Spring means rock climbing season in Canada and there’s already been climbers out in Squamish, the Bow Valley, the Niagara Escarpment, at crags in Quebec and on the east coast. It’s that time of year to put your gym climbing skills to the test, but there are many things to keep in mind as we head into rock season 2019.

Ticks are gross little insects that love to hide at the base of warm crags. They like to crawl onto you, find somewhere warm and to bury their head. Tick bites can lead to health problems like Rocky Mountain Fever and Lyme Disease. Do a thorough tick check every day until tick season is over. South-facing slopes will be full of ticks from April until around June.

Also, remember that it’s bear season and most of our climbs are in bear habitat. Educate yourself about where you’re climbing and take the necessary precautions such as bear spray and groups of four. Most of us have been climbing indoors for that past six months. Don’t let the excitement of being outside cloud your judgement. Good communication with your belayer is key. Know your calls, from “On belay” to “Secure.”

Remember that protection bolts and anchors are not permanent. Someone was nice enough to put them there, but that doesn’t someone else didn’t take them or the weather didn’t loosen them. Be safe and carry a wrench that can tighten loose nuts on bolts and anchors. Bring a hammer to be sure fixed pitons are secure.

It’s spring so be prepared for sudden rain storms and cold weather depending on where you are. Wear appropriate clothing when you climb. Also, keep the local search and rescue phone numbers in your phone. If you’re heading somewhere without reception consider bringing something like a SPOT or InReach.

Climbers die and get seriously injured every spring. Already this year, there’s been serious injuries in Squamish and the Rockies. It’s the time of year when the freeze/thaw process that was set into motion by cold temperatures can wreak havoc. Water freezing in the rock’s crack is one of the main contributors to loosening rock from the earth.

It’s especially dangerous on vertical rock faces. If you’re climbing a notoriously loose route, check every hold with a little tap before trusting it. Wear a helmet and beware of loose rock. If you find one, shout to everyone that you are dropping it or to be award as you carry it down. Yell “Rock!” if you knock one off the wall. Rockfall is real, can lead to unexpected falls and can kill you, so heads up.

Remember that there are many access issues across Canada, so follow the rules. Some of Canada’s access groups are Squamish Access Society, Climber’s Access of B.C., TABVAR, Climber’s Access Society of Alberta, Ontario Alliance of Climbers, FQME and Climb Nova Scotia.

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Ontario Access Coalition has been proudly serving the Ontario climbing community for 9 years. We have worked closely with landowners to ensure secured climbing access, advocated for proper crag etiquette, and promoted climbing mentorship as climbing grows in popularity.  We helped establish bouldering as a celebrated activity at the Niagara Glen, held crag stewardship days, and purchased land to keep climbing open at Old Baldy. Access is at the forefront of our existence, hence it was incorporated into our name, and our mission will always be to keep climbing areas open. We have decided to change our name to the "Ontario Alliance of Climbers". Our goals are the same, but this name change prioritizes the fact that we are a climbing community, and that we strive to represent all outdoor climbers in Ontario. With this new name, our identity as a climbing-focused entity is clear. Conveniently, you can still refer to us as the OAC! Our social media accounts and website will be updated shortly:  https://www.ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca/ . #ontario #climbing #rockclimbing #access

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