/ Lost/abandoned gear - time for perspective?
(I think there's a fair chance that the finder went up specifically to acquire 2 ropes, having seen the post)
At the other end you have people requesting single nuts and slings be returned to them, which always seems a bit petty by comparison.
Can people see the difference, and at what price-point does it kick in?
I think the line is we're the cost of sending the item is greater than its worth.
I wouldn't expect someone to want to pay £5 postage to get back a Krab that's only worth £4:50. The only possible exception to this is if the gear holds some personal value to the indervidual.
Personally if the person who lost it wants it back for what ever reason as long as there willing to pay for postage ect I see no reason why anything should not be retuned.
This is just my opinion.
IMHO if its possible to identify the owner, and they want it back, Ill send it back. Value seems a bit irrelevant.
Theft (including the taking abandoned gear) has a long history in climbing. Some climbing autobiographies even flaunt the pirate attitude. Some still see even significant crag swag as a 'tax on stupidity'. I think this is wrong but the distinctions in what is worth returning is a bit much more than just price points.
For the thread above folk should realise what GA is like on a busy day and do some homework...escaping from the haven is trivial if you scramble left. There are even good VD's above the traverse you can do to console yourself for missing the last two pitches.
However, (speaking from personal experience) I'd be careful and make sure you get paid first. Some years ago I found a walking boot, in good condition, halfway up Rake End Wall on Pavey - never did get the hows and whys - and sent it back to the owner, assuming he would send me at least the postage cost, but he never did. Things like that make you a little cynical.
Traditionally, the broad consensus seems to be that gear which has been abandoned is fair game, but gear which has clearly been lost should be returned, if possible. If someone accidentally leaves a friend at the foot of a crag while packing up, that's obviously been lost, but if it's left stuck in a climb and someone is subsequently able to remove it, that's crag swag. Likewise, if you have to leave stuff behind when baling out, that's crag swag.
The distinction to my mind is whether the gear has simply been lost or deliberately abandoned. If stuck cam can later be removed, that means the original owner didn't try hard enough to get it out. If gear has to be abandoned during an epic, it's still the choice of the climber to leave it behind - it may be choice that's forced on them by circumstances, but it's still a deliberate choice, compared with forgetting to pick up something at the end of the day. Harsh but fair!
I am referring here to climbing ethics rather than the legal situation. However, so far as I can tell (I am not a lawyer) the law broadly supports the notion that a finder of abandoned property can claim full ownership even against the original owner; however it appears the law is not entirely clear and this is not an absolute rule.
Of course, individual climbers have different attitudes - some take the old-school view that everything is fair game, while other will try to return everything. I think most people would regard it as pretty low behaviour to take gear which has been temporarily unattended in order to help an injured climber, but it happens.
The example quoted seems to me to be a clear example of abandoned gear. From what I've read on the other post, they set off too late (for what is a popular, and usually busy, route), and weren't adequately prepared or equipped for that type of climb (no abseil devices, for example). They made the decision to cut the rope (they may have felt it was their only option, but nevertheless they made that choice) and they decided not to go back the following day to try to retrieve the stuck ropes. Definitely crag swag.
The value shouldn't really have a bearing. If you've abandoned gear then you shouldn't expect to see it again, although if it's something expensive you'll obviously hope the finder will be sympathetic. Likewise, if you find an abandoned rope or cam you might be more inclined to return it than a single nut. But this is a question of conscience rather than principle.
I quite like the merry-go-round of low-value kit and would feel that climbing was devalued if I felt morally obligated to return every nut or sling. I'm pretty sure that I've lost as many as I've acquired; equilibrium is maintained if you get out often. I get a happy wee frisson every time I score some swag; otherwise I'd just leave it.
I had an ice-axe returned to me when I was a peniless hotel worker desperately trying to pay for Christmas; without this act I'd have struggled to replace it and would have had a huge hole torn out of my season. I've also had plenty of times when I'd have struggled to replace a cam or a screw, so I'm now inclined to try to return these.
Surely the problem with this is that, usually you cannot know the circumstances of the lost/abandoned gear. Unless you can identify the owner.
The rightful owner can then inform you of their wish to have the gear returned or not.
Personally if I kept the gear of someone who wanted it back I would feel like a thief, regardless of any excuse I might use to justify it.
