Every spring brings new issues to Canada’s rock climbing communities, but 2020’s season is even more complicated than those in the past due to covid. It doesn’t matter if you’re a veteran or rookie climber, the rules to maintain access apply to everyone.
Creating good stewards of the land takes time, education and experience, and the job will never be finished so long as there are climbers heading outdoors for the first time.
At Quebec’s Baldy this week, noisy climbers have disturbed local residents which has led to a warning from the Club des Montagnards Laurentiens that an access ban could go into effect if climbers don’t follow the rules. Most climbing areas in Quebec are operated by the FQME, visit here to learn more.
Code of Respect
There are more climbers now than ever before, and with gyms across Canada closed or open with restrictions, many who wouldn’t have gone outdoor rock climbing in the past are in 2020.
Climbing culture has long been about mentors taking proteges under their wing to teach them about rope systems, crag ethics and rescue skills. Hopefully there are experienced climbers out there willing to help newer ones in a safe and respectful way.
Our continued access to crag across Canada depends on climbers being respectful of the area they’re visiting, following the local rules and giving back to community when and where they can. Bad behaviour has resulted in crags closing in the past, so it’s best that we all work together to ensure we can enjoy our outdoor walls for years to come.
Most popular climbing areas have an access group, but below are a list of guidelines published by the Ontario Access Coalition in 2018 climber should familiarize themselves with.
Respect the Dangers
– Outdoor climbing poses many safety concerns that are not present in a climbing gym. Make sure that you are properly prepared for rock climbing outside.
– Learn necessary outdoor climbing skills from a guide/mentor
– Learn about the cliff: style, protection, difficulty, area hazards (ie. Poison ivy)
– Wear a helmet as rocks can break, yell “rock” if rock/gear fall
-Watch for sharp edges that can damage/cut rope when lowering/rappelling
– Inspect/clean your gear often. Replace when worn/expired
– Triple check and back up your systems (harness/knot/belays/anchors/rappels).
– Communicate with your partner and other climbers
– Learn how to detect if fixed gear/bolts are safe
Respect the Environment
– Climbing areas are more environmentally sensitive than you may think. Lead by example and leave the cliff cleaner than you found it.
– Pack out your trash & pick up after others
– Stay on designated trails to lessen impact
-Do not urinate under overhangs or in caves. It does not wash away!
– Use existing bathroom facilities/dig a hole, cover it and pack out TP
– Do not feed or hurt animals
– Leash dogs to not disrupt wildlife & others
– Ke ep gear/back-pack on non-vegetated surfaces to avoid damaging plants
– Do not damage/chip the rock. Brush off your tick marks
– Start fires only in designated/contained pits
– Be aware of seasonal fire bans and follow regulations
– Please be respectful of land owners and other people at the cliff. Stay educated about cliff rules, as well as any cliff access issues that may be present.
– Share climbs with others
– Climb in smaller groups
– Check if dogs are allowed
– Pull your ropes when finished, yell “rope” when pulling ropes
– Keep noise levels appropriate, no loud music/profanities
– Do not smoke around others
– Respect the “right of way” on multi-pitch/shared anchors
– Local access groups and volunteers have fought hard to keep climbing areas open. It is imperative that you be on best behaviour to keep it that way. Stay educated on climbing area access considerations
– Respect land owner rules or provincial/federal regulations
– Do not leave gear unless permitted
– Park considerately, carpool if possible
– Camp only in designated/permitted areas
– Respect area closures (seasonal/permanent)
– Pay required entrance fees/permits
– Get involved with local access coalitions
– Follow Transport Canada regulations for drone use
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ACCESS UPDATE: Grey County has notified the OAC in response to our inquiries that they are now welcoming visitors to their outdoor areas! Grey Sauble has also confirmed that rock climbing is no longer prohibited by Provincial Order. With this news, we are happy to announce that climbing access is now open at Metcalfe, The Swamp, and Old Baldy, without any travel advisories. Please check our crag status document for updates. Link in Bio. The North Bruce Peninsula, where Lions Head is located, has also officially announced it is welcoming visitors! If you choose to climb there please be mindful that Lions Head is an advanced crag and access there is extremely sensitive. The OAC has been informed of the temporary removal of all moderate Latvian Ledge routes for the purposes of rehabilitation. These routes represent the bulk of moderate routes at Lions Head. Please ensure your plans do not require these routes to be available, and remember that top roping at Lions Head is not permitted. It may be difficult to secure overnight accommodations at this time as many campgrounds are not yet open, so plan ahead before you go. Car camping is not allowed and people caught doing so will be ticketed. It is important to remember that although the province is beginning to open up again, COVID-19 still poses a serious threat to smaller communities. If you choose to climb, it is important to plan your outings responsibly. Take all necessary precautions, follow our guidelines on how to climb during this pandemic, and enjoy some good weather! #ontario #access #climbing #rockclimbing #staysafe Iconography provided courtesy of @michyllica