Professional Climber Cuts Down Juniper Trees to Enable New Route

adventure journal joe kinder cuts down tree

Last week, while national outrage erupted over Boy Scout leaders who knocked down a rock formation millions of years old, a similar controversy was brewing in the sport of climbing. Joe Kinder, a professional climber originally from New Hampshire, was accused on Instagram of cutting down mature juniper trees to enable putting up a new route on a crag near Lake Tahoe, California. Sunday, after previously denying that he had done so, Kinder admitted the action in a post to his blog.

Under the heading, My Actions, My Responsibility, My Mistake, Kinder wrote, “I was recently informed that I had done something wrong last month while establishing new routes at an underground crag in the Tahoe region of California. I cut down two trees. Not just any trees, either. Junipers.”

Word of the tree felling first came to public light on Thursday, October 17, when a California climber named Bernie LaForest posted a photo of one of the downed trees on his Instagram feed and accused Kinder and partner Ethan Pringle of responsibility.

“The CA Juniper cut down by Joe Kinder with accomplice Ethan Pringle,” he wrote. “I wonder what Muir would think of the progression of our sport. Let these guys know how you feel. Maybe it will make a difference in the future. This tree has been growing here since before most of our families came to this continent.”

On Thursday, after numerous attempts by Adventure Journal to reach Kinder by phone, email, and social channels, he responded via Facebook, denying the incident.

“All good man…that was pretty much a joke and nothing needs to be said. No comment and nothing ever happened that was posted as fact. Nothing.”

LaForest refused to comment on the incident, other than to say, “[the issue] needs attention brought to it that would be constructive that would not be detrimental to two young climbers.” A few hours later, he removed the photo from Instagram.

But the issue didn’t end there — word made its way to climbing forums, and someone posted the photo to a forum thread at SuperTopo. Pressure was building.

On Friday, Kinder told AJ he would make a statement. On Saturday, he said he would make it by Monday. Today, he published the 1,500-word post, acknowledging the cutting and apologizing for his actions.

“This was a regrettable error on my part. I am deeply apologetic about what I did. I was wrong. I F’d up. And I’m very sorry.”

Kinder explained the sequence of events:

I lowered through a tree that was blocking the start of a route. I pushed my way through the tree and got down to the ground. The tree was about 10 feet tall and 10 inches thick. A neighboring tree (below the route next to this) was smaller, dead, and in the same predicament.

My main goal when it comes to putting up a new route is: Will this climb be something high-quality, something safe and something that climbers will enjoy? I try to make decisions that answer those questions as best as possible.

This tree I lowered through was in a dangerous spot due to the fact that there was a difficult part on this route near the ground. Essentially, a fall from this lower section might have left a future climber injured: stabbed by tree limbs or worse. This was a serious concern of mine. I left the cliff thinking about that tree, not sure what to do.

A week later, he returned with Pringle, who didn’t know that Kinder was thinking about cutting down the trees.

“I thought more about the tree making hazardous the start of this new route. Ethan didn’t know I was going to cut the juniper down and wasn’t included in my decision or action.”

Justifying his actions as a public service, similar to the men who toppled the rock in Goblin Valley, Utah, Kinder wrote, “I decided to take the initiative and make the climb safe for the future climbers…I spent about ten minutes and sawed them down.”

Kinder left Tahoe, moved onto other climbing areas, and a short while later was excited to see an email from the climber who’d introduced him to the little known Tahoe crag. He expected praise for putting up new routes, but instead was excoriated for the cutting down the trees.

“I opened it giddily, thinking it would be some exciting news about more route development at this Tahoe-area cliff. Unfortunately, his message was a shocking note of concern over my tree removal.

“I lost my breath. I felt faint. I responded immediately. [He] informed me that this was a precious, respected tree: a juniper, perhaps very old. Junipers are some of the most respected trees and they can survive for a very long time, upwards of a thousand years.

“Hearing this I nearly died. I had no clue and I felt completely awful. I had really F—d up.”

