2015 Beaver Valley Climbing Festival

IMG_6756The 2015 Beaver Valley Climbing Festival was a huge success, we attracted close to 200 people and raised funds to support future OAC projects.

The day was packed with games, clinics, vendors, competitions, entertainment, yoga, massage, music, dancing, a huge bonfire and tasty food. The event was a rare opportunity for the Ontario climbing community to come together and celebrate the beauty of the Beaver Valley.

7D3_1674-X2This year, climbing and clinics took place at all 4 crags in the Beaver Valley with Metcalfe as a hub for alternative activities such as yoga by City Yogis, massages by Living in Balance, hula hooping by Hoopla Hula Hoops and much more. Thanks to The Alpine Club of Canada – Toronto Section, On the Rocks, Free Spirit Tours and Overhang Adventures Inc. for running your clinics!

A pre-dinner aerial silk performance by Aerial Silks Collingwood wowed the crowds at the Rob Roy Dogsled Farm. The Flying Chestnut served up vegetarian curries and meaty pulled pork chili to satisfy festival goers. Activities continued into the evening; featuring an insanely stocked raffle, a strongest grip competition and the Canadian National Ice Climbing Team’s figure-4 challenge. The Whiskey River Band and The Good Acoustics kept crowds dancing with musical performances throughout the night.

MANY thanks to all of our amazing volunteers, supporters and sponsors who allowed us to make the 3rd annual festival a reality:


On the Rocks
Climbers Corner
Mountain Equipment Co-op
Alpine Club of Canada – Toronto Section
True North Climbing
The Landscape Company
Creative Paradox PhotographyIMG_1065-X2
Living in Balance

Prize sponsors:

Maxim Dynamic Ropes
Outdoor Research
Omega PacificIMG_0830-X2
G6 Rock Climbing
Outland Adventure Gear
La Sportiva
Mountain Hardwear


*images by Peter Hoang and Creative Paradox Photography

2014 Climbers’ Survey Results

The OAC survey was back in 2014 and bigger than ever. We had a record 213 responses; we believe that this is due in part to our increased Facebook presence. Many thanks to Laura Duncan for survey design beta and for processing the results.

PDF survey summary results

A majority (60%) of respondents indicated that they were not OAC members, indicating substantial potential membership growth for the OAC. Consider joining the OAC if you are not already a member!

Up-to-date survey information continues to be a key source of facts about the vitality and economic importance of the Ontario climbing community. We always use selected survey results when negotiating with stakeholders.

Some highlights:

  • survey respondents estimated that they had been out for over 5,000 climber-days in 2014, a quarter of which were in Milton. 75% of the climber-days were on day trips. Spending was over $15,000.
  • almost half of the respondents reported climbing at least three times a week (that’s a lot of climbing!)
  • the largest cluster of respondents live in the Greater Toronto Area, with a smaller clump in the National Capital Region and communities in Barrie, Kitchener-Waterloo, and London
  • a majority (65%) of respondents were in the 18-35 age group
  • the most popular occupational grouping (20%) was education, law and social, community and government services.
  • Devil’s Glen was the favourite Ontario crag, preferred by 16% of respondents, followed by Lion’s Head and Bon Echo.
  • the vast majority of climbers (80%) practiced sport climbing, while 53% practiced trad climbing, and 33% ice climbing. Bouldering was practiced at 50%.

Thanks again for your participation in the OAC Climbers’ Survey. We appreciate your help in carrying out our mission.

Access Sends 2014/2015 & 2014 Survey & AGM materials

See the complete AGM materials here: OAC-AGM-2015


Old Baldy – We’re thrilled that the Old Baldy transaction has closed and that the access to Old Baldy will be managed by the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority, with rock climbing being a permitted activity. This was the culmination of a long fundraising campaign and a complicated land transfer process. The purchase is a significant milestone for the OAC, creating new bonds and strengthening existing ones. Donations came from MEC, the Alpine Club of Canada Toronto Section, the Alpine Club of Canada National, the Bruce Trail Conservancy, Grey Sauble Conservation Authority, the Nature League, and numerous individual donors, many organized by the ontarioclimbing.com online forum.

The Swamp – The joint OAC/Ministry of Natural Resources Environment Study of The Swamp was completed in 2014. The completion of this study gets us closer to a creating a formal access arrangement for The Swamp. The results of the study will also help with negotiations at other areas.

