A Delicate Situation
May 9, 2006 9:14 AM   Subscribe

"What has our world come to if we cannot join nature by climbing one of nature's most beautiful features?" asks Dean Potter after he free-climbs Utah's Delicate Arch and pisses off the Park Service. Again.
posted by mr_crash_davis (87 comments total)

 
What an asshole...
posted by HuronBob at 9:17 AM on May 9, 2006


Uh, okay? Is the arch likely to fall over if he climbs it?
posted by delmoi at 9:23 AM on May 9, 2006


Oh noes, he climbed a big rock! Seriously, just fine him and let it be done with. Climbing afficonados will always be looking out for a challenge, and I don't see any reason to stop them. I wish I could have stood on top of that arch, I bet the view is spectacular.
posted by Vindaloo at 9:25 AM on May 9, 2006


Sure. Let them climb it. Your grandchildren don't need DELICATE arches anymore than they need glaciers.
posted by urlnotfound at 9:27 AM on May 9, 2006


"What has our world come to if we cannot join nature by climbing one of nature's most beautiful features?"

Try saying that as they drag you out of Elle McPherson's house in handcuffs.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:36 AM on May 9, 2006 [2 favorites]


Patagonia's publicity department initially alerted the media to Potter's ascent, but indicated it may back off on further promotions after learning that Potter may have broken park service regulations.

So he tromps all over an arch illegally, causing an unavoidable small amount of damage and encouraging others to do the same... and he does it as a representative of a clothing company that cultivates a back-to-nature image. Fan-bloody-tastic.

Maybe I can get Nike to pay me to jaywalk while jogging, or Budweiser to pay me for violating open-container laws....
posted by gurple at 9:37 AM on May 9, 2006


George_Spiggot wins!
posted by gurple at 9:37 AM on May 9, 2006


One of the problems with the attraction of climbers to named
features is the erosion and abrasion that takes place at the
bottom of the feature, to say nothing of the erosion that
occurs on the actual rock face. In areas with soil, this erosion
is often severe.
Small flakes that have not yet been torn off by wind and rain
and frost wedging are scoured clean of the rock by great
apes weighing a hundred pounds or more. Also, there is
the abrasion of the rock surface. In the desert, a dark stain
appears on rock faces, proportional to the time that they
have been exposed to the elements. Boots and hands scour
this dark glaze off, exposing the paler stone underneath.
Chalk is left on the rock, from the climbers hands.
Rock faces that are frequently climbed take on a different
appearance than rock faces that aren't.
posted by the Real Dan at 9:40 AM on May 9, 2006


Patagoniacs suck.
posted by JekPorkins at 9:46 AM on May 9, 2006


I can only reiterate HuronBob. What an asshole, indeed.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:53 AM on May 9, 2006


Why can't we do everything we'd like to?
posted by basicchannel at 9:55 AM on May 9, 2006


What an * .
posted by R. Mutt at 10:00 AM on May 9, 2006


I want to know what he rated it.

Considering the well-beaten path to Delicate Arch and the hordes of tourists that hike out to it every summer, any claims of 'protecting natural features' are disingenuous.

I think there are two legitimate reasons for the NPS not to allow climbing on Delicate Arch:

- keeping climbers from ruining the view of the arch for everyone else

- keeping inexperienced gumpys from trying to climb it and hurting themselves.

They should just fine him and warn other people not to do it. But it's still cool.
posted by driveler at 10:02 AM on May 9, 2006


I say let them do it... without ropes or chalk. By natural selection in a million years we'll be a fricken glass wall scaling freaks.

But, in all seriousness, what an asshole.
posted by edgeways at 10:08 AM on May 9, 2006


What HuronBob said.
posted by notsnot at 10:08 AM on May 9, 2006


What has our world come to if we cannot break things by climbing one of nature's most beautiful features to feed our selfish urges? Why can't I buy a burger right under the arch? Why can't I drive my Mummer under it? Why can't I carve my name into it? Why can't I take a dump right on top? Why can't I tear it down and rebuild it in my backyard?

I spend a lot of time in our national parks, and I've seen a lot of beautiful things permanently ruined by assholes who can't resist the urge to tag something. One problem I have with American law is that it doesn't allow for fucktards like this to be beaten with clubs. It's real easy to experience nature without putting it at risk. Especially in National Parks.