Because the exact location of the felled trees has not be revealed, it’s unclear what legal ramifications Kinder might face. Tree cutting in Tahoe National Forest, if that’s where the crag is located, is illegal without a permit, with fines up to $500 and up to six months in jail. But Tahoe takes tree cutting for spurious reasons seriously: Authorities there have been cracking down on illegal tree cutting when homeowners lop trees to improve views. In 2011, the Tahoe Regional Planning Authority, the agency charged with overseeing the issue, fined a homeowner $20,000 for cutting down five trees. In 2007, a woman who hired a company to take down trees on national forest land faced 20 years in prison, but was let off after paying $100,000 in retribution.

Read the full text of Kinder’s statement at his website, here.

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{ 88 comments…read them below or write one }

  • Greg

    There are a bunch of people on his lame website defending him, saying “he owned up to it.” But according to this article, he didn’t exactly do that. He allegedly denied it, saying it was a joke. If true, the only reason for his apology was because he got caught lying.

  • Jim MeyersJim Meyers Post author

    Good on you Joe for the apology, but that really is a shocking amount of hubris and ignorance on so many levels. Very regrettable. Best of luck weathering the sh*# storm. You deserve both it, and the eventual forgiveness of everyone.

  • Hannah ParkHannah Park Post author

    For all the apologists: The only reason he “apologized” was because he was caught in the end, after initially denying any responsibility, i.e. lying about it all to save his own ass. This is one climber I have zero respect for.

  • Tradlarry

    Skiers leave it up to large corporations to make their “routes” both viable and safe. I’m sure they clear cut trees for their groomers with the precision of zen bonsai. Not. Not saying that what kinder did was right but anyone who recreates outdoors has recreated in places that have removed trees, blown up rock, and much worse…and often no one is the wiser. What he did wasn’t great but it’s hardly the worst thing that’s happened in the last week not to mention 100 years. The sentiment behind this whole excoriation reeks. Are you really offended or do you just want to see someone famous fall hard? He apologized, paid a fine, and is trying to make it right and move on. You all should do the same.

    • Eric S

      Hang on a sec. I agree w/ you statements about the ski industry. Tho, destructive they do go about a process in obtaining permits, env impacts etc … they just don’t go about it willy-nilly or via a 1-2 person decision. Also, ski resorts attract and get masses of people into and exposed to the great outdoors. Not advocating for the creation of resorts by any means as I think they are absurd, tho the positive is an economical and recreational one.
      Finally, I am curious as to what the [climbing] route is rated? Given Kinder’s climbing abilities, I’m sure it’s not a 5.easy or “climbing mortal” rating (tho could be wrong), but that of a higher grade that few people will/can climb. I am all for new climbing routes, easy and difficult. However, significantly damaging nature for the accolade of putting up a new climbing route that all of 2 people can climb, I feel it unnecessary and irresponsible, especially when driven by the ego-centric decision of a few.

  • Dendro

    I would love to see an end cut from the tree go to Scotty Strachan or Franco Biondi at University of Nevada Reno to obtain exact dating of the tree. See how old it was and when it germinated (if possible). Could help be a lesson for those cutting trees in the future. They are like natures historians.

  • Kamini FonsecaKamini Fonseca Post author

    Wank! Fek people…you have an entire planet…but you have to take the place of the tree that cannot wander?
    What kind of fekking climber-outdoor lovin – free shit is that?
    You should be banned from going outside for as long as it takes those 2 trees to grow!

  • Brent Walker

    The really, truly regrettable thing here is that Joe wasn’t given the chance to apologize before the news (and his phone number) was made public, and some truly horrific things were said to him, on the order of physical harm, and even death threats. I have been following the story ever since I saw the original post on Dean Potter’s Instagram (itself a copy, and a link to the true original picture posted on this article), and some of the things that were said to him on those comments were truly horrific, and they were published publicly. Who knows what he received via text/phone call. Is what Joe did wrong? yes. Should he be punished? yes. but he also should have been given the chance to repay the wrong and explain his actions before being subjected to death threats from a bunch of people hiding behind the anonymity of their electronic devices. Joe made a mistake, but he has owned up to it and apologized. Whoever decided to break this story and post Joe’s personal information online is the one who should truly be ashamed, not to mention those who decided it prudent to publicly wish for the death of a human being.

    • Craig Rowe

      Yeah … um, no.

      Once it was done, it was done. I think he made it clear that if not called out on his actions, they would have remained without notice. As AJ clearly points out, when asked about it, he not only denied it, but lied about it. In the world of public statements, there is a difference.

