As climbers, stewardship should be priority 1.
It’s pretty black and white, if we don’t treat our climbing areas with respect, we have, and can lose them.
The recent government shut down has turned a spotlight onto the importance of leave not trace ethics, and doing more than you fair share to be a good steward to our public lands and national parks, if we want to keep them open to climbing.
It seems simple, and it really is.
If you brought it out, bring it back.
If your find it, leave it there.
If you see trash, pick it up.
If you see a pretty plant, don’t pick it.
Really, just try to make it seem as though you were never even there.
Right now however, with parks not staffed, coming prepared to take your day or camping trash back with you, as well as your… well… other waste.
That’s right, facilities aren’t being maintained regularly, so it’s time to prepare yourself to pack out your poop.
‘Leave No Trace’ has great guidelines for relieving yourself in nature that are always good to follow:
- First, take 100 steps away from any water source.
- If you have to go #1, try to find a spot away from plants, and if possible dilute any urine with some water.
- #2 isn’t as simple. Some ecosystems do perfectly well to dig a cat-hole and bury your poop, but some don’t. Check your area’s guidelines before hand, and if a cat-hole isn’t good acceptable, take it to-go! (but really, it might seem weird, but if you have a cat or a dog you’ve likely bagged a poop before, it’s really not that big of a deal.) Either way, never be a turd and leave a poop sitting above ground.
There are weird reasons why your local craig might be closed.
For example, things like:
– habitat restoration
– bird nesting
– rock art
Knowing there probably won’t be signs around to say “Please keep this area clear so that our falcons can nest!”, the best thing to do is check in with the land manager if you’re not familiar with an area, and make sure it is clear to climb.
(Ie: the National Park Service if you’re climbing J-tree, or the local climber’s org. if it’s a smaller craig)
Not all rock is the same.
Granite, Sandstone, Limestone, Cobbles, Quartzite, Schist, Gneiss, the list goes on.
Weather can effect rock, but not all rock.
Long story short, the more porous the rock, the more moisture could effect the strength of the holds.
Red Rock, NV/Hueco, TX – Sandstone – Very delicate when moist. Hold breaking is a really problem after rain, and many things can contribute to how fast or slowly an area dries out. The Nevada Climber’s Coalition recommends doing your do diligence by checking the soil near the rocks you’re looking to climb and check to see if it’s dry. Move some dirt away, check just under the surface and if it’s still wet leave the rocks be.
(here is a guide to rain and climbing in Red Rock put out by the SNCC *click*)
Yosemite, CA – Granite – Very hardy rock. Hold breaking due to moisture, isn’t a thing. Some climbs are perpetually wet thanks to waterfall over-spray.
Jackson Falls, IL – Sandstone – porous, yet can handle being climbed in highly humid weather without problem, but requires a day or two after rain to dry out.
Happy Boulders, – Volcanic Tuff – Strong hard volcanic, but we are just finding out that the make up of the rock allows more moisture to get in than we thought originally, and it might require some dry out time after rain.
Every area is different, and to be an ethical climber it would be best to consult the local climbing org. to find out how to best care for your local rock.
Not everyone treats our outdoor spaces with the care they deserve, but luckily when some people drop the ball others pick it up.
Locally organized cleanups happen all the time!
From as simple as trash clean up to trail restoration and graffiti removal.
If you can’t find a clean up happening in an area you know needs one, you can even reach out to Access Fund to organize one yourself!
Big thanks to both the Access Fund and Leave No Trace for providing us with information and resources!
Oh! Last little thing you can do to improve your local climbing area… brush your ticks and leave your bluetooth speakers at home.