Perhaps, but a kind and compassionate man would have returned the ropes. £200 replacement costs could end an impoverished climber's season.
"Theft by finding occurs when someone who chances upon an object which seems abandoned takes possession of the object but fails to take steps to establish whether the object is abandoned and not merely lost or unattended."
I think there has been a consensus on here (of course with no legal validity) that if something is clearly marked with the owner's contact details (most of mine has my mobile number) then it would at least be polite to contact them to ask if they wanted it back (which probably counts as "taking steps to establish...").
I once left a nut and a QD behind when retreating off a route in winter. Someone texted me a few weeks later to say they'd found them and I did I want them back. I was grateful that they'd contacted me, but texted the finder back to say that I was happy for them to keep the gear.
I'm broadly in agreement with you, however...
Personally, if I came across gear that had obviously been abandoned during an epic or a rescue, I'd try to return it (like the carefully equalised cam/wire/sling I once found in the Lakes - no one stepped up for it though). If the gear was obviously valuable (e.g. a rope) I'd definitely try to return it. Cams - maybe. Depends how much effort I had to put in to extract it. If they were easy, it's mine - should have tried harder at the time. Wires are always fair game if you can get them out - I have a Wallnut 7 on my rack which I extracted from Army Dreamers. It was just sat in the crack and required maybe 10 seconds of wriggling and poking with a nut key to get it out. Frankly, if you can't be bothered to put that sort of effort into getting your gear out then you deserve to be out of pocket. That said, if the owner of the gear is clearly still at the crag (so if I've followed them up the route and got their gear out for them) I'll give it straight back.
Equally, I don't expect my gear to be returned if I've got it stuck or abandoned it through stupidity (witness my ill-advised excursion on Berry Head one February afternoon - that was an expensive trip!), if anyone else can get it out then they can keep it.
I certainly don't buy into this nonsense that the value of the gear is irrelevant - ask yourself which you'd be more upset to lose; a number 8 wire, a C3 Camalot or a brand new rope. Not that hard to see the difference is it?
Agreed. The odd nut, krab, sling, cam etc is fine and asking for these back (well, the first 3 anyway) is a bit unfair on the lucky finder. But if I found most of a rack or a rope which looked in reasonable condition then I'd take steps to try and re-unite them with their owner who's probably just had a bad enough day without needing a further kick in the teeth.
If I found a single nut with contact number on it I imagine I'd probably be removing the tape rather than hurrying to call the owner! That's just taking things too far.
What a load of pish. They had plenty of time and were more than adequately equipped (I didn't and wasn't but was more decisive in choosing my escape). Don't let the facts get in the way of a good judgement though.
I was trying to set out what I see as the consensus which has evolved over time on what is and is not 'legitimate' crag swag. I also said that individual climbers have different views.
If we're going to get legalistic, a lot of the case law seems to focus on whether an item has been lost or abandoned. However we're not talking about the law but how the climbing world should deal with these situations.
In a climbing context it will usually be fairly obvious. If a rope is found neatly coiled at the foot of the crag, it is probable that it was accidentally forgotten. If it's found jammed and dangling off a route, then it's probable that it was abandoned.
Whether or not it's crag swag, I suspect that most people would make more of an effort to return a valuable piece of kit. However unless it is marked with the owner's contact details, this may not be easy.
The view which I outlined evolved at a time when it was very difficult to reunite lost kit with its owner. There seems to be an assumption by many UKCers that the advent of the internet has made this easier. However the majority of my climbing acquaintances are not users of UKC or other climbing forums, and many are not even be aware of its existence. It would not occur to them to post on here that they'd found some gear, or for that matter that they'd lost some of their own. I suspect that this goes for the majority of climbers.
I'd certainly be pissed off if I had to abandon an expensive bit of kit, and if someone then returned it to me I'd be grateful. But I wouldn't expect it.
> What a load of pish. They had plenty of time and were more than adequately equipped (I didn't and wasn't but was more decisive in choosing my escape). Don't let the facts get in the way of a good judgement though.
I don't want to turn this into a judgement on those climbers. My view was based on the facts they themselves set out in the other thread. I think that starting at 12 on what is always a popular and busy route, especially on a bank holiday, was asking to get held up. The main point is that they chose not to go back the following day because it was "chucking down".