      Death threats? Violence? Yes, that’s too far. We are a retributional society, no question about it. But the messenger is not to be blamed here. Not at all.

      • Brent Walker

        so you believe that if I caught you making an egregious mistake akin to joe’s, I should post your phone number and a picture of the incident on the internet before confronting you about it and giving you a chance to make amends? by doing so, I would be taking away your chance to have a positive response in any way, by forcing any reaction you have to be defensive (and automatically casting you as the “bad guy” in any situation thereafter. Note that the crag’s developer (and original discoverer of the crime) is NOT the one who decided to post this information publicly.

        • Rob

          Stop defending him. I heard a couple of years ago that he was travelling around chipping routes. It appears as if Joe has a narcissistic pattern of bad behavior. This is just the one time where he got caught and pissed of a large number of motivated people.

    • Bernie LaForest

      Mr. Brent Walker,
      Hello this is Bernie LaForest. If you would like to discuss this further please give me a ring. My number was posted on the original instagram also. 801-631-9251
      I will say here. I am in total agreement with you. The publication of Joe’s number was a mistake. One that I have apologized to Joe for. It was unnecessary and the only thing that was not thought through at the time. I am “ashamed” to not foresee the brutality that would be casted upon him. Which I neither condone or see as acceptable. As far as being the informant. I am as you say, not the original discoverer of the crime. That being said, I am the one who is willing to take a stand on the subject. Which of course means I get to have a conversation with you.

      Best Regards,
      Bernie LaForest

      • eb

        Bernie -

        You deserve a lot of credit for posting that up. I’m sure you had to give it some thought and weigh the issues but in my book you definitely made the right call. Your message that accompanied the image was spot on too. It sounds like without your action this serious mistake would have been swept under the rug and no one would have learned a thing. Now many more people have been exposed to the idea of thinking seriously before they act, especially in a wilderness area.

        If Joe Kinder really didn’t know the first thing about what species of tree he was cutting, that should have been his first clue to get more information from people who would know.

        But this isn’t about one person. Much bigger than that. It’s a fresh lesson for some who may have minimal experience/knowledge of natural areas like this, and a reminder for those with more knowledge, to have respect for these areas and approach them with humility. And realize you can quickly have a profound effect on your surroundings and do damage you won’t be able to undo. You as a climber have a broader responsibility than just to future climbers having fun on a route. Think of all the other future generations of forest users that will be enjoying these areas, not just climbers. For a lot of people, the trajectory in terms of your outlook on these issues as you get older is to realize the pursuit of technical difficulty really pales compared to the beauty and inherent value of the mountains and the blessing just to be able to visit these places. Know the rules and regulations where you visit too or you may be the guy that gets access for future climbers shut down. Thanks again Bernie, and way to live up to your last name!

  • Sean Arbabi

    Yeah, maybe all trees should be cut down to protect climbers. Is Kinder serious? Just because there’s an obstacle in your way doesn’t mean you get to remove it.

    You can talk about what should be done- fines, jail time, community service, whatever, but that tree is gone- just like the 5000 year old Bristlecone cut down in 1964 ( ).

    Only humans know how to destroy places and things that have been around longer than them – and we’re apparently the smarter species.

  • Matt

    WTF!?! The fight to keep access is a harder battle to fight every year. Stupid actions in the name of a new route don’t add up. This was a stupid selfish decision, that only hurts our future access. If you want to call yourself a professional climber, you must realize that you are in the spotlight, and check yourself even more. Just saying…

  • gringo

    Steve and everyone else:

    Is this mistreatment of nature a generational thing? I am ‘only’ 37 years old, but I feel like this type of thing did not happen back in the day. Hell, I remember not that long ago we would cast a critical eye on a climbing route that had a foot-polished tree in the near vicinity. It used to be that climbing, hiking, skiing, MTB….it was all a means to be out and enjoy nature.

    Joe Kinders bad joke, The Scout ‘leaders’ last week in Utah, David Lama on Cerro Torre, Potter on Delicate Arch, Hold chipping fools everywhere, French guys chopping down trees to make way for a Tour de France road gap jump…..the list is seemingly endless and I wonder why it has to be this way.

    To be honest I can start to understand why groups like the Access Fund and IMBA have such a hard road ahead of them.

