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My Actions, My Responsibility, And My Mistake


When I was a little kid I was always rambunctious and running around the neighborhood. My dad used to always say, “Ok buddy, you are gonna learn the hard way”. Whether I was leaving the hose on and flooding the yard, eating too much candy, sneaking out and getting caught or constantly missing the bus… I learned the hard way. The Fall of 2013 is surely another one of these moments with a healthy dose of remorse and a painful lesson learned.

I have been putting up routes for over 6 years now. My mentors have included famous climbers and people from areas I frequently climb at. Putting up a new route is a creative process, which is why I love it. But like any creative process, there are many decisions to be made that influence the final outcome. Not all of those decisions are justifiable and not all are correct. My recent decision while new-routing has offered me one of the most intense learning experiences I have ever known.

To make a long story short, I was recently informed that I had done something wrong last month while establishing new routes at an underground crag in the Tahoe region of California. I cut down two trees. Not just any trees, either. Junipers.

I’d like to try to address and speak about the specifics of my actions, but in doing so, I want to make no mistake that this was a regrettable error on my part. I am deeply apologetic about what I did. I was wrong. I F’d up. And I’m very sorry. Now, I’m using my blog, my voice and my position in the climbing community to bring awareness to an important issue of route development in order to prevent people who may be as ignorant as I once was from doing this in the future.

Last July, my friends showed me a new cliff that utterly blew my mind. We climbed various warm-ups, and then jumped on “Tree Beard,” one of the best 5.12c’s I have ever done in my life. The route begins by climbing up a giant tree to reach the rock. I thought this was awesome as it immediately made for interesting experience. You clip fixed gear on its limbs while scampering up through the branches to reach the start of the rock climbing. Ultimately, you stand on the tip-top of the tree and transfer to the rock and continue up the wall.

Anyway, the climbing was really great, and I saw potential for other amazing routes on this granite wall. I come from New Hampshire and cut my teeth at Rumney, so I have an affinity for granite climbing and know how special they are.

I got in touch with Chris Doyle, a local climber who has established routes here. Chris, obviously is stoked and enthusiastic about this wall. Chris and I exchanged Facebook messages about the possibility for me to put up a route or two on this wall. Chris was supportive of that effort, and he even generously offered me one of his own projects to try as well. That felt really good, and having the green light from a local climber great.

This wall is one of the best USA crags, no doubt. I couldn’t stop thinking about the climbing here and how inspiring it was. About three weeks ago, I finally got the chance to establish a new route here.

I went out alone one day and made my way to the top of the wall—an extremely terrifying experience, to be honest. Putting up a new route is not just a lot of work, but risky in these ways that most climbers don’t normally think about. I rapped down, worked for hours and lowered to the ground.

I lowered through a tree that was blocking the start of a route. I pushed my way through the tree and got down to the ground. The tree was about 10 feet tall and 10 inches thick. A neighboring tree (below the route next to this) was smaller, dead, and in the same predicament.

My main goal when it comes to putting up a new route is: Will this climb be something high-quality, something safe and something that climbers will enjoy? I try to make decisions that answer those questions as best as possible.

This tree I lowered through was in a dangerous spot due to the fact that there was a difficult part on this route near the ground. Essentially, a fall from this lower section might have left a future climber injured: stabbed by tree limbs or worse. This was a serious concern of mine. I left the cliff thinking about that tree, not sure what to do.

I returned a week later with my friend of over 15 years Ethan Pringle, a local California climber. As Ethan and his girlfriend were warming up, I thought more about the tree making hazardous the start of this new route. Ethan didn’t know I was going to cut the Juniper down and wasn’t included in my decision or action. I decided to take the initiative and make the climb safe for the future climbers. As the developer of this route, I wanted to leave behind a resource for everybody, something that my climber folk could enjoy and not hurt themselves on. I spent about ten minutes and sawed them down.

That day was extremely fun. I got to climb with my old buddy. We tried the new project. We laughed and saw new potential along this amazing wall. We were stoked.

Ethan returned to the crag shortly thereafter and did the first ascent of my route (I don’t often red-tag projects). I was proud of him. Ethan said it was one of the best routes he had done in his life. This was satisfying to hear. It’s the greatest compliment that any route developer can receive.

Later that week, I was at Mount Clark with my friends. I received a message from Chris Doyle. I opened it giddily, thinking it would be some exciting news about more route development at this Tahoe-area cliff. Unfortunately, his message was a shocking note of concern over my tree removal.

I lost my breath. I felt faint. I responded immediately. Chris informed me that this was a precious, respected tree: a juniper, perhaps very old. Junipers are some of the most respected trees and they can survive for a very long time, upwards of a thousand years.

Hearing this I nearly died. I had no clue and I felt completely awful. I had really F—d up.

What followed—and perhaps rightly so—was a lot of angst and anger directed toward me—through climbing forums, through Instagram, and other social media channels. My phone number was posted publicly, and I received some heinous calls, threats and other messages of hate.

I understand that I am a high-profile sponsored climber, and so even though I am deeply embarrassed and ashamed from my actions, I also understand this reaction even if a lot of the outcry is made worse simply by my role in the climbing community.

My only hope now is that I can use my position, blog and voice to bring to light this issue of route development ethics, whether they are “grey” (like cleaning rock) or just downright wrong, like cutting down a precious tree. I hope that people who read this can share this message with people in the community and perhaps share it in a positive way.

This whole event has really hit me emotionally. I’ve been thinking long and hard about it lately and feel broken.

Dean Potter told me recently, ‘the Juniper will be happy to know you learned a major lesson … We are nature too, Joe, and everything is connected.”

It’s true. It’s kind of funny, but I also thought about that Dr. Seuss book, the Lorax. In it, the Once-ler cuts down all the trees, and there’s only the Lorax there to “speak for the trees.” The book ends with the word: “unless.” Meaning, unless someone says something and cares about the situation, then the situation won’t improve.

So, I hope this blog can be my version of “unless.” My attempt to make this wrong right is… speak to local climbers, land managers, and even a botanist friend for suggestions.

Again, I have learned something from this and I am extremely sorry for my actions. I hope that I have relayed that my heart was in the right place, but my actions were not correct. I hope that this message offers some pause and reflection for the future generations of climbers and route developers so that they don’t have to “learn the hard way” like me.

Thanks to the Tahoe climbing community, especially, and I look forward to climbing and hanging with you individually on a personal friendly level in the future.

  • karen lycett - ugh, you blew it. that tree spent thousands of years fighting it’s way through the granite to become part of the beautiful landscape in my backyard. i hate you for what you’ve done. i wrote all your sponsers and told them to denounce you. i just found this apology. thanks for trying to make it right. but really?? trees are a part of climbing, i am a wimpy climber and have used them in the past…fallen on them…hurt myself, part of the game. you will probably get fined, junipers are respected in our neck of the woods. thank god i don’t climb that hard so the next time i go up there i hopefully won’t see the stump.
    karen lycett

