occurred to us, as we drove out Sunday for a day of bouldering at Bishop
Cap, that the heart of the problem with access is the simple fact that
there are just too many people out at the crags!
we pondered this, we realized that individuals can do a lot to
help. You know, "think globally act locally". If each of us can
discourage at least one family group or one person from camping
out or going to a state or National Park this weekend, we can make
a big difference. The more we thought about it, the more feasible
the plan seemed. We realized that we should not just work to discourage
people from visiting climbing or wilderness areas, but that it
would be best to go a step farther and discourage all outdoor activity!
Moreover, anything we can do to encourage indoor activity, preferably
sedentary activity such as being a couch-potato, will help because
it will render people too fat to hike or climb or ride, even if
they are tempted into going outside by something they see on TV.
The more we cogitated, the more we realized we should not be selective
about who we encourage to become couch-potatoes. Even climbers, mountain
bikers, hikers, etc. should be targeted. After all, legions of lowly
scum from all those groups crowd the wilderness now; the more of them
we can keep in the city the better it will be for the rest of us!
So, now that we know what the mission is, how can we accomplish it?
Huecotanks.com will do its part, by acting as a clearinghouse for tips,
tricks, and techniques for discouraging outdoor activity. We will happily
post any success stories you send us about discouraging visitation to
your local crags.
We are working on a comprehensive web-guide to help you spread the gospel
of couchpotatoism. Until that guide is complete, here are some tips
that you can put to good use right away.
The next time you learn that a coworker or acquaintance is
planning a trip to the mountains, start planting couch potato
the kids enjoy a trip to Disneyland more?
There are so many mosquitoes in the mountains this time of year.
By the way, did you hear about that boy that wandered away from
that campsite last year? They finally found his body a month ago
less than a mile from the road. They said the body had been partially
devoured by vultures and coyotes."
* Mention statistics that indicate that sedentary people live longer,
happier, and more fulfilling lives. Remind them of the way runners and
basketball players sometimes drop dead at a young age.
* Emphasize how dangerous being in a National
Park is. Remind them about all the instances of maniacs killing
people, like the guy who beheaded the young blond female naturalist
in Yosemite last year. Even being near wilderness areas increases
the chances of encountering Uni-bombers or militia
* Whenever the topic of the outdoors comes up, try to recall some disaster
or problem that happened to someone outside. Rock fall, flood, wildfire,
blizzards - all of these things happen when people are outside.
* Going outside increases the chance of being a victim of a bear,
mountain lion, or other wild animal attack. Try to have ready
some actual stories, preferably of someone's face being mauled into
mush, ready for the potential vacationer. Remind them that bears
can break right into their shiny new Honda to get at the chips and
* Emphasize how much safer it is to be indoors. No UV skin damage,
better air quality, no need to worry about exertion during ozone-alert
* All car
wrecks take place outdoors. So do bicycle
crashes and pedestrian injuries.
* Discourage driving. Gasoline is expensive and cars pollute the
Driving is dangerous, road building destroys wildlife, and
internal combustion engines are evil according to Al
Gore, Ralph Nader, and others. Cars are only needed if you are
traveling, so the best thing is to stay indoors. If you do have
to leave the house, for example to go to Wal-Mart
to buy another TV, do not drive yourself. Take a bus. You are safer
in the bus than driving. Minimize your exposure to the sun or other
elements. Try to travel only at night, on well-lighted roads.
Encourage people to believe that fad diets work, particularly the
high-fat high-protein diets that are popular of late. When they
ask you "how do you stay so thin?" tell them you use the Atkins
diet. Explain that it is normal to gain 20-30 lbs. when you first
go on the diet, but to stick with it, eating plenty of bacon and deep-fried
cheese balls - once your metabolism "turns around" the pounds will
melt off like magic!
* Discourage exercise. If someone complains they don't get enough, remind
them that most heart attacks take place while jogging. Joggers can get
hit by cars, and they breathe in pollution. Home exercise equipment
is expensive and takes up room. Explain that studies show you can get
almost the same benefit from watching sports on TV while you vacuum
* Talk about injuries
and how expensive they are to repair, with time in hospitals where
you can catch infections or be a victim of medical error.
* TV watching is obviously a highly safe and healthy activity -
why else would hospitals include a TV in every room, positioned
so that the patient can watch even if paralyzed and near death?
