Leave No Trace "Ethics"

Posted by $ pixelate 7 years, 8 months ago to Philosophy
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Another bit related to Agenda 21 is that of reducing human beings to animals that are below the level of pond scum. Take a look at the "Leave No Trace" protocols. At first blush, the recommendations seem to be straightforward... just plain common sense: when out in the wilderness, do what you can to leave no trace: put out campfires, pick up your trash, try to keep down the noise pollution, bury your crap far from fresh water, don't taunt the animals, etc... Here is where the frightening part comes into play - and although this is purely anecdotal, you be the judge.

Back in 1994, I decided to climb Mt. Rainier here in Washington State. I went up with the RMI guide service and it was quite the adventure, both physically and mentally. Flash forward to 2009. I decided to return to the summit of Rainier; again, I went up with the RMI guide service. On the descent, the guides stopped us on a 45 degree snow slope while we were to remove our crampons (devices worn outside the boots - they have steel teeth to grab the snow and ice). Directly in front of us was a large flat rock area. While a dozen or so climbers and the guides are carefully taking off and stashing the crampons while also risking falling down the snow face, I asked one of the guides "Wouldn't it be easier and safer if we removed our crampons while on that rock?" One of the guides replied "Leave No Trace instructs us to not disturb the plant life on durable surfaces." (I am paraphrasing here, but you get the picture). Translation: rock moss is more important than human beings. Nobody else offered a reaction to the proscribed Leave No Trace "ethics." This is a horrifying case of incremental progressivism at its worst.

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  • Posted by $ winterwind 7 years, 8 months ago
    Congrats on both the climbs and the notice of "lichen before people".
    It's been a step on my way to first, think of what I would say in reply to such silliness, and second [some of the time] to say it.
    "Does "Leave No Trace" have the force of law, or is it just a suggestion?" might have been a nice, non-threatening question to ask.
    "I have not been so instructed." is a goes more in the other direction. Having done my homework on lichens, I might point out that the lichens don't cover the entire rock surface, and that humans could certainly use "this part" and stay safe.
    A more rabble-rousing reply is "I will be careful; when I slip, which one of you will come after me?"
    and then there's the astonished look and "Are you out of what passes for your mind? I do not choose to risk my life to preserve lichen." followed by removing your crampons extremely carefully. If you needed the guide to get the rest of the way down, it might not be a good idea to push it. But maybe......

    Just like mountaineering, there's always another step. Sometimes you get to take it first.
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    • Posted by $ 7 years, 8 months ago
      Thanks for sharing your feedback and thoughts. At the time when we were told to "respect the rock moss" - I simply blinked - the admonition to keep the moss safe from assault was incomprehensible. It was not until some time later - when I got home and unpacked - did I finally have a response to such nonsense... I would have inquired (and this is gonna sound sexist) "What happened to men?" As in, real men would not have let such anti-human nonsense become policy. I was tempted to draft a letter to RMI; but I knew that I would be climbing with them in the future on other Rainier routes / other mountains. No letter was ever written. Instead, here is the first place that I share my story and observation - here in The Gulch. Perhaps I am just as guilty as the RMI guides for not 'drawing a line in the sand' against the onslaught of nonsense. I know that REI is a big supporter of Leave No Trace - and lots of gear manufacturers include blurbs from Leave No Trace with the documentation for their products. The whole thing is rather depressing.
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      • Posted by $ winterwind 7 years, 8 months ago
        NOPE. Only serve yourself the amount of guilt you actually deserve. The people [?] enforcing the policy are more guilty of perpetuating the evil than you are. YOU knew something was wrong, and you thought about it, and you said something about it - exactly what one should do as that first step when confronted with policies and programs both ridiculous and dangerous.
        Now you start to think about whether this is a place that you are going to draw the line. I do understand the lure of the hills, but you should question how much, if any, you will support the RMI program in the future. Are you willing to go up time after time, with the constant reminders that lichen, moss and pond scum are more important than you are as part of the price?

        Yes, "the whole thing" is rather depressing. Being told you're worthless IS depressing; it is not done by accident.

        Thinking, talking, planning, gaining intellectual ammunition are anti-depressive activities - multi-purpose, as well: how else are you going work on the course of your life and compose scathing prose at the same time?

        Best Wishes,
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