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The Status of Rock Climbing in Canada on May 11

Skaha to reopen, Alberta climbers getting out, Ontario Parks reopen with no climbing and east coast climbers head to the crags

Rock climbing was never officially banned in Canada during the most extreme covid-19 lockdowns, however parks were closed, access to crags blocked and governments created laws that prohibited people from being within two metres of each other who were not in the same household. All non-essential travel was banned and people were advised to only do low-risk activities.

As we head into middle of May, some places in Canada have eased restrictions and essentially “opened” rock climbing for spring 2020. Whether or not you’re technically allowed to rock climb depends on where you are. There are hundreds of parks, trails, crags and areas where Canadian climbing is found, below is a broad summary of what’s happening in Canada’s most popular rock climbing provinces. Note that closures and reopening dates seem to change by the hour these days. This is a rough guideline with links to access groups and more.

B.C.

People are rock climbing in remote areas, but the main crags and peaks are still closed. According to the province, starting May 14, B.C. Parks will start to reopen the majority of provincial parks and protected areas and marine parks, which will allow British Columbians more access to safe outdoor recreation opportunities, while meeting the COVID-19 guidelines of the Provincial Health Officer.

Rock climbing: Skaha is set to open on May 14, despite calls from locals to keep it closed until after the long weekend. The Chief and Shannon Falls will remain closed. Marble Canyon and other interior areas are slowly reopening. See the status of B.C. Parks here.

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BC Parks: Re-Opening⁠ May 14 ⁠ BC Parks staff and park operators are looking forward to welcoming you back into our provincial parks, protected areas and marine parks soon!⁠ ⁠ Most provincial parks will open for day use only on May 14 and most campgrounds and backcountry camping will open on June 1.⁠ The Discover Camping reservation will be back online on May 25 at 7 am PT to accept camping reservations. ⁠ We’ll do everything we can to ensure parks are safe, but visitors are reminded they are responsible for their own safety and to practice physical distancing by giving extra space when passing people on trails and in parking lots and practicing appropriate hygiene. In keeping with public health guidelines around non-essential travel, people are urged to only visit a park close to their home and avoid travelling to small communities. Some parks will remain closed at this time.⁠ ⁠ We are all in this together, and we are counting on everyone to do their part so our parks can stay open!⁠ ⁠ For a list of parks with day-use opportunities that will re-open on May 14, and Frequently Asked Questions, visit us at www.bcparks.ca.⁠ Photo: Cape Scott Provincial Park

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Alberta

Alberta Parks reopened at the start of May. The Alberta Parks website, updated May 1, reads: “Alberta Environment and Parks is taking an incremental approach to relaunching outdoor recreation by easing restrictions on access to outdoor pursuits Albertans love, including provincial parks, camping and public land.”

Rock climbing: climbers have been staying busy in Kananaskis Country, the front ranges, Ghost, Bow Valley east of Banff National Park and on Yamnuska. National Parks will remain closed until after May 31.

The face of rescue for us in changing as we continue to adapt and evolve to “COVID times”. We still have smiles and…

Posted by Kananaskis Country Public Safety Section, Alberta Parks on Monday, May 11, 2020

Ontario

Some Ontario Parks opened on May 11 with the remaining areas opening on May 15, 2020. At this time, recreational activities will be limited to walking, hiking, biking and birdwatching. Day visitors will also be able to access all parks and conservation reserves for free until the end of the month.

“As we continue to make progress in our fight to stop the spread of COVID-19, we are carefully and cautiously reopening the province, starting with certain businesses and retailers, and now our provincial parks and conservation reserves,” said Premier Ford. “I encourage people to get out and enjoy the outdoors, but please do so in a responsible way. Practise physical distancing and follow the rules set out by health care officials to stop the spread of this virus.”

Rock climbing: Rock climbing is not officially allowed in parks. Conservation Halton, which runs Rattlesnake and Nemo, hasn’t announced a date for reopening. Ontario Alliance of Climbers said on May 11: “Climbing is not currently permitted in these spaces, but they will be open for walk-through enjoyment. Please respect the restrictions on recreation uses to ensure these areas remain open to visitors.” Rock climbing access to areas from Sudbury to Kenora often depends on private owners, First Nations, regional parks and provincial parks. Be sure to check before you visit.

