Tip 2: Waste Disposal on a Big Wall

Whenever I share with climbers and non-climbers alike about spending multiple days on a big wall, the topic of what you do with solid human waste comes up. I will never forget my first visit to the base of El Capitan in the early 80’s. Lunch-size paper bags with brownish goop spread all over and around them littered the ground. The practice at that time was to toss human waste off the wall. Perhaps some climbers picked it up after the climb, but sadly, most didn’t.

Today, that practice is illegal in Yosemite Valley. So now, what is the only option? Carry it with you. How will that be done? Pile the paper bags in the bottom of a haul bag? That would make for one sticky “pig”!

One of the first ideas to take hold was the use of a "poop tube." It was a large diameter PVC pipe with screw caps on the ends. Most climbers I know who have laid down $10 to $20 to make something will not want to just throw it away. So they were left with disposing of the waste, then cleaning out a tube with many days worth of stench!

Recently, climbing gear maker, Metolius, developed the Waste Case disposal system. It promised to make waste elimination on big walls a breeze! Perhaps…I have yet to meet someone who has paid the $60 to use this modified haul bag and the $3 bags it takes to use.

On my most recent big wall experience, I came up with a very cheap way to carry the human waste with us and dispose of it when we got down. Examine the picture of me at Camp 4 on the Nose route. Can you spot it?

C L I M B I N G - T I P

Yes, it was the Purex liquid laundry detergent bottle. Its wide mouth is very accommodating for a “crap in bag” and the 100-ounce size handled 4 days worth perfectly. I most confess, once on the ground, we could have disposed of it in a better way. We simply threw it in a dumpster. Going forward, I would use paper bags (unlike plastic bags, they decompose in septic/sewer systems) to go in, cut the bottle open, dump the waste into a pit toilet and then recycle the bottle.

Well, now that you will be doing tons of laundry to get the bottle empty for your next big wall, you might be asking, “How does this apply to living?” Let me start with a question for you! What kind of waste do you carry, not up a big wall, but in your life? READ ON!

L I V I N G - T I P

If you are like most, you carry regrets. Some of us have plenty and others seem to live in them by playing the "IF ONLY" game. Why "IF ONLY," I could "do it" over again,…I could have listened sooner…I could erase the past….Or I could forgive myself.

Regrets can just seem to be a part of life, because none of us is perfect. We've all made some bad choices, said foolish things, wasted time, and hurt ourselves and others, but how do you get rid of them?

Some Proven Ways THAT DON'T WORK!

WE BURY THEM - We bury the past but like a horror movie, unresolved regrets come back to haunt us again & again. Minimizing ("It wasn't a big deal"), or rationalizing ("Everyone does it"), or compromising (lowering your standards) are all ways we try to bury our regrets.

WE BLAME OTHERS - This tactic is as old as Adam & Eve. We excuse ourselves and accuse somebody else. When Adam sinned, he took it like a man and he blamed his wife! We too often use blame to balance out our guilt.

WE BEAT OURSELVES UP - We try to pay for our guilt unconsciously through illness, depression, or setting ourselves up for failure, and other forms of self-punishment. Part of the problem when we beat ourselves up is that we never know when enough is enough and so we may spend our entire life in self-condemnation.

God's Way That is SURE TO WORK

1. ADMIT MY GUILT - Own it. Don't make excuses. "A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance." (Proverbs 28:13 – The Bible) Incidentally, God already knows - our confession lets Him know that we know too!

2. ACCEPT CHRIST'S FORGIVENESS - He's waiting to clean your slate. Ask him to clear your conscience. "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1) The Bible says He takes our sins and throws them in the sea of forgetfulness and remembers them no more.

3. FORGIVE YOURSELF & FOCUS ON THE FUTURE - "The Lord says, 'Do not cling to the past or dwell on what happened long ago. Watch for the new thing I am going to do." Isaiah 43:18-19

What great news that God has provided the way for the waste of your lives to be disposed of! It’s through forgiveness and new life through God’s Son. You are invited to take your waste and dump it about Jesus. He loves you that much! He will forgive your sins!

 Continue the discussion at the Where Climbers Gather Forums.


Read Calvin's account of his ascent of the Nose on El Cap. Date Posted - 12.18.13

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