Cover Your Tracks!

posted by dpm on 03/22/2011


Cover Your Tracks!
The Art of Keeping an Area Secret

Secret areas slowly seem to be dying off due to the internet, Google Maps, and loose lips.  Because of this fact, many climbers are now going through extraordinary measures to protect their private bouldering crags.  Like a prison escapee trying to lose the hounds, they have been covering their approach in and out, giving bad beta to those seeking the line, and even blatantly claiming that it does not exist.  But to this day they continue to leave a large trace that will ultimately lead to the boulder’s  “arrest” by posting photos and videos of these secret areas on Facebook and YouTube. 

Climbers by nature are curious people.  They will hike for miles if you tell them there is a five star line waiting around the next corner.  So if you really want to keep your “secret” area secret, then perhaps hold off on posting a photo/video with the caption, “Best Boulder Problem Ever” with ten exclamation points as the tag line.  Within minutes someone will find it and post it to their Facebook account and the hunt will be on for the location.  The same boulderers that can’t remember to scrub off their tick marks after their last session will begin to work like trained FBI agents to create a searchable radius and geo-locate the “secret” area based off of picture tags, google maps, and rumors.  If Jimmy Hoffa was buried beneath a five-star line they would find it and him, believe me.


Secret Spot.  Try to find it.


The best way to keep an area secret is simple.  However, it appears many climbers fail to recognize this.  In the end they are surely to blame for the piqued interest and the uncovering of their sacred “secret” area.  Quash the finger pointing and look down at your Facebook profile, page, or personal blog if you want to know who let the cat out of the bag.  The answer is simple, read your log-in.


This is not to say you should not post an amazing photo of a beautiful area or a blurry Polaroid from decades ago; just know that once it is on the net, the trail becomes hot.  If you found an area and perhaps want to show it off, be warned—think before you post.  But if you do choose to post a photo/video consider these additional preventatives:


1.) Make it private for a select group to see.

2.) Offer up the line “Boulder is on private property or access sensitive area, please inquire about its climbability.”

3.) Comment with “Willing to take small groups out to the area.”

4.) Tell them it is in Florida, no one will ever believe you or spend time tracking it down.


Another secret spot.  Location clue: It's near a river.


These little precautionary measures will go a long way in lessening the likelihood that your precious gem will be found.  However, all of the items do not override the most important advice one can offer which is: DON’T POST!


When I first started climbing I was very opposed to secret areas.  My general thought process was, “who are they to hide something that can be shared? Who showed them?”  As I have now spent a considerable amount of time engaged in the everyday underbelly of climbing’s seedy growth I see that some necessary evils are there for a reason.  Secret areas, in my eyes, are selfish and their very existence is questionable.  But, if you are protecting an area because of limited access reasons then I tip my hat towards understanding, but I caution anyone about posting photos/vids that could unveil the areas location.  So before you post that amazing shot profiling your “secret” find that may or may not be featured in a blog, social networking site, or even in a magazine consider the repercussions and the fact that it is “you” and only you who is to blame for allowing the hounds to once again pick up the trail.  Remember, the best kept secret is the one that no one knows about!


Story and Photos: Anothony Lapomardo