    • Hotdog

      Some of it may have to do with the internet and near instant connectivity that we have anymore. I doubt something like this would have gotten this much publicity 15-20 years ago.

  • Greg FowerakerGreg Foweraker Post author

    In canada we use a hockey euphemism for actions like this_some time in the penalty box is in order. The censure of his peers will carry more stigma than any legal punishment _ Let’s hope Mr kinder redeems himself by devoting some serious time to ecological community service.

    • Sylvester

      yeah and not just a 2-minute minor. the dude should be handed down a suspension, kicked out of the league for a while to make him think about what he did.

  • Rob Trundle

    ok, the guy made a mistake and has apologized. the tree can’t be replaced, naturally none of you raking him over the coals in the self-rightous posts herein have ever made a mistake: right? peace.

  • brandon Morey

    This is why i have no respect for Joe Kinder, not just because hes arrogant. He has no respect for anything else.

  • Dave Robertson

    In his apology Joe stated that initially he had “no clue” what he was doing was wrong.

    No clue? He did not know that cutting down a live tree was wrong? I don’t believe him.

    Joe is fortunate enough to spend the majority of his life in the outdoors. He visits wild and amazing places on a regular basis and has done so for years. IMHO there is NO WAY he did not know that the tree was alive and that cutting it down was wrong. With that in mind, he flat out lied in his “apology.” That tells me a lot about his character. Personally, I find it hard to forgive someone that doesn’t even honestly admit their guilt.

    Joe heavily moderates the posts on both his FB page and blog. When I asked why he initially lied about his actions and some details on what he intended to do to to make up for his mistake, he deleted my post. I could be wrong, but my guess is that as soon as the media spotlight is off of him he will go back to business as usual.

    I will be writing all of his sponsors later today. I hope that others will take the time to do the same. The cutting of the trees was deplorable on a number of different levels. The attempt to “cover-up” what happened shows that Joe is not truly remorseful, but just wants to avoid any negative consequences resulting from his actions.

    As a sponsored athlete, Joe lives off the good-will of the climbing community and tacitly make the claim that he represent “the best” that the climbing world has to offer. His actions (cutting down the tree and behavior after the fact) show that this is not the case. If we as a community allow this to pass without comment, then we are giving this behavior our stamp of approval.

  • Ryan

    I’m not sure how to respond to this. I find it incredibly odd how someone of such high climbing caliber could make a decision like this knowing full well how much of an impact the natural feel/look of spots has on the sport. As someone that participates in sports that require minor in some, major in others, alterations to landscape (mountain biking) and ones that thrive on being untouched (surfing) I find it hard to believe that climbers enjoy altered routes over natural ones. With that said, sure it’s a terrible and I believe he’s going to learn from his mistakes whether he likes it or not, it just shows how little care we has humans have for our immediate surroundings and ones we travel to.

    And PS. since when was climbing trees not fun, safety first nerds, cut em all down!

  • River Stone

    It’s about education and awareness. If the people that desecrate our parks and natural places were educated and committed to Leave No Trace (LNT) principles, it’s likely they wouldn’t act the way they do. It’s life-changing and rewarding. Set the example so it spreads.

  • Cody

    It’s sad to me that this post is getting 40+ comments mostly (note: there are some positive comments in there) for the purpose of shit-storming. There are better ways of venting your frustrations than to spew blind hate. This is AJ, not Reddit.

    Also, at risk of being cliche, there are human children dying in the 3rd world every day from war, hunger and disease. These kids receive little to no consideration from us (I include myself here). Meanwhile, this is the reaction to cutting down two trees. It’s my opinion that our priorities are a bit off.

  • Jay Rush

    I could go the rest of my life not knowing if a new route on a big wall had been established and it would not leave a void. I do not care about the next big wall, big wave, newest mountain bike trail etc if created at the cost of wilderness. We used to be caretakers. Joe Kinder and sadly the rest of these modern day “explorers” strike me as nothing more than egotists living off of sponsorship dollars and hollow accolades. To me, you are the equivalent of an ATV user driving off-trail, or an oil-tanker spilling shit off the coast of Alaska. Time for some introspection to see what brings more value to our shared environment: blind, narcissistic recreation masquerading as something meaningful or true conservationism? Ads, magazines, tweets and posts, glorifying narrative, and material greed all perpetuate these infantile pursuits. I’m guilty too and sooo over it. We can do better. I can do better.