  • Forgive Joe - It’s obvious that your heart was in the right place but everyone makes mistakes they wish they could take back and no one is perfect. To all the “imperfect a~hole jerks” that left you nasty and rude messages; Joe made a mistake and is owning it by publicly apologizing and obviously feels terrible so forgive him knowing one day you will make a mistake and need forgiveness too. Don’t beat yourself up to bad Joe your heart was in the right place you just didn’t know and that is how we all learn by making mistakes and educating each other in a loving and respectful way knowing nobody is perfect and we all have so much to learn.
    These people who are casting stones are probably just a bunch of mean spirited jerks who just can’t wait to rake someone threw the coals. If they cannot forgive you how can they expect anyone else to forgive them for their mistakes? Maybe they don’t have Love or Forgiveness in their hearts but they ought to realize in order to receive Love and Forgiveness you have to give it back too.
    It always strikes bothers me that the highway department and forest service cut down thousands of trees and blew up tons of incredible boulders and pristine cliff faces to develop the roads that we all drive to get to these places but nobody wants to remember all of that they just want to throw stones at the guy who cut down one tree to develop on of the best routes in the entire area. I am not condoning cutting down a very old Juniper tree to bolt a 5 Star route but honestly thousands of trees were mowed over to make the road to get to the cliff but you don’t hear those guys morning and crying over those trees nope they are psyched that they can drive there BMW’s with their Namaste stickers to the cliff so they can act like they are so full of Peace, Love and Forgiveness but the minute someone makes and honest mistake they freak out in anger and hatred with seemingly no love, grace of forgiveness in their hearts acting like they have never made a mistake.
    Personally given the facts that thousands and thousands of trees were mowed down to develop the roads its obvious people are making way to big of a deal out of one tree blocking one of the best routes Ethan Pringle has ever climbed. Its like come on people nobody is condoning the honest mistake but why make such a big deal about something so relatively small?
    People are always so hard and critical of the developers and pioneers. Personally I am grateful for all the routes you have developed Kind Kid and it is very easy for me to realize how much you give to the climbing community and one little honest mistake like this is very easy to overlook when I think of all the hard work you put into developing and bolting routes for the entire community to enjoy so THANKS JOE :) Seriously nobody will miss that little tree (they just want to be angry about something) and trees eventually die and will fall over anyways but the rock and that awesome route will live way longer so people should just take a deep breath and practice Forgiveness and Grace now we all know don’t eff’ with da Juniper trees or people are gunna freak da fak out…I say it was a good lesson and like the good book says “humble ourselves or prepare to be humbled” its always good to have a slice of humble pie now and then to keep us in check (not that you needed to be put in check) your a great guy Joe and a great contributor to the community in heart, spirit and in all the back breaking hard work you have put into developing all these great routes for all of us to enjoy so don’t let one mistake (we all have to make them) or a few lazy internet hater trolls bring you down 1 <3

  • Todd Gordon - Thanks for the good words. We all make mistakes;…..and we all learn from ours and our friends mistakes. Good writing, good message, and good lesson learned, for you and the climbing community. Climb safe.
    Todd Gordon

  • Hippieman - sorry, but I probably would have cut down that tree too. It’s not like it was the Sequoia. and Karen, do you really want to come out publicly as hating someone? That’s a really strong word. For a single tree. And a repentant person. Chill out. He’s not advocating strip mining.

  • Make Love not War do not be filled with Hate - Seriously Karen Hippieman is right literally millions tons of trees were (fighting there way through the granite) were cut down to create the roads that you drive on everyday around Tahoe but you don’t Hate the roads or the construction workers who cut them down and if you did you would be a hypocrite so why all the Hate on our GOOD BROTHER Joe for one tree that you were never going to go see anyways? You wrote all of his sponsors and told them to denounce one of the biggest contributors to sport climbing in America over one tree why? He made one little mistake and regrets it people make tons of mistakes at their jobs everyday I bet you Hate them too? Hate is never the anwser and Joe’s got tons and tons of Love but obviously just like you Karen he is not perfect and learned something about Juniper trees the hard way but seriously next time your driving around Tahoe think about all the Juniper trees that were plowed over to make those roads anyone who is being Hateful or Overly Critical about this TINY little insignificant mishap needs a reality check and really needs to put thing into perspective my goodness let go of all the Hatred and Anger people or at the very least direct all that energy towards something that matters like World Hunger or Wars or Domestic Violence etc. not one little tree :o( My God where is the Love, Grace and Forgiveness in peoples hearts today?

  • Casey hyer - I lived in South Lake for 6 months, climbed every day and had no idea that this would be a big deal.

    Thank you for publicly apologizing, thank you for passing on your new knowledge, let’s all forgive and move on!

    Joe’s sponsorse should know that they are supporting an awesome guy!

  • Laurel - Poignant, heartfelt blog. Your regret has made you an even more ardent environmentalist than you already were. Even John Muir owned a sawmill and chopped down many a healthy, old tree before he became a naturalist.

  • Ioan G - What you did can be seen as wrong, but the benefits of the lesson learned heavily outweighs the consequences of the wrong. I, along with many other climbers, would not have known cutting trees was such a big deal and could have done what you did in the future. As you said, cleaning and altering routes is a grey area. What the climbing community needs is people that can decide what is right and wrong, and to what extent climbers should be allowed to impact the rock. Hopefully, you can take this role and be a spokesperson for climbers. Thanks for sharing, your genuine apology strengthens my belief that you are a great person and representative of the climbing community.

  • skiclimb - I find it ironic that your cover picture for this very blog features beautiful old trees.

    The one thing that was *living* and you cut it down. You should change your blog photo to cold, hard, lifeless stone because *that* is what you worship.

    This will be a continuing lesson for you to learn until you are cold and lifeless as well. Good luck with that.

  • Lisa Lenihan - Your words are nice, a good apology. But, actions are louder than words. What are you REALLY going to do to right your wrong. All eyes are on you now because of your high profile. Take it beyond “lesson learned”.

  • Becky Alarcon - “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing,

    there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

    When the soul lies down in that grass,

    the world is too full to talk about.

    Ideas, language, even the phrase each other

    doesn’t make any sense” -Rumi

  • Mos Rad - Joe is the man. I had the pleasure of meeting and climbing with him a couple years back and I can tell you that he’s a solid dude. He works hard, he plays hard, and his contributions to the climbing community are huge. He’s always psyched to share his love for climbing and continues to inspire so many climbers everyday. Everybody makes mistakes, and it takes a good person to admit and recognize when he or she has done so. Thanks for all your hard work Broey!! Keep it Rad!

  • Brent Walker - The really, truly regrettable thing here is that Joe wasn’t given the chance to apologize before the news (and his phone number) was made public, and some truly horrific things were said to him, on the order of physical harm, and even death threats. I have been following the story ever since I saw the original post on Dean Potter’s Instagram (itself a copy, and a link to the true original post), and some of the things that were said to him on those comments were truly horrific, and they were published publicly. Who knows what he received via text/phone call. Is what Joe did wrong? yes. Should he be punished? yes. but he also should have been given the chance to repay the wrong and explain his actions before being subjected to death threats from a bunch of people hiding behind the anonymity of their electronic devices. Joe made a mistake, but he has owned up to it and apologized. Whoever decided to break this story and post Joe’s personal information online is the one who should truly be ashamed, not to mention those who decided it prudent to publicly wish for the harm/death of a human being. I’m with you Joe. Keep doing the good work, and doing more for the sport of climbing than any of the assholes who wished you harm via the internet ever will.

  • BCJB - Trying to move past the anger I feel – as a climber and as a person who loves wilderness – about your actions. I believe in growth and forgiveness.

    But man every time I imagine you putting that saw in your pack at the TH, taking it out, employing it for 10 minutes on those two trees… I slip back into anger.

    The anger will pass. Todd Gordon is right that we all F up.

    I do hope that you will go many, many steps further than simply using the influence you perceive yourself as having to spread the word of wilderness ethics and Leave No Trace. You don’t have credibility there any longer, if ever you did. That credibility has to be earned.

    Show the community that you’re more than talk by taking action to make reparations. It’s not clear that the influence you perceive yourself as having is going to suffice. Old fashioned hard work, on the other hand, always does.

  • Chris - Joe,

    I hope you were sincere in your apology. It was reported in Adventure Journal that you initially denied cutting down the trees. If true, that makes me somewhat doubt the words you posted above. But, I’m not interested in adding to the negative feedback you’ve already gotten. I just wanted to say that you really do have an opportunity here to demonstrate your sincerity and to make up for what many feel was an egregious action, especially as it was done by a climber.

