertical rescue team is well trained in the manner of extraction and they all know damn well how not to become part of the mission. I will not subscribe to any notion that a rescue team will or will not come for a climber requiring aid because of the manner or style in which technical terrain is climbed.

Climbing should not and will not be banned, because it is in our nature as Coloradans & Americans to go out and explore the wild.
By Jason Himick
From: Denver, CO
Mar 8, 2006
Tell me... what do you call a government that makes an activity illegal because of self inflicted injuries?
By Just Solo
From: Colorado Springs
Mar 8, 2006
Hmm, Mark... pretty clueless eh? While your comment is absolutely correct in most situations, the reality is the GOGs has specific rules/laws governing climbing as it is a PARK. This is not any old open space. Given this, the rules of personal responsibility do not apply. The guy was not engaging in an activity that was technically legal in the park, therefore, he should not have been wandering around on the crags in the first place. His fall, depending on location, could indeed put rescue personnel at risk. His stupidity and utter disregard of the known, posted rules/laws of the park put others lives at risk. Simple really.

The unfortunate reality of situations such as these is that the classic bonehead "I'll do what the F- I want" attitude will get areas like this closed. I've seen it on several private prop access ice climbs and other areas where "climbers" disregard owners wishes and the owners summarily ban access, it's only a matter of time before GOGs gets closed for good.

There used to be a day when people got ticketed and fined for scrambling in GOGs, evidently this has changed.

Sorry for the guy that died, it is indeed a tragic thing for his family etc...
From: Eldorado Springs, CO
Mar 9, 2006
In light of the increasing number of restrictions and closures of popular climbing areas, it seems to me that it is important that the climbing community respond to such reports with editorial submissions to the local press, making it clear to the public that these are not the actions of climbers, but are nothing more than irresponsible actions of non-climbers, who have neglected to procure the proper training required to pursue this sport in a relatively safe manner.
By Jeff Barnow
From: Boulder Co
Mar 9, 2006
You live you die and the only thing that matters is what happens in between. To not take a risk could to some mean not ever having lived. I feel more alive when doing things that most people perceive as super dangerous and blatantly risking your life but over my life time I feel as though I have minimized that risk through technology and lived to the fullest. All in all I don't want to die doing these fun and risky endeavors but at the same time I don't want to waste away my life worrying about when it's going to come. If you do what you love to do and it claims you then maybe that was just the way it was supposed to be.
By Buff Johnson
Mar 9, 2006
After thinking on this overnight, I can appreciate everyone's respect for law in mgt of public property when policy is motivated toward environmental conservation. However, I don't believe it's the position of govt to determine the manner in which we set out to climb. I can understand there is a policy against free-soloing at this park, however taking a rack, rope, & harness does not in itself make a technical climber safe; I can go out set 2 pieces and runout the next 40M and not be considered a soloist using this mis-guided definition.

And, I don't believe any of us should think less of someone aspiring to go out on their own and enjoy the sport of climbing. If a climber went out with a party with all the gear in the world and set an inadequate anchor &/or poorly protected a traverse, then issued an on belay command for others to follow, knowing full well the entire party is in jeopardy; then I would agree that this lead climber acted irresponsibly to the team.

I don't appreciate the personal comment made toward me, you don't know me or the efforts I make in climbing conservation, safety education, and recreational enjoyment & exploration. (my apologies to Harold for using language - I'll leave my previous post unedited, I wrote that retort in the heat of my thought; but I believe in my point of view, though I could have worded it more appropriately.)

I don't believe Christian was irresponsible, I believe he lived his last climb in freedom.
By "H" Lampasso
From: Manitou Springs
Mar 9, 2006
Mark... No offense taken. I think discussions such as this bring us all to greater understandings. We should realize that no matter how well prepared a rescue team is or even one of us for that matter, things can happen (Murphy's law). So, the rescuers did indeed put their lives on the line. I never said a rescue team wouldn't go anywhere to rescue someone. I think we have all witnessed (unfortunately) how far these teams will go to rescue people often putting themselves @ great peril.

Mark I agree with you on the fact, (as I am guilty) of running out some spots on climbs. Risk is definitely part of our sport I think we can all agree on that, otherwise what fun would it be?

I still wouldn't really classify this guy as a "climber" (my opinion)as maybe you and I are. My point in starting this discussion was, that when people, let's say the non- climbing general public, go "scrambling" in a place like the Garden where climbing is pretty tightly regulated, and something like this happens it gives climbing a black eye when they label someone like this a climber; giving the powers that be, fuel for the fire. There are people out there that would regulate every aspect our lives leading to a mundane existence at best. (If this guy died happy doing this, maybe we should all be so lucky.)

