Pad Stashing Redux

Pad Stashing Redux

It’s summer in the Frontrange of Colorado and that can only mean one thing, boulderers escaping to the cooler temperatures of one of Colorado’s alpine bouldering areas.  Cooler temps, good rock and beautiful scenery make alpine bouldering the highlight of many people’s year.  Oh…and those hikes.  The climbing at both Rocky Mountain National Park and Mt. Evans is guarded by bruising hikes above 10,000 feet.  This of course means another season spent discussing the issue of pad stashing (I posted about this last summer so if you need a refresher be sure to check out that post).

During last year’s debate, I read (and was sent directly) arguments on both sides of the issue that made sense.  In the end I’m inclined to agree with the anti-stashers, but my opinion means little as I am no place to do anything about the situation.
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  The one thing I can do is to present you with the opinion of a group that does matter, RMNP rangers:

…park rangers will be collecting “cached” bouldering pads from the RMNP backcountry left behind by boulderers, who are prone to leaving these large, foam-filled protective devices hidden for later use under rocks in the alpine zone of the park. The park service would like to return these “abandoned” pads to their rightful owners and so anyone missing a pad that was left behind in RMNP should contact the park dispatch at 970-586-1399 for a stated “no-hassle” return of their equipment.  Park rangers are hoping that an educational outreach to boulderers will help correct this misuse of an important protected natural area.

Argument over???  Or game on?  If history is any indicator, arguments with land managers are generally not won by climbers and this one will probably not be any different.
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  Hopefully this situation can be resolved amicably and climbers aren’t looking back at this in a few years with regret…

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8 Responses to Pad Stashing Redux

  1. Craig B July 3, 2008 at 11:11 am #

    This just ticks me off. How lazy can you be. “Hey these beer bottles are to heavy to hike down I think I will leave them”. If that makes sense to you stash your pad if it doesn’t why would you do it. Last year some one stashed my pad by the outdoor bouldering wall and this spring when I found it was trashed. Thanks Pad Stashers you are going to ruin it for everyone, but why would you care you are a self centered dirt bag climber.

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  2. sock hands July 3, 2008 at 1:09 pm #

    one of the core issues between stashers and anti-stashers is this: stashers feel that this has only become a problem with parks departments after anti-stashers went off the deep end and alerted everyone to the practice. stashers feel that before anti-stashers began publically posting about the practice it was ‘below the radar’ of the parks and thus ok.

    after talking with rangers, i am satisfied that this is fact: rangers at both evans and rmnp were well aware of pad stashing and had been slowly brewing an administrative response to stop the practice. in fact, evans rangers mentioned that if it was not for the self-policing of climbers, more formal administrative measures would have been implemented to stop stashing. if such measures proved ineffective, limitations on access may be implemented.

    the conversation with the rangers was casual and specific plans were not discussed, but the impression i was left with was crystal clear: self-policing and stewardship would preserve our access to the climbing at evans.

    while gearing up for my first session at rmnp this year, a ranger stopped in the road when he saw us and drove into the lot to ask if “all those pads” would be accompanying us back out in the evening. unlike grief from many of the bus drivers last year, the rangers were quite pleasant when asking me this and they wished our session well before driving off.

    bottom line is that the administrative posture is equally clear at rmnp, perhaps even more so since the rangers have been carrying pads out themselves.

    so, this year the question is not whether the rangers knew before or not. they clearly did. the issue is not whether the rangers care. they clearly do.

    the only question is whether stashing your square of foam for the spurrious benefit of sending your proj is worth causing access restrictions.

    for the record, despite carrying many times more paddage into alpine areas than average, i have found that the main factor to influence whether is send something i’ve worked out or not is how much i’ve slept the night before and how much i drank, not how much i’ve carried in.

    furthermore, though i have good friends on both sides of this fence, if any of you in favor of stashing do not carry a pad in to the boulders, but pull out radios, jars of peanutbutter + jelly, utensils, and loaves of bread to make a sandwich in situ while listening to some beats, i will most certainly throw you into the nearest lake.

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  3. Charlie July 3, 2008 at 1:29 pm #

    This is great.
    It is good to hear that the conversation in the bouldering community is positive and relatively united.

