White Rastafarian’s fall zone boulder

Update: This is a forum post comment from supertopo.com by johannsolo:

A friend was out there within a few days of it happening and I kept quite, but the cat is out of the bag
From a text message on 10/28:
Went out to climb on White Rasta someone or probably more than one person has maliciously “Pried” the boulder back out of original location ….this has happened since last week…since I’ve already climbed on it then… Looks like recently this happened….they didn’t even try and landscape just a pry and leave…looks like sh#t…I’ve fell before…u don’t hit it anyway?…some major “Noob” punk crankers have commited Blasphemy?… Pretty messed up… Post this up ..Johnny…what a travesty of honor?

I thought it relevant to update this post with the above information that puts the action in time context. Below is my original post:

After being told by an acquaintance while in Bishop that the boulder at the base of White Rastafarian had been moved, we visited over Thanksgiving to check it out. We arrived while a large party of boulderers were still trying the problem. Here are some images of the boulder’s location now.

You can see the boulder clearly on the far left lower corner of this image.

You can see the boulder clearly on the far left lower corner of this image.

Here is a reverse angle.

Here is a reverse angle.

Below are some historical images we pulled from mountainproject.com, as well as a screen grab from my old video Friction.

This is from my video Friction showing the boulder from above along with the fall zone fro the crux.

This is from my video Friction showing the boulder from above along with the fall zone from the crux. This image is right after Brandi fell and was directed off the boulder by Robert Miramontes. She said she grazed the boulder, nonetheless.

A mountainproject.com image from the reverse angle.

A mountainproject.com image from the reverse angle. Photo submitted by Colin R.

Another mountainproject.com image.

Another mountainproject.com image. Photo by Lauren.

Another shot courtesy mountainproject.com.

Photo submitted by Adam Stackhouse/mountainproject.com.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think of looking at these images before we went to see for ourselves, but if I get a chance, I’ll reshoot from these angles to better show the difference. I think you can still see the offset that the new location is compared to the old location.

Here is part of my explanation to the park service:

“…My perspective is that nature should be a fixed entity, at least as best preserved in a climbing context.. The point of climbing, as I see it, is we are supposed to work around what nature offers. That said, chipping or otherwise modifying anything means we’ve lowered the bar to our standard. Gyms are based on legal parameters, so injuries are reduced to a minimum. If we do that outside, we lose that unique creation, a one-of-a-kind, that only nature can create.

In context with history, moving the boulder undermines all previous ascents for the sake of a few, especially when the FA was done without pads. If we allow this to happen once, it will only get more commonplace, and the from my experience, and human nature, this means others will take it to extremes… there are many problems worth doing if we can begin to landscape the landing, and that’s what will happen… much more etreme [sic] landscaping…

…This happened in Fontainebleau on a problem called Misericorde: in this case after many ascents someone rolled the boulder down the hill preventing it from being returned. Many were very angry, especially because the line is hard and tall…”

Here is an excerpt of a John Long article recounting the first ascent in Rock & Ice magazine:

“Around 1973, boredom drove us outside the traditional campground bouldering sites at Joshua Tree, an exodus that revolutionized our game and our lives. Our initial wanderings had no particular design. We’d head out across open desert with water bottle and boots and start clawing over whatever looked interesting—and flashable. Josh abounds in formations 20 to 40 feet high—too small to bolt (they’re all bolted now), but plenty big with no rope.

At first we played it safe, hanging in the cracks or on juggy faces, tackling hard stuff (5.11 or more) only if it lay in the first 10 feet. Over time, we began inching out onto the balder faces. By early 1974, egged on by the incomparable John Bachar (the acknowledged cock-of-the-walk, and the only one of us then climbing full time), we forged farther and farther off the deck.

It’s hard to give an exact date for the sea change when high bouldering (or “highballing”) caught fire and the ropes, by and large, got left in the ride. I suspect it happened one winter afternoon when Bachar and I were exploring open desert behind Hidden Valley Campground and stumbled across a classic, 20-foot overhanging arete. We spent half an hour eyeballing the thing, cranking up and down the first half, too spooked to fully commit. We’d always judged problems on how hard they looked, and this particular problem looked grim. But the “eyeballing” strategy had left too many dazzling prospects unclimbed, and we couldn’t walk past this beauty. In fact, our minds were holding us back, so we worked with the fear, moved on feel, and eventually just went for it. White Rastafarian fell easily at moderate 5.11, yet something happened that radically transformed our climbing priorities.