    I’m a middle-aged dude now, but in my teens and twenties I had the mono-focus on climbing as hard as possible, so I know it’s easy to get caught up in that and lose sight of the John Muir type big vision. And with so many climbers coming out of the gyms these days there are lot of climber who don’t have any environmental awareness. I just have a suggestion that you consider partnering with appropriate groups to work out a program you could help promote (at gyms, in your films, gear shops) that would raise awareness about appreciation for the natural world and give practical advice on techniques for how to minimize your impacts when visiting these areas and climbing. The Sierra Club is one group that comes to mind as a potential partner. Even if their direct involvement in climbing is minimal these days, they have expertise among a lot of their volunteers especially in low-impact mountain travel. If you were able to influence some of your peers to get involved in a program like this, all the better.

    So, although you didn’t plan it this way, maybe your lesson learned could end being a very good thing for a much larger segment of the climbing community if you’re able to help extend that lesson beyond yourself.


  • Richo - Keyboard warriors eat your heart out. This was a honest mistake. Joe props to you dude for taking this head on. Haters goin to hate.

  • Grow Up - One tree? According to a group who calls themselves NASA, there are roughly 400 billion (with a B) trees on this planet. Hippies and self-righteous first world climbers piss me off. Facts are facts and if I had your names, numbers and your employers numbers so they could be contacted each time you smelled your own fart and liked it… well, you would probably still find something to bitch about from the inside of your own asshole. No one is advocating going around cutting down trees, no one is congratulating the guy or gal how kills the foliage at the base of a cliff. You are angry about development yet you partake readily in its spoils??? It’s the name of the game. Grow up. The best we can do is to be conscious and make an effort to leave no trace. How is that possible when we are drilling and gluing blah blah blah, in the side of a cliff? You have no problem whipping on a bolt tho? All climbers and for all intents and purposes all PEOPLE are guilty. So while you are reading this post, probably sipping your free range, fair trade, rGBh free, organic coffee, using words like “jejune” or “cavil” perhaps “savant”.. Remember when you check out at whole foods with your $600 bag of whatever, you are the problem.. You are the pretentious consumer, you are the capitalist, first worlder and you are just as guilty. Sit behind your screen and cast stones. These words are just words and don’t apply to you.


  • Ian -

    Once a mistake, twice a habit. Developing requires understanding of local ethics and rules. If you are not willing to take the time to develop responsibly by taking the time to learn BEFORE taking action, then stop developing. Like I tell my 5 year old… Apologies are nice, but the don’t change your actions and there are consequences for actions.

  • Guillermo - Well written, sincere explanation.

    Admittedly, I see trees as a MUCH more valuable resource than rock; therefore, all the quibbly little ‘ethical’ rules that climbers make for themselves about chipping, gluing, comfortizing all pale in comparison to cutting a tree, esp an old and protected one, because rock is DEAD. It is special to climbers, but there is a LOT of dead material in the universe.

    Having said that, the lynch mob on ST is just the sad reaction of Sierra regionalism. You were at a ‘secret’ crag in their hood, climbing 10x as hard as they ever will, even on their own gold standards like Grand Illusion, so the tree a good excuse to get all kinds of butthurt.

    Haters gunna hate. Respect.

  • S Blake - Joe,

    What you did was incredibly dim witted and selfish. I find it hard to understand how someone with the ‘outdoor’ credentials and background you have could have been so unthinking. In many contexts there are trees that could be removed with n’er a whisper. But the premeditated cutting of Junipers growing out of Granite, lord knows how long it took them to grow……..

    But you have done what you’ve done. A bit of online contrition will go only some way to persuading folks you have any credibility in our sport. Deeds speak louder than words. So get at it and actually demonstrate you value our environment.

    Climbing at the cutting edge becomes very ego centric, it might be a good idea to step back from it being about ‘you’ and what ‘you’ achieve and more about giving the rock and environment a chance – And that would include thinking about the bolting of everything and anything you think you can climb – just because you can. It’s about the rock and the environment, not you.

    In short, don’t be an arse!

    Reflect, do the right thing and move on.

  • TK - Hope the larger issues around Tahoe are met with as much fervor…

  • Jonathan Ramirez - Go plant a tree Joe.

    An apology is not enough. There are plenty of opportunities to make amends. There are fire scorched forests in Lander and Yosemite, and flood washed canyons in Colorado. Give back more than you took.

  • andy - What I find more intriguing, is the fact that in most places managed by BLM when it is a national forest you can get permits to harvest Juniper trees(for Bonsai, etc) and many other species for that matter. There usually are no restrictions on age, size, etc. Where is the line? If he did this with a permit, costing about 7.50 per tree, no one could say a word about it. While he could have moved the tree out from the base of the climb, it is hard to see how people are so worked up.

  • Respect - Nicely written. Full respect for owning up in a sincere and genuine way. Its not easy to admit your wrong, even harder to do it to a community you love, support, and are supported by. Total props Joe, you get major brownie points in my book. Nice that there is a climber to look up to not only for his strength and skill, but for how he interacts with others.

  • Adrian - As a rock climber and a plant ecologist, I feel inclined to comment on this issue. I am in no way condoning Joe’s actions, but it sounds like people reacted very strongly without a lot of information on the ecological impacts of removing one juniper. First of all, what species of juniper are we talking about here? Was it a confirmed old-growth juniper? Was it part of a pinyon-juniper community? What role did it play in the ecosystem? Did it provide crucial habitat for a sensitive or federally-listed species? These are all questions one should ask before coming down so hard on someone for removing one tree. In fact, many plant communities in the western U.S. have issues with juniper encroachment causing adverse impacts on ecological processes. I am not saying that this is occurring in the Tahoe area, but again, it would be worth looking into before harshly criticizing Joe’s actions.

  • Paul Pospisil - Get to work Joe!!! You did something really destructive and you need to get going on what you are going to really do beside’s saying your sorry. That is how you get true forgiveness. Your fans feel sorry for you because you are being criticized for doing something very wrong. So please for your own sake get to work on retributions, pay some real money, figure what will make you truly sacrifice, and don’t do it to please others because you can never please everybody. Do it because you need to do it in order to not be percieved as a shallow fool.

  • karen lycett - Joe and I have written back and forth and I have recanted my “hate” comment but it was still my initial response to such an ignorant act. It breaks my heart to think other climbers that have visited the Tahoe area (casey) think that his action is justifiable. WOW. that climb is in a pristine wilderness area. respect it. joe will make it known further that what he did was wrong so others (casey) won’t repeat his actions.

  • PUNTX - All you tree-hugging hippies need to shut the fk up, for real. The hypocrisy is just too much. One tree, in a forest of thousands, and all this outcry? Death threats??? Come on now. It’s not like Joe goes around chopping forests down, wiping out entire ecosystems. There are plenty of people and companies doing that already (for money, nonetheless; not to establish something for the greater benefit of the community). Why not direct your anger at them instead? Or maybe at the people who slaughter the millions of animals a day that make up your meals? Come on now people…

    Make reparations? Da fk kind of joke is that? You want Joe to give the tree a proper burial, or spread it’s ashes all across the forest? Perhaps host a memorial event for the lost tree? Find the parent trees and give them a heart-felt apology?

    You people are truly pathetic. Maybe what Joe did was not the most ethical thing, but to make this much of a deal out of it is very ignorant and immature of the community here. Give the man a break. For real.

  • Micah Jankowski - Joe,

    It’s a bummer you didn’t do your research before ripping the tree out, but it’s also cool that you’re owning it. Tell all the armchair mountaineers commenting on the internet to sit on it and just keep going climbing man. Your impact to the community as a whole is a positive one. It’s also good for the loads of young climbers in every gym across the country, who look up to you and are psyched on the stuff you’re climbing and doing, to see that what we do has real consequence and implication beyond just the climbing community. I think in being up front and taking the heat on this fiasco, you’re taking advantage of a really great opportunity to set the example for these little homies, who hopefully can make smarter decisions than the one you made while all psyched on your new route. Keep after it. You’re doing good.