  • Mark

    Listen, there’s always going to be some controversy in developing a route so all you haters SHUT THE F up, you’re going to tell me you’ve never cut a tree, dug out some moss or broken off some rock crystals during your time doing what he does? So in the mean time, yes i think he was wrong AND he admitted it, so why you want to tear him down?

  • Doug SchnitzspahnDoug Schnitzspahn Post author

    With the parks shutdown and all sort of people clamoring that they didn’t need rangers, management, regulations, etc. i think stuff like this really shows how vulnerable these last wild places truly area and how some of the biggest dangers come from self-absorbed people who feel as if they are their own personal playgrounds.

  • Freddie Wilkinson

    Joe Kinder is a good dude and positive life-force in our sport and the outdoor community. He made a mistake that was born from carelessness, not evil intent or unforgivable arrogance. His denial reads to me more like a dismissal of a nagging blogger than a fundamental lie – perhaps not the best way to handle it, but I think we’ve all been in embarrassing situations that we want just to go away. Bottom line: trimming or even removing a tree to facilitate outdoor recreation is not an immoral act. That said, it should be done with restraint, respect for wilderness, as well as local standards and land management rules. Joe’s mistake had to do with with not giving these dimensions due consideration. I doubt there’s a popular crag or boulder field across this land that has not lost vegetation or otherwise been permanently altered by climbers – to say nothing of your favorite ski hill or mountain-biking trail. Then, consider that nearly every expedition over the last century of Himalayan mountaineering has burned a few arm loads of juniper branches to appease the gods to protect their white asses as they go off climbing. Joe’s had his fifteen minutes of infamy, let’s move on and all be more conscious of how tricky it can be to balance our love of adventure with our respect for nature.

    • Greg Child

      To reply to Freddie Wilkinson’s forgiving, supportive diminishment of Joe Kinder’s irresponsible and selfish vandalism: balderdash, Freddie. The whole thing stinks. Forgiving this act stinks. Excusing such an act stinks, and merely enables more of the same. It was a thousand year old tree. A chainsaw had to be employed to fell it, these things are iron hard. Ansel Adams might have photographed the tree in its setting and the image be proclaimed to be an iconic representations of the Sierras. One thing fueled Mr Kinder’s actions, and it was selfishness. The upshot is that all climbers will suffer from this sort of act, because the only thing a land manager can do in response is to ban climbers from a cliff if they practice such vandalism. Frankly, who would blame a land manager from banning us all? If climbers condone and forgive this behavior they deserve what they get.

      • Trad Larry

        I respect you immensely, Mr. Child, but I find your assessment completely inaccurate. I wonder in what ways you think removing a tree could ever be considered “selfish.” What does one even gain from that? Kinder explained it was done to protect a climber from becoming impaled in the event of a fall on his new route. Not to mention, he didn’t even climb the route first. He gave it up to another person for the honors of doing the first ascent after doing all the work he put in to prepare the climb. Does any of that honestly smack of selfishness to you?

        Further, you do not know the tree’s age. Not that that makes a huge difference since the act was regrettable and something.

        I approve of Mr. Wilkinson’s response and find it to be one of the few voices of reason on this site and/or Supertopo, where most people seem to be more interested in reveling in this character assassination (out of jealousy for his lifestyle, or because it’s titilating web “news” or because they’re just god-awful bored) than they are interested in lamenting the extremely relatively minor environmental impact this act caused Mother Nature.

          • Yo Chi

            Dear Greg Child,


            Two wrongs don’t make a right, i.e.- your aimless criticism with no offered solutions. From the link that I posted above it looks like Mr. Kinder is working to make amends for his grievous error. If you still can’t temper your anger after reading that, then let’s really speak about selfishness. How about your countless global travels by plane to pursue your own alpine and rock climbing pursuits? The exhaust and greenhouse emissions from those many, many flights over a span of decades isn’t insignificant.

            Your sarcastic replies do not suit someone of your age and stature in the climbing community. Facetiously asking if anyone knows who Ansel Adams just makes you look childish; I would expect that kind of action from someone posting over on and not from a well-respected member of the climbing community.