Niagara Glen – We remain on good terms with the Niagara Parks Commission and constantly work to improve our connections. We are in communication with them about the future of the Niagara Glen permit system. The NPC encourages boulderers to purchase their 2015 permits if they have not already done so.


BVCF – The 2nd Annual Beaver Valley Climbing Festival took place in August 2014 and raised over $6000 for the OAC. Organized by Jennie Elmslie (Free Spirit Tours) and Leslie Timms (On The Rocks Climbing) the festival showed significant growth over the inaugural event. Major sponsors of the event included MEC, True North Climbing Gym, Climbers’ Corner Climbing Gym, The Alpine Club of Canada, and the Landscape Company, among others. The OAC is helping to organize the 2015 BVCF.

OAC calendar – The OAC continues to produce a high quality calendar showcasing the beautiful and diverse climbing areas in the province that we are lucky to call our local spots. All proceeds from the calendars goes to the OAC to support access. Last year saw an exciting new element in the calendar creation process – a photo contest! Our social media outlets were absolutely inundated with submissions: over 50 amazing images vied for a new rope. It was hard for us to narrow it down to the final three who would battle it out in Facebook likes. The public voting phase drew over 550 combined likes, with dozens of shares and comments!

OAC survey – A record 213 climbers responded to our annual survey. The results of the survey provide data which inform our ongoing discussions with land managers.
OAC Facebook group – We reached 1000 likes as a result of revitalizing the OAC Facebook group and regularly posting updates relevant to the climbing community.


Gym rep program – OAC volunteer coordinator Laura Banks created an OAC Gym Rep program whereby each gym would have at least one volunteer who would work an OAC table on a regular basis. We are always looking for keen volunteers to assist with this program. Email info@ontarioaccesscoalition.com if interested.
Gym to Crag – the OAC partnered with the Access Fund to co-brand our logo onto their Gym To Crag poster. The poster promotes responsible crag practices in a fun way. The poster should be found in most Ontario climbing gyms and MEC locations.
Crag Status Doc – We released an up-to-date version of our Crag Status Document which provides a quick reference to the access status of all the commonly asked-about crags in the province. This version also provides more detailed information: links to route information, Google map links, and notes on typical conditions, permits and fees.
Video – OAC volunteer Elli Levene created a video and wrote an article about sustainable climbing and bouldering for alternativesjournal.ca. The video features OAC volunteer Garrett Hutson and OAC co-chair Tony Berlier. The video and article can be found here: http://www.alternativesjournal.ca/community/blogs/wild-side/climbers-reach-new-heights
Niagara Glen – The OAC contributed a display about bouldering at a Niagara Glen tree planting event on May 2nd, 2015. The reforestation event was the result of a strong partnership between the Niagara Parks Commission, Forests Ontario, and the Friends of the Niagara Glen.
Conferences – Garrett Hutson is representing the OAC at Biosphere Reserve Network events led by the Niagara Escarpment Commission. Patrick Lam attended a workshop “Building an Effective Board” run by the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Conservation Halton – We continued to cooperate with Conservation Halton to run the annual Crag Stewardship Day in early May 2015. OAC volunteers once again helped fight off the invasion of Garlic Mustard. This event improves climbers’ visibility at some of our most popular crags.

OAC submission to Niagara Escarpment Parks and Open Space review

For those of you who would are really interested in the technical details of what the OAC is up to, here’s a submission we made to the Land Use Planning Review for the Niagara Escarpment. Developing relationships with stakeholders is key to our success.

Ontario Rock Climbing Access Coalition Co-ordinated Review Response

Beaver Valley Climbing Festival 2015

Join us to celebrate Ontario climbing at the 3rd annual Beaver Valley Climbing Festival (BVCF) on July 11!

Sign up here! Registration site now live.

For the first time, all 4 Beaver Valley Crags will be part of the fun. Never been to Devils Glen, Old Baldy or The Swamp? Here is your chance to visit! Each cliff will have an on-site greeter to answer your questions. Clinics will also be offered at all four crags by The Alpine Club of Canada (ACC), On the Rocks Climbing Guides, Free Spirit Tours, Overhang Adventures Inc. and Zen Climb.

OAC members who attend the BVCF will receive a new FREE Old Baldy interpretive guide to celebrate our most recent access win!!!

