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75-year-old tree cut down at Yukon crag, we talk to the climber who reported it

Matthew Reyes recently found an old chopped-down spruce tree at the base of White Mountain's sport crag

Photo by: Matthew Reyes

Matthew Reyes recently visited a crag in the Yukon with his partner, Sierra, and was surprised to find a 75-year-old spruce tree chopped down at the base.

On Yukon Climbing’s Facebook page, Reyes said, “Sierra and I were just at White last Wednesday. Quite saddened and disappointed to see the beautiful 75-year-old spruce tree cut down at the far right of the crag. As beautiful as the rock is to look at, the tree was just as beautiful.”

Climber Alain Dallaire added, “Unfortunately, for the last few years, some people seem to think that trees or shrubs should not exist around the cliff. I, and many other climbers I know, enjoy the trees, the shadow they give, the water they absorb, the habitat they give and the beauty of them. Don’t get me wrong, I cut trees myself for my wood stove, but White Mountain has had enough tree cut out there, and there are plenty of climbs even with the trees.”

We touched base with Reyes about the downed tree and climbing in Yukon after he reported the tree was cut down below. Follow Climb Yukon, which “promotes the sport of climbing in the Yukon through education, programs and access to climbing facilities.”

Words with Reyes about chopped tree and more

How long have you been climbing in Yukon? This was my first season, but I’ve been climbing pretty hard, three to four times a week in the Yukon and Squamish, as I go back and forth regularly.

Is there a growing scene of climbers over the past few years? The climbing community is growing in the Yukon and my climbing partner, Sierra, has been climbing for 20 years, and her and her family developed a lot of the first routes in the Yukon. I just recently bolted some new routes with her at a virgin crag 100 km north of Tombstone national park.

Any idea who cut the tree down? The cutting of trees near a route is obviously a grey area. With the events in Fairy Creek recently, cutting down that 75-year-old tree at White, which was totally healthy and not in the way of the crag, was totally unnecessary, in our opinion and many others. It ruined our day. We don’t want to assume a climber cut it down for a route or two, but we don’t know.

Is the access and climbing on public or private property? Like most crags, it isn’t that regulated. It’s public land. Just unwritten rules that climbers live by through common sense and respect for nature.

What would you like climbers to know about keeping crags wild? I feel that keeping the crag as natural as possible prevents it from looking and feeling like an indoor bouldering gym. God designed the rock, every crack and contour, along with the surrounding life. It has vitality and beauty. The environment with the rocks and every tree and shrub, in its original design as possible, gives me, as the climber, the experience and energy that I look for. That’s why I climb. Not just for the pump, but for the relationship in nature.

I have found that the climbers in the Yukon live by similar principles when it comes to preservation and nature. Not sure about more densely populated cragging areas.

The downed tree Photo Matthew Reyes


Lead photo: Matthew Reyes