    Last year there were two Adopt-a-Crag events in CO for alpine bouldering areas, and while most of the pads were removed beforehand, they left an indelible mark with the rangers at both as to the maturity and ownership of the front range bouldering scene.

    Unfortunately, the organizer of those events was so personally scarred by the “licking” she took online she has no plans to do those events again. She saw a side of some people she once respected and looked upto that left her disillusioned and frustrated. The aggression, selfishness and ignorance of the pro-stashers was too much, and today the future of stewardship in RMNP and Evans is unknown.

    We as a bouldering/climbing community need to rally behind locals at the NCCC and new Denver group to revive these stewardship efforts, if only for the self-interest of maintaining access to the resource.


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  4. peter beal July 3, 2008 at 7:34 pm #

    It would be a great idea if pad manufacturers started focusing on portability with lighter, more modular designs and better straps and waist belts. The huge pads that are made for highballs are mostly useless on the many lowball circuitous problems at RMNP but a set of say three firm lightweight smaller detachable ones would really cut down on the excuses, especially for lower Chaos. Looking at Google Earth, you go from Bear Lake at roughly 9500 feet to Lake Haiyaha at 10,200 in a mile and a half, hardly a punishing hike by any standard. Thanks to Justin for talking with the rangers.

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  5. Sweatpants July 4, 2008 at 11:51 am #

    Peter- I’m not sure if you’ve done the hike since you were referencing Google Earth for your argument. however, the hike is no joke. I got used to it when I lived there because I was doing it several times a week (always with a pad, mind you). But it is pretty grueling. I think Evans is worse in my opinion but there are people on either side of that discussion as well. Either way, if the park doesnt want stashing practiced than I think it’s prolly best we dont do it, no matter how convenient it is. get a nice little workout on the way up, its good for you. I also agree peter taht they should make pads with better padding for a comfortable carry, however disagree with the detatchable concept. I believe Flashed tried it with the grasshopper and that thing sucks balls and is one of the worst pads in the history of the world.

    Peter- I feel as though i just picked on you, didnt mean to, and i think i agree with your core issues 🙂 Happy 4th Everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  6. peter beal July 4, 2008 at 5:12 pm #

    I have done the hike to Lower Chaos many times, usually in about half an hour, from Bear Lake to the warm-up boulder, carrying a Black Diamond Spot and a Misty Mtn Pad plus shoes, chalk, rain gear and so on. The trail is casual to walk on, which I would agree is not the case with the talus approach for Upper Chaos. Evans is probably worse since the approach has a lengthy stretch on a dirt road with no shade and is uphill both ways. The Google Earth reference is to show in numbers the relatively minor elevation gain and distance–745 feet, 2.1 miles (for more see–

    I would call it a stretch to describe the approach to Chaos “grueling” but if anyone isn’t feeling the love at 10,000 feet, they should slow down, admire the scenery, and they will arrive with plenty of energy and the satisfaction of knowing they are not ruining the environment or the access for other climbers.

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  7. Narc July 7, 2008 at 6:24 am #

    Thanks to everyone for the thoughts, especially Justin.

    Peter, you are probably right however I think any stretch of hiking above 10,000 ft qualifies as grueling for us sea level dwellers…

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  8. sock hands July 14, 2008 at 10:25 am #

    food for thought: a couple years ago i hiked into and out of evans with folks who live at low elevations… one of these folks tokes heartily and crushed me to and from the boulders. then, the second set of folks crushed me to and from the boulders a different weekend WITH CAMPING GEAR and substantial paddage. one of these folks tokes heartily and another was middle aged and another, a lil lass. all of these folks sent something that they conserdered ‘project’ level for themselves.

    i do understand how some folks consider the management of our climbing areas heavy handed and certainly unfair in light of the greater impacts of other activities; however, resisting management that is prejudicial to climbers by stashing pads is illogical… it is using a greater issue as a poor excuse to be lazy. if someone wants to be a badass revolutionary for climbers, then do something proactive: organize a TRAIL DAY, converse effectively with land managers and rangers, and/or spend your ‘active rest’ picking up trash left by irresponsible day hiking families and show the bag of trash to the rangers on your way out that evening.

    ‘fighting authority’ by stashing pads seems akin to looting to effectuate social change; the act selfishly takes advantage of the cause and, in effect, hinders progress.

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