Sunday, February 24, 2013

Camelback Mountain's Praying Monk Christmas Garbage & Other Camelback Trash

Merry Trashmas

Someone put up another Christmas Tree on the Praying Monk this year. This time it didn't work out so well.

I'm no longer mentioning names, but they wrote about it online:

"Somebody cut the lines it was rigged with, tossed the tree off the Monk, and took the gear that I anchored it with. The tree was broken into little bits, and was very difficult to carry down. "

Coincidentally, I noticed Christmas garbage strewn all over the Praying Monk plateau during two separate scrambling sessions in January. The people who put the tree up in the first place are responsible for the trash, even if "somebody" else cut the tree down.

The tree was gone during my climbahikes, but broken and intact ornaments could be seen scattered around the Monk's base. (I didn't pick them up, having no pockets or a bag to put them in, but I'll get them eventually if no one else does.)

Several gear tags were lying around. Hundreds of tiny, green pine tree needles were littering the chute leading from the plateau to Rappel Gully. They appear to be plastic and not biodegradable -- if so, they'll be up there for quite a while, mixed with the gravel. Annoying.

For years, I've also been bugged by the goofballs who decorate the top of Camelback Mountain with holiday decorations and a Christmas Tree each holiday season. I've noticed holiday litter at the summit in past years, too.

If you feel compelled to spread Christmas cheer to every mountaintop, literally, ask yourself if Jesus would want you to celebrate his birthday by trashing one of the few natural areas in the city.

Climbing Litter

Now, when I see an empty Gatorade bottle or crumpled snot-rag or other trash along Echo Canyon or Cholla trails, it's expected because of the sheer number of people on Camelback Mountain. The mountain is usually quite clean, but it only takes one litterbug out of every 10,000 hikers to make a mess. Very few people, relatively, scamper up the Headwall to the Monk plateau. So when I see garbage up there, it's more disappointing because it means that a much smaller proportion of the climbing population than hiker population is littering. Yet climbers, in my humble opinion, should be much better stewards of the land than average hikers. They visit more pristine, sensitive areas, and they should know those areas are less likely to ever be cleaned up by anyone, being more difficult to access and to move and up and down the slopes and cliffs with trash bags.

Most climbers believe strongly in self-reliance, and this ethic extends to the idea that you pack out all trash, barring some good reason not to. This applies to old webbing and other climbing-specific trash. Yes, climbers may leave webbing tied around boulders or trees after using it as a rappel anchor. That's not littering -- it's survival, and not the same thing as leaving sliced, sun-decayed webbing lying at the base of a popular climb.

More annoyances

Next, an example of Camelback graffiti. Fortunately, this sort of thing doesn't appear on the rocks as frequently as it could. Phoenix doesn't have an excessive graffiti problem in general. If I had to guess, I'd say "SL" stands for S*%^ Licker:

The Ultimate Garbage Sin

Finally, I must bring up the trashy act that makes me more furious than any other: Leaving dog poop on the side of the trail in a tied-up plastic bag. I mentioned this in a previous post but it's worth talking about again because so many people do it. I come across these poop bags on the trail once every two or three times up the mountain, and sometimes see two on the same day, in different types of bags, meaning more than one of these boors had been there. I've never caught anyone doing it, but would certainly say something if I did.

The poop-bag method is even more annoying to me than the idea of dogs pooping freely on the ground. While it's possible that some of the poop-heads who do this plan on picking up the bag on their way down from the mountain, most clearly don't. They leave it there, believing falsely that if they have housekeepers, groundskeepers and janitors at their beck and call, so does Camelback Mountain.

Last time at the mountain, a couple of weeks before the Echo Canyon closure, I talked to a ranger about this strange and obnoxious behavior.

"Hey, thanks so much for the service you guys provide -- picking up all those little bags of dog poop that people leave," I said with a smirk.

She got my drift right away and she snarled, "Oh, there's no service! They think there's a service, but there isn't. I don't pick them up!"

"I know! What is wrong with those people?"

"Actually, I do pick up the bags, sometimes," she confessed. "But only when I'm positive that no one is around, so no one sees me do it. Otherwise, they'll think there really is a service."

Listen up, poop-baggers: Do NOT leave your animal's crap on the trail, even for a minute. If you have a plastic bag, that's wonderful -- take it with you, whether you're hiking down or are still on your way up. There is no valid excuse for doing otherwise.

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