* Mosquitoes can give you encephalitis and other diseases. Most
mosquitoes are found outdoors. There are fewer of them in cities
than in the wilderness. Be sure to advise potential campers about
the skin-crawling torture of millions of mosquitoes that await them,
and advise them to bring plenty of repellent with high levels of
Also remind them that DEET is toxic and that there is nothing else
on the market that works.
can be caught outdoors, wherever there are mice and rats. The wilderness
is teeming with mice and rats, and rodent feces is everywhere.
bee attacks are on the rise. Mention a few in your area, and
remind them that killer bees were found near the planned camping
spot. Offer a thoughtful description of what it would be like to
be pursued, caught, and then covered with hundreds of bees, all
stinging you until you die.
snake bites occur outdoors.
Each year, a few climbers are bitten, sometimes as they reach up
for a hold.
Encourage people to buy Dish TV and cable access, with as many channels
* Computers and the Internet - this can be good and bad. It's good because
most computer use occurs indoors and contributes to obesity, but it
can be bad if the person reads about someplace outdoors that they are
tempted to go to. Counter this by discouraging them from using any travel-related
site such as PriceLine.com or travelocity.com. You can mention problems
with credit-card fraud, or rooms not being available as advertised.
However, because we like on-line shopping (it lets people stay at home),
emphasize that the big on-line retailers never have problems with credit
card fraud or failure to deliver product. (Please remember that we want
to discourage sales of climbing and outdoor gear, but that if these
sales cannot be prevented, it is better to have the gear delivered.)
* If people insist on going on a vacation, steer them toward Las
Vegas, Disneyland, etc.
However, all vacations are bad because they get people off the couch
and out of the house, where there is a greater chance they will go to
a wilderness or climbing area.
Keep people away from BLM land by telling them about heavily armed
ranchers with itchy trigger fingers and big dislike for greenie-weenie
ecology types. Also, most of the open land near the SW border is
overrun with "wets and border patrol" (to quote a nice rancher
I met this year), all armed and looking to draw a bead on something.
* Children should be encouraged to stay indoors, so that they learn
the TV watching lifestyle early. Obviously, it is dangerous for children
to go outside - they are subject to falling off their bike or scooter,
being attacked, molested, robbed, hit by cars, and many other types
of mayhem while they are outside. Inside, it is warm, safe, and there
is a big, wide world to be discovered via the tube, from the womb-like
comfort of the couch.
* Children should not climb, trees, mountains, or rocks. It is too dangerous,
and borders on child-abuse. Climbers who have kids should give up climbing,
stay home and play monopoly and watch TV with the kids.
* The safest place in the house is on the couch in the living room.
Encourage people to stay there.
* Discourage flying. Air travel
is bad and dangerous. Jets destroy the ozone layer. Airplanes
are built and maintained by fallible humans. Even if the plane is
working normally, it can crash because of bad weather or pilot error.
worse, crazy, depressed pilots sometimes deliberately crash perfectly
functional aircraft because they "trust Allah". Learn
to think of planes as death chambers. If travel is unavoidable,
driving is better (because it takes longer, and people can't get
to true wilderness as easily by car.) 4x4s are bad because they
can leave paved roads. Discourage people from buying any vehicle
with off-road capability.
* Commercial indoor climbing gyms might seem like a good idea at first,
but they could tempt people to go to the crags. Also, climbers might
meet other climbers who might tell them about new cragging areas. If
climbers cannot be stopped from climbing on artificial holds, the best
thing to do is to locate the climbing walls in the house, near the couch
and the TV. This will discourage the climber from leaving the house,
and it tends to cut down on contact with other climbers.
* Bird watching should be discouraged. No matter how well meaning
the watchers, the chance of accidentally disturbing a rare bird
is too great. Also, you can injure yourself while you are distracted
by the bird, etc. It is far safer, for both the birds and the birdwatchers,
to stay home and watch TV specials about birds.
* If you encounter someone who insists on engaging in some kind
of outdoor athletic activity, try to steer them toward activities
that take place in cities. Traditional team sports such as baseball,
basketball, and football are ideal. Football
is probably the best choice, since there is a significant risk of
injury that would result in the person having to stay home. Also,
ex football players typically eat too much, and become too fat to
go outside very often.