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Road cut ice - legality
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By Gunkiemike
Jan 28, 2014

Didn't need to park on the shoulder either; the ice is only about a half mile from an exit.

From an exit? Sounds like you're talking about an interstate highway. IMO you'll be MUCH more likely to get hassled there compared to a local two lane road. Around here (NY) there's apparently a very clear rule that no pedestrian use of any kind is permitted within 100 ft of the interstates. Since the interstates are federally managed to some degree, this same rule might apply where you live. Caveat escalateur.


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By Warbonnet
From Utah and Cambodia
Jan 28, 2014
FA "Unfinished Business" 5.11cR Wind River range, Wyoming. Beta photo in this album

Greg D wrote:
No, you didn't learn the lesson. Certainly, there is an astonishing amount of law, statutes and regulations that a policeman may try to invoke. But, if they wrote you a citation that the judge found unenforceable for some reason, then you weren't actually breaking any law. Hello! Btw, they are very cool because this is part of their training. It makes it easier for people to accept their offers and cooperate. States don't have any latitude here. The property lines are defined. Stand up for yourself. The police are not here to protect you. The only rights you have are the rights you know you have and are willing to protect.


Greg, you must not have read the post. The turn out area did NOT have any boundary that was obvious.....it was just a turn out area used by cars forever to turn around and go back up the canyon. There were zero trespassing signs or 'no parking' signs. The judge didn't even rule or comment on "unenforceable", v. "enforceable" laws, rather, he thought the patrolman's action were "frivolous". He was clearly irritated with the officer because he went out of his way to hassle us (almost the judge's language). That several cars pulled into the dirt parking lot, well away from the highway, to watch presented zero hazards to anyone involved. Of course States...and individual cops... have latitude....presumably he could have retrieved his GPS and found some sort of marker, however, climbers do these routes all the time....very common (he was new to the canyon area & admitted so to the judge who in turn suggested he spend more time getting to know the area). (We actually felt badly for the policeman....he was getting reamed by a judge who didn't want precious time taken up by what he saw as a non-matter).

Re: "us standing up for our rights", neither he nor us had a clue where some mythical boundary was. This is partially what the Access Fund is about. Don't kid yourself....cops are not "trained" to be cool. Any reader of this post can cite a litany of running into cops (or vice versa) who are NOT cool when in fact they could have made the choice to do so. Had the parking lot been overflowing w/cars, spilling onto the highway w/cars along the guard raid, that's one thing. In the general interest of the public, he could have asked people to leave, end of story. The judge himself said he uses that turnout all the time to reverse direction.

There's more dialogue written in these posts than could have been exchanged to resolve whatever problem the policeman thought was going on. He just wasn't cool but the judge, the chief arbiter of it all WAS cool. We were in the courtroom about 3 minutes.


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By Doug Hemken
Administrator
Jan 28, 2014
On Everleigh Club Crack.  Photo by Burt Lindquist.

Gokul, I take it you're talking about stuff along 151 and other roads near Platteville?

I love the irony when folks who aren't from around here weigh in ever so authoritatively on local law and local law enforcement! The ratio of noise to signal just has to make you smile!


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By D.Buffum
Jan 28, 2014
Orgasm Direct, Devil's Lake, 5.11a  c. 2008

The bottom line is that whether climbing is permitted at a roadcut is a multi-layered question, and does not necessarily have a clear answer.

First, is the land on the public road, or over the property line on private land?

Second, does the State or local jurisdiction have any explicit regulations on use of the public land that constitutes the shoulder of the road?

Third, if there is no explicit regulation concerning occupation or use of the shoulder, are there general regulations or laws that could be applied to the situation (i.e. a law prohibiting unreasonable distraction of drivers)?

Then there's the practical question: is there a local official who is going to enforce these rules? Will enforcement take the form of, "hey, you can't do that here, move along," or issuance of a citation or charge, and then prosecution? Even if the conduct is arguably in violation of a local statute or ordinance, there may be affirmative defenses making it "not illegal."

Gokul's question specifically applied to Wisconsin. A cursory search of Wisconsin's statutes and Admin. Code did not reveal any explicit regulation of the occupation or use of highway shoulders. (It was not a thorough search: caveat escalateur).

Let's try to apply Wisconsin's disorderly conduct statute, which has been adopted by most (all?) local jurisdictions in the state as an ordinance, allowing them to have the choice between issuing a ticket or charging a misdemeanor. Wisconsin's disorderly conduct statute reads:

"Whoever, in a public or private place, engages in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance is guilty of..."

