2015 Crag Stewardship Day

Let’s welcome back the spring climbing season once again with the OAC’s annual Crag Stewardship Day held in conjunction with Conservation Halton!

2014 Crag Stewardship Day

Event Details

Saturday, May 2, 9AM
Rattlesnake Point, Upper Pavilion

Please fill out this form to RSVP:
Crag Stewardship Day Signup Form

All volunteers receive:

  • FREE entry to Rattlesnake Point
  • BBQ lunch
  • Entry for epic prize giveaways
  • Cliffs available all afternoon

Bring gardening gloves!

On Saturday, May 2, we will help preserve the environment at one of Ontario’s most popular crags, Rattlesnake Point.

As in previous years, climbers of all abilities have a chance to give back to one of our biggest supporters, Conservation Halton, by helping remove the invasive (yet edible) species garlic mustard. Bring gardening gloves!

Please join us for one of the OAC’s signature outdoor events at 9AM at the Upper Pavilion on May 2, rain or shine.

Conservation Halton will provide free parking permits to Rattlesnake Point for volunteers. The OAC will provide a BBQ lunch and prize draws. Following the lunch, you’re encouraged to hop on the cliffs at Rattlesnake Point, Buffalo Crag, Mount Kelso and Mount Nemo.

2014 Climbers’ Survey

Now that it’s 2015, we would love to hear about your climbing experiences from last year. This year, we are offering a draw for a $50 MEC gift certificate to a randomly-drawn survey participant. Thanks for your help!

CLICK HERE to take the 2014 OAC Survey

By completing the survey you are helping climbing access in the province. The information you provide is used in aggregate to assist the OAC in representing climbers when asking Land Managers to consider how to balance preservation and recreation. Survey data collected from this survey will be kept strictly confidential and the entire survey should take you about five minutes to complete. Your participation is greatly appreciated. Climb safe and tread lightly.

Get Your 2015 ‘Ontario Crags’ Calendar Today!

Peter on Naked Soul The OAC’s ‘Ontario Crags’ calendar for 2015 is now available at Mountain Equipment Coop in Toronto, Barrie, Burlington, aaaaand Ottawa! Highlighting the amazing beauty and variety of climbing in Ontario throughout the seasons, the calendar makes a great gift for any climber on your list or for yourself, and helps support the OAC in the process! Thanks to all the talented and generous photographers & climbers who donated to this annual project, and to you for your purchase!

Above: January photo of Peter Hoang on ‘Naked Soul’ at Papineau Lake, by Bojan Uzicanin

Niagara Glen Permit Poll

A question for bouldering enthusiasts.

If you did not buy a permit for Niagara Glen in 2014, we want to know why.
Your responses will help us inform future discussions with the Niagara Park Commission, so please encourage your climber friends to respond!

I didn’t want to boulder at Niagara Glen this year
I did not know we needed to buy a permit to boulder at Niagara Glen
I did not know where to buy a bouldering permit for Niagara Glen
I think $20 is too much for a permit
I didn’t pay because I feel it’s unfair that the permit system only applies to climbers
Please Specify:

Poll Maker

OAC raises $130k for purchase of Old Baldy Conservation Area

Two year fundraising campaign thrusts OAC into land conservancy movement in partnership with Grey Sauble Conservation Authority.

Kimberley, ON - On October 8, 2014, the Ontario Access Coalition (OAC) presented the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority (GSCA) with a cheque for $130,000 to be used towards the purchase of a land parcel located at the base of Old Baldy Conservation Area in Kimberley, Ontario. This action initiates the OAC as stewards of the land conservancy movement and marks the culmination of a two year fundraising campaign to purchase the land. The partnership between the OAC and the GSCA addresses climbing access to Old Baldy and ensures its protection for future generations of recreational land use.

Old Baldy, the birthplace of the modern style of bolt-protected sport climbing in Ontario, is a historically significant climbing area for climbers. With over 100 rock climbs from beginner to expert, the area has been enjoyed by climbers for over 40 years. It affords expansive views for climbers and hikers over the lands of the Beaver Valley.

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), The Alpine Club of Canada – Toronto Section, OntarioClimbing.com and The Alpine Club of Canada – National demonstrated significant leadership in the community by supporting the OAC regarding this project. Their funding, with the additional support of numerous individual donors from the climbing community, were crucial in raising the necessary funds to make this OAC initiative a reality.

Major funding was provided by:

  • MEC — $100,000
  • The Alpine Club of Canada Toronto Section — $10,000 (plus $1,410 from members)
  • Ontarioclimbing.com — $6,000
  • The Alpine Club of Canada National — $5,000

The OAC especially recognizes the MEC contribution.  MEC has been a partner of the OAC since 2009.  With this donation, MEC continues to demonstrate support for access to recreational lands across Canada, particularly climbing access.  The Ontario climbing community owes a special thanks to MEC for stepping forward early to kick start this initiative with their generous donation.