Toward the top, leaning off a fingertip layaway, right foot hiked high on a beveled knocker, you face a deadpoint (or a disturbing lunge for those under six feet tall) up to a slanting rib, a definitive point-of-no-return. Crank that move and it’s the summit—or a groundfall. The second I committed, a profound internal shift occurred: My experience opened into a weird, chaotic world where I could function only through a profound, spontaneous act of self-trust. No wonder my instinctual reaction was to escape as quickly as possible.

Haste, however, meant crutches at the least, so the trick was to move slow and steady. One moment here was like a year anywhere else, so condensed was the experience. I recall the Marines’ philosophy that boot camp is meant to demolish recruits’ identities, putting them through “six weeks of hell” that mutate them into different beings. Over the next few months, highballing transformed us in much the same way. We’d found the “Magical Component.” A piddling dose, to be sure, but dose enough to imagine the possibilities.

Clearly, on-sighting a difficult, high boulder problem always involved a rendezvous with the mysterious, known in many ventures as the “moment of truth.” We can bluff through much of our lives on secondhand knowledge and chicanery, till we finally strike a pose and turn into mummies. But you can’t fake anything up high: You have to act, and that’s the power and the grace of it. Yet it took months of highballing before I could abide in the chaos without flailing to escape; and when I could (at least half the time I’d back off), I was present with myself in a marvelous new way, and experienced a nameless tranquility unattainable through other means. This felt so novel and important it became an addiction of sorts.

After that first flight up White Rastafarian, Bachar and I put in several laps apiece and found that the thrill was gone; the Magical Component is only fully manifest in the unknown. The game, in its absolute form, was all about on-sighting. A half hour later, Bachar and I began scouring the desert for other routes, trying to recapture the magic.”

Had the boulder been in its original location, anyone could experience what Long and Bachar experienced. Just walk out there with your buddy, shoes and a chalk bag and go for it. Unfortunately, this currently can’t be done.

It’s a case of time immemorial, where we all can have a reset on our view of the world by just visiting outside problems that haven’t been changed.

Thank you, John and John.

~ by r. mulligan on 2014/12/04.

46 Responses to “White Rastafarian’s fall zone boulder”

  1. It is my opinion that the most important thing in situations like this is that rocks are accessible as long as nature isn’t being negatively impacted.

    Moving a rock a few feet is undesirable from a historical and natural perspective, but it isn’t negatively impacting nature.

    Alerting the park service to a non essential situation (no danger, no access issue) is putting climbing access at risk. It historically has led a greater chance of climbing access being restricted.

    Therefore, my opinion is that the rangers should not have been contacted, as act is going to hurt climbing more on average than not using this as an example of what climbers should not do.

    Now, you don’t have to pick and choose, you can still make a blog post educating people about not moving rocks from historically established problems’ landing zones.

    So, I think that’s where you went wrong, contacting the park service. I can see it being an exception if the service here has guaranteed climbing access, but that isn’t likely.

    Again, that’s just my opinion, but I value preserving nature and access the most, and I don’t feel this situation violates the former, but reporting to the rangers puts the latter in jeopardy. Even if you had good intentions.

    • Thanks for your comment, Ryan. I feel there are several important issues that need to be kept in perspective. The first is that the park service was already aware of the act, so in that context, I’m not “alerting the park service to a non essential situation….” Second, the act isn’t a non essential situation, because it shows to the park service that climbers are not responsible stewards of natural resources. Third, this follows that without intervention on the part of climbers, the park service can conclude our actions are not in the best interest of the park itself.

      There are two directions that park service action can take if we DON’T communicate and work with the park: they can consider climbers irresponsible and reduce or eliminate certain types of climbing practices in the park (no more pads, certain areas removed from climbing access, etc), or they can hopefully like us and not change the status quo (I really doubt that this type of wishful thinking is a good thing overall).

      If we contact the park service and show them that such acts are arbitrary and not consistent with healthy land management practices and normal climber behavior, we are more likely to show to the park service that climbers can be responsible stewards of natural resources. This, of course, requires we work as a cohesive force and interact with the park every time an errant action is committed.

      Your argument is based on the assumption that this act is “non essential” which to the park service is VERY essential. It shows a complete disregard for the premise the park service works on (though we all know that the park service can be very hypocritical when it comes to land destruction/alteration compared to what users’ actions produce or inflict on the park lands).

      Something very important to remember is that the park service is NOT and will NOT get involved with climbing management. They will work through volunteers to improve access or reduce land abuse, etc, but nothing more (at least from what I’ve seen and have been told). This means it’s up to us as climbers to be the responsible stewards, but here’s the catch: it only works if we work with the park service. If we self-police, we risk actions that could be construed as not responsible or destructive to land use practices. By working with the park service we always know what our are parameters are and where to direct our actions constructively towards a productive relationship with the park.

