With the number of climbing gyms increasing every year more and more people are being introduced to the sport. And for some the idea of testing their new skills in the ruggedness of nature is the obvious next progression. However, there is more to outdoor climbing than you can learn in the climbing gym.
Climbing in Ontario is somewhat of a fragile ordeal. Many of our crags have been closed, and just about all of them in which we still have access to sit on private property. This means being on your best behaviour is crucial for maintaining access. Remember it is a privilege for us to climb here, not our right. For more information regarding crags and access in Ontario, check out the Ontario Access Coalition's Website Here.
Following a few simple rules can keep you safe, as well as lessen your impact on the environment.
Climb in smaller groups: Larger groups are fun and all, but should be left to the gym. Climbing in smaller group sizes of 5 or less will lessen the impact on the environment. Compacting earth, trampling vegetation, and loud noises are all very real issues with bigger group sizes.
Leave the music at home: Blasting the tunes is distracting and incredibly disrespectful to everyone else that is out there trying to enjoy nature for what it is. If you must listen to music while you climb, consider using headphones, or stay in the gym.
Find a Mentor: Finding a climbing partner that is experienced can be extremely beneficial. They can teach you the ins and outs of climbing at a crag, as well as how to behave. Learning from a mentor is perhaps the best thing you could possibly do during the early stages of your outdoor climbing experience.
Tick Marks: Ticking off hand and foot holds on your sick project may seem like the thing to do. After all, your heroes in the all those climbing films you’ve been watching are doing it right. When ticking, use small tick marks that aren’t so unsightly it makes us think some crack addled teenage graffiti artist has been let loose in the woods. Once you’re done working on your project scrub them off, so the next climber along can enjoy figuring out the puzzle as much as you did. You’re not doing anyone a favour giving away your beta.
For more information on how to act in nature, check out my other post titled "How to not be an ass in nature"