Monday, June 4, 2012

Highline Bolts Vandalized

Last July we blogged about the installation and send of the first highline at the North Rim. Sadly, we must now report that the bolts and hangers for the line have been vandalized. A group of highliners showed up there a few days ago to discover the placements at both ends were covered with rocks. Removing the rocks revealed that all hangers had been hammered flat.

This is likely no random event. When Hobbs installed the bolts, he made sure to cover them with stones to hide them. But each time he returned, he'd find the stones removed. This has occurred regularly since last July. It would seem the perpetrator has been sending a message, one made more symbolic when they re-covered the bolts after vandalizing them.

The holes will be redrilled and the bolts will be replaced. But until then, the highline is temporarily out of service.

We can only speculate about the individual(s) behind this. But it does seem a good guess it's the same person who, for the past three years, has repeatedly removed the cairn marking the beginning of the approach off the main trail, and who often places branches across the approach. As recently as a week ago, we discovered branches and limbs obstructing the path for nearly a half mile up the ridge. These were easily kicked out of the way, but it is interesting to note the branches stopped at the point where the extended approach up the ridge (to the highline) begins.

It seems the best thing we can all do right now is keep a watch for anyone in the area who is obviously not there participating in adventure sports. Climbers are now up at the crag every day of the week, so that's a lot of sets of eyes available to spot something going on. This shouldn't become a witch hunt, but noting activity can help us determine who's attempting to prevent us from exercising our right to recreate on public land. Finally, it's worth knowing there is legal precedence to prosecute individuals who willfully vandalize bolts, as is well documented by this western Massachusetts climbing coalition site:

Let's hope it never comes to that.

Please send reports of any suspicious activity to millcreeknorthrim at gmail.