  2. Holy 1000lb boulder Batman!! This thing has gone off. I for one appreciate and respect the authors foresight and maturity in speaking with the NPS. We may feel like we are out in the middle of nowhere but our actions are usually very visible, especially with something as obvious as this!

    To move the boulder is to be a punter and to be a punter is to have the need for a slap on the wrist. No-No’s need consequences….shut it down

  3. No, not simply a matter of differing opinions. Sometimes, your opinion is just plain wrong. Your immediate need to run to the NPS lacked sense and tact. If you somehow still haven’t seen how govt entities could POSITIVELY AND NEGATIVELY impact climbing and climbing access, naive is a polite way of putting it. By nowadays, more like outright cluelessness, with no regard for what could result from a heavy handed response. No one else agrees with your need to bring extra NPS attention to this, here or elsewhere. You’ve already been told that by locals and non-locals alike, and yet you stubbornly refuse to heed or to fully understand, or are just incapable of.

    What do you think, that upon hearing from you, the NPS would think that, hey, you know what, some bad climbers had violated rules and moved a big boulder, but thank goodness to this one courageous climber who stepped forth to make sure we know of this bad deed by the bad seeds of his own kind? and bec of this overwhelmingly positive gesture (simply a gesture since you didn’t really take any meaningful corrective action yourself but just left that to the NPS or others), why, we oughta conclude there are more good climbers than bad ones, and let this fruitful exchange be another sacred building block for the foundation of future mutual understanding and cooperation? like the NPS wouldn’t just as readily opt to view climbers as capable of good and bad behaviors alike, and based on how these climbers presently have conflicting voices on both sides of this issue by the way, to think that the boulder would likely get moved back and forth, and might even slap a closure on WF to put an end to the shenanigans? No thanks to the individuals who moved the boulder in the first place, but also no thanks to you for insisting on extra NPS attention in a situ where the less NPS attention the better. Even if NPS already knew, you didn’t have to go re-iterate the issue to them further.

    To use your own logic (or lack of), why don’t you just “appreciate” all the other pro-move opinions, that they’re just “preferring to go another route,” and likewise leave it all just as a matter differing opinions, instead going on and on with your longwinded and repetitive anti-move opinion to attempt to change their opinions.

    Those who moved the boulder to climb WF that way, to me, are pussies, style-wise, but worse, they also had no consideration for others and no regard for the very basic outdoor etiquette of leaving things as they had found them. If they absolutely had to climb WF that way, then move the boulder back afterward, which they did not. Plenty enough climbers prefer WF with that boulder in its original place, as apparent by now, to move the boulder back. But this issue would’ve been better handled without your insistence on extra NPS attention. Having discussions among climbers on the issue is entirely possible without you running to the NPS to report it.

    • For starters, we both agree the boulder should be moved back.

      I hate to tell you this, but you are expressing your opinion, and your opinion doesn’t automatically make my opinion wrong. You have chosen words that are spin to heighten your case of righteousness, words like: immediately, run, heavy-handed, no one else agrees…, extra NPS attention, stubbornly refuse, etc….. You also state generalizations of entities as if your opinion is fact: about the gov’t, about NPS, “no one else agrees with your opinion,” “been told that by locals and non-locals alike.” These generalizations are inaccurate, but they sure help you to think you are right.

      First, The general opinion though not exclusive, if only by internet comments, is to not contact the nps, but in the real world, that’s far from the truth. Nearly all climbers I speak to in person or who have contacted me have been totally supportive of working with the NPS including the guidebook author who has extensive experience working with authorities at both the tramway and josh. I would also think the AccessFund would think working with the park service is the right thing to do. I decided to weigh factors that you refuse to consider (for unknown reasons, or because you have an overly simplistic view of gov’t) including dealing with a national park (a closed system), a high profile climb, an event already in the radar of the park service, and is an easily accessible problem to anyone at Hidden Valley campground. I also wanted the park service to see that climbers that take climbing seriously in the park are serious about dealing with stupid shit climbers sometimes do.

      Your entire argument is based on an assumption of what you “think” the park service might do. You are so convinced that you think you are right. This doesn’t make you right, it just makes you confident you’re right… two entirely different things. And I’m not guessing at what the park service might do. I don’t need to because my goal for keeping as many bouldering areas open is to work with the park service to keep them interpreting rules in our favor, where a different interpretation can easily lead to closures around issues of archaeological or environmental impact. The park service has a fairly broad capacity to close boulders based on a large radius mandate for archaeological considerations or to close areas where environmental degradation is, in their opinion, too extensive. They also can chose to interpret it in a way that favors our access to boulder problems. Their viewpoint of US is solely based on being sincere and straight forward and showing to them that climbers can be logical, reasonable and not emotionally over-reactionary children. You, like many others, seem hell bent on trying to live in the early era of gov’t conflict where climbers are romantically views as outcasts and renegades. Reality isn’t like movies or documentaries (ie, Valley Uprising.) And I did live and climb through that era of conflict.