The thing you are constantly in awe of at Arches National Park is that you need to see it now because it's so ridiculously fragile that you can't believe it's still standing. Having morons climb all over it is such an obvious bad idea that anyone claiming they did this for love of nature should be spit on.

Perhaps Mr Dean "I'll do what I want" Potter can tell us how wonderful it is that Anasazi rock art all over the southwest has been scratched up so that we'll know "Bob was here".

I seriously hope this fucker falls from something very high onto something very hard.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:10 AM on May 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


Considering the well-beaten path to Delicate Arch and the hordes of tourists that hike out to it every summer, any claims of 'protecting natural features' are disingenuous.

There's a well beaten path to see the arch, so that somehow justifies beating up the arch, too?

There are highways leading to Yosemite. I guess that means that any attempt at protecting Yosemite's natural features is disingenuous, and anyone who wants to develop that land should be allowed to. Right?
posted by JekPorkins at 10:11 AM on May 9, 2006


..and, on preview, a lot of other people said.
posted by notsnot at 10:11 AM on May 9, 2006


Considering the well-beaten path to Delicate Arch and the hordes of tourists that hike out to it every summer, any claims of 'protecting natural features' are disingenuous.

While Delicate Arch is actually probably fairly substantial, the path to the arch is considerably less delicate than the arch itself. I'd daresay that if every person who'd walked to it had also walked over it, there'd definitely be significant signs of impact.

- keeping climbers from ruining the view of the arch for everyone else
- keeping inexperienced gumpys from trying to climb it and hurting themselves.

Also good points.
posted by weston at 10:13 AM on May 9, 2006


Metafilter: Why can't I take a dump right on top?
posted by basicchannel at 10:13 AM on May 9, 2006


I seriously hope this fucker falls from something very high onto something very hard.


I found myself wishing the same thing.
posted by agregoli at 10:14 AM on May 9, 2006


There are highways leading to Yosemite. I guess that means that any attempt at protecting Yosemite's natural features is disingenuous, and anyone who wants to develop that land should be allowed to. Right?

The most distinctive features of Yosemite National Park, El Capitan and Half Dome, are climbed all the time.
posted by driveler at 10:15 AM on May 9, 2006


Don't know driveler, I think there is a big difference between going to see it and climbing it.
If you mean in-general erosion of the surrounding area, I kind of agree with what you are saying, but there is a difference between erosion of something like a trail and something that is fairly unique. So, I don't see the 'protecting natural features' claim as disingenuous.
posted by edgeways at 10:16 AM on May 9, 2006


Climbers have enough access problems as it is... idiots like this is why some places are closed for climbing.

So he got to do an amazing climb, but next time access to a crag becomes an issue his actions will make it that much harder to convince people that climbers aren't all assholes.

What a selfish idiot.
posted by skaffen42 at 10:17 AM on May 9, 2006


I wish I could have stood on top of that arch, I bet the view is spectacular.

Also... I'm not sure the view would be that much more spectacular than it is beside the arch, or that different from atop a few nearby features which would presumably draw less ire.

The really unique arches is always getting under them and seeing the highly unusual view of sky, rock, sky.

On top of them, it's not particularly different from being atop any other rock formation.
posted by weston at 10:18 AM on May 9, 2006


Well, if anybody could and would do this it's Dean Potter. This guy made a big splash in the climbing world about 10-12 years ago when he put up a new 5.13, on sight and solo. What this means is that he'd never seen or climbed this piece of cliff-face before, he climbed it without a rope to catch him if he fell, and rated 5.13 it's incredibly hard to climb. This is a singular acheivement in climbing, and his track record since then shows it was no fluke - he's in the climbing press on like a monthly basis, breaking speed-climbing records in Yosemite, putting up insanely hard lines in Patagonia, you name it. He's an incredibly strong and talented climber, and he has Colbert-sized cojones.

So I can understand that he had to do it, and I don't think doing this alone makes him an asshole (though he might well be), but I would acknowledge that there are perhaps things you just shouldn't climb, if for no other reason but that you're going to encourage hordes of lesser climbers to do it too.

And that final statement could have come right out of 'Grizzly Man'. Dean, 'nature' doesn't care if you join it or not. Nature just is. Rocks just sit there.
posted by Flashman at 10:18 AM on May 9, 2006


"The most distinctive features of Yosemite National Park, El Capitan and Half Dome, are climbed all the time."

