|By Paul Davidson
Dec 18, 2012
Until the thread was DAC'd, I got some great laughs out of the Avalon thread. I thinketh I must be off in my idea of where that little shit pile resides because the wall I had in mind NO ONE could worry about... Of course, I figured the hairpin was of no further interest after two routes were done there. Especially since those two routes were so damn short they weren't worth doing. Who was to know what was to come.
Most interestingly, in that Avalong thread, I thought the two most thought provoking posts didn't even get a reply. (Thanks for that link Scott Mac.)
I too assumed that the poacher had to be one old friend with a long history of poaching routes (read on.) Instead, it turns out it was only his partner snaking some 30 ft of hollowed ground. Oh the horror.
This made me realize that I could no longer take the slight to my reputation that one incident of poaching has left festering inside of me and I was morally bound (and outraged) to out this person for the FA loving, rock scrounging, bolt pounding, climbing hero he became. But back then, in my eye, he was just a poacher. And now look, he took Jimbo and Geir into the fold and taught them the same. For shame, Exxx, for shame.
It must have been a beanfest, one of those before most people on MP were even born yet. Not sure what the route was eventually named. At the time, I thought of the wall as the White Cross Wall because from the East Stronghold campground (or at least out near the one time parking boulder) you could look up and see a short but steep wall with white crosses on it among the green lichen. Turns out the crosses were huge splats of bird shit (which should give you some idea of the seriousness of this story, so before you jump down my throat for my attack on such an icon of the community, consider that little piece of info.)
I talked Peter Noebles and Eric Rhichard into accompanying me up to climb this stellar FA. Now, before you both yell at me for mispelling your names, I did that so that no one would know who I'm talking about. It's important to keep reputations online intact.
After humping up past the death defying waterfall, made possible by the dull beanhead, we took a quick left up to the base of the wall.
I drilled the first bolt. A somewhat challenging drill by hand, made more exciting by the standard fall into the Stronghold maw if that hold the hook is on pops before the bit is deep enough to hang onto.
We then proceeded to yoyo up the steep wall past another few (?) bolts, some gear and lots of steep moves. There was some hard climbing & it seems like we each got to solve a puzzle, drill another bolt, lower and turn over the lead. Finally, Eric solved what looked to be the last of the struggles, all told producing a potential short but 5.12 pitch. Eric was ready to run and gear it to a belay. Suddenly, in a moment of stunning clarity, Peter and I talked Eric into down climbing and lowering off the last bolt so we could come back later and all finish the route in good style with a red point off the ground and another pitch or two to a summit. And it was getting late and we didn't want to do the waterfall in the dark, etc... Eric wasn't too happy about that but eventually I think the darkness argument made sense so he came down. Stunning logic in how to give up an FA.
And here is where the dark and evil nature of the poacher's character comes out. We didn't return to that little 200-300 ft wall in any short time. In fact, I ended up moving to NM before I would even hike the waterfall again some 10+ years later.
And yet, only a few 5 or so years later, Eric would scamper up there and bag that FA right out from under me. I mean, it was white tagged and everything. And worse yet, he'd do it with some Croft-sman from out of state! I can't recall if it was also a Noebel ascent, it might have been. This climb is so stunning & hard a line that I don't think it's even had a second yet, some 20+ years later.
But the unjustness of this act. I mean, it was my line. No one else could have seen it from that parking lot. It had only been sitting there some few thousand years prior to that Sunday. And to jump on it within a scant number of years. Less years than it takes to count on two hands! Never mind what I'd said at some point about it being ok to go finish the climb. That was obviously only lip service. Any true FAer would know that.
Thus a poacher was born. And you can see now what that's led to.