The first post in this thread seems to imply criticism of whoever found the ropes for not returning them. But the ropes had been abandoned. If the finder subsequently became aware that the owners were asking for them back, it might put moral pressure on them to return them (and in the circumstances that's what I would do). However there is firstly no reason to believe the finder is aware of this, and secondly if they claimed them as crag swag they would have the weight of climbing tradition behind them.
They got to the Haven on a bank holiday on one of the most popular routes in the area and after deciding to ab couldn't recover the ropes on VD terrain and that's demonstrating good decision making and experience?
Do you think that makes you rather selfish then?
Crag swag is dry-land jetsam imo
. Cargo or equipment thrown overboard to lighten a ship in distress.
2. Discarded cargo or equipment found washed ashore.
3. Discarded odds and ends.
Note: a ship in distress!
Where did I comment on their experience or judgement? I commented on the time available (plenty*) and their equipment (more than adequate).
*I set off hours after them, topped out and was back in Chester via dinner in time for a pint. Part luck, part judgement, part pure impatience.
Disagree. Whether the circumstances or tradition, you have in your possession something which was of value (possibly a week's wages) to its owner. Don't you think they would like it back? Don't you think returning it would make you a better person?
However, if I'm following another rope up a route, and they have left gear in the route (either by mistake or because the second couldn't get it out) I will always return it at the top of the crag, or enquire back down at the bottom of the crag who's it is.
But if I see a piece of gear at the crag which has plainly been left/abandoned on a previous day, then I'll treat it as legitimate swag - unless it's a rucksac, complete with loads of gear/ropes/clothing etc, in which case I'll take it to the nearest police station.
Yeah, always seems a bit silly to me posting in lost and found for 'a single Krab/sling/wire.' Amongst my mates and friends of friends though, if I've lost or aquired something, I'll always mention it, even if it's something trivial (but then again, there's no real effort involved in returning items).
Personally, I would, and have, posted in the lost/found for items that it it was worth the effort of returning i.e. ~£20 upwards.
Crag-swag wise, karma seems to be working well for me, and I'm currently 2 for 2.
Gear with contact details on is an iteresting moral question though.... If it was bonefide crag-swag I'd still keep it. If it was forgoten/epic-related left gear I'd probably arrange return.
> Disagree. Whether the circumstances or tradition, you have in your possession something which was of value (possibly a week's wages) to its owner. Don't you think they would like it back? Don't you think returning it would make you a better person?
Yes and yes. But should they expect to get it back? What makes you think the people who found it have any idea how to trace who owned it? Not everyone uses UKC or is even aware of it.
There seems to be a difference of expectations. On the one hand you have the internet-savvy who can post details of lost and found gear, perhaps even while at the crag, but who then seem to expect that people will read it and act upon it. On the other hand you have the traditional view that what goes around comes around, you claim crag swag when the opportunity arises and bite the bullet when you lose stuff yourself.
I'm sure as internet use spreads and the generation who grew up with the internet come to dominate then attitudes will indeed change. UKC now has over 64000 registered users; the numbers participating in climbing are impossible to pin down, but I would guess that UKC still represents a minority of climbers - that's certainly the case among my acquaintances.
This has been done to death on here a few times, and conversations have got pretty heated on occasion.
My own view, for what its worth, is that if I find gear then I'm happy to return it as its not actually mine. Even if I was tempted to keep it (which I'm not as I'm not a thief) I'm not going to use it as whatever its apparent condition I don't know its history, it's not worth dropping to my doom for the sake of £200 of ropes, let alone £5 of nut. I think that's valuing my life too cheaply.
e.g. I do wonder sometimes if the person who swiped my rope from Manchester wall rather than handing it in subsequently ended up in casualty or worse as a result. It superficially looked ok, but I'd noticed a number of small tears in it, and it had taken many, many big falls over many years, and was on its last outing before heading to the bin. Hence seriously unstressed about its theft as it was frankly of dubious reliability.
As others have said, if the owner is willing to pay postage then I can't see the reason why anything shouldn't be returned. Anything can have sentimental value and, like I say, it's their property, they don't need a good reason to have it back.
I'm not going to go nuts to find the owner - if they've put their number on it that's helpful, but apart from that I'd post on here, and that's about it. It will then get hung up in the gear store for safe keeping and forgotten about until the next clearout, probably in about a decade's time.
