whether you "return" it or not is your call
but let me introduce to you the time honored rules of climbing BOOTY !!!
Booty, and not the junk in the trunk kind.
I spent a lot of my early climbing years on a continual quest for “booty” of all kinds (both the climbing and not climbing kind, but focusing on the climbing here). Most of my early racks were made up of carabiners, nuts, cams and other stuff that I’d found or worked for up to a day to extract. I learned from two master booty retrievers (Fitz and Dave)–Fitz in particular had mad skills including special little socket wrenches and shims for popping stuck cams out. To this day I get a thrill out of extracting some perma-fixed piece off a crack, even though I likely already have ten of the exact same sized piece in various stages of rusting decay. It’s just the idea of getting something for free…
This all came to mind as I read this post on Supertopo from Tradmanclimbs:
When I first started climbing back in the early eightys I was taught the booty game. It was supposed to be fun and honorable. the rules went something like this.
#1 Any gear that you lose due to incompetence, getting spanked, fear, lack of skill , retrete, etc. becomes booty the moment that you give up attempts to recover said gear. The exception would be if you let it be known that were returning the next day at first light to resume recovery attempt. Once you give up on recovery attempts it is in fact BOOTY;)
#2 Gear left in the parking lot is lost and found, NOT booty.
3# Any gear left in the process of a rescue is NOT booty and shall be returned to the rightfull owners or next of kin.
#4 Finders of booty may offer to return booty to the spanked party but you will lose face if you accept the offer.
#5 it is extremly poor form to ask for lost booty to be returned to you. If the finders offer and you refuse the offer and they offer again then you may acept the return of the booty but you will still lose face and owe them a debt of honor. This debt may be eased but not completly erased by a gift of beer. (You and they will know that you are their bitch) It is best to suck it up and just say, hey, thanks for offering but you guys earned it.
The booty game is supposed to be fun and a way for strong poor climbers to build their rack at the expense of rich weak climbers. As soon as someone gets hurt it is not fun anymore so everyone should pitch in, help out and try to get everyones gear back at the end of the day.
The best form is to solo up to snag the booty gear or lead up but rapping in is acceptable provideing that all recovery attemts by the loseing party have been exausted.
I am sure that its different by region but that is how we felt about booty in the north east.