A Friendly Reminder

Shit.  Shit everywhere.  Shit flying through the sky and exploding in loud pops as the already days-old feces, festering and rotting in plastic bags, fell uncontrollably from nearly 2,000 feet above my head.  One right after another they landed, about ten bags in total.  This was the scene Tito Krull, Connor Britts and I saw as we hauled and jugged the second pitch of Tangerine Trip on Wednesday October 6, 2015.  When I first realized what was raining down around us, I was pissed.  My initial reaction was to believe that someone was just too lazy to carry their poop out and opted to toss it off the wall.  But since I don’t like to place guilt on people without justification, I told myself that their poop tube must have failed; sending their excrement soaring down from above the Zodiac.

After five days and one hell of an amazing experience on the Captain (which also happened to be my first El Cap route!), Tito and I returned to the base of the East Wall to grab Tito’s pack and look for some gear I dropped one evening on the route.  To our absolute amazement but not 100% surprising, the plastic bags which had once filled the air like bombs falling on Berlin were still abundant and strewn about the talus field.  Utter disbelief.  To top out, realize you are missing something (it’s kind of hard to miss the fact that a poop tube filled with days and days worth of feces is gone) and not do your due diligence and return to the wall to pick up your atrocious mess?  It’s beyond me.  What follows are some pictures from the day Tito and I returned to do our part.  Which was in fact the day after we ourselves topped out- six days after the now shitless party topped out and went on with their happy day to day lives.  Enjoy the shit show.

Thanks to the abundance of furry woodland creatures, most of the bags had been torn into, leaving crusty, loafless bags about the talus.
I’m guessing that the culprits were some nationality of the orient, as evidenced by this pack of smokes which also came down in the fray.
The motherlode. It didn’t take too long to pick this guy out due to the associated odor of week-old feces. Note the high-quality Sea To Summit dry bag these folks more-than-likely bought at Wal-Mart before heading to the Valley for their big wall adventure. Great idea guys!
A fine example of what poop does after falling some 2,000 feet and coming to a complete stop. The sun had done a fine job turning the residue into a fine, powdery crust on the small granite boulders.
The blast zone. It’s somewhat hard to differentiate the poop from the irregularities of granite in this picture, but most of the brown you see in this shot, is in fact, shit.
Poop dust guys, poop dust!  Check out all this poop dust all over this beautiful example of diorite!
Indeed a fine spackling job on these rocks here. I would like to go back up and clean the rocks themselves since I didn’t have the proper cleaning supplies at the time this picture was taken. I feel bad for anyone coming up the Zodiac approach, the rocks are pretty gnarly.
The final tally, the cans and water bottles are pretty common finds under the wall, but the two bags are filled primarily with human excrement. I also found this sweet belay seat!
The final tally, the cans and water bottles are pretty common finds under the wall, but the two bags are filled primarily with human excrement. I also found this sweet belay seat!

It’s not the fact that we felt we had to go up and clean up poop that bothers me, I really don’t care.  Picking up trash at the base of El Cap and other places in Yosemite is nothing new to me- I do it each and every day I go out.  But the fact that someone can ignore the fact that their own shit is scattered around a blast area the size of a small gas station at the base of the most iconic cliff in the world doesn’t sit right with me.  If you are the party who dropped this bag, you need to step forward and make yourself known.  You failed at your job to be proper stewards of not only the sport, but a place that many of us call home and care for very, very deeply.  You have failed to do your part to ensure that these grand walls will forever be climbable with the same level of freedom we have today.  You have some amends to make.

We all have accidents, and we all do things that we think are going to work but end up sucking in the end.  If you need ideas of how to create a bomb-proof poop tube, there are all kinds of easy and cheap ways to do it.  Hell, I’ll even post a blog post next on how to create something that you don’t have to worry about all too much; all while being cost-effective and long-lasting.  But please, whether you’re hiking, backpacking, climbing, chilling in the meadow, or any other means of enjoying this national park or any wild place for that matter, you need to remember that we are ALL stewards.  Each and every single one of us.  It’s up to us to make sure that we leave as pristine and undisturbed places from which future generations can find inspiration.  It will never end guys, be vigilant, give back, and care.

Again, we are all stewards out there.  If every single person did their part, we wouldn’t have the need for events like FaceLift or volunteer days to gather garbage from the base of popular routes.  It starts and ends with you.

Climb on.

El Capitan in all of its late-afternoon glory. Such a powerful wall needs to be respected and cared for. It’s up to us.

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