Leave No Trace for Rock Climbers

Lets talk about rock climbing specific Leave No Trace ethics! This one is for all you casual craggars, hardcore crushers, and pebble wrastlers out there. We have all been to “that crag” that is riddled with litter in the bushes, names and profanity carved in the rocks and trees, and dog poop around the belay stations; and hopefully we can agree this is not a good sight to see at our beloved climbing areas.

Chalk drawings at a local climbing area

I know, your so excited to read about LNT your jumping for joy right about now, but it is important to understand why LNT is such an issue.

Heavily used crags and bouldering areas attract a wide array of users ranging from complete novices to experienced and educated climbers. At popular rock climbing areas trash can build up, waste can become a problem, and in extreme cases areas may become unenjoyable and even off limits to climbers due to the damage done. Because of this it is important to set a good example for others and promote environmental stewardship so future users have the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors too.

What are the 7 Leave No Trace Principles?
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Dispose of Waste Properly
Leave What You Find
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Respect Wildlife
Be Considerate of Other Visitors

LNT ethics are all important but, not all of them are completely applicable for rock climbing and bouldering so let’s narrow them down to a few key points-

Plan Ahead and Prepare
-know where your going and what your climbing
-have the proper equipment and know how to use it
-research any closures or special considerations for your crag
-avoid climbing when areas are likely to be jam packed with people

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
-stay on preexisting approach trails, and impacted belay stations
-avoid creating new paths and using plant life for protection on climbs (like slinging trees)
– flake ropes and sort gear on durable surfaces
– aviod crushing plants with your crash pad if you’re bouldering

Dispose of Waste Properly
-bring wag bags, and use them! or use an approved method to dispose of waste if a wag bag is not an option (like a cathole 6-8inches deep 200 ft from water)

Leave what you find
-places like southern Utah may have petroglyphs and artifacts near climbing areas, refrain from taking artifacts and pottery shards if you find a petroglyph DO NOT TOUCH IT, oils from your hands will deteriorate them faster.

Respect Wildlife
-some climbing areas have seasonal closures for wildlife migrations and bird nesting, check the area information before your trip
-don’t harass wildlife, even if your furry nature friend “started it”

Be Considerate of Other Visitors
-respect nearby groups
-keep noise down so not to bother other climbers
-if you are in a large group try to spread the group out and avoid completely taking over the climbing area

Try using the saying “Pass The Drum Left My Rastafarian Brother.”  The first letter of each word stands for one of the seven LNT principles and helps folks remember each of them.

For LNT bonus points you can also paint your bolts to match the rock, use minimal amounts of chalk, wear earth tone clothing, use earth tone color ropes, slings, etc. The idea is to preserve climbing areas as much as possible so they can continue to be enjoyed by future generations. As humans it is inevitable we will leave some evidence of our presence at climbing areas, but we can minimize these impacts and keep climbing areas as natural as possible for the enjoyment of all.

Chris Panawa
AMGA Single Pitch Instrictor
Leave No Trace Trainer

Useful Links:

The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org –

See more at: http://lnt.org/about/use-logo-seven-principles-and more#sthash.KpREHLXm.dpuf

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