      The relevance of historic precedence is very important if conditions remain the same. They haven’t. Clinging to a stereotype idea of gov’t to justify your argument is your choice, but I chose to try first to work with those that have openly asked to work with climbers. If you chose to think they are evil or bad, and you act on that premise, then the outcome will be as you wish: combative and negative. If you chose to first work with others, and it goes south, you can always change your plan and do what you feel is the right thing to do. But that takes patience a and thoughtful approach, not armchair reactionism. I have no intention of living in a state of delusion where I’m convinced “they” are evil and therefore I’m justified to act independently against them as a member of the climbing community.

      Further to the point, in the start, you state I should heed the “consensus” of the internet voices and not work with the park service then you say: To use your own logic (or lack of), why don’t you just “appreciate” all the other pro-move opinions, that they’re just “preferring to go another route,” and likewise leave it all…. So who to listen to? But you want me to listen to you because you’re so right because of the consensus of climber opinion, because the gov’t is not reliable. I made my choice based on facts and situations that are real. And I know this because I’m part of the climbing community that frequents this park.

      What if “we” climbers said nothing about the WR boulder move? Do you think it would be more likely or less likely they would close the problem down? I can’t imagine it would be less likely simply because from their perspective climbers are acting on their own without any interaction from the park… and THAT would more likely piss them off. This is our countries’ most sacred preserved lands. If they think we are just doing whatever we want as climbers (not differentiating between “pussy” gym rats or responsible outside climbers), they aren’t going to give us much consideration as responsible adults. They will NOT think we are good stewards if we unilaterally move the boulder back ourselves. It’s a fucking NATIONAL PARK! Think it through, please! We don’t live in a bubble as climbers, and climbers aren’t some nice collective of caring adults. Truth is they are a very disparate group with vastly different views of how to impact land. I’ve seen shrubs cut off, rock chipped with hammers, boulders piled to flatten landings, unwillingness to use trails to get to the boulders, etc, and these things aren’t putting us in a good light. Pretending to keep things “hush” or “quiet” is the naive attitude. Pretending we can just “fix” it as we chose is naive also. And who the hell is “we” anyways? I’ve lived long enough to see how easy conflict starts, especially when we go looking for it.

      In a pretend world, it’s easy to make generalizations about things because in doing so it will appear so obvious what you should do. In the real world, it’s so much more complicated. Prior to contacting the NPS, I’d already spoken to the superintendent, and another ranger that oversees climber impact. They both have openly supported working with climbers, unlike the past, and they want to show climbers that resolutions can come about that favor climbers as long as we make an attempt to work with them, present our argument as mature adults and not go half cocked thinking it’s going to be a conflict no matter what. And they are both climbers themselves. Go figure.

    • Pointing out that govt entities can both positively and negatively impact climbing and climbing access doesn’t indicate an outdated stereotype. Not outdated bec that’s true in any era, even the present one. It actually acknowledges both their positive and negative responses and therefore also isn’t some overly negative stereotype like you try to claim many must be clinging to. Why don’t you try to understand others better before reflexively trying to discredit?

      I never said i know what NPS thinks or might do. that’s just your misrepresentation, which you did a lot of, all over the place. I simply asked what you were thinking, and tossed out possible NPS reaction scenarios. Point is, no one knows how the park staff might respond, or how their higher-up’s might mandate them to respond, however much goodwill you think you foster by chatting it up with them. For an issue that could be easily taken care of among climbers ourselves, it just isn’t worth the risk of a possible heavy-handed NPS response.

      I share others’ sentiment that the boulder should be moved back, but not this impulsive insistence to involve the NPS no matter it’s appropriate or not, whether they already know about it or not. If taken care of among ourselves, however the NPS had heard about the boulder having been moved, next they would just hear or see that the boulder has been moved back, that a wrong has been righted, without them having to lift a finger, with clear evidence by action to indicate that there are responsible climbers who would correct the actions of the irresponsible few. Maybe that would be a whole lot more effective than words and words and words, and this questionable mentality to unnecessarily put issues to NPS for them to address with no regard to what new rules or restrictions might accompany their responding action.

