For those who arent aware, there’s been an entertaining thread over on MountainProject.com, where a video was posted of a guy who was stealing draws off routes at Smith Rock. They caught him in the act and the ensuing confrontation is pretty comedic. Of course, from there the forum degenerates into debates about fixed draws and pinkpoint vs redpoint, blah blah blah. Here is our esteemed contributor Chris Kalous’ take on the whole matter:
First of all, why haven’t all the aid climbers disappeared into the tar pits by now like dinosaurs. This is what happens when you let them just roam free.
Second, this sounds like a bunch of kids trying to hammer out the rules to kick the can or something. Only children want ethics to be black and white, no negotiation, what works here and now will work everywhere and always. The only real rule is don’t be an asshole. As such I offer up the following guidelines:
This guy stealing draws: asshole.
Aiding up any free route that is too hard for you just to take gear: asshole, no, I take that back, just sad and lonely
Taking a skanky draw that is a few bolts up and obviously a bail-off: not an asshole.
Pulling bolts, hangers, or chains off a route: asshole
Pulling bolts and hangers off a piece of shite that the community has decided is a waste of space and an eye-sore: not an asshole
Leaving draws up on yer project (regardless of the grade) at a sport area: not an asshole
Leaving unsightly pre-placed gear or ropes up at a known trad area: asshole
Leaving pre-placed gear up on a your new route that is in the middle of nowhere while you work it: not an asshole
Fixed mini-traxion ropes left on classic or popular routes: asshole
Mini-traxion ropes left out of clear site on the Amazing Obscuro Dome: well, actually, you are still probably an asshole and need to find some friends.
Leaving up fixed ropes for your personal photograper/videographer: professional asshole
Leaving behind fixed ropes in an emergency or accident: not an asshole (but you oughta try and go get them)
Pulling obviously abandoned and rotten and dangerous draws (because you live there and have talked with anyone who would know and have been looking at them for 5 years) off a route: not an asshole
Threading a fixed anchor that has biners so you can take them or pulling all but one piece out of a fixed anchor: asshole (and idiot)
Finding half somebody’s rack strung out on a pitch after a rain storm and NOT making an effort to post a note or talk to the local shop, etc.: asshole
Keeping said rack after a reasonable and satisfying attempt by you to find the defendant: not an asshole
Lying to the face of said party about having gear or refusing to return it: greedy asshole in need of a beating
Pulling an unknown bail anchor: not an asshole
Pulling an unknown piece that somebody stuck: not an asshole
Pulling a piece that a party above you left and NOT offering it back at the next common belay or back in camp: asshole
Pulling a piece that belongs to somebody you know (even barely, even if you don’t like him/her) and not offering it back at your convenience: asshole (this one will get a “yeah, but…”, but, sorry, you are an asshole)
Doing anything that in yer gut makes you feel like a dick: well?
If in your next breathe you have to start some convoluted defense of your actions: hmmm?
But, sometimes doing what you want may require you to be an asshole. New routing tactics, for example, often infringe on others in many ways. Accept it, minimize it, and if somebody confronts you don’t launch into a tirade about how rad you are and what a gumby he is. Instead, apologize, explain why its necessary, and how you will do this or that to make it right. A decent person sprouts from the ashes of an asshole.
Just do the right thing. You don’t need an ethics manual rolled up in your back pocket to check. We have all crossed the asshole line, and gleefully pulled so and so’s stuck gear while mumbling “gumby” under our breathe, but was that junky cam worth our fleeting ego trip? What makes you feel better is “Hey, slim, I managed to get yer cam out of Sicky-GnarGnar up on the Gargantua, want it back?” He or she might say no anyway.
And if fixed draws bum you out, so should bolts, and so don’t go sport climbing (you are also gonna need a time machine). Luckily for you, Eldo awaits… just try to ignore all the tat hanging off the fixed pins and slung horns and trees…
Finally, the golden circle, be cool to those you meet out there, they just might be pulling traction on yer broken femur a few minutes later while you wail like, well, an asshole.
You might remember Chris from such films as the Aid Climbing Rant, and How to Raise Your Children to Be Free Climbers. He’s got a top secret project in the works that will soon be bringing joy and entertainment to climbers all over the world, stay tuned.