Have you even seen these things you're talking about? You're seriously going to compare Delicate Arch to Half-dome? Seriously? El Capitan is *the side of a valley*.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:20 AM on May 9, 2006


While Delicate Arch is actually probably fairly substantial, the path to the arch is considerably less delicate than the arch itself.

Actually the path to the arch probably was extremely delicate once, but the damage there has been done. Don't bust the crust.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:21 AM on May 9, 2006


That arch looks like a handsfree goatse to me. The internets have ruined me.
posted by srboisvert at 10:28 AM on May 9, 2006


This urge to climb is just another expression of the will to dominate nature that also gives us the Hummer, right down to the "fuck off" attitude.
posted by Rumple at 10:39 AM on May 9, 2006


The most distinctive features of Yosemite National Park, El Capitan and Half Dome, are climbed all the time.

driveler, El Capitan and Half Dome are not nearly as 'delicate' as the Delicate Arch. Or can you just not tell the difference?
posted by NationalKato at 10:47 AM on May 9, 2006


The most distinctive features of Yosemite National Park, El Capitan and Half Dome, are climbed all the time.

But, in the spirit of your previous post, isn't it disingenuous of the park service not to build elevators up the face of Half Dome and El Capitan?
posted by JekPorkins at 10:48 AM on May 9, 2006


I'm pissed. Open letter I sent to Patagonia. I encourage others to do likewise.

"I recently read an article about how your "climbing ambassador" Dean Potter was putting one of America's natural wonders at risk. Why are you allowing this person to represent your company?

http://www.sltrib.com/ci_3800468

This article prompted me to do some research on Mr Potter and I found many examples of him putting his own bragging rights ahead of our natural treasures.

What has our world come to if we cannot break things by climbing one of nature's most beautiful features to feed our selfish urges? Why can't I buy a burger right under the arch? Why can't I drive my Mummer under it? Why can't I carve my name into it? Why can't I take a dump right on top? Why can't I tear it down and rebuild it in my backyard?

I spend a lot of time in our national parks, and I've seen a lot of beautiful things permanently ruined by assholes who can't resist the urge to tag something. It's real easy to experience nature without putting it at risk. Especially in National Parks.

The thing you are constantly in awe of at Arches National Park is that you need to see it now because it's so ridiculously fragile you can't believe it's still standing. Much of it could literally fall down at any time. Having morons climb all over it is such an obvious bad idea that anyone claiming they did this for love of nature should be spit on.

Perhaps Mr Dean "I'll do what I want" Potter can tell us how wonderful it is that Anasazi rock art all over the southwest has been scratched up so that we'll know "Bob was here".

As long as Mr Potter is associated with your company my wife and I will be avoiding your fine products. We spend as much time as possible traveling around the west and we've purchased many Patagonia products over the years. Please reconsider your endorsement of this individual. He clearly (by his words and deeds) has a willful disdain for the work our Park Service is doing to protect nature. By endorsing him you send a message that bragging rights are more important than our nation's natural wonders."

posted by y6y6y6 at 10:56 AM on May 9, 2006


But, in the spirit of your previous post, isn't it disingenuous of the park service not to build elevators up the face of Half Dome and El Capitan?

Quite right. Why is it that lithe, skilled athletic types should monopolize all the great views?

I want a ramp building, so that my battery-driven obesity trolley can trundle up there as well. They let us roll around Disneyland unmolested, why shouldn't we be able to roll on up to the top of Delicate Arch as well?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:59 AM on May 9, 2006


Rumple said: This urge to climb is just another expression of the will to dominate nature that also gives us the Hummer, right down to the "fuck off" attitude.

Um, what? Have you ever been rock climbing? I've never climbed a rock to dominate it. I've never felt in control of the rock after climbing it. And I seriously doubt anyone climbs for the reason you claim. Your assertion is nonsense.

If there is any power trip involved in climbing its over your own will.
posted by effwerd at 11:19 AM on May 9, 2006


I have real mixed feelings on this. On one hand, Potter is an athletic uber-jerk who thinks that he can do something gives him the right to do that thing.