    A Fellow New England Climber

  • bill - thanks for all your contributions to the climbing community. this one mistake will blow over and surely won’t happen again

  • Andrew - Joe you are one of the most inspired and psyched climbers around. Contributed countless dollars and hours to climbing areas and new routes. Everyone makes mistakes. I hope the climbing community can get over this incident and move on. You are still an inspiration and have given far more to the climbing community then what this incident took away. Andrew FLAME ON GUYS

  • ed abbey - “The fire. The odor of burning juniper is the sweetest fragrance on the face of the earth, in my honest judgment; I doubt if all the smoking censers of Dante’s paradise could equal it. One breath of juniper smoke, like the perfume of sagebrush after rain, evokes in magical catalysis, like certain music, the space and light and clarity and piercing strangeness of the American West. Long may it burn.” EA

  • Ken Cangi - Hey Joey,

    Manning up to your actions demonstrated strong character. By your admission, you clearly understand that the decision to cut the tree down was problematic.

    We all make mistakes, and unlike too many, you’ve obviously gained some responsible insight from yours. That should be the end of it. Time for everyone to move on.

    It’s good having you out there, Joey. You bring a lot of positive energy and exposure to the sport which encompasses so much of our lives.



  • TK - Big props to Joe for taking the time to talk openly about an obviously polarizing issue. Being one of the few that has climbed at this cliff in the past, I can’t say that I feel strongly about a tree getting cut down or not. Trees are felled all the time to enable the outdoor sports I love; climbing, skiing, mountain biking. I’m not naive enough to think that the sports I love on this planet are without impact.

    To me the bigger issue here is the lynch mob mentality of the Tahoe climbers and the climbing community (especially that of To hear that people had called Joe and threatened him physically and sent him messages that were hateful makes me embarrassed to call myself a climber. The way that the Tahoe climbing community has handled this incident was with half the class and maturity that Joe has shown here. Your (Tahoe Climber’s) actions were cowardly and hypocritical at best.

    Keep doing your thing Joe. Climb with purpose, and keep sharing the stoke. I’m going to buy something from all of your sponsors today because I understand the hard work, money and time that goes into establishing new routes. I’d hate to see you stop.


  • V. Lopez - Why does Kinder get ‘props’ and ‘respect’ for apologizing ? Isn’t that the least he could do ?

    He was silent for a significant period of time after the cutting , and even allegedly denied it at first . It’s unlikely he would have taken responsibility for it at all had he not been publicly embarrassed and called out on it .

    Like others have said , cutting the tree is definitely not the end of the world , but his apology is more a reaction to public outcry, than seriously taking responsibility for actions.

  • D Lee - Too little too late. It’s a real shame that this happened. Even worse that he tried to deny it. An apology triggered by public shaming is not an apology at all, just an acknowledgement of fault.

    What you did to this tree and what you’ve done for the general perception of climbers will significantly outweigh any positive contributions you’ve made to the community.

    To the people calling us haters and suggesting that we are jealous of Joe’s “skills”, you guys continue to demonstrate to the world that rock climbers are an ignorant immature group of people that make no positive contribution to society.

    To the other’s that are trying to downplay this whole thing, there is simply no route in this world that is so important that you could justify cutting down a tree. And there never will be. Climbing a rock for your own self satisfaction will never justify doing irreparable damage to our beautiful planet. All trees are precious.

    Joe, you’re heart was not in the right place and you didn’t learn anything the hard way. There is no silver lining here. Stop looking for sympathy. You’re an immature asshat that puts his own personal enjoyment above this planet’s. And has to be publically shamed to own up to it. I look forward to seeing you make this right, but I won’t hold my breadth.

    I’ve never been more depressed to call myself a climber.

  • lastpete - It’s a tree. Plant another one? ITS JUST A TREE!

  • F liang - Until someone turns himself in to the authority(Forest Service), I don’t believe there is any “manning up to your actions” here.

  • DB - I for one respect that Joe took a couple days to respond thoughtfully and openly. It doesn’t seem like he is hiding anything here and those of you that think otherwise seem to be cherry picking hearsay from others.

    Thanks for being open and honest Joe. I am going to buy some gear from EMS right now.


  • Really? - I’m assuming that all the people saying awful things about Joe, like D Lee don’t live in homes made primarily of wood? Wood that almost certainly came from the clear cutting of old growth forest’s. Am I right D Lee? Do you and your minions live in an echo bubble made of fairy dust and good vibes? If so, you’re in the clear. Of course, then we have the issue of the fairy concentration camps where fairy’s are forced to work unreasonable hours to produce far more dust than they ever would in nature. But that’s a topic for another online forum. The reality is, D Lee and all the other haters are massive hypocrites. If you’re so passionate about trees, why aren’t you out working with Earth First! fighting against deforestation?

    If cutting down one little tree is enough to generate this kind of uproar, than what I have done in the name of new routes and boulders is enough to merit a death sentence. Better yet, why don’t all these hippiecrites make a cross out of all the trees I’ve murdered and crucify my evil ass on it!

  • aimee - Hey Buddy

    Everybody has balls on the internet. Super cool of you to go out of your way and make a public statement. Shitty that everyone fucks up all the time but because you’re well known it’s blown out of proportion. Can’t we all go back to making fun of Ivan?

    Give it a few weeks – it’ll blow over. Hang tough and your real friends are your friends no matter what.

    Love to you.

  • chilloutpeople - I am a forestry student studying trees and an extremely avid rock climber. Joe made a mistake cutting down the tree. Junipers are wonderful trees who live long lives, but this is incomprehensibly insignificant. What about the Rim Fire that just happened? How many trees do you think burned to the ground. If you would like to argue that fire is natural, then you are idiotic. We(humans) are the reason for these catastrophes. We have screwed up our forests in a million other ways than Joe cutting a tree down. To every single on of you who is hating on Joe for this, please reconsider all the things YOU have done to destroy the places you climb at. No one would care if some random guy cut the tree. Sure, Joe should set examples because he is a “role model”, but everyone makes mistakes. Educate yourself before you inner hippie comes out and starts rambling.

  • Momma Bish - Learning the hard way is the best way to learn about yourself. I am so impressed by your self-analysis and sincere desire to become more vigilant about choices. But please, keep up that awesome loving wanna-do-it spirit that makes everyone psyched/inspired to feel the same love of climbing. Your enthusiasm is a gift to those who struggle with this sport/lifestyle.

  • Shawn - I cant believe what people are putting you through concerning this matter. Unbelievable. Im sure most of the people who are lambasting you and putting you through the ringer are also ones who have trampled vegetation to get to a new route, clipped trees, built landings, built stares, left gear hanging on walls, drilled rock, scraped moss, etc. The hypocrisy in this story and with the commenters is astounding. Reminds me when I lived in town that was littered with mt bike trails. Someone or some group removed a large boulder from the middle of the trail. Some people lost their shit over it, up in arms because the boulder was part of the trail, natural, part of the earth. But they sure didnt complain about the previous 8 miles of trail that had been built to that point. Ludicrous

  • Shawn - oh hey, by the way. The Forest Service and the BLM spend millions upon millions of dollars trying to eradicate junipers in many areas. Look into it haters.

  • A.Burr - Joe is a down to earth, great person. If any of you would take the time to know him, you’d understand this. He is a wonderful asset to OUR community.

  • Climbing Hold Review - I’m glad a high profile climber has the balls to make an apology! Generally in life admitting your mistakes are the first problem; the problem is to actually have to make that apology you need to have made that mistake

    The outlash from the community was harsh and unneeded. Everyone has a voice on the web, people can really lash out and they can really “lay down the law”; I think that well worded, well written, well thought out discussions rather than full on rage was the way to go rather than full on backlash

    Joe obviously feels bad about his mistake and I’m sure that he’ll make amends as he sees fit and it will sooth his sole and band aid Mother Nature for his acts

    Can we let this drop now?

  • Austin Hardy - Hey man, mistakes happen. Joe provides so much to the climbing community and is probably one of the coolest realest guys out there. You’re a real genuine dude and I hope I speak for the majority of the climbing community in saying that your apology is definitely accepted.