I think there is a clear distinction between abseil anchors which are deliberately and intentionally abandoned (and therefore traditionally legitimate swag - I acquired most of my slings and screwgates in this way) and jammed ropes which there was clearly never intention to abandon (If I had retrieved them I would have taken steps to return them).
Mark Davies acquired a sling this way, why dont you ask him what happend to it?
Our big mistake was not bailing much earlier. By the time the ropes got jammed, it was dark, raining and the wind was picking up. With people getting cold, my one concern was getting us all off the hill safely and worry about the gear in the morning.
We should have retrieved the ropes in the morning though didn't have much time as one person needed to get back to London reasonably early. The iffy weather made up our minds on that though in hindsight, we should have manned up and legged it up there.
My initial thoughts on driving back were feeling guilty at leaving a load of gear on the hill for someone else to clean up and as I said in my original post, I'm happy that someone tidied up after us. It would've been nice to have the ropes returned; fortunately these days I can absorb the cost; if I'd been a student or unemployed etc, then it would have been a pretty serious hit. But then, I might have made more effort to get the ropes back myself!
I terms of crag swag, I've found and kept 1 nut, and found and returned an ice screw & krab. I think value does come into though if there'd been anyone else around when I found the nut, Idve asked around. Had I found the ropes, I would have made every effort to return them.
If it was obvious that someone had been through a major epic and I'd recovered a rope and all belay anchors from the crag then it would seem fair to post in lost & found and try to return it.
If I found a single nut or cam and nobody at the crag could confirm ownership then I'd say that's fair crag swag.
Similarly, If I'd failed to remove mine/ my leader's gear and abandoned it, I would expect the person capable of removing it to have the right to keep it.
It amazes me how people abandon gear on routes and seem to make no effort to go and retrieve it first thing the next morning - I would have thought that was an obvious course of action if the gear was so precious.
If I were to lose, or find, a substantial piece of gear, then I would certainly post about it, and I'd be grateful to get it back. However I probably wouldn't expect to, and I wouldn't think the worst of the finder for not doing so.
I think the difficulty lies over what is making "every effort to return them". To everyone here it is obvious to post it on UKC. But how is someone who doesn't use internet forums, and is perhaps unaware of their existence, supposed to trace the owner?
> no effort to go and retrieve it first thing the next morning
How do you retrieve a pair of stuck ropes from part way up a climb? We would have to have climbed the first two pitches of the route to reach the anchor. At the very least, that would require first buying a brand new rope. Our hope was that if the weather was good, there would be other climbers on the route and someone friendly could be asked to free the ropes and throw them down. As it was, the weather was horrid and it was highly unlikely there would be anyone climbing. Certainly, I would not have wanted to try climbing in that rain. It would simply not have been safe, certainly not on a route that well polished!
So any attempt at retrieval would have been a) expensive and b) very risky.
In reply to Howard J:
> their only option, but nevertheless they made that choice)
Hmm, choice a) cut the rope and safely make it off the mountain. Choice b) attempt to prusik/re-climb up the stuck rope in the dark with rain starting and risk it unsticking and coming down on top of you. Yes, definitely a choice to be made there.
My mate was unable to second up a route and it was too dark for me to ab off and get my gear so the full route was peppered with gear. I had work early so could only come after work and the full route had been stripped already. Through this forum I managed to get a message to another forum and a chap dropped them off at the Glasgow climbing centre for me to pick up.
For what it's worth, my understanding is that in UK the police are responsible for lost property, and you should let them know when you have parted from important kit. Most police stations in mountain areas have lots of unclaimed gear because people do not know this. Eventually it gets auctioned off.
I kept in touch with Fort William police for a year after being avalanched on the Ben - lost nearly everything. Whoever benefited obviously wasn't squeamish about my half-eaten lunch in their eagerness to lift the whole lot. If it had been me, I'd have been looking for the skeleton as well!
Some gear has limited value - who trusts it? I found a black fixed rope in the Lost Valley in the 80s but never trusted it. I should have hauled it into the local police station and let it clutter their storeroom.
My best/worst find: a woman's road bike by Loch Avon. That went to Aviemore police if anyone's missing it.
