In early October 2013, professional climber Joe Kinder cut down two juniper trees, one alive and one dead, in Tahoe, California, sparking a violent backlash toward the professional climber from the community. Following the incident, Kinder received death threats, hate messages, and antagonizing phone calls from complete strangers. Now, almost a month later, Kinder discusses the aftermath of the situation.
In July 2012, Tahoe locals took him to a new cliff in the Tahoe area where he climbed Tree Beard (5.12c), which Kinder describes as the one of the best 5.12c’s he had done in his life. Kinder realized the potential for developing new routes on the granite wall, and returned to get to work. While developing a new route, Kinder had to lower through a 10-foot-tall, 10-inch-thick tree, which stood by another dead tree at the base of the route. Kinder realized the safety threat the trees could pose to climbers. He left the crag torn, thinking of the trees but also about the granite he calls, “one of the best crags in the U.S., no doubt.”
He came back in the first week of October with friend Ethan Pringle and Pringle’s girlfriend. Kinder made the decision to cut the trees down to provide the safest route possible, having never been told that they were juniper trees, which are illegal to remove. Junipers are spread across Tahoe and are known for their ability to thrive on little water, their incredibly long life span (they live hundreds of years), and their rich history in Native American cultures.
Joe Kinder Reflects on Aftermath of Controversial Tree-Cutting Incident