  • Dylan - Don’t feel too bad bud. Yes, trees are nice, especially old ones, but really…climbers are the smallest concern to the environment. Especially ones with the best intentions in mind who just happen to cut down the wrong tree. We all appreciate what you’ve done and continue to do for the tribe. Cheers bro.

  • Rich M - It’s sad that our reality show addled society believes that it deserves public and harsh punishment for every transgression. Route development is dirty and harsh work. Climbing itself is dirty and harsh. Every time you throw your pad or tarp and rope to the ground to cue up at your chosen route, you trample the soil into oblivion. Chalk, tick marks, boot rubber… Look around, none of us are saints. Joe went way above and apologized, it is time to go send some routes.
    Joe, keep up the hard work. I enjoy your blog and hope to get out and enjoy some of your routes in the future.


  • Paul - Joe, it is honorable to apologize but I would not be too hard on yourself despite the vitriol expressed here and elsewhere. It sounds like it was a cool tree, but there are millions of trees – cool and otherwise – wiped out every year by forces of nature. Adding in human impacts that probably every one of us takes for granted makes many of these sanctimonious comments hard to take seriously. Thanks for writing.

  • Luuuke - With all the ski resorts in and around Tahoe and all the roads and vacation mansions in the Tahoe basin, it astonishes me that people would fly off the handle about this. The hypocrisy is mind blowing. Yes sad to see a beautiful little tree go, but even sadder that all the trolls don’t mobilize and DO something tangible about real problems in Tahoe such as sprawl, pollution, transportation. Maybe they can’t or won’t or don’t want to affect change from within the system. Instead they can safely and anonymously post to a message board about how evil Joe Kinder is for cutting down one tree. Way to go people.

  • whatever - D Lee said “there is simply no route in this world that is so important that you could justify cutting down a tree”.
    Hahaha this is the most hypocritical statement ever. Dude, YOUR life kills more planet resource than a tree. You going climbing kills more planet resource than a tree. Your house, your car, your clothes, should I keep going? Moron..
    It’s just a damn tree that one could have gotten a permit to chop down. Get over it.

  • Brett - People will always judge another’s actions, and combined with a group mentality; make a rather unfortunate situation outright horrible. Its not like you wanted to cut the tree down specifically because you knew how rare and unique it was. You cut it down because you made a mistake, at least it was a tree and not a life lost ya know. People will always talk shit about what you do, because they aren’t doing enough or whatever in their own lives. At least you will connect your name and face with the situation you created. If someone can seriously get that mad at you over an honest mistake thats not right. Being an individual isn’t easy when people can type things they would never say to your face…

  • Lauren - thanks for your words. thanks for being the one that had to learn the lesson. it’s the worst, most difficult, but most rewarding in the end.

  • C - I heard Sharma stepped on a plant when he was in OZ. Awaiting apology.

  • Dpg - Keep up your good work man! Obviously a bit more digging into local ethics/issues is necessary when going about “development”. Climbers are (and should be) passionate about their areas. But damn some of these comments seem way overblown.

  • sean - everyones passions get in the way of sound logic at one point or another.

  • Brick - Don’t let the haters get you down

  • Lol - omg…

  • josh - Hahaha two trees not two naysayers have to get a life. There are much more important things in life then a couple of junipers come on people!

  • Rainforest-granite - Move to Squamish! We wholeheartedly embrace your type for route development. However, two trees won’t really make a difference, we are talking hundreds to really make the climbing better. All the environmentalists I know in BC own chainsaws.

  • Vuk - Hey hey hey.. it is true that cutting down trees (especially big ones) in order to make a route is somehow wrong and should not be done… but every day this planet looses like 1000 football fields of Forest… most of it being big precious trees, just to produce all that paper and stuff. So if you really want to help..go and buy some land and plant 500 pines like I did. We are all cutting trees everyday just to wipe our asses. In my opinion if Joe did this and also planted 5 more trees it is more or less fine from ecological perspective…everything else is just looks.. we make this earth uglier everyday anyway.
    Cheers Joe

  • BDS - Yet another heartfelt confessional apology from the biggest spraylord in the climbing universe… seems to be one every couple of years. Are we seeing a pattern emerge yet? Ego-driven climbing leads to stupid, selfish decisions.

  • Chris Brown - The tree removal is really only a minor concern in the grand scheme of things.



    Are modern climbers really that out of touch with the medium they live and recreate in?

  • Canadian - Jesus Christ Karen. He is a good man. The least justifiable part of this contradiction is how you can hate him for it. People fuck up. If this area is your backyard like you say than I’m sure a tree or two had to be cleared to build your home. You may not have been the first owner. But I don’t think there are many people who appreciate nature as much as Joe. Forgive him. Don’t be a bitch.

  • mother earth - cut down ALL the trees and erase the human disease plaguing my surface.

  • Jeremy - Good job with the apology Joe. Eventually all of the moral elite that obviously don’t live in glass houses will move on to flame on someone else. You made a mistake and are seeking forgiveness. All anyone can ask for. And I also appreciate your account of the events because they are succinct. Not the exacerbated and hyped up vitriol I’ve seen elsewhere. I wonder if these folks have ever heard of squamish?

  • Jonathan Reece - Wow…I didn’t have time to read all the replies here but it’s interesting to see the wide range of reactions.

    First off…we all make mistakes, Joe. I sure as hell know I have. I find it just as much of a mistake being made by the people who write off someone and/or even threaten them for cutting down a couple trees. Sure these trees are very old and it’s awful that they’ve been cut…but to all these people filled with hate I wonder where they get the self righteousness to think they are perfect.

    One thing maybe people don’t realize, but after reading some reactions I feel is a notable point is that growing up in the northeast the attitudes towards removing trees might just be different than out west. There are far fewer die hard preservationists here in Maine; probably the same in NH. The general attitude of people I know is one of conservation. Meaning that the forest is something that is used in many ways. From scrubbing lichen off rock, to building hiking trails, or mountain bike trails…it all has an impact. it’s up to the developer(s) to make a judgement. In this case you made a mistake and you’ve owned up to it.

    Keep spreading the positivity that you do so well, and people will get over it. Those that don’t have a problem you can’t address.

    Smooth J

  • MO RO - It’s awesome only to see supportive comments of Joe’s “heartfelt” apology on this blog. Some one, **cough cough Joe Kinder cough cough**, is doing Joe a great service by monitoring this blog to make sure that his image looks clean and like he’s got the climbing community behind his back. But he doesn’t. Ivan Greene lost most of his sponsors for a similar flippant action. Oh wait, the difference? Destroying a live tree versus the chipping away of an already created form, a rock. Now many may not see the difference, but anyone who has any ounce of biological understanding will know that the millions of years of selection took place for that juniper to get into its current, I mean dead form, which is a truly remarkable and undeniably unique attribute of living species. As an ambassador of companies who share the principle of LNT, Joe’s continuing sponsorship of those companies tarnishes their value as ambassadors of the great outdoors. Shaming Joe to the extant he received is disgusting, but something should be done to make people aware of the responsibilities of being outside. Athletes in any other sport get publicly shamed and banned for usings PED’s to enhance their game. In my eyes Joe did something no different. He cheated the way a plant had existed for potentially thousands of years just to be a little bit safer doing his sport. Fuck that. You gym climbers need to learn the ethics of being outside. PICK YOUR TRASH AND CIGARETTE’S UP, LEARN HOW TO PROPERLY TAKE A SHIT OUTSIDE, AND LEARN WHEN IT’S OK TO TAKE A STAND TO SOMEONE WHO HIDES BEHIND HIS FLAT, CHILDISH APOLOGIES AND SET A PRECEDENT. As for you Joe, I expect this comment to be taken down because your self serving image is more important to you than receiving criticism. But know that I offer no threats to you, but I offer knowing that you have satisfied many pent up feelings I have had for you and people like you. You don’t deserve your sponsorships anymore. Go turn yourself in to the park services, please.

