camhead: actually I used to live in NYC and climb in the Gunks (only 12yrs tho) but have lived out west for the last 10yrs. I get pissed off if people leave gear on a route. I find it rarely happens for more then a short time, but if it is for a few hours, come'n..... do the route and move on.
There are times when I am working a route, ie: the .13's at Indian Creek, when I may take several burns, but whenever I meet other climbers, I usually ask their intention, letting them know that I'll gladly move my stuff if they want the route (but usually find they just want to see someone whip on the route). The older I get the more I find that routes that are projects for me, may be merely warmup for someone else.
Even though the ethics are first come first serve, I find being considerate of others goes a long way.
I agree with you whole-heartedly. I would not leave fixed gear on any trad route which I was working, especially not at a popular and well-traveled crag. However, like I said (and as many of the armchair ethicists here are ignoring), the fixed stoppers were not mine. As mentioned before, I saw no difference between leaving my draws on KC and leaving them on a sport route; the style was/ will be identical until the stoppers are removed!
That said, right on for living in Flagstaff; that is the nicest town for climbing that I've come across. We should meet up at the Forks next time I'm out!