Fellow climbers: these images are from the east side primitive camping area following a fire that started last week. A similar fire occurred in this same area in October. It is likely that both of these fires were accidentally started by campers here, and climbers are the largest group of users of the primitive campground.
As a guidebook author, I feel a degree of responsibility for popularizing the Stronghold, and I wanted to pass along some requests. With very poor rainfall this past year, fires are extremely easy to start and they spread quickly. If you are a user of my written guides or online beta, I am asking camping visitors to voluntarily stop campfires and be aware of other possible ignition sources (exhaust pipes, smoking, stoves, etc.) It is quite possible that a fire ban will be instituted anyway, but in the case it doesn’t, please enjoy the Stronghold without fires until it is safe.
With COVID, overnight camping stays in the Stronghold have multiplied. I certainly understand the desire to get away to this incredible place. However, I have noticed a large number of “new” campsites that have popped up along the road in the east side campground as well as along 687 and 688 in the southwest and west sides. I have likewise noticed a big increase in partially buried waste and tissue. Many of these new sites and backcountry bathrooms are not from climbers. However, again, if you are a user of one of my resources, please stick to established sites and pack out your waste.I feel that preserving the pristine nature of the Stronghold is more important than its recreational value. So when faced with the decision to camp in a heavily-impacted area, or whether to use wag bags, or whether or not to have a fire, please do what’s best to keep the area beautiful. If that means getting a B&B from time to time, or driving a little further to an established campsite, or skipping a campfire, it’s worth it. When natural resources and climber impact collide, it’s the job of the climber to adapt and decrease their footprint.
Thanks and be safe out there.