  • Ben Pettersson - Hey man. With all the detrimental things happening to our planet right now (, i think a lot of people may give you hell because they are hurting from the bigger picture. Humans are the only know organism to destroy there own habitat knowingly. You did a noble thing owning up to it. but at the same time don’t beat yourself up. we got bigger issues than one juniper. Also a good thing about this post is spreading awarness that we climbers have to be more respectful to the nature surrounding the areas we climb.

  • Eric B - Wow there are some haters out there, and certainly some hypocrites considering how much damage our daily lives make on the environment. Joe didn’t realize what he was doing, and we all make mistakes. The difference is he openly addressed the wrong doing, and wrote what I feel is a very sincere apology, rather than trying to hide, or defend his actions as simply being ignorant. He turned the loss into a valuable lesson, and his letter of apology educates us all on that lesson. With the loss of this one tree, how many trees may now be saved with the amount of coverage this incident is getting? It opened up my eyes, and quite frankly, the protection of human life is worth more than a tree.

  • Brian - Thanks. Humans make mistakes. Rare are the ones who own their mistakes. It might hurt, but you can do more to make things right this way.

  • mateo - Dude, tkx for your words. I understand you pain. Mistakes are the only way to learn, and to learn from them is the most pure way of fighting that there is. We are all going to die. It was the Juniper’s time. But at least it’s death brought awareness. Keep fighting, climbing and becoming more awe. Greetings from El Retiro, Antioquia, Colombia! 😀

  • Vince Sugrue - This comments section is absolutely hilarious. Joe’s a great guy with love for the climbing community, made a mistake that he has publicly apologized for, and has actually inspired a discussion on the ethics of not only creating routes but also on the plight of deforestation in the world. Seriously people, get real. Those Cheerios you are eating in the morning are causing hundreds of acres a day of Indonesian Rain Forest to be chopped down for Palm Oil. Those delicious Bananas that we eat from South America are causing massive Brazilian Nut Trees to be razed to the ground by the square mile. Those rager fires to keep you warm up at the Buttermilks in Bishop on those nights before a wicked send on Seven Spanish Angels are the result of several Oak trees cut down. The oil that is being extracted from the Tar Sands of Canada so that you can drive to the gym and to the local crags to crush your projects is not only causing deforestation but an entire environmental catastrophe in Canada.

    Lighten up on the guy, and even though I’m an atheist and it pains me to use this quote: “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”

  • Adam - Now can you make your blog font bigger than 11px? Seriously, this is really hard to read. Try 14 or 16. Then we won’t have to strain to read your apology or other bloginess…

  • Kyle - A heartfelt apology, we all make mistakes, and like someone said go plant a tree or two.

    All in all I am pretty sure he does more nature conservation than a lot of the people who posted hating on him.

    karen lycett I don’t believe his sponsors need to retract their sponsorship of him

  • AJ G. - To those responding with hurtful responses after an honest apology, please explain how you have never made a single mistake before and are worthy to cast the first stone.

  • Lawrence - How is it that “Ethan didn’t know I was going to cut the Juniper down and wasn’t included in my decision or action”? Didn’t he see that gas power chainsaw you brought along hiking in? I don’t think you are telling the whole truth here Joe.

  • Biologist - Being European, the concept of environmentalism seems to be bit weird and perversed. As an environmentalist, i don’t really get what is all the fuss about. Is the tree endangered species? The tree would probably not have survived anyway, if it was growing in the shade (you mentioned the other was dead already).
    I think people are too harsh on you, Joe. Many climb and don’t show much appreciation for people who make routes (which is a big responsibility in all means). All my support goes to you, and don’t stress that much. One small tree is not a big deal for nature at all! There are way more environmentaly-harmful human activities, than removing one or two trees (including using your mobile phones (from production, to antena installation), electricity production and distribution (yes, birds die hitting the cables), carbon emissions, road kills, environmental deterioration by agriculture and other activities etc etc.). What is this hysteria about one tree?

  • Nicole - Joe,
    Your apology sounds more like an advertisement for your new climb. The only reason you are apologizing is because you got caught after you lied about cutting down the tree, and your insincere words communicate that clearly. You are an embarrassment to the climbing community. I hope you find a way to let go of your entitled attitude and start educating climbers on how to respect their surroundings. If not, it is because of people like you that we will loose access to our favorite climbing locations. I cannot believe you are getting sponsored to behave like this.

  • Nicole - Also nice job on editing all of the comments to make yourself look good! Great way to further that honest image of yours.

  • Unacceptable - WOW. Just WOW. Joe, I think this is a completely ridiculous insincere apology on your part, and I think that it is in your best interest to STOP climbing. Seriously, we don’t want you in OUR tribe anymore. You know, the ones who care about the trees. What about the trees Joe!? I’m distraught over this right now, nearly on the brink of tears all day. Junipers are beloved trees around the Tahoe vicinity and I just think that your irrationality was completely uncalled for. As far as I’m concerned, WE shouldn’t be satisfied until he turns himself into the authorities and SERVES JAIL TIME! We hunted down and made KONY 2012 viral last year, LET’S MAKE THIS KINDER 2013! KINDER 2013! KINDER 2013! You disgust me Joe. You and your pathetic fan base. KINDER 2013!

  • Dee - Climbers and the like ie; any outdoor enthusiast, have the biggest egos I have ever come across. It doesn’t matter if its a tree, dirt, rock or dog shit. Everyone has a bitch. Can’t make everyone happy. I am pleased to see that you have put your ego in check and made a public statement about your actions. The harm is actually in the after math unfortunately. Sorry that there are haters and haters are gonna HATE. You seem to have a tight network of supporters and for the record I am now a friend of your page and will continue to follow your amazing adventures via facebook. Good luck friend with your next step!

  • Craigh Hyslop - Joe – I am a fellow climber and sometime route developer in the Bow Valley in Alberta, Canada. We all make decisions that sometimes come back to haunt us. Clearly you made a decision with the best intentions but perhaps not the best information. This kind of action has happened time and time again here in the Bow Valley but rarely gets the publicity that you seem to have attracted. I think your actions post-development are commendable, being able to accept your mistake is one thing, to open yourself to more public scrutiny is a different level of bravery – one that many people, including the ones commenting here, probably hope they never have to navigate. Sport climbing by it’s very nature is a bit of a philosophical irony. We slam bolts into the very surface that we love to connect with, we create trails thus increasing traffic and in-turn degrade the areas that we hold sacred. The very nature of development is to change something from what it was to something different; to change its character. I’m not condoning cutting down trees no matter how sacred or ubiquitous to an area, but I am suggesting to all of your detractors that I’m willing to bet if many of them evaluated their own actions as fellow route developers or as participants in climbing they might find that they too cast a bit of a shadow. I have yet to meet a climber that can effectively argue that their actions have caused zero negative effects at their crags be it environmental or cultural. In other words I encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing, learn from your mistakes, evaluate your processes for developing routes for specific areas, and probably you should change your cell number. Your energy and drive to create with other peoples interests in mind is an inspiration, keep it up. For all of the haters, get off your high horse and take a minute to evaluate your own practices. If you really are so pure spend a little less time hating and a little more time in the community helping to foster positive change for the future of climbing, it is needed and welcomed.

  • Newenglandcurmudgeon - The rock at Rumney is schist, not granite.

    It might be a good idea to learn about the geology and rare flora and fauna of the areas you are developing so you can avoid future incidents. In some cases, you could be severely fined for degrading a protected area or species.

  • John - I had to laugh that you “wanted to leave behind a resource for everybody” at the “underground crag.” Can you post the mountain project link?

    I like my mistake, I don’t want to waive the delicious freedom of being wrong. C. CHAPLIN
    Everyone make mistake, well, when we acept, we learn, is stop,now, you can plant to tree in this place…
    for me the best is up by yourself, you can use nut, real, we make it… and the tree is our house… but is just the cray adict girl to looking for climb….