On the other, I hate the goddamned National Park Service. To the government drones of the NPS, tourists (they call them visitors) like the parks themselves, are something to be managed as closely as possible. Bar people from going as many places as you can and require a permit for the rest. And pretend it is to "protect" the "wilderness" rather than to bureaucratically justify your job. Want to hike in the little-visited backcountry of the Cascades? You'll need to get a permit in advance, specifying how many days you'll be out and exactly where you will camp each night. Not to mention the cozy NPS deals with the politically-connected developers who run the profitable concessions in every park (and usually the park itself) or the ongoing Park Service desire to pave and harden every surface on which human feet might trod.

The Park Service is the single greatest threat to our National Parks. And it is great to see Potter poke his thumb in their bureaucratic eye.
posted by LarryC at 11:25 AM on May 9, 2006


The ones that have to be rescued from the highlands because they misunderstood the word 'snowstorm' really piss me off.
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:30 AM on May 9, 2006


If there is any power trip involved in climbing its over your own will.

Right. But if you are allowing your involvement with your own will (i.e. you) to overwhelm the concern one might feel for the damage you are doing, then you are unable to see outside yourself. You are what the french call 'nombrilistic' but we english speakers simply designate 'An Asshole.'
posted by lumpenprole at 11:31 AM on May 9, 2006


The guy climbed a rock, and some of you would be happy if he died? Talk about an overreaction.
posted by jsonic at 11:45 AM on May 9, 2006


I like climbing, and I also think Dean Potter is a meathead.
posted by everichon at 11:48 AM on May 9, 2006


The Park Service is the single greatest threat to our National Parks.

I don't think so.
posted by NationalKato at 11:49 AM on May 9, 2006


Considering the well-beaten path to Delicate Arch and the hordes of tourists that hike out to it every summer, any claims of 'protecting natural features' are disingenuous.
posted by driveler


The purpose of well-beaten paths in national parks is to concentrate most of the environmental damage in a small area that can be repaired and maintained, and to minimize damage of the more delicate areas.
posted by Happy Monkey at 12:03 PM on May 9, 2006


One time Dean Potter helped me free my stuck truck from the Camp 4 parking lot in Yosemite. He's a nice guy in my book, and far from an uber-jerk athlete. I've spent a fair amount of time climbing in Arches. As a matter of fact it's one of my favorite places in the entire world. Of all the time I've spent climbing in Arches I think I've probably seen three other parties. Climber impact in the national parks is minimal compared to massive superhighways that allow gargantuan motor homes to plow through the parks so fatty Americans can see the wonders of nature from the comfort of their plush seats. Have you ever been to Yosemite? During peak season? It's a zoo complete with hundreds of motor homes thousands and thousands of people, a bunch of restaurants, privatization, a few hotels, a gift shop, even a jail. It is disgusting. Have you ever sat in El Cap meadow and stared for a while? Ever wonder where all the trees that should have been in the meadow went? Bitching about Dean is lame. You'll still be able to enjoy the wonders of arches from the air conditioned comfort of your automobile. If you're adventurous maybe even from one of the many paved handicap accessible walkways, regardless of whether he climbed the arch or not. Be sure to buy a souvenir at the gift shop on the way out.
posted by alpinist at 12:07 PM on May 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


I want to drive y6y6y6's Mummer.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:10 PM on May 9, 2006


alpinist is t3h 1337.
posted by everichon at 12:11 PM on May 9, 2006


What is t3h 1337? Am I being made fun of in nerd?
posted by alpinist at 12:17 PM on May 9, 2006


Rumple said: This urge to climb is just another expression of the will to dominate nature that also gives us the Hummer, right down to the "fuck off" attitude.

Respectively, Rumple, screw you. If this is your opinion of rock climbing, I presume you've never met a climber and are extrapolating from one news story you've read about one climber. I hope your self-satisfied swagger as you left the thread didn't cause you any whiplash.

I am, all at once, a rock climber, I love reading about Dean Potter's climbs, AND I disapprove of this one. OMGWTF - a complex belief network that yet is internally consistent.

Delicate Arch probably didn't need to be climbed, and although I'm sure his free solo didn't harm the rock too much, the harm he did to the already strained tensions between the NPS and rock climbers everywhere probably didn't need the beating it took at his hands.
posted by Inkoate at 12:40 PM on May 9, 2006


[George Bush] is the single greatest threat to our National Parks.

There, fixed it for you.

