Monday, July 2, 2012
Alright Crimp Chronicles followers, it’s time for another issue of Climbing Ethics. In this particular segment, we are going to venture away from Aiguille and the ethics in our own gyms, or any indoor climbing gym. We are going to travel to an outdoor climbing location, and you can pick whatever climbing area is special to you. The ethics are typically the same.
Much of this article will circle around the idea of Leave No Trace. The main difference about climbing in a gym and climbing outside is not only the location, but the fact that, unlike a gym, no one is there at closing time picking up trash and sweeping up. Now, I would like to think that everyone in a climbing gym is not leaving empty cans and remnants of taped fingers around everywhere to be cleaned up, however, and I know this because I obviously work at a climbing gym, it happens and we clean it up. Other than volunteer groups and environmentally-minded climbers, no one is picking up the garbage every night. An ethical climber at the crag must have awareness, knowledge, and personal responsibility.
The rest of this article will brush us up on previously mentioned topics of ethics that we also practice indoors, as well as other common courtesies to your crag and to your fellow climber.
Before the Crag
Planning the Trip - Being knowledgeable about your climbing area will help prepare you for whatever camping and parking situation you may face. Before you arrive, you should already know rules and allowances, where to park, etc. to make sure that you not only have a flawless trip, but you also won’t disrespect any rules of the area, and you won’t look like an idiot. Try to carpool as much as possible and travel in small groups. The less amount of impact on the land at one time better. This also leaves less of a chance for any kind of pollution: trash, sound, and emissions.
At the Crag
like this one, but that is not always the case. Regardless, I understand that you love your dog and your dog is very “well behaved”, but your fellow climber might not agree. Dogs should be leashed at all times. Wandering dogs get into other people’s food, step all over their gear, and can generally a nuisance. And that’s even if you are lucky enough to climb at an area that even allows dogs! Climbers with dogs should always carry baggies to be prepared to pick up after doggy business. A common misconception is that dog poop is biodegradable, and it just fits into nature when in reality (and straight from the Leave No Trace website), “Dog poop creates high levels of nitrogen in the soil, killing off native plants that often yield to tougher invasive weeds.” If you can, keep the canine at the crib. But if you must, make sure to follow crag rules and don’t let them run wild.
Brushing and Tickmarks - Almost corresponding to the Chalk section of this article, brushing and tickmarks play heavily into the common courtesies between you, the crag and your fellow climber. At a popular crag, many people will climb a particular boulder problem or route over and over again. With the chalk build up (but remember, this is minimal because we are using chalk sparingly) and general sweat and grimy, the holds are going to get worse. Like our indoor ethics articles, if a climber has taken the effort to brush a boulder problem, that climber should get first dibs on climbing as they have put in the work. On rope, it is a little more difficult to brush your next climb. Here’s a story for you: I was climbing at the Red River Gorge and there happened to have been tons of people at this particular wall. A woman was climbing this particular route and she fell several times and proceeded to yell at us on the ground about how we should have brushed the route on the way back down and that ruined her send. Now, at first I shared the thought of every other climber that, “What a jerk!”, but in looking back, this was a near vertical wall. It wouldn’t take too much effort for a climber to go back and brush some of the slimier holds. So if you can, take the time to help out the next climber by giving it a quick brush over.
Tickmarks are small marks on the wall made in chalk to help a climber to see where the next hold is, or where they need to remember to put their foot. Tickmarks should be avoided as much as possible as they can leave permanent marks on the wall (and don’t tell me that you can just brush it off because you can still see a mark!) and if they need to be used, make them as small as possible. Instead of taking a block of chalk and drawing a line, I will just dunk my finger in some loose chalk and make a little dot. It is much easier to brush off. Also, if you happen to see tickmarks left behind, take the time to brush them off yourself.
Crash Pads - At Aiguille and other climbing gyms, we can rely on squishy padded floors, shredded tires, and maybe a crash pad or two to protect us from our bouldering bails. However, outside, that protection needs to be provided by the climber. Crash pads are essential for climbing outside and climbers need to not only know how to properly use them but know when to move them, where to place them, and to know to have many of them! When you are planning for a trip, if you have four people in your car, and you only have one crash pad, you better find another one. This is lack of planning and leaves you limited on what you can climb. So the more pads, the better. When you’re outside and you come up to a boulder where there are already a few people, you have a couple of options; either go to a different boulder not to crowd up the area, or you can approach them and ask permission to join them. Now, it’s not like those current climbers own that time on the boulder, but normally, they will already have crash pads out and you’re going to need permission to use those. Most of the time, it’s not a big deal at all and climbers should welcome and share the boulders and who knows? You might find some unknown beta! If a climber approaches you and your crew, asks to throw down some more pads and join you, tell them to jump right in. With pads, do be careful in where you are laying them down as you do not want to crush any native flora.
Leaving the Crag
Good Hygiene - As for human waste, if you can go before you hike out, do it. Otherwise the proper disposal method is taking it with you. If it’s just number one, you should always go on a nice flat rock in the sun so it doesn’t disturb vegetation by attracting animals or won’t stink up the crag because it can’t evaporate. But number 2, like dog poop, contains materials that can disturb the soil and this must be carried out in waste bags along with toilet paper.
There is still so much to go over about outdoor ethics, along with Leave No Trace practices. For resources to study up more on topics that I have discussed, visit some of the following websites for more information.
Leave No Trace - www.lnt.org
Access Fund - www.accessfund.org
REI’s Learning Section - http://www.rei.com/learn
at 4:56 PM