  • Chris de Serres - I have been guilty of treating my natural environment horribly, often out of ignorance of what it was I was affecting. Those old horseblinders go on when looking at new lines and how to make them climbable. Maybe that ‘unsafe’ tree was the universes way of telling you that some rocks should remain unclimbabed and undeveloped. Humans are too good at developing and not nearly good enough at leaving nature undisturbed. Mistakes happen and not everyone owns up to them. Glad you did.

  • LukeDupre - Take it easy Joe. Everyone makes mistakes. Surely none of the self-righteous reactionaries have ever made a mistake, lol! And I doubt very much they could have demonstrated half the poise and decency in taking responsibility for their actions that you have demonstrated here. Peace brother.

  • Bruce - I’m sure we’ve all crush some sort of plant life form on the way to the crag before. Or damaged nature at some point in our lives.

    I have a great respect for Joe, but now I’ve got a greater respect for Him. He’s coming out and owning up to his mistakes and honestly I think every single one of us could learn from that.

    Thanks for the words man!

  • Carrie Levin - Joe – While I respect you taking ownership of the mess you left behind cutting an ancient tree, I would like to know what more you plan to do? Simply stating an apology is not enough. I’d like to see some action on your part such as donating money to a charity (ie – Access Fund), planting a tree in honor of the one you felled, SOMETHING tangible. As an ancient native American Indian tradition, you need to give back what you took from Mother Nature. It is my hope and wish you take this one step further…..for the sake of the trees.

  • Pauly - Joe, I totally support you. It’s obvious that you have owned up to a mistake any of us could have made (I doubt this would have been an issue at all in Squamish, every winter many trees and loose rocks get cut or trundled from climbs on The Chief in well coordinated efforts amongst local climbers).

  • Dibble - Dude shit happens. We all make mistakes. Every single person that is hating on you has skeletons in their closet and is acting out of their past experiences say hurtful things to you. You are a good dude for climbing. Your stoke is high and putting up routes is for real. I’m sorry this one crept up on you, I hope you can move forward and make a positive impact. Your still a badass climber and you should still be an ambassador for climbing.

  • Julie - My blood is boiling. I can’t believe some of the hate-filled comments on here. And to “Unacceptable”-you’ve been distraught, and “nearly on the brink of tears all day?” I wish my life was so worry-free that I could devote such emotion to the loss of a tree. I am appalled that, in a community I have always thought was a collection of good-hearted souls, people can be so unforgiving. Yes, Joe made a huge mistake, and if you actually knew him, you would know he feels GENUINELY HORRIBLE for doing it. Nice, though, that he’s not even been given a chance to show how he will give back for his actions. I hope I have the opportunity to pass judgment on some of you one day….

  • CC - Joe,
    I respect you more than ever now. People make mistakes all the time whether big or small, but it is rare that they actually recognize those mistakes and own up to them. This is how people learn, and we can ALL learn from this. Nobody is perfect. Im sorry that this is coming down so hard onto you. Yes it sucks that you cut down the Juniper tree, and I am all for LNT, but the cutting of the tree can be a great example of the bigger problems we face at crags across america– graffiti, broken glass, trash, numerous fire rings…etc.. These are the things that are ruining climbing for future generations. As for all those people that are hating, they just need to get their heads out of their asses.

  • James FM - Joe, I met you about 3 years ago in Horne Lake climbing with my girl friend. I knew of you through a friend of mine named Regan. My impression of you was of a guy who totally loved climbing, nature, and the outdoors. It was clear to me your heart was in climbing and that you are nothing but a positive influence to the greater community. I route develop here in New Zealand all the time, and understand the difficulties involved in both the act it’s self and the sad out cry from people who tend to have every opinion under the sun, but do nothing to advance the sport we love. I fully support you in how you have handle this situation. Keep your head up and ignore those how are so gutless to only attack you on the internet; they are weak sauce fools and in my humble opinion can go eat shit. peace for NZ

  • Unacceptable - “Julie” or whatever kind of beezy name that is. THIS IS B***S*** what JOE did and you as his fan base are absolutely pathetic. Yes I was on the brink of tears and now I sit at my computer FUMING! at you trying to call me out. Go get on your stupid bolted routes, I’ll stick to my gear and my classic bolted beauties. I’m a 45 year old Bay Area LEGEND who just released a new guidebook. MY NAME IS JIM THORNBERG!!!! Maybe you’ve heard of me???? Yeah that’s right, you’ve heard of me while your husband is screaming my name and looking at my sexy tan body. The babez can’t get enough of it. Yeah, that’s right. That’s f***in right baby. Oh yeah. Go check out my new guidebook, Bay Area Rock, where I gave every single route my OWN PERSONAL GRADE. Yeah baby. Check it out and check my abs out.

  • Matt St. Peter - The planet is fine. It will outlive our species. We are of so little consequence. Just try to be positive while you are here. Enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think.

  • Adam - I appreciate the fact that Joe Kinder has some dedicated fans. I don’t appreciate the fact that he lied about(or tried to deflect) what happened. What does that say about Joe Kinder as a person?

  • Dave MacLeod - Good blog. You saw your mistake, held your hands up and learned. Everyone is party to precious trees and habitats getting chopped down to grow the food we buy (try googling ‘amazon destruction’ – 6 football fields per minute!). I doubt many people who have been critical of you even bother to wonder about the similar mistake they make every day. It’s out of sight, so out of mind.

  • Albert Font - Hello Joe!
    I just want to give you my support as you learned and accepted that was a wrong action to remove the tree. All of us commit errors as a human being that we are but no all of us can accept that they have commited it. I really thing what Dean Potter said to you: that tree will be happy that you and all the climbers have learned a lesson and the way you have reacted. See you in Catalunya!

  • Steven - How about planting a couple of Junipers? Not in exactly the same spot but nearby. Out of respect.

  • Roman Godfrey - Respect for Joe. I met him one time when I was younger, he’s the man. Joe’s not perfect, neither is anyone in this comment section. I think “Unacceptable” is due more punishment for his hatred than Joe is for his thoughtlessness. Also, it’s Jim Thornburg*, with a ‘u’, and you’re not him, “Unacceptable”.

  • Kenny - Unacceptable/Jim Thornburg/whinny cry baby/dried up grandpa, get off your horse! The amount of impact you have created your self over the last 30 years of climbing out weights any of Joe’s actions. Stop being a worthless hypocrite!

  • Donkey - Its just a freakin tree .. get over it people ..

  • Bubba - Joe, I read your blog regularly and post comments once and a while. It is funny how all the cool things you have done the work putting up routes garner five comments at most your apology generates tons of comments. I guess people love to hate thanks for giving them a forum for that….

  • chris eggert - What Todd Gordon said. To err is human. Chase your dreams, man. Just don’t cut down trees for routes. egghead

  • taylor - This was a big mistake for sure but as one climber to another I accept your apology. Everyone makes mistakes I have fucked up big time on multiple occasions, who has not? I still look up to you as an amazing climber, developer, and as someone who has put so much into the sport, far more than most climbers will ever give to our sport. So thanks for everything you have brought to our sport, you get me hyped to climb man! One thing I did find funny was in the DPM article they said Dean Potter replied and thanked him for “telling it how it is”… I suppose everyone already forgot about the rope scars on Delicate Arch left by who else Dean. If people can forget that they will forget this tree people fuck up bottom line. And for the record Dean is one of my favorite all time climbers ever I was just stating a fact.

  • Marcus - Joe
    Fact is – 99% of climbers are consumers of the efforts of the 1%. It’s so easy to bitch about the cleaning, bolt placement, staging/landings, what rock stays on the cliff and what leaves – without ever having to sit in that harness on top of the cliff looking down on virgin terrain. It’s difficult to really understand the decisions made during route construction without trying it. People either don’t care or don’t know difficult and dangerous this process can be. So I would side w the biologists and forestry people who have already commented – chalk it up to a lesson learned and move the f$&k on.