      • I stand corrected regarding the NPS, but your argument is still just conjecture and opinion. It’s based on your feeling that the best way forward is to do it your way. I was very clear why it would be presumptuous to act in our own capacity. You must think the NPS is naive to think they will just see it as: oh it moved, and, oh it was moved back… how nice… all’s well. And even if they didn’t do anything about it, because they probably couldn’t specifically regarding the boulder, they could just as well close down WR because they don’t want that kind of action potentially happening again.

        “I simply asked what you were thinking.” your kidding, right?

        I fully understand others, and I have yet to hear a single sensible argument… yours included. And your statement: “…with your longwinded and repetitive anti-move opinion to attempt to change their opinions.” You’re certainly not making any effort at trying to change my opinion, neither long-winded or repetitive.

      • I did ask what you were thinking. I’m free to make it as amusing as I like, but I did ask you. You were the one who reacted childishly to it with all kinds of inaccurate accusations and misrepresentations. If one were to judge from this exchange, by the high level of dishonesty and high propensity for inaccuracies in the way you go about arguing, you’re probably not the best spokesperson for this coalition restoration effort.

        Before, you quoted Robert’s favoring of NPS involvement without indicating it was expressed explicitly in support of you contacting the NPS. The few others that you only now said had also supported your decision to contact NPS, that tidbit you had kept to yourself, until now. Given this bizarre presentation strategy of yours, why would what I said be inappropriate?

        Don’t say you fully understand others when you clearly don’t try that hard to.

      • I understand how disappointing and downright offensive that act at WR was to some, to many. I can feel that too. But sounds like, to some, moving the boulder back isn’t enough, that voicing among climbers and making clear how that behavior is highly unacceptable isn’t enough, that there needs to be official condemnation of that act as well to curtail that behavior, which might come with official directives as to how not to climb and to climb a particular boulder problem, or climbing route, since there are other ways to demonstrate a lack of awareness and ethics beside moving a boulder. I can empathize how some might feel the egregious behavior at WR is unacceptable to the point that even direct govt guidelines would be welcoming. But many, more than the few, might not feel that way.

        • That was very much part of why I decided to work with the park service… climber opinion is just that, another point of view, but when the park service puts their weight behind it, which they can, it makes a more powerful statement.

        • That’s what you decided to do, and you really don’t care what others have to say about it.

          It’s disingenuous to play the “differing opinions” card to dismiss what others think and have to say. It’s one thing to all sit and have a discussion to sort out the issue prior to deciding on a collective action. But you’ve already disregarded others who happen to disagree with you, pronounced none of their say is sensible, and unilaterally went ahead to act on your opinion to prompt some official response action, went about as if you represent the majority of the community even when it seems you might only speak for a few. That mentality and method seem strangely similar to the way that a few individuals recently had unilaterally taken action to landscape the LZ of a long existing boulder problem and left it altered as if they were doing the world a favor.

          The moved boulder isn’t a misdeed that’s impossible to correct without NPS involvement. Some situ’s are more favorable for NPS involvement wrt to climbing interests, and some are not. The other voices that you had readily dismissed, they might not necessarily speak out of the outdated motivations you so broadly painted onto them and went to great wordy lengths to associate them with. Maybe they’re just being real, and sensible, with legit concerns, more so than you’re willing to see, or can’t afford to bother to see bec you just have to push forward with your program.

        • That’s 20/20 hindsight. There wasn’t any collective discussion or round table chat session. I don’t need your approval or that of anyone else to work toward a solution. And I completely disagree with your attitude about what you think I did. Had I not mentioned in my blog that I contacted the park service, there wouldn’t be any discussion. But because I chose to be open and honest about my actions, you act as if I’m intentionally working AGAINST others. You are spinning. Period. You are not the voice of the community because no one is the voice of the community.

          The very fact that some advocate moving the boulder, others advocate leaving the boulder moved and still others want it moved back shows there is NO consensus in order to facilitate your fantasy idea of a “collective action” derived through us “…all sit and have a discussion to sort out the issue prior…”

          And what have you done, btw, other than bitch? And bitch from the POV that your opinion is the solution.

        • You acted on your opinion before there was even a discussion, and apparently had already decided then to not bother with what other people have to say.

          What I did was point out your disingenuous act of “appreciating” other people’s opinion when you really didn’t care to understand or listen, and the way you try to mis-characterize those who don’t happen to agree with you, so that you could dismiss their say. And you just don’t like it.

          Climbers out to do whatever they each think is the thing to do, sounds about right, sounds typical.

          I didn’t say what the solution is. There you go again, misrepresenting. I did say tho that you ignore what other people have to say. That prob was one of the things said when the WR boulder was moved — who cares what other people have to say.