Additional Partners with the OAC and GSCA who supplied critical funds to finalize this initiative are as follows:

  • The Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC) donated $25,000.  The BTC is a consistent champion of protecting the Niagara Escarpment and has been instrumental in working towards its environmental protection.  Only fifty percent of the 890km Bruce Trail is safe from development; year after year, the BTC raises millions towards conservation.
  • The Nature League donated $2,000.  Several years ago the Nature League funded the current parking area for Old Baldy Conservation Area and continues to show its support through their donation.


The OAC plans to maintain partnerships with the BTC and the Nature League in a continued effort to preserve Escarpment lands from development.

The Old Baldy purchase demonstrates that climber-led groups are capable of raising significant capital to preserve access to Ontario climbing areas; a model that the OAC will continue to adopt. This community-led approach is consistent with an evolving access strategy model that sees access groups purchasing property to preserve lands and make them available for public recreation.

- 30 -


The Ontario Access Coalition is an independent volunteer nonprofit organization working to preserve access to climbing and bouldering areas. The OAC helps to conserve the climbing environment by resolving Ontario climbing access issues by engaging with and educating the climbing community. Our team is committed to and passionate about working with the community, land owners, conservation authorities, and other property managers to educate, mediate and negotiate on behalf of climbers, in order to bring all parties together in a manner that is mutually respectful of one another’s needs. www.ontarioaccesscoalition.com

For images and more information contact info@ontarioaccesscoalition.com


Old Baldy Conservation Area, located near Kimberley, Ontario, is frequented by many outdoor lovers thanks to its trail system and stunning position overlooking the Beaver Valley. Rock climbers can sample over 100 routes from beginner to expert on the beautiful dolostone of the Niagara Escarpment. Old Baldy is a historically significant climbing area for Ontario climbers, who have enjoyed the cliff for over 40 years.

Read more about Old Baldy here: http://www.ontarioaccesscoalition.com/2014/10/20/old-baldy

Old Baldy: an OAC success story

courtesy Mike Penney

courtesy Mike Penney

Old Baldy is an excellent Escarpment cliff with almost 100 rock climbs of varying grades. One of the first cliffs to dry in wet weather, Old Baldy features pocketed limestone sport and trad routes in a beautiful setting looking out over the Beaver Valley. We’re ecstatic to announce that, with the help of our partners and the Ontario rock climbing community, we have secured access to Old Baldy for rock climbing. On this page, you can read about the history of Old Baldy as a climbing area and how we have secured access to it.

Historical Context
The cliffs at Old Baldy are on Grey Sauble Conservation Authority (GSCA) land, near the village of Kimberley. Old Baldy abuts the Bruce Trail and hikers have enjoyed the views for decades. The cliff base, as well as access to the cliff, have been on private land, and the GSCA has historically had an arrangement to permit access to recreational users.

Rock climbing’s recorded history at Old Baldy dates back to a visit by John Kaandorp and Pete Zabrok in 1982. (A pinnacle-top cairn and various documentary evidence indicate that technical climbing occurred even earlier; there are mentions of an outing to “Kimberly Rock” on June 17-18, 1972, led by Dave Read.)

Sport climbing became popular at Old Baldy around 1989. Soon thereafter, the GSCA closed Old Baldy to climbing, as reported in the 1991 Escarpment guidebook. [1] In the mid-90s, the Alpine Club of Canada Toronto Section’s Access Committee and the GSCA negotiated a permit system to allow climbing access. This system was primarily negotiated by the important Ontario climber Judy Barnes. The permit fees covered the cost of administering access to the crag, including the arrangement with the private landowner.

Recent Events

courtesy Mike Penney

courtesy Mike Penney

The 90s-era fixed hardware at Old Baldy has been replaced in the past few years, thanks to an OAC initiative supported by donations by Mountain Equipment Co-Op and local volunteers.

In 2013, the private landowner listed the land adjacent to Old Baldy for sale. This land is key to Old Baldy access; a friendly landowner ensures that access will continue, while an unfriendly landowner would threaten access to the cliff. The GSCA indicated that it would be interested in helping to preserve access to Old Baldy by administering this land, if the OAC could find money to purchase it. Over the next 18 months, we’ve managed to build a coalition of institutional and grassroots donors. Our many supporters have worked hard to make the land transaction a reality. Much thanks!

Gus Alexandropoulos, who runs the ontarioclimbing.com internet forum, organized a climber-focussed fundraising campaign which raised over $6,000. This contribution helped improve the viability of an OAC proposal to Mountain Equipment Co-Op’s Land Acquisition grant program. We gratefully acknowledge MEC’s significant support of $100,000, a capstone donation for this project. The Grey Sauble Conservation Authority and the Bruce Trail Conservancy also made large donations of $25,000 each, along with the Alpine Club of Canada Toronto at $10,000, ACC National at $5,000, and the Nature League at $2,000, which were instrumental in enabling us to complete the transaction.