Your $40 festival ticket includes Saturday night camping, dinner and evening festivities. Dinner and evening festivities start at 4:30 p.m. at the Rob Roy Dog Farm.

Registration will start at 8:30 a.m. on the farm – for those wanting to get there bright and early, camping is available the night of Friday, July 10 for only $10 per person. For Directions, information and registration with clinics visit the BVCF website.

The 3rd annual Beaver Valley Climbing Festival is brought to you by our headline sponsors ON the Rocks Climbing Guides, Climbers Corner and Boulderz Climbing Centre. Major Sponsors include Mountain Equipment Coop, ACC – Toronto Section, True North Climbing, The Landscape Company, Creative Paradox and Living Balance. There will be prizes up for grabs from many climbing industry leaders. For a complete list visit BVCF sponsors.

As always, all festival proceeds help support the OAC’s efforts in securing and maintaining access to Ontario Crags, to help you send your projects.

Don’t miss out! Come out and meet, play and party!


OAC Annual General Meeting: June 22, 2015

The OAC invites all members to partake in our 2015 annual general meeting on June 22, 2015. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions about the organization and our on-going projects in addition to sharing your input on the future direction of the OAC.

The meeting will be held at Boulderz Climbing Centre – Etobicoke (80 The East Mall Unit #9, Etobicoke, ON) on Monday June 22nd at 7 PM.

To be eligible to vote at the AGM, one is required to be a member of the Ontario Access Coalition. To allow for the processing of new members, please ensure applications are submitted prior to June 5th. Please visit our membership page at www.ontarioaccesscoalition.com/join for further details.

The OAC is very interested in increasing its capacity by attracting new ideas, leadership, and energy. At this meeting, we will elect three members to the Board of Directors (all for a two-year term). As always, we are also looking for portfolio managers and general volunteers. While members can be nominated to the Board at the AGM, any nominations submitted by June 5th will have their profiles distributed to the membership in advance. This will facilitate a structured voting process. Interested members are encouraged to contact the OAC in advance.

Potential board members should have:
– An interest in (learning about) outdoor climbing access issues in Ontario
– A varied skill set with a self-starter attitude
– A positive, proactive team-based approach to problem solving

As a board member the individual will:
– Attend bi-monthly board meetings
– Lead projects and/or access portfolios
– Participate in developing and executing the OAC’s strategic goals

Further details will be provided to members 14 days prior to the AGM. If you do not receive notification by email, please send us a note ( info@ontarioaccesscoalition.com ).

Cape Croker Closure

Climbing at Cape Croker, which is private land, has traditionally been tolerated, and climbers have enjoyed visiting the surrounding area and the campground. We recently learned that climbing at Cape Croker is closed this year. We are in negotiations with the landowners—the Chippewas of the Nawash Unceded First Nation. For now, please respect the closure. Do not climb at Cape Croker until further notice. Disrespect of closures during negotiations hinders the OAC’s efforts.

Reforestation project at Niagara Glen

On Saturday May 2, a few OAC members, the Friends of the Niagara Glen, and local Niagara community members got a chance to directly support the Niagara Glen community in a local reforestation project and learn about the benefits of trees, shade, and green urban spaces. As a result of its strong partnership with Forests Ontario, the Niagara Parks Commission has greatly expanded its tree planting program. In 2014, over 30,000 new trees were planted in the Park, including the restoration of over nine hectares (24 acres) at the Legends on the Niagara Golf Course Complex. In 2015, NPC intends to plant an additional 40,000 new trees and seedlings on the over 1,300 hectares of property it is entrusted to protect.

As a bonus, the OAC got to talk with those interested in learning more about the amazing bouldering opportunities within the Niagara Glen. Overall, it was beautiful sunny day that showcases how teamwork between the NPC and other area stakeholders can benefit the natural environment.

IMG_1555[1]Local climber Karl Brittan repping.

Karl Planting at the Glen

About Forests Ontario:

Forests Ontario is the voice for our forests. Working to promote a future of healthy forests sustaining healthy people, Forests Ontario is committed to the re-greening of Ontario through tree planting efforts on rural lands and in urban areas, as well as the renewal and stewardship of Ontario’s forests through restoration, education and awareness. Visit www.forestsontario.ca or follow @Forests_Ontario.