Generally I'm in agreement with Howard. Overtime you win some and you loose some and it probably evens out.
However, I have a few examples of interesting ethical considerations when finding swag.
I once threw my ice axes away into the Glen Clova forest after a harrowing late night escape and told my mates, who I was with, they could have them if they could find them. They did. Rod made me buy them back off him after I had second thoughts about giving up winter climbing a few weeks later.
He also outran me once to a rucsack below Loch Nagar that I spotted. He agreed I could have the flask and compass. He had a keen sense of ethics. First on the scene gets it. (please note there was no identification in the sack)
He also led a nasty lean crux on Douglas Gib which had gear all over it (at least 2 cams). Applying his ethics he wanted to claim all the swag but as I cleaned it out, I claimed he had been unable (too scared and used it as fixed gear) to remove it and hence it was mine.
How do you retrieve a pair of stuck ropes from part way up a climb? We would have to have climbed the first two pitches of the route to reach the anchor. At the very least, that would require first buying a brand new rope.
In the Grooved Arete incident, they had cut the rope and had enough to abseil off with. That should be enough to climb back up again. The first ascent was in 1911 when they climbed with much shorter ropes than we do today - 50 04 60 feet rather than metres.
Hmm, choice a) cut the rope and safely make it off the mountain. Choice b) attempt to prusik/re-climb up the stuck rope in the dark with rain starting and risk it unsticking and coming down on top of you. Yes, definitely a choice to be made there.
A reluctant choice, certainly, and probably the best choice in the circumstances, but still a choice - different from simply leaving it behind by mistake, which was the distinction I was trying to make.
Taking found gear to a police station is perhaps an option, in theory. Finding one in a rural area that's open is another matter.
> He also led a nasty lean crux on Douglas Gib which had gear all over it (at least 2 cams). Applying his ethics he wanted to claim all the swag but as I cleaned it out, I claimed he had been unable (too scared and used it as fixed gear) to remove it and hence it was mine.
When me and a mate find stuff I tend to believe in the concept of 'sharing it out (roughly) equally'. Then again from your other examples it sounds as though he deserved this!
Only been climbing for a few years and i have already found three ice screws and three rocks on wires and so far only lost two single gloves and a pair of goggles.
I also found a mobile phone on the Aonach Eagoch ridge once and returned it via post through calling home in the phone.
It's nice to find expensive goodies.
I did try and give the screws back and put a post on here but got no replies. You win some you lose some, but i am doing alright so far.
The 'casualty' told us how his mate had collapsed on Tower Ridge and been helicoptered off, and he'd been left to make his own way down while they sent someone up to meet him. Perhaps unwisely, he mentioned how he'd had to abandon most of his gear while making his escape. There was a gleam in the Scotsmen's eyes while he told this.
Next morning, despite shite weather, the Scots were up and out very early. My guess is Tower Ridge was stripped bare by breakfast time.
> Next morning, despite shite weather, the Scots were up and out very early. My guess is Tower Ridge was stripped bare by breakfast time.
LOL Sour Alba will be along shortly to say how some not Scots are in the SMC and that these would have been English masquerading as Scots.
I think the Scots see it as their right to collect English crag swag left behind after epics and accidents as repayment for a few hundred years of aggression and looting.
> In the Grooved Arete incident, they had cut the rope and had enough
> to abseil off with. That should be enough to climb back up again.
We had two lengths of approximately six meters each. Tie them together and you can abseil about ten meters with careful knot negotiation half way through. Climbing back up maybe two full pitches of even just a VD route on that would not have been feasible.
I believe in karma. If you'd want it returning yourself, you should try your best to find the owner & get it to them. I reckon 98% of people are decent & would return it.
If you blatantly nicked someones gear it will always carry bad juju & you need to think about that & what a tw*t you are the next time you're 4 metres up above it on your edge.
Someone did this to me once when i was starting out, with a cam - they said they were climbing up next & would get it if they could then naffed off with it while i was on another climb.
On the other hand we once found a half rack of someones at the end of the day at Froggat. We asked everyone still on the crag, walked up & back again, posted on here, and put signs up in the Outsides but we never found the owner. By the look of the gear & the owners who we'd been talking to earlier it would have been pretty gutting to loose all that & they couldn't have easily found the money to replace it.
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