The Future
The Old Baldy transaction has been made official. What does this mean for you as a climber?

  • GSCA and OAC have agreed (in writing) that rock climbing is a permitted activity on some GSCA lands (e.g. Old Baldy);
  • Going forward, GSCA will own and administer the Old Baldy lands.

Enjoy the rock!

See also: Old Baldy Press Release

[1] “Unfortunately, the cliff has been closed to climbing, as both the private landowner and Grey Sauble Conservation Authority have refused to grant climbers permission to use their property. Please respect their decision, and climb at the other cliffs in the area where access is not a problem.” p138, Escarpment: A Climbers’ Guide

September 2014 Crag Status Document

We are pleased to release a new edition of the Crag Status Document [download PDF]. Use it to find out about the access status of crags in Ontario. New in this version: short area descriptions and Google Maps links for the crags. It includes information about crags in Niagara, Milton, Beaver Valley, Bruce Peninsula, Eastern Ontario and Lake Superior. Happy climbing!

Beaver Valley Climbing Festival

sport climbing “You are adventurers, you are people who have love for the earth, and so we have more common ground than we would think” – words of Gaisheda Kheawok from Whispering Song Teaching Lodge during the Beaver Valley Climbing Festival’s opening ceremony at Metcalfe Rock. “The earth has a consciousness, and it is talking to you, which is why you came here. It speaks to you and soothes your soul in every way that is right for you. That is really the alchemy of the earth’s consciousness and your consciousness. It is a conversation.” Kheawok’s blessing left everyone feeling high-spirited and gallant for the day’s journey.

Picture 1 The festival, now in its second year, had a large turnout of climbers, curious non-climbers, families and friends. Envisioned and organized by local companies, Free Spirit Tours and On The Rocks, the festival was an amazing success, raising over $6000 to support current and upcoming OAC projects, such as a proposed climber’s parking lot at Devil’s Glen. An even greater success of the event was uniting climbers with land managers and local businesses – a rare opportunity to celebrate the beauty of the Beaver Valley together.

Women's Clinic Rock climbing may have been the reason we all gathered together, but it was not the only activity featured in the festival. Throughout the day, alternative activities such as caving, rappelling, and slack-lining were popular, as were the yoga sessions led by Two the Core and the bike demos by Ride Guides. The family-friendly festival offered lots of fun for the young adventurers in attendance with a scavenger hunt, a Kids Survival Camp, and face painting. Of course, being a climbing festival there was plenty of climbing happening – beginner clinics, a training and nutrition session by At Last Adventures, climbing comps, and the Women’s Rock Star clinic put on by festival organizer Leslie Timms.

Picture 3 Metcalfe’s bridge area acted as the central hub for the day’s events. Participants gathered here before venturing out for their clinics. Representatives from the OAC and the Alpine Club of Canada answered questions about climbing and access.

Massage The bridge’s most popular spot was with Sonya Lee Reimer, the massage therapist from Living in Balance. Offering massages at just a dollar a minute it is easy to see why she was fully booked all day, with all the proceeds being donated to the OAC!

Picture 4 The festival volunteers were easy to approach and very personable; the whole atmosphere of the event was warm and welcoming. And the day ran without a hitch, which is a testament to the great organization, energy and commitment put in by everyone involved.

Picture 6 The aerial silk performance by Aerial Silks Collingwood wowed the audience, and wrapped up the activities at Metcalfe Rock. The festival continued at Rob Roy Dogsled Farm with live music and food catered by The Flying Chestnut (a very climber friendly establishment located in Eugenia). Activities continued into the night with the G6 Rock Climbing pull-up competition, and the Canadian National Ice Climbing Team’s figure-4 challenge, which not only raised $155 for the OAC but also created awareness for competition climbing in Canada. It is safe to say that everyone who participated had a great time!

Thank you On The Rocks Climbing and Free Spirit Tours for organizing such a wonderful event in support of the OAC. Thank you to all the sponsors and to those who have put a lot of time and energy into making this amazing festival a reality.

-written by Elli Levene and Justin Dwyer
-photos by Elli Levene and Dennis Barnes


The OAC is calling on photographers to submit their best photos of Ontario crags for the annual Ontario Crags Calendar!

Amateur and professional photographers will have a chance to be featured in the 2015 calendar and win a rope! To enter the OAC 2015 calendar photo contest, post your best photos on the Ontario Access Coalition Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ontario.climbing) or on Twitter (@OACclimbing) by Sept. 24, 2014. All Facebook and Twitter entries should include the hashtag #OACcalendar.