I know most of the people I have seen rescued there were non-climbers.
Happy and safe climbing to all.
By Just Solo
From: Colorado Springs
Mar 10, 2006

Pointing out a point of view for what it is, is not a personal attack. My point is, you are arguing apples and oranges and making comments regarding and area you seem to not have a clue about...

If this guy did all of the above as you mentioned, then indeed it would have been a sad error and a miscalculation. BUT at least it would have been done within the confines of the rules/laws stated for this particular region. Thus, not tainting the appearance of the climbing community. As we all know, climbing is dangerous to what ever degree we, as individuals, want it to be, barring the above mentioned mishaps.

In this particular case, this guy was not within the realm required for climbing in the park. PERIOD... Most of the people "rescued" in GOGs are not climbers at all. Some dumbA$$ just getting in too deep...
By Umph!
Mar 12, 2006
Speaking of dumbasses getting in too deep. . . .
First, geof, a “plucker” (Search and Rescue) will not be placing his self/life in jeopardy in GOG (and if you think that they will you are clueless). If you’re scrambling/soloing in GOG and fall, you’re pretty much going to end up on the ground, or in an area of easy access (esp. for a heavily rigged S&R). Second, private prop. access issues are a result of a sue-happy society (in most part). Your writing, “his stupidity and utter disregard”, only shows evidence of your own. Were you there? Have you read the complete report already? You sound like the Park Commissioner for the Communist Reform Party. But then, who am I? I disobey many small “laws” during my daily comings and goings. I guess I’m just stupid. . . .
One more point: on your way to the next reform council meeting be sure to stop completely at all signs and lights; not exceed the posted speed limits; wear and/or take your mandated prescriptions; pay the parking meter even if you’re just “going to be a sec”. . . blah, blah, blah. If you don’t, an accident could happen, and then you’d be branded “stupid” by some bonehead commissioner sucking his way up the ranks.

A “scrambler/hiker” is not going to “taint the appearance of the climbing community” - if a technical climber geared to the hilt took a death fall at GOG, then that could taint.
Does a reckless driver taint the appearance of the entire driving community? How about a cheap fighter? A crooked banker? A communist-turned-tyrant? (whoops, that ones a bit touchy).

  • Moderator: I'm not being a "jerk", as per Guideline #1. I'm simply calling it as I see it, as geof would say. Mine are solid points set to contrast geof's, and to stand up to the attacks that the deceased kid took on this post.

(Good points Mark).
By Jeffrey Bauer
Mar 12, 2006
Coming from the springs and spending a good deal of my childhood with red socks and scraped knees from the many ramps and dead ends at GOG, I can apprecieate the urge to explore and revel in the uniqueness of the park. I have never been keen on soloing much but a lot of the time at the park you find yourself in a manky situation where the runout feels more confining than soloing. I chose to get the gear, put in the time and figure out what needed to be done to make sure I came home at night. I have grown up seeing the situations arise with the rangers at the park not ticketing people, people getting stuck, hurt, killed, all because of their own choices. I have seen times at the park when someone chose the wrong time to climb and mistakes happened....dead. The bottom line of this rant is that the only way people won't die at the park is if climbing isn't allowed there. But why stop there?? Why not ban climbing all togethor?? Piss on Laytons achievements and the great trad routes that exist there. Forget about the climbs that still bring back fond memories of such a great place to experience climbing (outside of tourist season). Why not ban all climbing in private areas, open space, forest service, national park, and BLM areas???

I feel sorry for this person's family, but he accepted a level of risk that he was not prepared for. I'm not going to say its admirable for what he was doing, but I can say it was the right thing for him to experience as he chose to. Should he have been there? Technically it's not legal for what he was doing. I do feel that at 22 he may not have been very experienced to judge the consequences of his actions, and, as many have come before him in the same foot steps, he died. It's a travesty, but part of life in climbing. As for me, every time I hear about a local going down, it makes me check my placements tight. Great place to experience, but not worth losing your life over.
By Buff Johnson
Mar 13, 2006
I appreciate that some are willing to say that they believe it's actually a good thing to go out and climb without gov't "guidance".

Talking about a climbing death is the part of climbing I like least. I hope most others will agree with me in the respect.