            If anything positive can be taken from this debacle, it’s that environmental and climbing ethics have been brought into wide and active discussion. Now if only that talk could be stewarded in a constructive direction… (Who am I kidding, this is the internet. Ugh.)

  • Scoobydude

    did that guy put joe’s phone number into the social media sphere? that’s a pretty big violation of personal privacy. not to take away from the wrong doing that kinder did, but i noticed this in the picture and was kind of shocked.

  • Fang Liang

    I found this guy disgusting, I expect this from some teenage punk ass, not a 29 yrs old man. If I don’t see this guy turning himself in to the Forest Service, I don’t see him having repented.

    I hope everyone go on to his sponsor’s page and voice their opinions, I will.

  • Shawn

    This story has turned out to be nothing short of shocking for me, and not because a climber cut down a tree or two, but rather the hasty attempt of the climbing community to persecute this guy. I get it, he cut down a beautiful old tree, when and where he shouldn’t have, shame on you Joe. Where the absolute insane level of hypocrisy comes in, is that to some onlookers, climbing is a very intrusive sport. Rock is drilled, bolts are left in, fixed anchors are attached, gear is left behind for ones “project”, trails are trampled in, moss is scraped, stares are built, landings are leveled off, and the list goes on and on. In some people eye, crags around the world have been essential trashed from climbers. Yet, all these same people who are saying “he should never be aloud to climb again in a public place” and “throw the book at him”, even calling him “F-ing this, F-that, F-that guy” etc, are the same people who participate, use and often construct the aforementioned. It’s completely bewildering to me. The tragedy to me here isn’t the trees being cut, its how quickly Joes own peers have tried to publicly condemn him and muddy his reputation.

  • motomynd

    Between the juniper cutting and Goblin toppling, the really scary news may be that the inconsiderate jerks we gave up golf to get away from, may have caught up with us in the adventure realm.

  • Erik Kaufhold

    That’s tragic. Does anyone know if there will be an investigation done by the forest rangers or any kind of fine or punishment given out?

  • Adam

    Learn ethics… and follow them. It first started with bolting everything and know cutting down trees, what can’t make the move (bro). Get some ethics, learn how to climb or stay out of the wilderness.

  • eb

    He’s actually 33 so if he hasn’t learned how to act in wilderness areas yet it seems doubtful he’s going to figure it out now. Especially with the bad faith he showed in first lying about his actions (“All good man…that was pretty much a joke and nothing needs to be said. No comment and nothing ever happened that was posted as fact. Nothing.”), and in his sorry-I-got-caught apology saying that one of the trees was dead. He should do something meaningful and work a season for the CCC so he can start his education in treating wilderness with respect. And to his apologists who say “look over there, that guy ripped up a meadow with his ATV,” try that the next time you get caught breaking the law in a national forest.

  • Greg Child

    What I am seeing here in a lot of posts and in the apologist position of Joe’s sponsors is the diverting of the focus from the real issue. The real issue is vandalism on public land and the impact that can have on the access climbers are allowed on public land. Now that Joe has been caught fair and square and has been forced to admit to his vandalism (after an initial effort to cover his actions with denials) everyone wants to forgive. Fair enough that his mea culpa includes donations, fines and replanting work. He’s supposed to be a role model, this is merely the penalty for the infraction, not a charitable donation. He has got off very lightly. But to divert attention from the actual seriousness of this act by shooting the messenger, and pointing the finger at people like me who felt enough outrage to speak their mind is interesting. To whit, I see replies to my posts that call me angry and sarcastic, and that I should be as ashamed as a tree chopper for all the greenhouse gasses I have contributed to by flying around the world on my climbing travels. Maybe I should bury myself in my compost pile for my past sins in climbing, but I prefer to use sarcasm in chatting about matters like this. The raw facts are simply too depressing. I stand my ground in believing that it was unnecessary to kill the tree in question, and that the loss of said tree has grievous implications to climbing.

