Fine, upstanding paragons of moral virtue, you are, and I know how tough it must be as New Yorkers and Easterners for you not to steal something.
I guess this is the part of this mea culpa that bugs me. It's the unabashed moral superiority of those from somewhere out west. Those of us from the uncouth east who must have a crisis of faith to pass "free gear" don't need this sanctimonious judgement. I have found that too many folks from Boulder and SLC are just insufferable with their condemnations of the "east coast" vibe. Guess what_ not all of us fit your stereotype.
Good. I was hoping that comment would get a rise out of somebody! Seriously, though, every time a debate rises on ther climbing websites about what defines "booty," or when it is appropriate to gank fixed gear, Northeasterners are always the most eager to claim it, and the most hostile to the idea of just letting it be.
That said, however, y'all do have some very nice people at the Gunks. Clausti (my wife) and I had been chatting with someone at the crag for only about an hour when they offered us a room to crash in that night!
Well most of us are nice enough. Were just playing by a different set of rules than you seem to expect. I look at it this way: The Gunks are heavily trafficked climbing area. In order to keep all routes open as much as possible, local rules are not to leave gear. Simple as that. Most of us would courteously remove our gear leaving unencumbered access for others when we leave. Courtesy is all that should be necessary. But, since not everyone actually is this courteous motivation is useful. I look at it sort of like a traffic ticket. You can gamble if you like.
Julie is correct. The rule is not grade dependant. There are plenty of people climbing high grades at the Gunks. I think I am a far better driver than many on the road and my car is more capable too. That doesn't get me special parking privileges though.