About the Friends of the Niagara Glen Group:

The mission of the Friends of the Niagara Glen is to be a self-sustaining and motivated not-for-profit community initiative that promotes land stewardship ethics, educational experiences and sustainable outdoor recreation practices along the Niagara River corridor reserve, in concert with the mandate, mission and vision of The Niagara Parks Commission.

The group envisions an ecologically sensitive Park area kept for future generations by increasing environmental awareness and stewardship practices through community involvement. New members are always welcome to join. For more information, please visit www.niagaraparks.com/friends-of-the-glen.



Your questions about the OAC, answered!

We are happy to answer your questions to the best of our abilities. Today we’d like to share answers to couple of questions that were posted on a climbing forum. Got more questions? Use the Contact tab (on your left) to ask. We’ll answer.

1) The $6000 that was handed over from the Beaver Valley Climbing Festival in 2014 was earmarked for a parking lot at Devil’s Glen. What’s the status?

The parking lot project at Devil’s Glen is a long term project. As with much of the Escarpment, change generally involves several different management groups coming together to agree on a particular item. Generally projects of this nature take time and resources. The OAC will continue to champion this project with park management.

2) The Swamp Study. The MNR undertook a major study last year to look at environmental impact. What’s the status? How was the money we donated used?

The data collection portion of the Environmental Study was completed last year. Thank you to those who donated their money and time to help collect data. Initial feedback looks positive. The MNR and OAC are waiting for the study’s completion and will work together to create an appropriate management plan at that time.

3) Old Baldy: Last post indicated that OAC had raised $130,000 to purchase land at Old Baldy. Has the rest been raised? (the sale price was listed at $290,000) What’s the status? What about permits?

The transaction has completed and has been announced on our Facebook page, our website, Gripped’s website, ontarioclimbing.com and print media. The OAC and the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority are working towards the next steps which will include installing proper signage, etc. Information regarding permits will be released very shortly.

4) 2015 Beaver Valley Climbing Festival: Dates have been announced, looks like at least $5000 has been pledged so far, with proceeds to the OAC. What’s the money going toward? Who is covering the insurance? (it sounds like Free Spirit Tours isn’t covering it this year…)

The OAC will be running the BVCF this year with significant help from On the Rocks. Details will be forthcoming. Discussions regarding insurance are not relevant given the change in this year’s format. This will be an exciting year with a new format and use of the Beaver Valley’s four big crags. We encourage everyone to attend the climbing festival and meet your neighbours.

Successful 2015 Crag Stewardship Day with Conservation Halton

On May 2nd, local climbers worked with Conservation Halton to make the OAC’s annual Crag Stewardship Day happen. Over 60 eager stewards gathered under beautiful sunny skies at Rattlesnake Point Conversation Area to help eradicate the invasive alien species garlic mustard, and to help clean up the area.

About Garlic Mustard

Brenda, Conservation Halton ecologist, helped participants learn to identify the vile weed and understand its nefarious effects. She described its invasion tactics in great detail: its roots emit a chemical that inhibits the growth of other species, like trilliums. Climbers can help by picking garlic mustard before it drops its seeds. Conservation Halton staff have been pleased to observe that our continued efforts have made an impact on the garlic mustard problem. This was further reinforced by one participant, who commented on the noticeable reduction in the area we have been working on, after not having participated in last year’s event.

2015 crag stewardship_sbr 002




After a few hours of work, filling the back of a truck with bags of garlic mustard, the participants gathered for a free barbecue courtesy of the OAC. Everyone ate their fill of hamburgers, hotdogs and fresh salads. While lunch digested, the OAC presented our past successes (Old Baldy purchase) and ongoing projects (the upcoming Beaver Valley Climbing Festival). As further thanks to the participants, we raffled a pile of great prizes. Prize sponsors included Mountain Equipment Co-op, The Toronto Section of the Alpine Club of Canada, Conservation Halton, The Rock Oasis, Columbia Sportswear, Outland Adventure Gear, and Ice Climbing Team Canada. Some lucky winners even walked away with OAC T-shirts!



Conversation Halton has been a decades-long supporter of rock climbing and of the OAC since its inception. Other land managers and conservation authorities in the province look at the model of our great relationship in crafting their own management plans. This annual event is a great way for climbers to give back, and say thank you to Conservation Halton for their continued support. Once again, thanks to climbers for helping out, and we look forward to the 2016 Crag Stewardship Day!