There are bad apples in every barrel, whether you're talking about hikers, mountain bikers, climbers, or any recreational group. Fortunately, there also are groups such as the Access Fund and Friends of Joshua Tree that rise up to counter the bad apples.
Earlier this year some climbers who head to Joshua Tree National Park regularly discovered some vandalism at an area of Queen Mountain known as "the Underground Chasm." They found approach steps gouged into the rock, some climbing routes appeared to have been "enhanced and overly bolted," and there were "hundreds of illegally placed bolts, fixed rope, burnt Joshua trees, (and) stashed camping and climbing gear," an Access Fund release noted.
While park officials could have moved to close the area to climbers, instead they reached out to the Access Fund and Friends of Joshua Tree to help right things at the Underground Chasm.
"In June, representatives from the Access Fund and Friends of Joshua Tree toured the Underground Chasm with park staff, then met with the Joshua Tree superintendent to discuss how to respond. The discussion ranged from doing nothing, to removing all the illegally placed bolts and banning all climbing (and bouldering) within Joshua Tree Wilderness," the Access Fund release said. "Given the number of violations, clear connection to climbers, and budget challenges, removing all of the bolts and banning climbing in the area was an option that the park seriously considered."
However, after discussing the matter the decision was made to the decision was made to: "1) Use the incident to educate climbers about proper wilderness ethics; 2) Evaluate the illegally established routes under the park’s permit application protocol; and, 3) Only remove those routes that would not have been granted a permit."
"Thankfully, the illegal acts at the Underground Chasm will not (at least for now) affect climbing access. However, if such blatant violations continue, the park will have to consider policy changes that could significantly reduce climbers’ access," Access Fund officials said.