        • Holy batman, I acted on my conscience.

          Disingenuous? Because I didn’t act they way you wanted me to, so therefore I can’t possibly understand fully others’ views? Where do you get this shit from? Saying things like: “when you really didn’t care to understand” speaks for itself. And yes, the fucking climbing world is full of peeps doing their own shit. Get a clue…

        • No, disingenuous not bec you didn’t act the way I want you to, as you try to spin it, which isn’t even what disingenuous means, but bec you acted as if you appreciated others’ opinions but actually didn’t. You didn’t act like you really cared for anyone’s differing opinions. You yourself indicated you didn’t put much stock in that all along: “…climber opinion is just that, another point of view…”

          I said climbers each doing their own thing was typical, which means that’s already quite known. Yet you to try to make like that’s something I don’t already know. You’re the one who needs to stop spinning.

          If you don’t want others to point out these things, all you have to do is not to engage in them. You posted in a public blog that allows public comments, and what, others shouldn’t point out what’s suspect?

  4. Dude your just a tool for the park service, throw the climbing community under the bus…acting unilaterally is because you don’t have a life…except to undermine & forsake your Bro,s…the climbing community…Or like someone once said ” You said something to just make yourself feel better…but in the process made everyone else feel like crap”…good hope your happy…..no bend over and spread them….because here it comes….access issues for all.
    Be discreet….send in a stealth team of climbers with appropriate implements and GED…get er done!…then you can spread our word of redemption….thank you! Me LORD!

    • Your words express a very xenophobic attitude. Please remember, the park service wields incredible power over our capacity to climb. I wish life was so simple as you paint it, but the reality is far more nuanced than action movies or Valley Uprising tries to paint things. The park service knew about the boulder, the climb is now in their spot light, and the area is very popular and a stone’s throw from camping. I’m honestly confused why you’re so bent out of shape and emotionally fuming, all because of conjecture on your part…

  5. Back in the days before pads, my buddy Scott pushed his little boat farther from shore than he ever had before on that particular problem, and broke his back on that boulder. He’d be PISSED to learn it’s been moved.

  6. 1. I agree with Russ, this blog and talking to the park service is a poor way of handling this situation. What exactly did you wish to accomplish by reporting it, by placing it on your blog? As climbers, it is all our jobs to be responsible stewards. This means when there are issues in the climbing community to handle them as discreetly as possible. This is very important that we police ourselves and are discrete because it avoids access issues that come about when we contact the park service. So as a small member of the climbing community I implore you to please take down this post and learn discretion in the future. You seem to have a lot of passion for keeping our climbing areas in good condition, but right now, you are being part of the problem.
    2. A quote from JL on MT.com
    ‘I didn’t do the FA. John Bachar and I did it together – can’t remember who went first. It was never a hard problem, just an exciting one, and once you got up a ways, into the 5.11 move, I don’t think you could hit that boulder – but maybe I’m not remembering this correctly. I don’t see moving that boulder as any big thing. If you were cutting down a tree or something, that might be an issue. But so far as I can tell what’s really going on here is people are clearing out the base for aspiring hardmen/women to get a feel for the first moves without crashing and buring on the landing. White Rasta is almost a tourist attraction, and is so far away from being any kind of testpiece that it all seems good to me. ’

    • Discretion is the reason the boulder got moved in the first place. Ignorance is the cause. If you believe that by NOT making this public the problem will go away and we as a secret and discreet community can and will police our own issues and problem, then how do you prevent this from happening in the future? I posted because I wanted to:
      1. inform climbers.
      2. inform gym climbers of how others feels about moving the boulder.
      3. act as a counter point to the climbing media that won’t educate the new and massive emerging gym climbing scene. John Long is one opinion, though a very important one.

      Please read my response in the mountainproject.com forum for why I disagree with JL. BTW, what is your point of quoting JL? Are you advocating not moving the boulder? JL’s comment is contradictory where it speaks of hardmen/women then goes on to speak about not being a testpiece… isn’t that the definition of a testpiece where people test themselves on something? And if it’s to do moves without “crashing and burning” why not test oneself in a gym to do just that: not crash and burn?

  7. The excerpt from John Long is fantastic. It really captures the essence of highball bouldering, which is so hard to describe to people who don’t have experience with it.

    I was an impressionable 19 year old when i first climbed White Rastafarian. The whole trip was magical; my first time in Joshua Tree, my first time climbing with great new college friends, my first experience on such massive boulders. For protection on these massive blocks we had my lowly rendition of a homemade crashpad – egg-crate style foam doubled over, wrapped in duct tape. What could go wrong?