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We'd like to clarify the changes coming to some outdoor spaces this week. Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves are reopening with limited use.  Climbing is not currently permitted in these spaces, but they will be open for walk-through enjoyment.  Please respect the restrictions on recreation uses to ensure these areas remain open to visitors.  To determine the status of a provincial park near you, see https://www.ontarioparks.com/park-locator Conservation Areas, such as Rattlesnake Point and Mount Nemo, are individually owned or protected by Conservation Authorities.  They are not operated by the provincial government.  Each individual Conservation Authority will determine when, and under what circumstances, their Conservation Areas will open to the public.  So far, climbing is not permitted at any Conservation Area.  The full list of Ontario Conservation Authorities can be found here https://conservationontario.ca/conservation-authorities/find-a-conservation-authority/. We are working directly with land managers at the various crags, and will update the community whenever there are changes.  For now, we must respect our relationships with the land managers in order to not create long lasting access issues. Thank you for your patience and continued support! #ontario #climbing #access #enjoytheoutdoorsresponsibly 📸 @willtam85

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Quebec

Gatineau Park reopened for people within walking or biking distance on May 9. National parks and Quebec provincial parks remain closed.

Rock climbing: With gyms still closed, climbers are awaiting news that parks will open soon. For now, most rock climbing is closed in the province.

East Coast and Far North

On May 8, the Province of New Brunswick moved the province into phase-two of its four stage plan. The province has further relaxed some restrictions, permitting gatherings up to 10 for outdoor recreation. This being said, basic hygiene and physical distancing restrictions remain in place.

Parks in Nova Scotia opened at the start of the month. “We need to get out of our heads and out of our houses and get outside,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “We need to feel that fresh air, a little freedom. The keyword is a little.”

The Yukon recently announced that all territorial parks and campgrounds will remain closed until June. “If we can adhere to all of the physical distancing and maintain that,” said chief medical officer Dr. Brendan Hanley, “we do more of in terms of encouraging the ability to have say recreational facilities reopen, summer activities, what are the parts we can relax.”

Rock climbing: Ascent New Brunswick wants to ensure that its membership respects the Mandatory Order by complying with the following guidelines: Do not climb or enter any climbing areas if you’re exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19; practice physical distancing by maintaining a minimum of six feet between yourself and others; and practice frequent hand sanitization.

“Consider wearing a mask when physical distancing is impossible. Even though our climbing community is relatively small the possibility of overcrowding at some crags exists. Cedar Point, Sunnyside, Greenlaw and Kingston are likely candidates for overcrowding. Have a back up plan in place in case you arrive at one of these crags and find many cars in the parking area. Be kind, respectful, and patient with one another during this time. We all want to feel safe while recreating outside; let’s work together to create an environment that allows this.”

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The end is near! We received some good news yesterday relaxing some restrictions, giving us freedom to stretch our legs. Before we all go out into the world we love, let’s take a minute to think it’s still a pandemic and we don’t want to turn around and go back where we just came from. Some of the crags in the area have landowners near by and access to these areas is fragile. With parking limited and many restrictions still in place we all have to do our part so we can return to full speed as soon as possible. Should we put future access at risk to get a few sessions in before restrictions are lifted? Be discreet and respect the boundaries in place. The decisions we make today will effect the climbers of tomorrow. Thanks for you effort in making Nova Scotia Rad! Please consider the potential impact before climbing at the following Private Access areas: First face Main face Columbus Fearwater Howe crag Bow wall Glove wall ( currently off limits) The parking and start of access to Sorrows is private. Skapper Trout cove Easter island Dover The Zoo Big pond Grovers/ Crows Nest #climbing #sportclimbing #tradclimbing #leadclimbing #bouldering #access #respect #responsibilty #novascotia #halifax #capebreton

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