Bros behaving badly: Hitting golf balls from the summit and 5 other things you shouldn’t do in the wilderness

Dudes hitting golf balls off the summit of Grays Peak, Colo. Not cool. (14ers.com Facebook page photo)

Dudes hitting golf balls off the summit of Grays Peak, Colo. Not cool. (14ers.com Facebook page photo)

The photo above is something that caused a bit of a stir in the mountain community in Colorado. You can see what it shows: A group of guys on the summit of Grays Peak, hitting golf balls from the top.

Grays Peak is one of those heavily trafficked mountains that’s close to Denver, with easy access from Interstate 70. It’s also a straightforward hike to the top, so as you can imagine it attracts a lot of attention from people looking for an altitude fix. Much moreso than, say, the more demanding peaks deeper in the mountains.

I’ve got a problem with this. For starters, you don’t know if your tee shot if going to hit someone below (there is more than one trail to the top of Grays). But the real sin is that I’m sure these douchenozzles made no effort to retrieve their golf balls. Like I said, Grays Peak is a busy place in the summer. But guess what? It’s also a wild place. To whatever degree you follow Leave No Trace principles, I think we can all agree that what happened here was nothing more than frat boy littering.

(Disclosure: I didn’t take this picture.)

It got me to thinking of some other things noobs need to refrain from when out in wilderness areas…

1. Don’t crap or piss on the trail or on a route. Trust me, you can hold it long enough to get well off trail, even in above-treeline areas. No one wants to step on your defecation or grab a wet handhold courtesy of your bowels.

2. Don’t feed the wildlife. And don’t mess with wildlife, either. Yes, a marmot will eat out of your hand. So will the occasional pika. But animals should not be conditioned to see humans as food sources. Besides, the food we eat is not healthy for them. And for cryin’ out loud, don’t be an idiot by chasing wildlife around, or otherwise doing harm. Some dude kicked a squirrel off the Grand Canyon rim last week, an action I cannot fathom.

3. Take your dog, but take care of your dog. Keep your pooch under control (especially around people, other dogs and wildlife), don’t let it crap on the route/trail (and clean up after it if it does), and be cognizant of your dog’s abilities and stamina. Most dogs can’t handle rough, bouldery routes, and almost none can manage Class 3 climbing and up. Feed, water and monitor your dog. Don’t get your pet injured or killed.

4. Haul out your trash. Period. Don’t leave it, bury it, throw it in a creek or lake or burn it. Just bring a plastic sack and haul out your garbage. I’m stunned by how few people get this, especially when it comes to things like food wrappers and summit signs.

5. Have a good time, but make sure your party doesn’t ruin other people’s day. I’ve seen and heard of some wild stunts people do in the mountains, all in the name of fun. I’m all for that. Hot tub on a peak? Sure. Kegger on the summit? It happens. Grill a burger, have a sing-along, pitch a tent — all of these things and more happen on high mountain summits, and it’s cool as long as you don’t ruin the moment for everyone else. Be cool about it, be done with it, and then leave that peak in as good or better condition than when you found it. Have fun, but be mindful of others.

And for that matter, don’t hit golf balls off a summit. Be better than that.

Got a few don’ts of your own? List ’em in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Bob Doucette

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16 thoughts on “Bros behaving badly: Hitting golf balls from the summit and 5 other things you shouldn’t do in the wilderness

  1. I saw this picture on Facebook the day after it happened. Sometimes it amazes me that people can be so…um…stupid! It drives me nuts for sure. Granted, I’m one of those “native” Coloradoans that has watched a major influx of people over the past 20 years and can’t help to imagine that a lot of people don’t comprehend how drastically people can change things. Thanks for the reminder on the “Leave No Trace Principles”. Unfortunately, guys like these are only concerned with themselves and not how they impact the world around them.

    • Apparently so. Sometimes folks cannot overcome their inner douchebaggery. But that’s one of the reasons why people need to keep calling them out — so they learn.

      Hopefully your future adventures will be absent of this kind of thing!

      • I agree fully. Colorado has changed,and not just more people, buildings, traffic etc. The view of the moutains has changed from being “nature”, to use the term in a general sense, to being a playground and just a playground. I hope things change and thanks for passing along your thoughts.

      • You are right on and even more so I just look to climb nice looking mountains right now regardless of their stature. About 10 years ago I was climbing a 13’er, 13, 995 to be exact, and it look across a valley to a popular 14’er. We were the only party on the peak that day with was not technical but demanding while we could see a line of people like ants hiking the the summit of the 14’er.

  2. Unless its an emergency, please don’t make calls from the summit. This might not be as much of a problem in Colorado due to the lack of reception, but I remember hiking up to the summit of Mt Katahdin one summer to find people chatting away on their phones.

    I too prefer hiking 13ers in Colorado for some of the same reasons given above. To me, the aesthetics of the mountain is what makes a summit appealing, rather than its hight. For example, Buffalo Mountain (and the entire Gore Range for that matter) is much more interesting to me than most of the nearby 14ers.

  3. Pingback: Casey Nocket, creepytings and the inevitable collision of ‘look at me!’ and the outdoors | proactiveoutside

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