    We sized up White Rastafarian for a few minutes before I set off, up and then back down the layback crack a few times so I could work up the courage to climb up there and try the big move out left. I remember my faith in my great climbing partner, a big guy who was always a loyal and dedicated spotter, and my confidence in my climbing ability (probably misplaced, since I was young and stupid) as the two things that reassured me that I could climb this thing. I clearly remember that fateful moment, reaching out left, hearing a great wind roar through the valley, and watching with some horror as my homemade crashpad went flying off into the desert. Well, I thought, I guess I’m committed now. I scrambled up over the top a few heart-thumping moments later, exhilarated with the effort and the experience.

    It’s sad to think that other people might not be able to have that experience in the future. But it would be naive to think that my personal experience on White Rastafarian was an experience that everyone needs to have for themselves. I’d like to think that others are having their own first highballing experiences elsewhere, on other rocks, in other places, and in their own ways, regardless of what happens to this chunk of rock known as White Rastafarian.

    • Your experience really does capture the nature of such an iconic line, regardless of grade. I’ve had similar experiences, and it really does make it deeply meaningful. I ask others what their thoughts are, and their main focus is safety. I can’t disagree, but respecting or at least appreciating the history and relevance of the boulder as part of that send experience makes this line different than another highball that’s safer. But that’s where things seem to have changed with the advent of gym climbing and urbanites that seem unwilling or just unaware of this deeper meaning.

      I think the climbing communities’ media outlets have not done a very good job of keeping us all in the know. History really does make things different.

  8. It’s a boulder in the landing zone. If you can get it out of the way, then do. Climbers move rocks, big and small, all of the time. For example, removing a large death block during the first ascent of a route if it can easily and safely be trundled to prevent injury on subsequent ascents…or moving a smaller rock to even out a landing zone when bouldering. Pretty simple, no need to get injured over a rock climb, if avoidable. Seems kind of artificial to keep it there, especially if it presents a hazard. Climbing has all sorts of impacts on the land. Moving a boulder such as this is relatively minimal in comparison to crash pad vegetation destruction, people shitting in the open desert, and making trails to and from climbs/problem, to name a few.

    • When developing a new area or a new boulder these days, I agree it is common for people to alter the natural state of things by flattening landings, cleaning off moss, etc etc….. The difference with WR is that the problem has remained exactly how nature left it for YEARS(to my knowledge) The problem has seen countless ascents over those years as well. I think that’s why the moving of the boulder is getting the attention it is. WR is easily tall enough to get seriously injured boulder or no boulder. The first ascentionists did not feel the need to move the rock, thereby establishing the “style” , and subsequent climbers have respected that style. Its all a matter of opinion, and mine is particularly insignificant. I do love and respect climbing ‘s rich history of tradition, and moving the boulder in the fall zone does alter the traditional nature of the climb from a highball boulderers’ perspective. A friend of mine forwarded this blog to my email and I was keen to throw my two cents in because I actually ended getting badly hurt by landing on the boulder….. And i still feel it should be left where it was originally.
      Cheers to all, happy and safe climbing!

    • … so the history and the style of the first ascent, not to mention the many thousands of repeats over 40 years, is irrelevant?

  9. For what it’s worth, coming from someone who fell from around the crux and landed straight leg on the “skull cracker”, suffering a horrendous open fracture/dusted ankle- In my humble opinion the boulder should clearly NOT have been moved. To state the obvious, we as climbers accept (and if not-should) the risks inherent to climbing outside. Especially highballing. I for one cannot wait for my opportunity to return to WR for a proper send- and it would be great to find the problem, and all its elements, in its original state.

    • Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry to hear the price you paid for trying to climb the iconic line. I wish that you have an excellent recovery and can return to the line in it’s original form for a proper send.

  10. Folks seem to be forgetting that White Rastafarian is located in a highly visible and easily accessed part of the Hidden Valley Campground. The Park Service already knew about it.

    No one is disputing the historical tension between climbers and NPS. Russ’ concerns, especially given his background and experience as an early developer in the park, seem perfectly justified. The thing is, we are living in changing times with a massive influx of wannabes coming straight from the gyms having no concept of ethics or appropriate crag behavior, and the Park Service is watching climbers more than ever to see what plays out. Fortunately, some of these NPS rangers today are also climbers who seem to be very motivated to balance climber access with resource protection.

    I think RtM put it well when he said on SuperTopo that by “expressing our disapproval as well as offering our aid in the matter including possible solutions, we not only prove ourselves to be responsible participants, but we also engender their trust.”