If I were defending a DC charge for climbing on a roadcut, I would file a motion to dismiss based on an inadequate complaint. Climbing is not "violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud" inherently. They would have to rely on the catch-all category, "otherwise disorderly." What, exactly, about climbing on a road cut is "disorderly?" It's actually a pretty "ordered" activity, with a lot of very precise methods. By my reading, if the conduct was simply climbing and minding your own business, it's hard to see "disorder."

I'd probably also try a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the regulation is unconstitutionally vague, and therefore did not provide adequate notice that the conduct was prohibited. It's an "as applied" constitutional challenge (i.e. not that the regulation is unconstitutional per se, but that this application of the regulation is unconstitutional). I think it would be a good argument, and I think most judges I've met would grant the motion. Some might not. If a judge decides to dismiss, the conduct is not "illegal."

Then, of course, you have the bulwark of the jury. Ultimately, if the jury decides to acquit, then the conduct is not illegal. (At least until the next guy gets charged for climbing a road cut). Juries have the legal authority to "nullify" a law by acquitting for any or no reason. (They don't tell you about jury nullification when you serve, but it is legal). An acquittal is virtually unappealable. So if you can convince a jury that this was not "disorderly" or not "under circumstances that tend to provoke a disturbance," or that this is just a waste of time, then your conduct is not "illegal."

While it's a stretch to apply the DC statute, it's not impossible that a conviction could result. This is just the DC statute. There might be other State or local regulations on the books that could be applied more effectively. Maybe there's a law against "distracting traffic," or against "sharp tools on the roadway" or "loitering on pavement." I dunno. If you're out in Iowa Co. on 151, you have to look at their local ordinances as well as the Wisconsin Statutes and Admin. Code.

Ultimately, the answer to the question is, (as is common in the law), "maybe."


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By Warbonnet
From Utah and Cambodia
Jan 28, 2014
FA "Unfinished Business" 5.11cR Wind River range, Wyoming. Beta photo in this album

Doug Hemken wrote:
Gokul, I take it you're talking about stuff along 151 and other roads near Platteville? I love the irony when folks who aren't from around here weigh in ever so authoritatively on local law and local law enforcement! The ratio of noise to signal just has to make you smile!


I'm talking about Wyoming canyons. Cool...and bad cops are everywhere. Just like us.


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By Warbonnet
From Utah and Cambodia
Jan 28, 2014
FA "Unfinished Business" 5.11cR Wind River range, Wyoming. Beta photo in this album

The opinions expressed in this string, including mine, are reflective of how it's all screwed up. As a general rule, the East is privately owned, the West (BLM) often comes in to play. In Texas, property owners own outright the water beneath their property line; in most Western states, the states own the water.
There are fed and state rights, easements (private & public), requirements (or not) for posting property use limitations, etc. and etc. and etc. The Access Fund knows this in spades.

I have a cartoon posted in my office. The fat, laid back manager is in his rocked back chair behind his desk with the sign on the wall in back of him: "Risk Manager". His client, anxiously leaning forward towards the "expert" says; "BE CAREFUL, THAT'S ALL YOU CAN TELL ME IS BE CAREFUL!?"


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By D.Buffum
Jan 29, 2014
Orgasm Direct, Devil's Lake, 5.11a  c. 2008

Warbonnet wrote:
The opinions expressed in this string, including mine, are reflective of how it's all screwed up. As a general rule, the East is privately owned, the West (BLM) often comes in to play. In Texas, property owners own outright the water beneath their property line; in most Western states, the states own the water. There are fed and state rights, easements (private & public), requirements (or not) for posting property use limitations, etc. and etc. and etc. The Access Fund knows this in spades. I have a cartoon posted in my office. The fat, laid back manager is in his rocked back chair behind his desk with the sign on the wall in back of him: "Risk Manager". His client, anxiously leaning forward towards the "expert" says; "BE CAREFUL, THAT'S ALL YOU CAN TELL ME IS BE CAREFUL!?"


I know, right? It's all screwed up. Different rules in different places. Too many variables. The Federal Government should just take all of the land and make one set of uniform rules. Stupid federalism.


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By Gokul
Jan 29, 2014
At the "summit"

Doug Hemken wrote:
Gokul, I take it you're talking about stuff along 151 and other roads near Platteville?


