Monday, August 6, 2012
In my previous article, Introduction to Outdoor Ethics, we focused on generic but extremely important topics such as Leave No Trace, chalk use, camping and walking through trails. This article will concentrate on ethical practices while visiting areas specific to sport and traditional climbing. With the use of more critical protection and what some would consider a greater-risk aspect of the sport of rock climbing, there are issues which surround roped climbing that deserve greater attention and education. While some of these topics might overlap with previous ethics articles that I have written, they are worth repeating and clarifying in particular situations.
These are topics that suggest how to prepare for your climbing experience.
Pack What You Need, And Then Bring It Back - This is a clever way of saying just because you don’t need or want it, doesn’t mean you can leave it. All climbers should be prepared with enough food and water for your entire day. Nobody is going to be super excited to save you when you’re passing out from malnutrition or dehydration. For all these gear needs, all the trash, gear, and even poop, needs to make its way out of the crag. Also, in reference to above paragraph, becoming educated on the area will allow you to know how long of a day you’ll be planning with hiking in and hiking out, so you will be able to pack your food and water appropriately. You will discover how many draws you need, or how long of a rope needs to be used to even what shoes to wear depending on the terrain! Just make sure to leave no trace!
These are topics that suggest proper climbing ethics while at the wall itself.
Your Situation - Ever been to the Undertow Wall in the Motherlode at the Red River Gorge Well, I have and when the conditions are right, it is paaaacked! The Access Fund states that you should avoid areas during peak days to prevent as much impact as possible but for us Florida climbers trying to get out to climb, we don’t always have a choice. When climbing in an area with other climbers, it’s best to be aware of YOUR situation. What I mean by this is asking yourself a few questions:
1. Where are your belongings and is it in the way?
2. Is this area too crowded and is it that important for you to climb here (can you come back later)?
3. Are you invading someone else’s climbing experience by being here?
Your personal belongings should not be near the belay stations where belayers can trip or ropes can get caught up on gear. Place your stuff away from the wall but not on any vegetation or hanging on any trees. A nice sandy flat area or flat rock surface will keep your gear from killing plantlife, bugging anyone, or just rolling away. Your gear should not be blocking any trail entrances or pathways to prevent people from easily walking through. When areas are crowded this task can become more difficult. You don’t want to just pile your things on top of or right next to someone else’s they might not enjoy you jumping into your climbing bubble. It is up to you to decide whether it is best to move on to a less crowded wall, or if you are really psyched on getting on that 12b, coming back to it later when it isn’t as populated. Also, some people do enjoy to have a peaceful climbing day. If you are traveling a group of climbers, the nice couple at the wall might not enjoy the added noise. Yes, to an extent depending on the area, the climbing is for everyone, but respect your fellow climber and ask them if it is okay to share the wall with them if you are worried about disturbing them.
Monopolizing the Wall - If the wall has multiple climbers working routes, you want to make sure not to monopolize the wall. If you are with a group, and two climbers are waiting to get on the same route, let them jump into your rotation so they are not just waiting for everyone to get finished. If you are working something hard, don’t hangdog or sit in your harness for an extended period of time; its not very fun for your belayer, and no one wants to sit around waiting for you to finish groveling your way to the top. If you have just finished your climb, make sure to pull your rope as soon as you untie as not to tie up the climb for someone else. Top roping is acceptable in certain situations, but this also hogs up the draws and can prevent someone from climbing a particular route. In summation, be efficient in your climbing and cleaning and be aware of those around you. You wouldn’t want to wait around on someone, so don’t do it to them.
If you are unaware how to set up top rope anchors and want to learn, please contact our Climbing Director, Dean at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brushing and Chalk - Yes yes, I know you’ve read about this before but because it is so important, you can hear about it again (if you’re skipping over this, you’re just lazy). It is always important to use minimal amounts of chalk on climbs. Not only does it make the rock unsightly but some have theorized that chalk will absorb and deteriorate the rock over time. Use chalk balls as often as possible to prevent spillage, and if you do spill, do your best to clean it up. If you decide to make tickmarks, just make sure to make them small and brush them off when you are finished. It is very courteous to brush routes on your descents, whether it be your project or your warm up. Climbers will come up to the route and crush thanks to your contribution. Doesn’t that make you feel good? Moving on! (See that wasn’t so painful...)
Access Fund also makes a statement towards voicing your opinion towards rule breaking in accordance to the area that you are climbing in: “Respect the rules and speak up when other climbers don’t.”
There are a bunch of other ethics that we can talk about when it comes to roped climbing, and I would love to hear your thoughts. I will be writing an upcoming article later this year on ethics in onsights, flashes, and first ascents to break down the questions on that. Feel free to comment and question below. We have a great article next month but it’s a secret so stay tuned!
Access Fund Website and Vertical Times Newsletter - www.accessfund.org
The Obed: A Climber’s Guide to the Wild and Scenic by Kelly Brown
REI’s Expert Advice - www.rei.com/expertadvice
at 2:59 PM