      • Trad Larry

        Not that I have a personal problem with that … just to be clear. But any time you establish a route, you open yourself to criticism because you have to physically alter the environment to make it climbable, one way or the other. A tree removal is on the spectrum of stuff that we do to nature to make cliffs climbable, mountains skiable, trails bike-able, etc. … And certainly not all trees are the same and every place is different. But I think we’d all be a lot better off showing a little compassion and understanding about the context of this situation instead of judging it so harshly. Even the main article is reckless in this sense: comparing this to the goblin valley rednecks is way out of line, in my one, humble opinion. One is senseless destruction for its own sake, the other is destruction for the sake of communal creation: a route to be climbed and enjoyed by others. There’s also a context and precedent to the latter (trees are removed out east all the time to make routes climbable), which doesn’t come through in this article either … anyway … I’m over this whole thing …

        • Greg Child

          Larry, how about I add some glue to my compost pile? Maybe we could all get together and glue the juniper tree back in place, and everything would be nice again?

          • Trad Larry

            If you’ve put up a route on public lands, you could probably be considered a “vandal” to use your own words … we’re all a part of the same tribe of outlaws, dude. Have some compassion for a brother …

          • Greg Child

            Larry, you must have as much time on your hands in Moab as I apparently have. Are there any other personal attacks on me you’d like to make, brother outlaw dude?

  • ari

    I’m not saying that what he did was right by any means, but what’s up with all the media attention and hostility? Do you know how many trees were cut down making ski resorts, bike trails, and hiking paths? Though what he did was illegal, I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Comment such as “I hope he falls” are completely uncalled for. You people are condemning this man for practically nothing. I guarantee that most individuals have done something similar to cutting down trees or picking California Poppies. It’s sad to see a whole community of people rush to condemn a man of something so trivial.

  • L.K.

    I have one question to all you haters? Have any of you yuppie, tree hugging, self righteous, ignorant, wannabe outdoor enthusiast ever in your life developed a rock climbing crag or bouldering area? Have you ever ridden a Mtn bike trail or paid with your daddys bank account to ride that sick blue bird pow day at the ski resort? If you have, then you would pull that giant swollen juniper branch out of the crevice between your legs and realize that this is a very normal practice and has been happening all over the world in all sports for many many years!!! Not only that but the forest service and road construction crews have cut down billions of trees so all you lazy cafe mocha latte frappa appa gamma chino drinking mo fo’s can enjoy the wilderness! If your against this practice then you should quit skiing, mtn biking, climbing, hiking etc.. and further more don’t drive to any of these areas either.
    Trees grow back!! There is in no way shape or form any comparison to this tree being cut down and a rock being knocked over in Goblin Valley, not even in the same ball park, so get over it! You all need to wake up and realize the bigger picture going on all over the world. There are billions of trees all over the world, how many climbing crags are there? Maybe a few thousand, do the math people. Joe did nothing wrong here, move on and get a life.

    • Greg Child

      Great stuff, L.K., get it off your chest. Hey, I’ve been getting told on this thread that I’m angry and unreasonable for having an opinion sympathetic to the tree, but you eclipse me. So let me get this straight: its unreasonable to criticize Joe’s cutting down a tree, and its good to praise him for it – is that how it goes?

    • eb


      You have a problem with some guy knocking over some rock in a state park? Get over it, dude! Do you have any idea that the earth is one big rock? Jeez, rock is everywhere. And guess what? It erodes. Constantly!!! So new eroded rock features are being created all the time. All the time man! Have you ever lived in a house? Or driven on a road? If you have, then chances are some of that rock you worship was mined and pulverized just so you could sleep with a roof over your head and drive your sick ride around. If you’ve got a problem with your precious rock being altered then you better dig a hole in the ground (not touching any rocks) and then just stay there.

    • jim

      juniper trees don’t grow back so fast dude. I’ve been backpacking for many years and have never cut down a tree. if you want to rock climb do so by all means, but leave no trace still applies. it’s clue-lesss people like you who need to get a life and move on… and preferably stay out of the wilderness.

  • motomynd

    LK, so basically Joe did nothing wrong because he “improved” a climbing route, and there are so few climbing routes compared to the number of trees? Following that logic you would have no problem with off-road motorcyclists dynamiting a few prime boulder hotspots here and there to improve their routes, because there are so few really great dirt bike trails and there are plenty of big rocks? It may be over-reactive for people to say they hope a climber will fall and get hurt just because he cut down a tree, but who put members of the climbing community – even if they are sponsored “professional” climbers – in charge of altering the environment for the rest of us just because it suits their needs?

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