Posted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 2:53 pm
by AndrewJoslin
I climb primarily in the east so the issues are different than in the PNW old-growth. However the impact issues in the forest are the same. Take white pine for example, my favorite eastern species. Where I am the finest whites often grow right on the edge of or partially in wooded wetlands. In a single climb I have to be careful not to crush understory habitat, it's not my right to do so. If I climb a tree like that it is unlikely I will climb it again, if I do it will get a long break of a year or more. I will not reveal locations or take other climbers to trees in vulnerable habitat. The ground habitat around a tree changes very quickly with only a few visits in a year. If 4 climbers show up at a tree there will be considerable impact on the ground from just one climb session. There are plenty of interesting trees in less vulnerable habitat so choices can be made by climbers, we are not "forced" to damage habitat in pursuit of a great climb.

There needs to be nuance in the discussion, high profile trees that are attracting a lot of visitors are not good candidates for climbs. A responsible climber can find excellent trees and minimize impacts. Climbers never need to claim they should have access to whatever they want to climb and likewise researchers and public land managers are really overdoing it if they make blanket statements like "no old-growth should ever be climbed" by the general public. It's very understandable that they would be reactive with all the efforts to locate and visit the most notable and vulnerable old-growth trees.

Clearly we now live in a heavily politicized and polarized world, it's very difficult to find middle ground that makes sense, it''s much easier to sit on a high horse whatever side a person is on in any discussion. It takes more effort to look at the details and come up with reasonable conclusions.
-AJ