Oh, and I hope Dean Potter lands on his head.
posted by nlindstrom at 12:56 PM on May 9, 2006


Uh, respectively, Inkoate, you presume wrong. I know a lot of rock climbers, I work a lot in National Parks (not USian), and I am very familiar with the good and bad side of rock climbing - especially at it pertains to National Park and other protected areas. The sense of entitlement that pervades these people when directed where they can and cannot pursue their hobby is startling. OMGWTF - someone knowledgeable who disagrees with you!?

And, what nlindstrom just said.
posted by Rumple at 1:06 PM on May 9, 2006


alpinist - Americans are fat. So Dean Potter can climb Delicate Arch all he wants. Because fat people are fat.

Got it. Thanks.

I've spent a lot of time hiking in the mountains in and around Yosemite. When I was a kid my family used to camp there 3 months out of the year. I'm pretty familiar with the peak season crowds as well. Here's what I know for a fact - if you even try a tiny bit you'll have no problem hiking in Yosemite without seeing crowds. And if you make a serious effort you can get to fantastic areas where you won't see anyone.

The NPS is not on my list of great heroic nature advocates. But they do a great job of keeping the crowds from screwing thing up the way they would if they were just free to do whatever they wanted.

Mr Potter doesn't like that. He should be able to do what he wants. Because he's not fat. Well fuck Mr Potter. The NPS at least tries. If Mr Potter wanted to make such an effort he would embrace the ideal that you don't climb protected artifacts just because you want to.

Mr Potter isn't a special non-fat person who gets the privilege of knowing better than everyone else.

And as a former distance runner who is now fat, and still hikes, I love our parks and wilderness. I make an effort to not screw it up for generations hundreds of years from now. But for Mr Potter it's all about him, and what he can experience. He wants it, so he takes it.

Someone with character would have wanted it but then turned his back and walked away. And of course many have. Many great climbers (and fat idiots) have gone to the arch, wanted to climb it, but then left it alone. Those people get my respect over Mr Potter.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:07 PM on May 9, 2006


I prefer to think that 'someone with charcater- would have climbed it and just kept it to him or her self.
My guess is that Potter didn't think it would be such a big deal. Maybe it isn't.
posted by Flashman at 1:29 PM on May 9, 2006


What is t3h 1337?

I think it's a reference to Kronenbourg beer.
posted by Flashman at 1:33 PM on May 9, 2006


alpinist writes "Have you ever sat in El Cap meadow and stared for a while? Ever wonder where all the trees that should have been in the meadow went?"

Hold on. Are you saying that El Cap meadow doesn't have any trees because of tourists? I'm pretty sure this is wrong; I think it's a flood meadow: it fills with water every spring. The lack of trees is a function of environment and geography.

What's your theory on why there are no trees? Do you think they were chopped down to improve the view?
posted by mr_roboto at 1:35 PM on May 9, 2006


A few years back a photographer damaged delicate arch while lighting small fires around it in a somewhat careless manner. Seems to be the exact same kind of reasoning behind it. Mr. Fatali's 'artists statement' at his web site is especially illuminating.
posted by Sukiari at 1:37 PM on May 9, 2006


Illuminating.
posted by Sukiari at 1:39 PM on May 9, 2006


I climbed on Jefferson Rock at Harper's Ferry, VA despite the 'please keep off the rock' sign. Fight the power! Don't let the man keep you down, man.
posted by fixedgear at 1:39 PM on May 9, 2006


Photos documenting the lack of trees under El Capitan.

As mr_roboto indicates, The open area in that 2nd photo is flooded. One of the distiguishing features of a meadow is the lack of trees.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:46 PM on May 9, 2006


What has our world come to if we are not free to ignore inconvenient laws and rules that get in the way of what we want to do?

Seriously. The guy broke the law. You may not agree with the law, but it's there. Breaking the law may or may not make someone an asshole, but it does make them relatively stupid - and in this case, self-centered.
posted by pdb at 1:50 PM on May 9, 2006


Well, its a well known fact, Sunny Jim, that there's a secret society of the five wealthiest people in the world, known as 'The Pentavret,' who run everything in the world, including the newspapers, and meet tri-annually at a secret country mansion in Colorado known as 'The Meadows'."
posted by NationalKato at 1:52 PM on May 9, 2006


As an outdoor enthusiast, who spends a great deal of my leisure time of the vicinity of this rock-face, I know and associate with many rock climbers.