It's unfortunate that this has to be discussed along with a policy that's misguided, but felt I had to say something because a kid (Christian) was being attacked without any provocation or direct knowledge of the incident, other than a media report using the term "scrambling." The reason why the media used this term was because the GOG has an ordinance stating this specific term; but I don't see the relevance of this policy when established climbs are rated X & R; and scrambling is something I've done many times unroped & exposed. The end result of this policy can cause some (not necessarily related to this post or website) to view a person as less than a valued life; which none of us can do.

There is really nothing in climbing worth dying for. But there is much in climbing that is worth living for.

As far as my experiences in the GOG; I thought some routes were not that great due to poor rock quality (getting the Garbage slurname). But some, like Anaconda, were pretty cool; though I needed help from a stronger lead climber to enjoy it. I've always looked at the Over the Rainbow line but never had done it. New Era & the Drug Wall have some good stuff, too. I've always respected the chalk rule there, and have never tried to hog a route with a TR. I've also talked with passer-byes about some of the nuances of technical climbing, most just shake their heads and move on; I like that it's an area gifted to the public and one that climbers & sightseers can co-exist. One of my brothers was 3rd ACR, so I could skip down there for a visit every now and then.
By Rik Anderson
From: C/S, Colorado/Talkeetna, Alask
Mar 13, 2006
I read through the posts and noticed that a some of you are talking about rules and regs. How he was breaking the law and shouldn't have been up there, being more than 10ft. It's funny to me though that most of the climbers at the Gods break this rule all the time and give no regards to it. For instance, if you want to climb "place in the sun" you need to go up Tourist Gully. How many of us rope up to get to the start of the climb? Zero. After doing "footloose and fancy free", do we rappel down or use ropes, no, we "scramble" down the S. Ridge. looks like most of us don't follow the rules that are set up anyways. Then to complain that a "scrambler" didn't follow the rules. Shame on us. A young man died doing something we all do. There is no need to call him irresponsible, for if that's the case, aren't we all irresponsible.
By Ben White
Mar 14, 2006
Intense philosophical opinions aside, does anybody know Which rock he was climbing on?
Furthermore in response to some prior comments: Somebody did die in the summer of '04 who was fully experienced and was placing plenty of gear. The problem was he placed a #3 cam into a big expanding flake. He took a short fall and the flake indeed expanded. He was somewhere on Three Graces if I recall. Point being, it made a 15 second spot on the evening news before blowing over the next day.
Does anybody know of any other deaths at GOG that have involved the use/misuse of gear? My sense is that the few that exist are hidden and for the most part forgotten. People seem to have little sympathy and, hence, little space in their heads or hearts for deaths that occur as a result of climbing. This seems especially true for "non-climbers" (the ones pointing and staring while you're on Montezuma's) who largely regard climbing as nuts. So much for keeping my philosoophy to myself...
From: Eldorado Springs, CO
Mar 15, 2006
A good number of these posts indicate that we are falling prey to the blame game. This is always a dead-end road. The real issues, in my opinion, are liability, public perception, and access - all being interconnected.

Arguing over whether or not this person was behaving irresponsibly is a moot point. He soloed, fell, and he died. The public at large is going to view this from their limited knowledge of our sport (Is that the sport where you bang spikes into the wall and pull yourself up?).

The fear of falling is one of the very few inherent human fears. Consequently, people who purposely attempt to defy gravity on the walls of this planet will always be viewed by the general public as a bit crazy and irresponsible. After listening to these types of comments from Joe Public, during my thirty years in this sport, I dare any one of you to dispute it.

My point is that when these people are in a position to legislate access laws and/or they own lands on which our coveted cliffs reside, these are the first perceived traits about climbers that they are likely to consider. Therefore, without our making the constant effort to educate the public about the fundamental differences between scramblers and competent climbers, we will, by default, be clumped into the same category. Additionally, we need to make the public aware of the measures that we as a community take to insure that we are and remain responsible for our actions and their outcomes.

As I said in my last post, access issues, combined with the rapid increase of popularity of this sport, are becoming a pervasive concern. This, by its very nature, makes it incumbent upon us to educate the people and groups that have the collective power to restrict our access to the places and recreation that we all love so much.

Make no mistake about it. Increasing population, retiring boomers looking for quiet retirement properties, Bush's land deal agendas, out of control law suits, etc. are making access a front-page issue for climbers.

Forget about the blame argument. It will solve nothing, and the outcome is always: Your opinion vs. my opinion. This does nothing to resolve our concerns about access.

