Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rattlesnake Cleanup

I want to take a small break from Mill Creek and, as I said before, tell a bit about the happenings at the Rattlesnake Cleanup. It was cold; it was wet; it was muddy. But it made us all feel nice and warm inside! And now, we have a fully operational sport crag! Trees, were moved (well, dead trees.. I guess those are considered logs), steps were built, rocks were crushed, metal was bent (with bare hands!). A lot was improved. I can only show you some of it and tell you slightly more, so, you'll just have to go out there for yourself to really see it all. And while you're there, you won't even have to watch your step anymore... unless there's a rattlesnake.

But first, I would like to say thanks to Willie Long for organizing this clean up. Without Willie, we would still be saying things like, "we really need to fix that trail," or, "that log is going to kill someone, one of these days." We all really appreciate your effort and your initiative for making it happen and not allowing any trees to hurt anyone. 

Also, a huge thanks to all the volunteers we had out there! Everyone was excited and working hard! And finally, a big thanks to, Greg Orton, for providing most of the pictures from the cleanup, and for driving from Roseburg, with a big trailer, and hauling out all the garbage that we gathered. You guys all rocked! Thank you all, very much!

Now, I want to talk about trash and garbage. Most of the trash was found along the gravel road, up to the trailhead. And I'm not talking about candy wrappers and cigarette butts. People, over the years, have dumped TV's, mattresses, car parts, cars, tires, cans, glass bottles, you name its, whatchamacalits, schloppity-schlopp, and gluppity-glupp (see Dr. Seuss for definitions)... Anyway, just like you might call up a friend and say, "Yo, bro, let's go crush at the 'snake tomorrow," I envision this similar interaction:

Hubert: "Hey, Rupert..."
Rupert: "Yeah?"
Hubert: "You 'member dat ol', beat up, broke-down, wash machine yous got out back, der? (points out front)
Rupert: "Yeah."
Hubert: "Whadayousay, we bring dat thang up in dem hills, above da Cove, and shoot da hell outta dat somabitch?!"
Rupert: "Grab yur shotgun! Let's kill us a wash machine!" 

You can imagine what happens next.

Garbage is a big problem and will continue to be one. Not only garbage from random locals, but, garbage from, yes, climbers. Apparently, climbers like to drink beer. And, apparently, when people drink, they stop caring about things. I also know that some people are lazy and/or don't care to pick up beer cans/bottles. Sometimes, people even stab holes into cans, pull the tab, shotgun the entire beer, smash the can on their forehead, yell something like "I am all that is MAN," then throw the can out and away from the fire-pit, never to be seen again. And I'll be honest, I've had a water bottle slip out of my hands and fall down the 100' slope/cliff, into the abyss. And I have probably left garbage, unnoticed. Basically, people leave an impact. Which is why we have to organize cleanups, and why organizations like Access Fund exist:

Access Fund helps climbers in all sorts of ways, from securing access to climbing areas in danger of being shut down, to sponsoring local crag cleanups, to offering legal consulting for groups and organizations trying to begin or remain climbing at crags across the country. Access Fund was a sponsor for this event, by putting the Rattlesnake Cleanup on their scheduled events calendar, and by donating some prizes for a raffle (I won a beanie!)

Other sponsors for the Rattlesnake Cleanup were:


I apologize if I forgot any other sponsors. I know there were more, but I don't recall who they were.

Now, enough about garbage, it's time for trail maintenance! 

As some of you know, Forest Capital (the logging company which partly owns Rattlesnake) harvested a bit of their crop - who says money doesn't grow on trees? As you might have guessed, they left a mess of our approach trail, destroying approximately 100 yards of it. Our crew moved logs out of the way, carved a path, and re-established the approach trail.

(New trail, awesome crew! Photo by: Greg Orton)

In the mean time, Greg made his way from the bottom of the road to the start of the trail, picking up garbage and trash along the way. Looked like a full, 15+ foot long trailer, packed with garbage. They say, one mans trash is another mans treasure.... 

(The garbage... along with the garbage crew! photo by: Greg Orton) 

While all that ^ was going on, Don, Haley, and I drove to the top of Aurora Buttress and hiked down with power tools, wood, hammers and saws, and fixed some key portions of trail. We focused, first, on the blown-out section of trail below the Orange Wall. A support log had broken or fallen, leaving a 10ft gap between the trail, with pieces of re-bar sticking out, on less than level ground, above a 40ft drop. Kinda sketch, especially if your climbing with kids, drunk people, or decided to invite Hubert or Rupert. We replaced the log, secured it with re-bar, placed new rock and dirt to make a nice, level, and flat portion of trail again (I'd sleep on it).

Next, past the Cathedral, below the Dominator Wall, we pried one of the recently fallen trees out of our way and re-established the main path. Here's the crew, putting in stone steps, up the steep slope where the tree used to be:

(Woop Woop! Photo by: Greg Orton)

Our final project was rebuilding the steps past the Dominator Wall. You know, the one with the missing step and the rusty nails sticking out everywhere. It was a tricky job. Not because the nails were hard to remove, or because most of the wood was rotten, but because I brought the wrong kind of screws.... oopsies! Who woulda thought they make screws that aren't Phillips Head or Flat Head? However, we managed to work our way around that problem and put in a brand new side and a couple new steps. They are definitely more sturdy and should last another 10 years at least... Southern Oregon will just have to wait to find out!

(Lisa Stutey, smiling at Greg taking a picture of her. Photo by: Greg Orton)

(Stairway to heaven? Photo by: Greg Orton)

And that is the extent of our Rattlesnake Cleanup. I know I spent a lot of time talking about garbage and beer cans and trash and gluppity-glupp, but I have to say, Rattlesnake is one of the most beautiful places to climb in Southern Oregon. It has some amazing features (The Cathedral, Rainy Day Cave, and the Dominator Wall) and some amazing climbing to go along with. 

(All the volunteers in the Cathedral. Photo by: Greg Orton)

It's been months since I've climbed at Rattlesnake. And being there, fixing all the things that I've always wanted to fix I look back on my experiences out at Rattlesnake, and I realize that they are some of the best climbing experiences I've ever had. Not because it's the most scenic, most foreign, or the best quality routes. It's because Rattlesnake is our local sport crag. It's a place were climbers can be comfortable pushing their limits, learning how to lead, trying a new grade, or climbing outside for the first time ever. Try to remember the first time you were there. Did you climb Split Decision? Arabesque? The Great Bear? Did you finish the route? Was the sun out? Were you with your friends? And if you haven't been there, I hope you get the chance to experience a day at Rattlesnake

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