Stawamus River climbers camp mess

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BK
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Stawamus River climbers camp mess

Post by BK » Wed Oct 10, 2012 8:14 pm

I recieved the following notice / letter as a broadcast mail out via a local community group.
The letter was from a resident of valleycliffe who obviously is less than happy about the annual presence of the widespread unmaintained campsites along the Stawamus river, accessed from the Mamquam forest service road.
I live in Valleycliffe and every year we have squatters (climbers mainly) who set up camp the entire summer on the south side of the Stawamus River. Every year they leave tons of garbage when they leave. This year there are coolers, plastic bins, pots and pans, tarps and some broken tents, etc. And that is just what I can see from the river’s edge and not walking around the entire site (see photo called Squatter Garbage taken today).

This year we have had more squatters than ever and there is still a big site set up farther up the river but it looks like no one is there but still inhabited (see photo called Squatter 2).

The rain starts on Friday and the river will rise. Eventually all of this garbage will end up in the river and the ocean. Last year was our biggest pink salmon run in decades and the river is full of baby salmon.

Now that I know they are gone, I have arranged for a clean up this Saturday October 13th at 12pm. We are meeting at the trail entrance on Valley Drive. I have asked for volunteers from my neighbours and people around Squamish. I know at the end of the day it will probably just be myself and my husband who end up cleaning it all up but we are willing to do it as we love our rivers and the wildlife here.

Is there anything we can do in the future to prevent these squatters from setting up camp for months on end? Not only do they leave all their garbage, they do all their washing (clothing, dishes, their selves) in the river. They also defecate in the forest (I know because my dog loves to roll in human poop for some bizarre reason). I’ve wanted to storm over there and tell them to leave but what good what that do and how safe would that have been?

Any suggestions would be appreciated for the future and if you know of anyone who may want to take an hour of their day on Saturday that would be great too!

If anyone knows anyone still camping there perhaps they could be kindly advised to do us all a favor and clean the place up completely before a bunch of legitimately grumpy locals show up on saturday to do the dirty work themselves. This sort of stuff really dosn't help much in our relations with the rest of our community.

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Re: Stawamus River climbers camp mess

Post by squamish climber » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:40 am

Ughh, This is bad. This person's letter has shattered my idealized image of climbers as a fraternity of like-minded people who love the outdoors and tread softly because they want to be good stewards of the environment.

What's wrong with climbers that they feel it's okay to dump their garbage and crap? And what's wrong with the rest of us that we would walk by this mess left behind by fellow climbers and not do anything about it, like pick it up, alert the SAS or CASBC or organize a clean-up etc..

This careless action by climbing slobs and inaction by the climbing community is staining the image of us all. I think it's a wake up call that we all have to do better.
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Re: Stawamus River climbers camp mess

Post by AaronRN » Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:31 pm

squamish climber wrote:Ughh, This is bad. This person's letter has shattered my idealized image of climbers as a fraternity of like-minded people who love the outdoors and tread softly because they want to be good stewards of the environment.
Seriously? So you think the sh*t of your fellow climbers don't stink? Literally..... I don't care if you're the most environmentally minded, David Suzuki loven', tree huggen, person on the planet. All that organically grown tofu and free trade coffee has not go somewhere once your body is done with it.
If you want to rebuild your idea of stewardship stand up, pitch in and be counted. Where are you going to be Saturday at 12?

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Re: Stawamus River climbers camp mess

Post by squamish climber » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:12 pm

I understood when I contemplated criticizing the community I'm part of that some out there would want to slam me rather than taking a critical look at what's going on. There are people in Squamish, perhaps your neighbours, who view these climbers as squatters - and that is not a positive label.

If you're going to bivy or commando camp maybe you should do things that won't attract attention and won't pollute the river. Such as dig a proper latrine so you're not crapping in shallow holes that dogs will sniff out and roll in. And what about a digging a grease pit so you're not depositing food and soap into the river? And I'm sorry, but what happened to the wilderness ethic of leaving no trace. Some may say this is off a logging road and it's no big deal, but tell that to the salmon in the Stawamus River.

My comment was that we all need to do better and yes I include myself. More climbers than ever are coming to Squamish and there are more climbers living full-time in the Sea to Sky corridor, yet membership in the SAS and CASBC is dwindling and both organizations struggle to find climbers willing to get involved.

Aaron I know you've given back in a lot of ways most recently scrubbing a nice new route, Krimo Gold -- big thanks -- so my comments are not directed at you but to the hundreds (thousands?) of climbers who enjoy the climbs but are apathetic when it comes to supporting and participating in organizations that work on their behalf. Heck if you can spend three hours waiting to climb Skywalker you could spare a couple of hours to attend an SAS meeting or pick up trash at the base of climbs or on the backside trail.

Where am I on Saturday? Unfortunately, I am committed to taking my Cubs and Scouts on an outing and fundraiser as their leader. But I’m seriously considering heading up tomorrow (Friday) after work to do some clean-up. And btw I did give up one of my 14 days in Squamish this year for the CASBC trail day this summer and I’ve spent a bunch of hours and money on this site so the climbers can get together and discuss issues (hopefully civilly) and suggest solutions. But my point was not to sound holier than thou nor cast stones or point fingers at individuals but to exhort the community as a whole to work together so situations like this don’t develop.
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Re: Stawamus River climbers camp mess

Post by BK » Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:51 am

In my brief communication with the letter writer, one of the first things she said was that she knew this was the work of a few bad apples and most likely visitors, so it didn't reflect on all of us. I hope that others are capable of making that distinction. But really that is beside the point. The point is , which i think David jones was driving at, is that it is a recurring problem which negatively affects the environment and sours our relations with our immediate neighbors and is perpetuated by some of "our" fellow climbers. Perhaps squamish climbers as a whole should be a bit more proactive in discouraging this sort of behavior. I'm as guilty as anybody, having known of its existence, suspecting the likely impact, yet not even bothering to go check it out - turning a blind eye, as it were.