Ken Cangi
By Just Solo
From: Colorado Springs
Mar 15, 2006
Wow Cameron... Got some issues? Do you know the definition of 'argumentum ad hominem'?

If you had actually read my post you would have noticed that I agreed with Mark in both posts. He did indeed make good points. However, IN THIS SITUATION, his points are not valid due to the location of the incident we are discussing.

The simple issue is the guy was in the wrong. Why can't anyone simply accept this fact? He F!CKED UP... doing something he should not have been doing in the first place in this area. The Garden already has a sensitive situation going on with regard to climbing and legislation and if you actually think this fall does not taint the climbing community from the park commission point of view, you are indeed the clueless one...

As far as private property issues are concerned, once again your point of an overly litigious society is actually, incorrect. Perhaps not in all cases... More often than not climbs on private land are closed due climbers not respecting the owners wishes and doing something or, not getting permission to be on the land. We are a rogue breed no doubt about that, but this doesn't mean that we shouldn't respect a land owner to the exclusion of other climbers... Read: Redstone...

To all of the various comments regarding the "pluckers"... Give me a break. Sure, the intent of SAR is to NOT get into a sitution, but things happen and any time a rescue is launched there is a degree of risk to the SAR guys... Been there... done that... It would be nice to live in the fantasy world of SAR not being vulnerable, but sorry man... unfortunate things can and do happen. Thus, this guy potentially put SAR guys in a certain degree of risk. I don't know if the guy made the ground. What if he was 80' up and decked on a ledge? Hmm...

The communist crap is trivial BS. Believe me, I am far from the left...
By Umph!
Mar 17, 2006
One last post, and then geof can continue without me and my issues:

My apologies to the czar. . . .
I wasn’t simply deducing you, I was addressing your VICTIM-BELITTLING, BIG BROTHER-EMBRACING arguments (valid, quasi-ad hominem at worst) – (BTW, reread your own posts and then reopen your philosophy 101 textbook for self-criticism).
geof says: I agreed with Mark in both posts. . . but they aren’t valid. What?!
Again, reread your posts geof. . . . your demeaning verbiage and contradictions are your only consistencies.

Now, try to keep with the logic here:
If falling and dieing “scramblers” tainted the climbing community, then technical climbing would be off-limits, and not scrambling/soloing, as is the case.
Many people have fallen and died at GOG (many more seriously injured), the VAST majority being those NOT tied to a rope. . . again, hence the rules in effect. This is an instance where jurisdictional authorities actually performed some logical reasoning to gain a conclusion: address the physical problem, not the aesthetical one. Technical climbing open, scrambling above 10’ closed - (this means that most bouldering, a true climbing activity, is still lawful). No, you cannot solo to the summit. . . and that about sums up how the climbing community has been effected at the GOG.

Do we, as climbers, need to do our best to follow the rules at micro-managed locales such as GOG? Of course we do – and for the most part, as any good parks commissioner will tell you, we do. . . . Ridiculing and insulting a dead kid doesn’t help your cause geof, it simply marks you as an asshole (IMO).

Pluckers: “Been there. . .done that. . .” Neat geof. Have you done that at the GOG?
I have - I carried a dead scrambler out from behind Sleeping Indian back in the early 90’s. The newspaper report noted, as I recall, that he was scrambling (or maybe it said hiking) with friends, got dizzy, and fell. . . I’m most certain that it did not say “climber”.
Also, if Christian fell more than 100’ to his death (as the paper noted), then one can logically surmise a ground fall, or close enough for an easy p/u.

Private property access (of which you continue to prove your ignorance):
Every - (less 2 that I recall, who, understandably, “don’t want anyone on my fuckin’ land!”) - private property owner I have contacted (approx. 40 or so throughout the western states, and 2 of them within the last 3 months here in CO), have told me that their unwillingness to allow climbers on their rocks, or mtb’rs on their “trails”, was due to the fear of a lawsuit. Climnbing is viewed as a very dangerous activity; this, along with a sue-happy society, keeps landowners from allowing climbing access.
Same goes with some Access Fund issues I have been directly involved with, and others I have closely followed. Access issues are more often due to an overly litigious society than of "rogue climbers" breaking the rules. (My personal stats are extremely strong – do you have anything to support your opinions, other than to call me clueless (ad hominen, geof)).

Lincoln Falls (my least favorite place to climb) has issues of its own, but as I understand, it’s due to trash and misuse, and protection of a water supply. Get on those people geof, if you feel the need to attack something. . . .

