I thought you might like this story. My Father, Ted Polk, wrote it during the early 70's on his bouldering trips to Stoney. It speaks much the same and Contrasts much of the (first) story you have posted on the site. I remember some of the days I shared bouldering with him during these now long ago days. It was a different time but Stoney is much the same now as it was almost 30 years ago when I first started to climb there. Thanks again for the great site.

Matt Polk


[Most of what follows was written in the seventies. It was a time when environmental awareness was spreading beyond the narrow circle of pioneer conservationists whose dire prophecies of the fifties and public hand-wringing in the sixties was, at last, beginning to touch a national nerve. It was written as for a personal journal - to record observations with no particular point to make, to pursue lines of thought unfettered by any need for consistency or relevance.]

 I first encountered the term "ecology" years before that word turned into a call to action against those who did harm to the environment. It was a neutral term, free of the emotional baggage with which it would become encumbered at the hands of latter-day zealots. In those earlier days it connoted detachment more than conflict, its message required more descriptive ability than persuasiveness, its objective was more closely related to insight than to purpose. That mindset did much to shape the way I feel about Stoney Point.

 Some 250 feet high, less than a quarter mile across its longest diameter, Stoney Point's jumble of massive sandstone boulders occupies a niche whose location in the northwest corner of the San Fernando Valley is less prominent than is its position in the hearts of dozens of Southern California's rock climbers - and hundreds more of its would-be rock climbers. Its broad exposed surfaces also attract the graffiti artists, while its many cracks and crevices, tunnels and alcoves may offer only an illusion of wilderness, but afford real privacy for the price of a few minutes' scramble from Chatsworth's busiest road. Its popularity with climbers, showoffs, kids, and lovers is not at all surprising.

 The mess should come as no surprise either, no matter how involuntarily disapproving eyebrows rise at the piles of trash, no matter how reflexively brows furrow with the discovery of a new shower of broken glass or lips purse at some new spray-painted message commemorating an eternal love, announcing a sexual conquest, or advertising the supremacy of the artist's group over their adversaries.

 Only slightly less aggravating are the visible signs of past efforts to eradicate the eyesores. Inexplicably, the dun-colored patch of paint on the summit rock is nearly as offensive as the announcement that "Willy Fucks Dean", which message it obliterated in the late seventies.

 For all the aesthetic depredations, however, it is difficult (for an amateur like me, at least) to identify in any objective way what deleterious effects that man's doings have had on Stoney Point. Accelerated erosion, to be sure - scarred gullies, prematurely burned brush, broken handholds and piton gouges. Maybe a reduction in the number of animal species (but, then again, maybe not, considering the bugs whose lot must be improved by the garbage and the higher-order members of the food chain to whose support they must make some contribution). The birds and the bees and the butterflies don't seem affected. The swifts come back each Spring to build their astonishing, gravity-defying nests under the protection of overhanging rocks, and the bees still build their hives in the narrow cracks of the high-angle walls. The brush, torched by careless "campfires" or small-time arsonists, probably burns off more often than it would if people stayed away, but it is fire-tolerant chaparral, not likely to climax at any significantly higher level of botanical magnificence in any case. Stoney Point is not a place where the deer and the antelope would play or lofty pines flourish, even if man left it strictly alone.

 And with that realization comes the insight that, no matter how pure the word may sound, "pristine" is a relative condition. My children will never know the Stoney Point I haunted any more than I could ever experience the Alps my father climbed. Time passes; things change. Inexorably. Inevitably. Not for the better. Not for the worse. They just change. And who is to stand in judgment of that process? Indeed, what conceit persuades us that judgment is even required? Or appropriate?

[These, my disjoint musings of yesteryear are now to be exposed to a new generation. I re-read my notes, and ponder, and seek a point to make - a moral to draw, a lesson to teach, a revelation to articulate as a product of all my rambling and scrambling at the place they now called "Stoney". But that is just my conformist nature, trying to fit my actions to what I've been taught to believe they should be. Perhaps I'll resist the impulse and just let my mental debris lie where it fell, like the litter in Stoney's nooks and crannies. Like the trash and the graffiti (but also like the occasional tufts of green Spring grass and the occasional astonishment of an unexpected wildflower) it will now become just part of the scene. That's enough.]

Ted Polk


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