Every one I've asked about this stunt agrees that this ascent reveals Potter as a self-involved asshole.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:02 PM on May 9, 2006


Mental note not to post hung over, immediately after waking up anymore. The point I was incoherently trying to make is that the National Parks that most people see are tightly controlled, highly constructed facades that are about as wild as your local walmart parking lot. You don't think trees have been removed from el cap meadow? You haven't seen it from above have you? It sure was nice of that meadow to put itself there.
posted by alpinist at 2:11 PM on May 9, 2006


"What has our world come to if we cannot join nature by climbing one of nature's most beautiful features?"

A civilized society that establishes necessary rules based on consensus and compromise?

I don't think Potter has much of a point, but I also agree with LarryC and alpinist.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:16 PM on May 9, 2006


Rumple, if you're familiar with the bad and good of rock climbing (and I will be the first to admit that there is both), then why the broadside against all climbers (Hummers, dominate nature, "fuck off" attitude)? I have no problem if you don't like Potter, but don't extend your rage to include plenty of people you haven't met, who try to tred lightly, and enjoy the sport as a chance to get out of a city, explore some wilderness and push themselves to see what they're capable of.
posted by Inkoate at 2:18 PM on May 9, 2006


What has our world come to if we are not free to ignore inconvenient laws and rules that get in the way of what we want to do?

Seriously. The guy broke the law. You may not agree with the law, but it's there. Breaking the law may or may not make someone an asshole, but it does make them relatively stupid - and in this case, self-centered.


Hey, now. There's a big difference between "inconvenient" and "unjust." If we take him at his word, Potter was protesting what he saw as as an unjust and unfair rule.

Refusing to follow an unjust law is not only not stupid, it's imperative for a healthy democracy.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:20 PM on May 9, 2006


alpinist writes "You don't think trees have been removed from el cap meadow? You haven't seen it from above have you? It sure was nice of that meadow to put itself there."

Yep. That's a meadow. That's what meadows look like: an area of low grasses with trees all around. I wouldn't ascribe any teleology to it, and I don't see why you do.

Do you think the park service also brought in bulldozers to do grading so that the meadow floods in the spring?
posted by mr_roboto at 2:21 PM on May 9, 2006


Delicate Arch is fragile in a geological sense, no climber is going to knock it over. Any concern about erosion at the base has nothing to do with this. People have been scrambling all over the bottom of the formation since forever with no complaints. Any damage done by the climb itself, would be impossible for any of you to find with a magnifying glass.

I met Dean Potter myself at Joshua Tree, and thought he was a nice friendly guy. But there are three things lame about this stunt.

1. He used chalk (at least it looks like it from the pictures). Since the route is not overhanging, any residue will be washed away by the next rain. But deduct style points.

2. The rap rope may have done some detectable damage. If you climbed it yourself, and knew where to look, you might be able to find a mark where the rope rubbed against the rock while being pulled.

3. He publicized it. This is really the problem. If I climbed it (and I would given the capability) I would do it with noone around and keep quiet about it. Publicizing it gives climbers a bad rep and heightens tensions around access issues. But mainly it encourages imitation. There will be few, if any, repeats, because there are so few people who can free-solo (climb without protection) at a high difficulty. I'm assuming it is a difficult climb, otherwise it would already be done. Or perhaps it has been, and they have been keeping quiet about it....
posted by Manjusri at 2:22 PM on May 9, 2006


Hey, now. There's a big difference between "inconvenient" and "unjust." If we take him at his word, Potter was protesting what he saw as as an unjust and unfair rule.

Protesting is fine, as long as your protest does not contribute, even in a small way, to the destruction of that which you would like access to.

Refusing to follow an unjust law is not only not stupid, it's imperative for a healthy democracy.

Agreed, wholeheartedly. But staying off a fragile rock formation is, in the eyes of the NPS, imperative for a healthy rock formation. I believe he should be able to protest what he sees as an unjust and unfair rule, as much and as loudly as he wants; I do not believe that the best place to do this is on top of the rock he would like people to have access to.