Yes, the communist crap is trivial, but entertaining. . .and what does the “left” have to do with it?? Ignoratio. . . .

Ken Cangi made some good points (re: first post): send in letters to the editors. That’s a great way to contrast the limited discourse provided by the columnist – if at the least it may refocus the editors thoughts/interpretations when covering the next “scrambler” accident.
By Scott Edlin
From: boulder, co
Mar 17, 2006
Well put, Ken.
By Just Solo
From: Colorado Springs
Mar 17, 2006
Ok, Cameron, master of all... I will acquiesce and withdraw all comments... attempting a debate with one such as yourself is, at best, tiresome... I bow to thee....

Also, if pointing out the unfortunate demise of the victim was the result of a stupid, illegal act, deems me an asshole... I accept this as well.
By Ryan Garner
Mar 27, 2006
This comment is directed towards Mark Nelson and the rest on the board who seem to not understand why the climber's actions were irresponsible. First of all, I want to say that I too have broken rules in the past, and was lucky enough to learn from my mistakes and not die from them. That being said, what makes this incident irresponsible is that the rules at the Garden of the Gods strictly forbid "scrambling." There are plenty of places in Colorado that would have given him the freedom to climb without those rules. I feel bad for the guy but he was blatantly breaking the rules of the park by climbing without a rope. That in itself is irresponsible and just takes us one step closer to getting climbing banned in the park for good. You must also register at the Visitor's Center before climbing which he did not do. If he would have been climbing anywhere else the consequences of his actions would have been "his" and "his" only, but the fact that he was breaking the rules of the park makes all of us look bad and affects other people who use the park. It would be the same thing if I were to go over to Keystone, jump the rope, and die in an avalanche. Then ski patrol has to come out there, put themselves in danger, just to search for me. That is irresponsible and against the rules. The ropes are there to keep people safe, not take away our freedom. I have the freedom to go out in the backcountry on my own if I want to. And if I die in an avalanche that would just be the consequences of my actions for not having the proper gear.
By Buff Johnson
Mar 27, 2006
Well, ok then & since I've been addressed as the leader of the rebellion - I'll respond.

If I go to Keystone, hike up the mountain, go under the rope, ski down, and trigger a slide that effects a rescue response - whether or not I get killed, I'm irresponsible. I would argue that I'm not. Ski mountaineering is completely acceptable in this state - as long as I don't use the ski area facilities (ski lift) - I'm just out enjoying my public forest.

Whether or not I trigger a slide on a mountain is not a matter of responsibility either because, I didn't put the snow on the mountain, or cause the many other variables inherent for an avalanche, other than just being on a public mountain. Also, the area ski patrol will not have authority to extract me in this situation; that would fall to an MRA team from the county sheriff (for which the MRA will neither assign responsibility nor charge for rescue service - this is both for liability protection & to keep freedom in our hills). However, knowing that a rescue has been effected to extract me and I try to hide from the rescue team - I'd call that irresponsible.

But, we are talking about an issue that is not closely related to the climbing incident. What I offer is that irregardless of the manner of climbing style and/or protection used, climbers ought not to be regulated or held to any standard as long as those actions are self-assumed, and those actions are not adverse to either environmental conservation or public (general) safety.

Again, I offer the same argument as to gear usage; I can protect the first 20' in a climb, then runout the next 40M and not be considered a soloist. Keep in mind that this park does have established R and X routes. So gear usage would only end up protecting a seconding climber from a serious fall.

Therefore, such a policy is over-reaching & mis-guided as to regulating recreational use in this state, and the fact that some climbers are not willing to accept that scrambling, running out pitches, free soloing are not bad for the sport of climbing; then this attitude & lack of acceptance becomes more of the problem to access than someone engaging themselves in the sport of climbing.

I see what happened in this incident as an acceptance of personal risk for the enjoyment of the sport of climbing - whether this occurs on a mountain or a city park; or whether or not the person took years of guided technical apprenticeship or just went out after a day of school in some sneakers with some of his friends; should not make a difference in Colorado.

I don't see climbing becoming banned at this park, this is not the first death here attributed to a climbing incident and there is a great deal of support that favors the sport of climbing as well as history. If climbing does become banned here, this will be due to the lack of interest shown in the climbing community to the park administrators, environmental conservation, or danger to the general public; but not the manner of climbing style.

