Big Wall Trash a Big Problem in Yosemite
by Lynn Hill
After speaking with my friends, Mike Lechlinski and Mari Gingery about their experiences in Yosemite and climbing on El Capitan this summer, I learned that many climbers are not doing their part in keeping the big walls clean. Apparently many people "accidentally" or even intentionally drop their garbage and poop off El Capitan and don't even go back to the base after their ascent to clean up their mess. I believe that, as a way of showing respect for the beauty of this magnificent place, we all need to make the effort to clean up any trash we come across. In fact, I believe that everyone who ascends a big wall route should hike back to the base with a large trash bag and clean everything in sight after his or her ascent. There's not a lot to be done about the smell of urine on the rock since the rain will take care of that problem. But the idea that some people just throw their trash and poop bags off the wall because they don't want to deal with it anymore is completely unacceptable!
My friend Micah Dash just told me that he and his partner collected an entire haul bag full of trash on the Free Rider route a few weeks ago. Apparently when they set up their portaledge on Round Ledge they couldn't even hang it properly since there was so much waste piled up on the ledge. I can understand that the poop tubes may cost more than some climbers care to spend but throwing their refuse off the wall or leaving it stuffed into cracks along the way is really bad style. Being responsible for one's waste is part of the style of ascent! Hopefully the Access Fund or some other sponsor will help subsidize the cost of some kind of wag bag to be given to climbers like they do in Indian Creek. But if climbers have the time, energy, and funds to climb in places like Yosemite, then we have the means to help keep it clean.
One way to contribute, besides voluntary clean-ups, is to participate in the annual clean-up event in Yosemite called the Yosemite Facelift. This event takes place in September, starting on the 25th. There will be free camping at the Yellow Pines campground for 100 people on the 25th and from the 26th-30th of September, there will be fifty free camping spaces available for anyone interested in participating in this clean-up effort. This could be a fun experience and definitely a way to give back to this magnificent place that has given us so much beauty and inspiration. Unfortunately I will be hosting a climbing camp in Sardinia, Italy that same week but hopefully many of you will be able to help out with this effort. If not, please make it your tradition to respect the environment and help keep it clean.
Do you know of other clean-up days in your area that you could share with us?