Please submit photos with landscape orientation (i.e. horizontal) and of climbers at Ontario crags. We aim to highlight the wide variety of climbing that Ontario has to offer, i.e. ICE, SPORT, TRAD and BOULDERING and as many different crags and different times of year as possible.

Submit your photos before Sept. 24 to be eligible to win. Three finalists will be chosen by the OAC board of directors for an online public vote. From Sept. 24 to Oct. 1, OAC followers will be invited to “like” their favourite photo in an online Facebook gallery; the photo with the most likes will be awarded the grand prize.

All photo submissions will be considered for the 2015 Ontario Crags Calendar. If yours is selected, it will be credited and you will be gifted a free 2015 calendar!

Share your photos and help raise awareness and funds in support of the Ontario Access Coalition!

Click OAC 2015 Calendar Photo Contest Rules for contest’s official rules.

ACCESS SENDS 2013/2014


Old Baldy With support of MEC, the Alpine Club of Canada Toronto Section and numerous donors, the OAC has raised 185K towards ongoing efforts to purchase land at the base of Old Baldy Conservation Area. This purchase is vital to maintaining access to one of Ontario’s premiere climbing areas.
Devil’s Glen The OAC submitted a complete Climbing Management Proposal to the MNR and the Wasaga Beach Conservation Authority. The proposal included evacuation routes, trail maintenance, signage as well as planning for a new parking area. The report was received with positive reactions. The OAC will continue to work with the relevant parties towards finalized access to Devils Glen.
The Swamp OAC/MNR walkthroughs have begun at The Swamp within the Kolapore Uplands. Assessment of the area will include a complete Environmental Study which is being funded by the OAC. This action will ensure long-term sustainability and provide clarity towards a working access plan for The Swamp.
Niagara Glen Niagara Parks Commission has expressed that the permit system is working well and encourages boulderers to purchase their permits if they have not already done so for the 2014 season.


The Ontario Access Coalition hosted the second installment of our `Discussion Series’ on Saturday, November 23 at Grand River Rocks in Kitchener! Participants included the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority. The event opened positive discussions between climbers and land managers, with the goal of providing accurate, up-to-date information regarding climbing outdoors in Ontario.

Jennie Elmslie (Free Spirit Tours) and Leslie Timms (On The Rocks Climbing) organized Ontario’s first climbing festival in late August and raised $4500 for the Ontario Access Coalition! Thanks to Jennie and Leslie for their hard work and to all sponsors, particularly the major sponsors Joe Rockheads and Boulderz.

We continue to sell calendars highlighting Ontario climbing; proceeds go to the OAC to support access.


Bruce Peninsula
On June 13, the OAC gave a presentation to the Bruce County Council’s Agriculture, Tourism, and Planning Committee, with the goal of educating and gaining support from the local community for climbing in the county. Bruce County contains all crags from Owen Sound to Tobermory including Lion’s Head, Cape Croker, Halfway Log Dump and others. The OAC presentation shared information about existing climbing tourism, environmental sustainability and the economic impact of climbing on local communities in the Bruce. As a result, the Bruce Peninsula now allows for the use of climbing in tourism promotion for the region, helping to ensure that climbing tourism, an important source of revenue for local communities is recognized and promoted.

The OAC participated at this year’s Niagara Escarpment Leading Edge Conference. The Niagara Escarpment Commission hosted the conference in partnership with the Ontario Professional Planners Institute. The NEPDA (Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act) aims, in part, to provide for outdoor recreation. Stakeholders at the event included the Niagara Escarpment Commission, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario Parks, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and Parks Canada. Presentations and panel discussions ranged from how to revitalize quarry sites to the intangible values of Escarpment lands.

“Rock climbing research and management in the 21st century: Where are we headed now?” Research roundtable discussion at the 2013 Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium, Cooperstown, New York. This was a roundtable research discussion led by OAC volunteer and Brock University Associate Professor, Garrett Hutson, to discuss best practices and challenges in climbing management. Other attendees included Dave Smaldone from West Virginia University, who is involved with cliff face research at the New River Gorge, and Aram Attarian from North Carolina State University, who is the author of climbing management literature for the Access Fund in the United States.

Public Events
The OAC had representation at the “Naturally in the Glen” public outreach day at the Niagara Glen Nature Reserve to join other recreation and naturalists groups to connect with the public and promote sustainable use of the Niagara Glen, the Reel Rock festival, and a workshop by the Ministry of Natural Resources for Boards of Directors of fundraising nonprofits.

Annual Crag Ambassador Day held in early May: OAC volunteers helped fight off the invasion of Garlic Mustard. This event, run by the OAC and Conservation Halton, improves climbers’ visibility at some of our most popular crags.