So, I wouldn't say that we don't understand the issues involved. It's that we don't understand why some are regarding themselves to judge the character of a climber without knowing the person or being directly involved with the incident; or regarding what the real effect will be when it comes to govt policy dictating how a recreational use is to be enjoyed when our state lawmakers have already mandated such as acceptable behavior befitting of Colorado.
By Umph!
Mar 28, 2006
As per fact, there have been many, MANY serious injuries, and fatalities at GOG, and climbers haven't been banned, nor will they be (IMNSHO).
Ryan, I'm not sure why you entitled Christian as a "climber". From the words I've read, he was a college student out with friends hiking/tripping/picnicking/skipping at the GOG, and he decided to do a little scramblin', (which proved to be fatal). Maybe you knew him, but you didn't mention that so I'll assume you didn't.

Hikers get warnings and sometimes tickets at GOG for scrambling above 10'. The park admin. understands this better than any of us. That is why they have banned scrambling in general (again, above 10').
It's the hikers and tourists that are most at risk at GOG:
A) many rocks are easy to start up - just start walking in some cases;
B) inexperience creates accidents.
When an inexperienced person starts scrambling around on rock, they may soon find themselves farther from the ground than they wanted/intended. Oftentimes panic grips their nerves, so they sweat and shake. . . and slip. This is the base for the VAST majority of accidents at GOG - and the park knows this all too well.

So, don't call scramblers "climbers" - you sound like the editors at the local papers; and certainly this won't help to keep these two park users separate, in classification. I think that this is what we should focus on: keeping climbers as a distinct group of experienced, safe park users whose accident reports are fewer than any other park user (if you break a limb don't tell anyone you did it at GOG!!). And, to ensure the park admin. and the local reporters understand this as well.

Quite honestly I didn’t follow the Keystone comparison. A “non-registered” hiker at GOG, who (probably unwittingly, though you may, like geof, believe that his was blatant, premeditated lawbreaking) scrambled up some rock and then fell to his death. . . well, really it hasn’t anything to do with a paid, “registered” skier ducking under an OB rope (that’d certainly be premeditated) and causing an avalanche into which he is taken. (Moreover, Keystone is private property, GOG is not). Besides Ryan, people die all the time with the proper gear. But again, Christian didn’t have any gear – nada (not even a chalk bag). . . .

Okay, I may piss some people off (again) in my closing:
I don’t believe that laws and restrictions of this kind lend any benefit to the tax payers who own these lands. (I’m not a smoker, but feel the same way about prohibiting private establishments from allowing smoking in their joints. . . and all such oppressive laws).
If I want to break my ass on a rock climb that I pay my hard earned money to keep public, and out of the hands of the developers, then so be it!
We need to keep ourselves separated, distinct, from other Joe-taxpayers. . . to ensure that THEY (big brother) understand that we know how to handle ourselves and our addictions (climbing, etc.). If we all get lumped under the same “user” category, then we’ll all PAY the same user price(s). . . . (Of course I’m referring to laws where others aren’t directly affected; i.e., soloing on rock, or smoking regurgitated hairballs dipped in tar and laced with fescue, from a 10’ hooka, in an establishment that allows such activity).
Point is, we are climbers, and need to keep that distinction, esp. in micro-managed areas such as the GOG.
In all honesty I couldn’t give a shit about climbing closures at GOG – I don’t like climbing there (I feel like an ape at the zoo, what with all the gawking, cackling tourists). However, this is good practice (debate) for other multi-use areas that can and do entertain similar, if not identical issues.

God Bless ya Christian – you had a drive that I can certainly relate to.
By Buff Johnson
Mar 28, 2006
An item I saw in two posts (which doesn't directly relate to this topic - but both posts are on opposite positions in these comments, addressing use of public property) Keystone is Arapaho Nat'l Forest, it's not private property.

However, the area operator maintains a lease to use the area so that people can enjoy the skiing. What makes this different from just going out to the backcountry doing some ski mountaineering is purchasing a ticket & using the ski lift. What is termed "skiing out of bounds" is related to this use.

Anyone can go climb a mountain and ski down wherever they please on public forest lands and not be an irresponsible recreational user (so long as the USFS has not closed use - this may also relate to operation hours & to public safety concerns - I want to look into this a little bit as to rec use permissable by the USFS..) - but my point was that the ski patrol of a certain area does not have oversight in this instance. This should go to the county sheriff for determination - which may just be to have an officer sit at the bottom of the run to talk with the individuals who may have done nothing illegal.

Also, found an article from Summit Daily - which looks to me that during hours of operation of a ski area, that access to USFS land (backcountry) could have restricted use:

Again, this doesn't directly relate to this post.

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