Yes Doug, all the ice here is off state hwy 151, about 6 miles west of Platteville (Grant County). The ice is on public land, and well laid back from the highway. I couldn't find anything from Dylan's search link (thanks!) that said it would be illegal.

I also got on some ice on a road cut near Lone Rock. A state trooper pulled up on the shoulder near me when I was back down. He said someone called in to report me and he stopped by to check, but didn't see any problem in what I was doing, so he just asked me to "be careful" and drove away.


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By D.Buffum
Jan 29, 2014
Orgasm Direct, Devil's Lake, 5.11a  c. 2008

Gokul wrote:
Yes Doug, all the ice here is off state hwy 151, about 6 miles west of Platteville (Grant County). The ice is on public land, and well laid back from the highway. I couldn't find anything from Dylan's search link (thanks!) that said it would be illegal. I also got on some ice on a road cut near Lone Rock. A state trooper pulled up on the shoulder near me when I was back down. He said someone called in to report me and he stopped by to check, but didn't see any problem in what I was doing, so he just asked me to "be careful" and drove away.


That's what law school profs call "law in action." Some other cop might have responded differently. Kudos to this officer for taking a more community-minded approach.


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By Burt Lindquist
Administrator
From Madison, WI
Jan 29, 2014
Trying to stay warm up on Brownstone Wall Red Rocks, NV

Gokul..

Ha! That's quite interesting that Johnny Law only told you to "Be Careful" on the road cut at Lone Rock that drops down nearly onto the road edge. When belaying you are standing on the road. Cars are moving fairly slow though along that stretch of road because of the same close proximity of the rock to the road but there is a long curve in the road there so drivers won't see a belayer on the road until rounding the curve. I have been shoo'd off these little pillars in the past by a State Trooper but only told to stop and no other action was taken. A neat fact about these road cut flows at Lone Rock..... one year the pillars were so big and there was so much ice that the highway department was out scrape'n them down to a smaller size with a big Front-end loader. When we came around the corner in our car and saw this, our first thought was.....No No don't do that...... Later, after finishing up on the river pillars, we walked down to look at what was left over and were excited to find the too big pillars were still climbable and in fact much more interesting climbs as they had really cool overhangs and neat scrape marks that matched the metal teeth on the shovel on that big piece of equipment. We jumped on them and had a total blast pulling through the un-usual ice overhangs.... and got extra pumped forearms.


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By Doug Hemken
Administrator
Jan 29, 2014
On Everleigh Club Crack.  Photo by Burt Lindquist.

Great story, Burt!


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By Gokul
Feb 13, 2014
At the "summit"

Had a state trooper pull up as a friend and I were approaching the ice in the picture (on a road-cut in SW Wisco, one of 8 on that particular road-cut, with more on neighboring road cuts). He talked to us politely, made several calls, looked up a bunch of stuff, and concluded that he couldn't stop us from climbing because we weren't breaking the law, but made it clear that he really wished we had decided to find some other way to have fun than by causing a stir by a 4-lane highway.

road cut ice
road cut ice


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By Tom-onator
From This Galaxy
Feb 14, 2014
Tom-onator

Sweet victory Gokul!
All you need is some orange safety cones and some caution signs that say

Warning
no stir zone ahead
Proceed as usual

Surely this would satisfy any future objections by the peace officer.


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By Gokul
Feb 14, 2014
At the "summit"

Thanks Tom. This whole deal about being a distraction to passing traffic seems to be a delicate issue. I personally can't see how it would pose a any kind of problem, but I can understand that some people at the highway department might have a differing opinion.

Burt Lindquist wrote:
Gokul.. Ha! That's quite interesting that Johnny Law only told you to "Be Careful" on the road cut at Lone Rock that drops down nearly onto the road edge. When belaying you are standing on the road. Cars are moving fairly slow though along that stretch of road because of the same close proximity of the rock to the road but there is a long curve in the road there so drivers won't see a belayer on the road until rounding the curve.


Burt, I've been trying to recall how much room there was at the base, by the shoulder, and I can't seem to remember. I had my pack sitting around and I didn't feel like it was in any danger from passing traffic (or vice versa). And the cop pulled up on the shoulder right next to me, so I'm inclined to think there was at least a car's width of room there. Also, I didn't have a partner that day, so I was self-belaying - that must have helped reduce the footprint! I know there were at least 2 (possibly 3) flows that were in along that road cut. Could we be talking about different ones?


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