As Manjusri said, this will inspire imitators; enough imitators, and the rock will not be available for anything because it will degrade to the point where it's unsafe.
posted by pdb at 2:50 PM on May 9, 2006


I don't know for sure, but the treelessness of the Yosemite meadow may be from Indian burning. Here is a link to a mini essay about Indian burning in Oregon, but it was common practice nearly everywhere in the Americas. Indians set fire in the spring and fall to clear out brush and to create and maintain meadows, which support more wildlife than do forests.

Many of the landscapes that we associate with "wilderness" were in reality man-made in the centuries before Columbus. And without continued intervention, most open areas will eventually be covered with trees. Today the Park and Forest Services sometimes tries to mimic the Indian process, either with controlled burns or with chainsaws.

So if the Park Service has been cutting trees at the edge of that meadow, Alpinist, they might be trying to maintain a historic landscape. Or they might be making room for a new motel. The bastards.
posted by LarryC at 3:05 PM on May 9, 2006


Yosemite Valley actually has far more trees now than it had when white folks kicked the Ahwahneechee out. The Awahneechee (the name derives from their word for Yosemite, 'The Valley of the Tall Grass') used to set regular wild-fires to clear the meadows and encourage the growth of black oaks which they foraged for acorns. The course of the Merced has also been stabilized, which promotes the growth of trees in areas where formerly it meandered.

"enough imitators, and the rock will not be available for anything because it will degrade to the point where it's unsafe."

It isn't an issue of safety. If you look at the pictures of Delicate Arch, it's not something that human weight is going to unsettle. If this were to become a frequently travelled route, you would eventually see signs of wear in the most frequently travelled lines. Chalk residue would be frequently spotted. A groove would wear in the rock where people rap off. Fragile holds will break off. Some idiot would eventually come by and put in a bolt, and someone else would chop it off.

I doubt this will happen, because if people could climb it, they would have, or they have already. It was still a bad move to publicise it, but, in all, a fairly trivial event and not something to get worked up over. Anyone who cavalierly wishes someone death over this, really ought to step away from the computer and go reconnect to humanity by talking to people face to face. For their own good.
posted by Manjusri at 3:06 PM on May 9, 2006


I'm of two minds about this.

I've been to the Delicate Arch and most of the other 'suggested' natural features in Colorado/Arizona/Utah. It isn't going anywhere anytime soon, but shit like this can't possibly be good for it and I'd hate to think of anything happening to such a beautiful formation (lol goatse). I think what I most resent is the attitude about being the singular exception to the rules that are in place (necessarily) to protect features like this.

On the flip side of the coin, I've driven through Utah's backroads, parked along the side, and have free-handed a few of those huge standing rock towers. It's an amazing experience (although probably trespassing), and despite the fact that I came very, very close to dying twice I'm glad I did them.

Those rocktowers aren't going anywhere anytime soon, they're less 'fragile' than the Arch, and in the area I was in you couldn't spit but hit one. All the same I'm trying to figure out if what I did was sort of an asshole tourist thing to do. I'm the sort of person who, seeing an especially interesting artificial cliff-face along the side of the road in New England (where blasting solid rock to build roads is common), will step out and climb it. I don't think there's anything wrong with this. There's a point buried in here somewhere about differences of degree and differences of kind, or maybe the perception of the artificial lacking value, but I can't make out what that point might be.
posted by Ryvar at 3:20 PM on May 9, 2006


> but shit like this can't possibly be good for it

Huh?

He climbed it without fixed gear. Without bolts. Without changing anything.

Prohibiting this is purely stupid and ignorant.

Like so much else these days.
posted by spincycle at 3:37 PM on May 9, 2006


> Patagoniacs suck.

Anti-Patagoniacs suck.
posted by spincycle at 3:51 PM on May 9, 2006


Suck my patagonads.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:53 PM on May 9, 2006


He climbed it without fixed gear.

He most certainly did. He never even called me.
posted by fixedgear at 4:00 PM on May 9, 2006


> I'm pissed. Open letter I sent to Patagonia.

I'm pissed at your pissed-ness, and have sent Patagonia a letter arguing against your points.

Dean was right, the climb should be legal, and the NPS/NFS/BLM should all go take a collective breather before making things that BELONG TO US illegal to climb on.
posted by spincycle at 4:00 PM on May 9, 2006


"A few years back a photographer damaged delicate arch"
Really?

