Ducks in the Backcountry (Crosscountry) | High Sierra Topix  

Ducks in the Backcountry (Crosscountry)

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Re: Ducks in the Backcountry (Crosscountry)

Postby ERIC » Fri Aug 03, 2012 8:00 am

I destroy excessive (every few feet? come on...) and (more importantly) inaccurate ducks when I have the time and energy to do so. Never build them. For the most part, I don't have any hypersensitive objections towards their general existence. The way I see it, at least we rarely see the very large, conical-shaped cairns which are commonplace in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
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Re: Ducks in the Backcountry (Crosscountry)

Postby cgundersen » Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:32 pm

Confessions of one who has defiled the Sierra with a few ducks:
The good news here is that these ducks are rare and will have been seen by very few folks (like the ducks marking CCs route to Edith). I left a prominent duck on Upper Basin Crossing in June, because there was a key ledge that we needed to follow to get off the steep upper segment and onto the boulders. I wanted to make sure not to miss the turn when I came back down with my wife (and pack). I left it in place, in case I ever get the dumb idea of trying that route again. And, on that same trip, I planted a lone duck on Vennacher col (there was a smattering of odd ducks on the approach) to identify what I thought was the easiest way up and over. Again, I left it in case someone else might consider it helpful. But, I agree with the overwhelming sentiment that the vast majority of ducks are a damned nuisance. SSSDave's psychological assessment sounds close to the mark. Or, is it more akin to dogs marking their turf?
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Re: Ducks in the Backcountry (Crosscountry)

Postby SSSdave » Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:08 pm

Placing a duck ot two on a route in special key spots as a few of you have related is fine and nothing to feel guilty about if one may be returning later even years later on the same route.
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Re: Ducks in the Backcountry (Crosscountry)

Postby SSSdave » Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:11 pm

OK I'll admit, I am a boot kicking DUCK PERVERT.


Snippet from Steve Roper's 1976 Sierra Totebook, "The Climber's Guide to the High Sierra"...

Small piles of rocks---called ducks, cairns, or stonements---have become an eyesore all over the high country. One time I was behind a pack of Boy Scouts who were ascending towards Gabbot Pass. There were about twenty of them, and as they drifted in separate packlets over high meadows and gentle talusfields they built such sturdy and so abundant a supply of ducks that it took me an extra hour and an extra mile to destroy them all. I had better things to do, and I would hate to be thought of as a duck pervert, but I genuinely shudder each time I see those little piles of stones which someone has so kindly placed to help me on my way. What arrogance the duck-builder has! Does he believe that he has checked out all alternative routes? Does he think we can't find our own way?
It is not only the populated areas of the Sierra which are affected, and it is not only Boy Scouts who build ducks. In the difficult to reach Gorge of Despair I found hundreds of ducks which must have been built by rockclimbers since few others ever see the valley. There were ducks on class 1 slabs, ducks which laboriously took me to a class 2 ledge instead of a direct class 2-3 route, and ducks which led through brushfields to a stream crossing. Hervey Voge hated ducks too, and he wrote a powerful paragraph against them in his original climber's guide. He pointed out that "it is better for a climber to judge the situation himself than to follow blindly a series of ducks". I maintain unequivocallythat ducks in the High Sierra should be destroyed. They are not only unnecessary and misleading, but they ruin the sense of adventure for those who believe however falsely, that they are explorers trodding over new ground.
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Re: Ducks in the Backcountry (Crosscountry)

Postby cgundersen » Sun Aug 05, 2012 3:14 pm

Dave,
Amen.
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Re: Ducks in the Backcountry (Crosscountry)

Postby quentinc » Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:00 pm

Unfortunately, the duck builders have been busy this summer. I went over Crabtree Pass this weekend, and there was a virtual metropolis of ducks that were not there when I did the route in May. Leading every possible way, with ducks heading off in two different directions at various junctions. My favorite flock of ducks was near the very top. It led straight up the middle, over talus, to the obvious ridge. Twenty feet to the left was a perfectly smooth use trail, leading to the same place. It didn't have any ducks.
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Re: Ducks in the Backcountry (Crosscountry)

Postby oldranger » Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:31 pm

Markskor and I knocked down dozens of ducks as we circumnavigated the upper Merced last month. Nothing is more ridiculous that an easy broad slope heading to an obvious saddle with ducks scattered at the same levels clear across the slope unless it is a relatively narrow gully or chute with one obvious route but still ducked. We left many a duck untouched but if duck was on our route it didn't survive.

Note: I occasionally will leave a duck when I know I will be returning by the same route (usually across talus and/or scree) at a place where I need to change direction (to get to an easy route not to find my way out) but there is nothing distinguishing that location. On return the duck is destroyed.

Another observation: It seems like ducks occur more frequently close to trails and when the off trail destination is relatively close. My guess is that those people who typically stick to trails feel more comfortable if they leave some "breadcrumbs" in their wake to follow on their return.

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Re: Ducks in the Backcountry (Crosscountry)

Postby markskor » Sat Aug 11, 2012 4:24 pm

oldranger wrote:Markskor and I knocked down dozens of ducks as we circumnavigated the upper Merced last month. We left many a duck untouched but if duck was on our route, it didn't survive.
Mike

I detest them.
Been pondering the idea of constructing a large well-ducked circle...about a mile loop would do it.
Then go back later in the season and check if anybody is trapped inside.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Ducks in the Backcountry (Crosscountry)

Postby quentinc » Sat Aug 11, 2012 10:03 pm

I love the idea of a duck lover walking in an endless circle.
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Re: Ducks in the Backcountry (Crosscountry)

Postby sparky » Sun Aug 12, 2012 11:59 am

[quote="markskor"
I detest them.
Been pondering the idea of constructing a large well-ducked circle...about a mile loop would do it.
Then go back later in the season and check if anybody is trapped inside.[/quote]

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Re: Ducks in the Backcountry (Crosscountry)

Postby oldranger » Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:40 pm

The reason Markskor doesn't actually do this is that he is lazier than I am.

mark.jpg
Typical Mark Pose


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Re: Ducks in the Backcountry (Crosscountry)

Postby markskor » Sun Aug 12, 2012 6:33 pm

oldranger wrote:The reason Markskor doesn't actually do this is that he is lazier than I am.
Mike


Looking pretty suave...think this was taken sunset at Lower Florence, off trail ~17 miles in...(lazy my ass!)
Interesting that the Glacier polish here was so pronounced, so smooth, if wet or a little sand, you could easily slide right off the rock I am reclining on...like glass...never seen polish that amazing.

Notice: Great looking, tan, and smiling... as usual.
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