  • Kevin M. Dufresne - I know the point has been made, but the hypocrisy is so unbelievable it is laughable. Joe, don’t get down over this, you have done more for the climbing community than most I know. You never fail to come off as positive, welcoming, and approachable. the first reaction from Karen Lycett makes me sick to my stomach, you should be ashamed of yourself ma’am.


  • david - Who nominated Dean Potter to be the spokesperson for the juniper? Dean Potter perhaps? Fitting. I find you selfish, short sighted, self serving, self promoting. Please do not take any solace in Dean Potter’s kind words. I believe the junipero wishes it were alive.

  • Paul Pospisil - to those of you that say a tree is just a tree Google ancient juniper and read.

  • aj - Don’t do it again and maybe inform others . glad you see that people care about things other than “stone”.

  • brb - Oh my god it was Juniper !!!

    Seriously, people get a life instead of wasting your time blaming others.

  • Outsider - @Adam re font. Command + (on Mac) or Control + in any browser is your friend. At least here the font isn’t black on white. That’s the worst for the eyes…

  • CM - TK mentioned earlier in hopes of the other issues going on in Tahoe will be met with such intensity as this little Juniper. I cannot agree more. These trees are wonderful, but cut Joe some god damn slack people. If you haters feel this strongly about the Tahoe environment, go protest the fisheries instead of sitting on your self-righteous asses. He messed up, he probably will again in some other way. Human nature sucks sometimes.

  • Noel Tupas - I am not surprised that you would receive support from people who are NOT local to the area in which you maliciously altered for the sake of what….ANOTHER route? Climbing in itself is already such a selfish pursuit and yet, here you had to take it one step further.

    The climbing community absolutely appreciates all the work you’ve put into creating such amazing route for current and future generations. THIS incident however is the one thing you’ll probably be remembered for the most.

    That route better be 5.16a…

  • blake - Man…people are gonna talk big on the internet, just let it run off of you like water. As an east coaster and a New Englander, trees are a plenty, and we cut the hell out of them! When I lived in Western MA we would warm up for Appetite for Destruction by taking turns chopping this tree (and then its accompanying stump) that was dead center of the fall zone. NEW ENGLAND STYLE.

    People out west are sensitive, so don’t let that stop you from new routing, ever. Hate you for cutting down a tree? Give me a break. That’s absurd.

    You apologized and outside from going door to door in the greater Tahoe area and kissing the feet of all the Juniper lovers out there, you’ve done everything in your power to atone.

    Let it go. Ignore all the negativity. Forget all the haters.

  • Michelle - Um, wow. Not a member of the climbing community and, seeing all of the hate spewed here, I would not want to be. Yes, he lied first. He was probably scared and ashamed.

    I assume you haters have never made a mistake. Glass houses much? You give a much worse name to your community than does Joe,

  • Deepsleeper - So what? they’re just trees. Who the hell cares?

  • Brian Waters - Joe,
    Thank you for the hard work putting up the route, and thank you for taking the initiative to make the route safer. I have nearly hit several trees in falls, and would not hesitate to remove one if it were a hazard. You did nothing wrong. The guy who started all this nonsense owes you a serious apology though.

  • slartibartfast - I think some people are forgetting that Joe was threatened with violence and possibly death. I’m pretty sure that many might consider lying at that point, too, especially if they hadn’t yet come to appreciate what they’d done.
    Obviously, it is incredibly important to care for our natural resources, but things must be kept in perspective and hypocrisy avoided. If climbing’s cardinal rule is to never change the landscape, especially if that landscape is some time in the making(such as with old-growth Juniper trees), then the biggest criminals in our sport’s history are Royal Robbins and other hammer swinging heros of the past. Exposed rock faces, every one of which has been longer in the making(by at least a power of ten)have been permanently altered by pin scars, to the extent that nearly every trad climber in the world carries specialty gear just to protect these scars.
    Do any of you who claim to “hate” Joe or are “disgusted” or “sick” over what happened ever drive alone in your car instead of riding a bike, or even a motorcycle, which will travel just as fast as your car while using much less gas even than a hybrid? Do you choose to drive your car in those situations because the alternative is too inconvenient or dangerous? Did you own a perfectly good Nalgene bottle, only to throw it out and buy a new one after learning that the BPA in it caused a SLIGHT increase in the POSSIBILITY of person harm?
    Seriously, it’s obvious that Joe did what he did with one priority in mind: safety. And, yes, convenience came into play as well; but it does for all of us, as well(see above).
    Some surfer friends were talking the other day about how often fights break out, and how visitors will get death threats from the locals when waves, by the very laws of nature and physics, are infinite. I said that that’s what I liked about climbing, that everybody was chill, that they helped each other out. It has come to my attention that I have made a liar out of myself. I must leave now to make a formal apology…
    Oh, Joe. You signed my crash pad at the RRG Roctrip in ’07. Colette was absolutely flabbergasted that I wanted her signature, too. I’ve always thought that was super cool.

  • Nils Davis - Joe, I put up Treebeard. I just now heard about this whole incident. Would you mind emailing me so we can talk? I don’t want to post my phone number.

  • John Maher - Joe, although I am sad about the tree and the lack of thought, I am so impressed with your apology and your effort to remedy the situation. I believe you’re making a positive difference now.

  • Dan - It takes balls to take responsibility and write something like this. Thank you for this post Joe and making it a learning experience for all. I met you this summer at SenderOne – your warmth, humble attitude, honestly, and pure positive stoke inspire me to be better person and climber. No worries brother – you’re a good man and we all make mistakes.

  • ClimberDuder - Joe, you’re the man through and through! All these haters are just TRYING to hate on something, don’t you worry, it means you’re doin’ it right, boi! Sorry that there are assholes in the climbing community – half of them are going to be gobbing out (acting like excited goblins) to climb at this new area you developed for them and possibly saved one of them from being injured and they would probably be saying “damn someone cut down that tree”.

    You da damn climbing jesus over here

  • Julien VdV - In Belgium we make alcohol with Junipers berry, so tasty! You should come in Belgium and have a drink! We also have Freyr the best crag in the universe!!!!!!

    (just another useless comment)

  • Jonny - “Unbelievably, more than 200,000 acres of rainforest are burned every day [in Ecuador, Brazil]”

    But lets get angry at Joe for one tree. Come on people, if you are really angry about tree destruction, maybe you should book a flight to Brazil and do something about it. Or are you picking on Joe because an isolated incident like this is low hanging fruit and gives you an opportunity to feel superior?

    Pretty sure that toilet paper you all wipe your ass with every day came from trees. Your house is built from trees. The paper you print on came from trees. Your car runs on dead dinosaurs. Your expensive trips to Disneyland come at the cost of our planet’s health.

    Pull the plank out of your own eye before you start screaming at someone like Joe. Arguably doing more for the environment than the collective keyboard militia screaming at him here.

  • Quick Chip - Thanks for sharing your information…it’s really helpful to me.

  • Help me decide - I found out about this whole mess when I found a crack in my local area that looks like a killer bouldering problem . Its a 18ft crack that is very unique for the area but has a dead tree at the base. Its not a juniper, i dont know what it is but its dead and I want to cut it down so i can climb this bad ass crack and make my local area better. Is this the wrong thing to do? in this area your allowed to have fires, fires fueled by local wood, so i dont think its bad but after reading this i get the feeling people will be uber butthurt if they ever found out i had to cut down a dead tree to make it a possible climb.

  • Jothan - We’ve got to keep this in context. Cutting down that particular tree was wrong because of where and how it happened. I just hate to see this running into the slippery slope not being able to touch any tree or even bush in even something like trail work. There are, and will continue to be in the future, crags where something like this simply isn’t an issue. Yes, we need to be conscious of when it is but let’s keep that in context.

  • Joey Kinder - I cannot say what is the right thing for you to do, but you should ask around and seek proper info on who manages the land. I cut a tree down on National Forrest land and that was illegal without a permit. Ask local climbers, make a proper decision, and be smart making a move like this.

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