I can totally sympathize with the typically poverty driven need to "dirt bag" and it sure has a solid tradition. Hell I was doing it myself just a week ago just above the Mobile in Lee Vining. However it should be recognized by everyone that the ability to do so is tenuous and a gift that is only allowed through the good will of the residents. If anyone abuses this gift through needless abusive and selfish behavior then that gift is going to disappear. The fact that the cops never gave them the boot is only because no one demanded that they do so, which I am a bit surprised at but no doubt has to do with the generally tolerant nature of the neighbors.

Managing garbage should be a cinch - just clean up. Poop is something else. The odd crap in the woods under the grand wall is an easily managed problem with no impact if dealt with properly. A heavily populated camp site needs an organized system of crap containment and removal. The fact that this toxic fecal waste dumping is occuring literally in our neighbors back yard, right beside a significant fish bearing stream and just upstream of heavily used swimming and fishing holes is a pretty big red flag.

The question is: should we - that is us squamish climbers, defacto custodians of the resource - be turning a blind eye to this or actively discouraging it?

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Re: Stawamus River climbers camp mess

Post by Tricouni » Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:22 am

I think the sort of thing BK and the letter-writer describe should be actively discouraged, otherwise the cops will do it for us. And after-the-fact cleanup is necessary. The garbage won't go away on its own. Perhaps something along the lines of Yosemite's Facelift once or twice a year? I'd be willing to pitch in for a day, even though I'm now an infrequent visitor the the Chief.

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Re: Stawamus River climbers camp mess

Post by BK » Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:24 pm

I went to check it all out today. Sure enough there's a regular little city down there, totally abandoned. It actually looks pretty well maintained and the tranquil riverside ambiance was quite appealing. It must have been quite the little utopia - somebody sure had a great summer in squamish! too bad they didn't go the extra nine yards and remove it all before splitting the scene. If anyone wants a few low end dome tents, camp chairs, coolers, tarps etc you better get on down there and help yourself.

A couple of other sites were still occupied and the residents appreciated the heads up on the raiding party scheduled for saturday. One bunch of young quebecois thought they'd for sure be here for another month of crisp autumn climbing and looked a bit shocked when I broke up laughing and informed them that the next time the rock will be dry will be sometime next May! They of course swore they'd clean up all their old wet socks, bongs, wonderbread and Canadian Tire pup tents and drag it with them down to California .... jeez I was almost jealous when they said that.

No sign of any giant mounds of fecal matter. A good sign?

Anyway it looks like a bit of work on saturday

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Re: Stawamus River climbers camp mess

Post by damor » Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:45 pm

As a climber and a Valleycliff resident, I'll be joining some folks from the Squamish Paddling Club at around 12 to give a hand.

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Re: Stawamus River climbers camp mess

Post by squamish climber » Sat Oct 13, 2012 8:24 pm

To everybody who showed up today to clean-up and sort out the mess -- you proved once again that climbers care, so a big thanks. I wish I could have been there. Does anybody have any photos of what you had to deal with?

Bruce - thanks to you as well and alerting the climbing community of the situation and making friendly contact with the Quebecois climbers. It seems they were truly stunned to learn that the warm sun and dry rock may not make another appearance for another five months. I guess they were not the only ones to have their idealized image of squamish climbing shattered.

Seems like a good ending all round. Climb on.
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Re: Stawamus River climbers camp mess

Post by bret » Sun Oct 14, 2012 1:22 pm

Rats, I walked through there on Thursday and wondered if anyone was staying there. If I would have known it was vacated I would have helped myself to the left over bran flakes :P

They had a real nice set up, and besides leaving everything it appeared to be fairly clean, garbage left in bags and in one place, etc. It is a shame that 'leave no trace' isn't practiced by everyone but good on the people who cleaned up after the campers.

I would have helped with the clean up but was in AB for the week. I live in valleycliffe and use the river often. If anything is still left behind I will be sure to bring it out :)

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Re: Stawamus River climbers camp mess

Post by JSmith » Sun Oct 14, 2012 2:15 pm

Hello all.
Yesterday a crew of 10 spent an hour surveying the camps and removing garbage. Notes have been posted on the campsites giving a 1 week eviction notice. Anyone wanting to help remove the remaining crap can meet at noon on Saturday Oct 20th, 700m(ish) up the FSR on the left.
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Re: Stawamus River climbers camp mess

Post by scrubber » Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:15 pm

I'll be there If I'm not working.

K

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Re: Stawamus River climbers camp mess

Post by jbird » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:28 pm

I will be there on Saturday, do we need to bring anything. . . trash bags etc.

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Re: Stawamus River climbers camp mess

Post by dirtmcgirt » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:40 pm

Hey all,

While the clean up was going on did someone happen to find my Boyfriends Specialized "Hardrock" mountain bike from the woods near the bridge on Mamquam FSR? It's fairly new with front suspension and burgundy in color. I went to retrieve it from the woods this morning and it's gone. Please, please let me know. Thank you...


Let me know if you see it around. Looks just like this photo ---->
http://www.google.ca/imgres?q=specializ ... 2,s:0,i:75

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Re: Stawamus River climbers camp mess

Post by Anders Ourom » Fri Oct 19, 2012 9:41 pm

Good work, team!

There's a history of squatting in the Squamish area, mostly by non-climbers. Climbers did occasionally camp in the boulders or where the campground is now from 1961 on, sometimes for several weeks, but there were some long-term squatters at the campground in the later 1980s and early 1990s. They could and still can be found elsewhere in the Squamish area.

In any event, good job with the clean-up, and climbers being responsible.

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