An oil stain is damage to a rock? how does oil damage stone? It is pretty rude to stain landmarks, but damage? I don't think so.
posted by Megafly at 4:09 PM on May 9, 2006


> Mr Potter doesn't like that. He should be able to do what he wants. Because he's not fat. Well fuck Mr Potter.

So, you're fat, huh? Who the fuck cares.

You think fatness, or the lack thereof, has anything to do with anything?
posted by spincycle at 4:17 PM on May 9, 2006


the NPS/NFS/BLM should all go take a collective breather before making things that BELONG TO US illegal to climb on.

Yes, we should be allowed to climb anything that's owned by the government. Indeed. The bastards won't even let me climb the White House, for crying out loud. Every time I try to climb on a stealth bomber, the military gets all mad at me, even though it BELONGS TO US!

Let people climb on every landmark in the U.S., and before long, every post card on earth will have some guy in purple spandex shorts in the picture. Honestly, why do climbers think they need to be allowed to climb everything?
posted by JekPorkins at 4:38 PM on May 9, 2006


the NPS/NFS/BLM should all go take a collective breather before making things that BELONG TO US illegal to climb on.

That's the same argument snowmobile and off-road enthusiasts make for being able to go everywhere. Just because something can be done somewhere on public lands doesn't mean that it should. Everything in moderation.
posted by Staggering Jack at 4:53 PM on May 9, 2006


spincycle: I'm aware. But touching an object is one thing. Climbing all over it, with your whole weight at times supported by only the friction of your soles against the surface which you then push off of is another, and it's bound to have a nasty effect on (presumably) sedimentary rock. I've had sandstone clefts crumble out from underneath me while freehand climbing - especially nasty if you're pushing off from them - and I'm thinking that things like that can't be good for landmarks.
posted by Ryvar at 5:08 PM on May 9, 2006


This urge to climb is just another expression of the will to dominate nature that also gives us the Hummer, right down to the "fuck off" attitude.

It's weird how that happens. Was out with a bunch of hang gliders on the edge of a beautiful wooded valley. We all sat and gabbed about the surroundings and the "spirituality" of hang gliding. It was really peaceful. Then they whipped out the chainsaws and set about creating multiple launching spots, putting far too much zeal in cutting every bit of vegetation in the area. Yahoos.
posted by dreamsign at 5:21 PM on May 9, 2006


the NPS/NFS/BLM should all go take a collective breather before making things that BELONG TO US illegal to climb on.

So true, I mean what's the value of nature if you can't use it up?!
posted by dreamsign at 5:22 PM on May 9, 2006


Megafly, defacing or otherwise damaging a named rock formation in the park is prohibited. Cleaning up Fatali's damage, and that from others, costs money and violations encourage the formation of stricter rules. So it was just some soot and Duraflame log (or whatever) this time, but the accumulated damage from many people just doing whatever the fuck they wanted all the time would be incalculable. Another photographer was busted for sawing down trees that interfered with his view. This hurts me as a photographer as well, as we are more and more viewed with suspicion inside parks and other public lands.
posted by Sukiari at 6:26 PM on May 9, 2006


Rumple said: I know a lot of rock climbers, I work a lot in National Parks (not USian), and I am very familiar with the good and bad side of rock climbing - especially at it pertains to National Park and other protected areas. The sense of entitlement that pervades these people when directed where they can and cannot pursue their hobby is startling.

You claimed the "urge to climb is just another expression of the will to dominate nature." You can't support this assertion by pointing out the sense of entitlement in the assholes you know.
posted by effwerd at 7:56 PM on May 9, 2006


As a climber in Utah, I think that if Dean is willing to sack up and free solo a climb like this he should be able to. Anyone who is going to put a bolt into a piece of stone as beautiful as this should be shot, but if you're willing to take the chance and commit to a climb like this and not damage rock to protect yourself then fine. Not many people are going to follow in his footsteps anyway including myself.
posted by trbrts at 9:36 PM on May 9, 2006


Inkoate: "I am... a rock climber... Delicate Arch probably didn't need to be climbed, but..."

There are rocks that need to be climbed? Really? And you still don't think that you are trying to dominate something?
posted by Dunwitty at 1:25 AM on May 10, 2006


Update: The Park Service has clarified the regulations to make it clear that climbing named arches is prohibited.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:08 AM on May 10, 2006


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