  11. I agree with Russ – leave law enforcement out of it. History has proven Russ’s points time and again….

  12. Not a good call going to the Park Service about this.

  13. One of the amazing things about climbing in Josh is the history, and the feeling of (literally) climbing in the footsteps of climbing legends of a bygone era. This problem was established 40 years ago!!! Thanks to some selfish wankers that saw fit to alter the landing zone of WR, countless climbers in the present and future will be robbed of the opportunity to experience the “true” White Rastafarian for themselves. This really saddens me.

    Folks can choose whether or not to use crashpads beneath a boulder; indeed, most would argue that this “modern technology” is an essential safety component, while others might minimize or eschew their use. Moving that chunk of stone from below WR has essentially forced the “choice” of an altered landing zone on everyone.

    The boulder should be moved back to where it belongs, plain and simple. And fortunately, it seems like that will happen soon (be it climbers or the Park Service).

  14. Thank you Rob, for bringing this situation to public attention, and also thanks for alerting the Park Service in a well thought out manner. I spoke with them as well, and they were very impressed with the climbing communities response and desire to restore the area.

    • No problem. I heard you posted about this on your facebook page. Getting the word out is very important. Aside from open conflict, I think education is the preferred approach. Whomever moved the boulder is most likely NOT a serious outside boulderer. Hearing from people who support the idea of preserving the natural order of things will only help to discourage this type of action in the future.

      I feel, though I may be misguided, that if the park service is willing to work with us, we should try to improve relations and work with them. Fingers crossed…

      • Before this horse actually dies, here is the problem with situations like this and involving the Park Service: Once the PS decides it is ok to move the boulder back into place, that sanctioned event might just open them up to possible litigation if anyone gets hurt landing on that boulder. The argument being the landing was “safe” and then the Park Service made it dangerous and somebody got hurt. Sounds winnable in court. But, if some anonymous entity moved the boulder back into place… everyone is judgement proof! Something to think about anyway.

        • Fair enough. The fact that our courts are too stupid to understand accountability isn’t something I want to be part of. But lets look at it from another point of view: park service leaves the boulder in place (most likely climbers will move it back themselves), and now not only new development but established problems get their LZ’s landscaped… over and over (and we end up chasing these guys to fix their dastardly deeds). If the park service supports returning it to its original place, something that can be argued in a court as a form of restoration, then that sets a precedent for others NOT to landscape LZ’s. Life is fickle.

        • Spooky- three years later …..

  15. I’m not sure how to take you seriously. You write in one blog post that you’re in support of glue and criticize those who take a stance against it (creating false arguments and not getting your facts straight, just to mention one thing) but then in this next post you write, “That said, chipping or otherwise modifying anything means we’ve lowered the bar to our standard.” So which is it? Is it acceptable anywhere except crags you hold dear to your heart?

    • First off, I never said I was supporting gluing; I openly stated I wouldn’t glue… that means I don’t support gluing. I guess facts about events are taking by you as taking sides. What I did do was criticize their attitude and condescending approach, only! I guess you didn’t get that nuance.

  16. So, how about rolling it back into place? And why is the Park Service involved at all?

    • Rolling it back into place is the followup, as I see it. My first goal was to inform those that aren’t aware of it. Regarding the park service, I’m personally inclined to first try and work with them rather than to ignore them. Moving the boulder, regardless of the justification, is technically illegal. Just because we’ve been climbing at josh for decades doesn’t make it ours and ours alone to do as we please. In the past, I’ve spoken with both the superintendent and ranger in charge of resource management, and they both are climbers themselves and have shown a strong willingness to work with the climbing community. I’ll update this post once I get an official word from them.

      • Working with the Park Service is one thing… but simply putting the boulder back in its spot, with no hoopla or interaction with the rangers is the best way to avoid future problems. Talking to the rangers about things that should be handled quietly by climbers is a sure way to not only get the itch under their saddle going, but puts us once again on the radar.

        Who did move the boulder anyway? If you know, let them know that they should not be doing shit like that.

        • Saying “should” is simply your opinion. As far as I see it, the park service has never taken us out of the radar. And saying to put the boulder back in it’s spot with no hoopla is a bit naive given that the park service already knew about the boulder… and I was told by a sports climber, of all people. Who moved the boulder? Please tell me… so we both will know.

        • Yes it is my opinion… and also my opinion that interaction with the Rangers is usually a bad idea. The real naiveté is thinking the rangers are in any way a plus in situations like this. Past history is an easy study.

        • Understood. I appreciate your opinion, but I prefer to go another route. I personally can’t fault those in the park service now for past conflicts under the previous superintendent or when it was a monument. But understand I don’t speak for the climbing community. If you want to go move the boulder back, by all means, do so. I”ll be happy to report it as moved back.

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