Photo Contest: OAC 2016 crags calendar


Credit: Photographer Corey Rich by

The Ontario Access Coalition (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 2016 calendar and to win a $100 MEC gift card! To enter the OAC 2016 calendar photo contest, post your best photos (landscape orientation) on the Ontario Access Coalition Facebook page or on Twitter by Sept. 25, 2015. All Facebook and Twitter entries should include the hashtag #OACcalendar.

Only photos with landscape orientation (i.e. horizontal) of climbers at Ontario crags will be considered – this is due to the measurement specs of the calendar. Wide-angle shots are preferred as the goal of the calendar is to highlight the beauty of our crags and the wide variety of climbing that Ontario has to offer, i.e. ICE, SPORT, TRAD and BOULDERING at various points in the year.

Submit your photos before Sept. 25 to be eligible to win. Three finalists will be chosen by the OAC board of directors for an online public vote. From Sept. 25 to Oct. 2, 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 2016 Ontario Crags Calendar. If one of your photos makes the cut, it will be credited and you will be gifted a free calendar.

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

Thinking of entering? Here are the OAC 2016 Calendar Photo Contest Rules.

Position on Niagara Parks Commission Enforcement

By Garrett Hutson, writing on behalf of the OAC Board.

The OAC was recently alerted to presence of police officers in the Niagara Glen asking to see bouldering permits as part of their efforts to increase monitoring at the Glen. The OAC is also aware of an email exchange between the NPC and a Glen boulderer who expressed concern about Glen permits on Facebook. This message provides additional context given the attention this exchange has received.

The argument against having a permit only for boulderers makes sense and the OAC appreciates why this is frustrating for many within the climbing community. However, the Glen is a unique climbing resource and the OAC continues to support the use of bouldering permits at the Glen for the following reasons:

1. The permit system at the Glen is a product of serious consideration within the NPC to ban bouldering beginning around 7 years ago due to negative environmental impacts to the area by all user groups. As a response, many climbers at the time suggested the use of a permit to formalize bouldering as a sanctioned activity within the park for a small fee. To some degree, developing a fee-based permit system was an idea by climbers for climbers and the NPC agreed that this was a positive way forward. Since the launch of the permit system, the NPC has been very friendly to boulderers who do not hold permits and only reminds them to purchase one, which is what they’re currently doing. The NPC has made no indication to the OAC that they plan to do anything further at this point in terms of enforcement.

2. The issue of fairness regarding who has to pay at the Glen is worth talking about. Yes, it seems unfair that climbers pay and no one else does at the Glen. However, as reported by the NPC, monies generated from the permit system are used for trail work, maintenance, and help pay for additional insurance costs required as a result of bouldering being a sanctioned park activity. Every year since its inception, bouldering permit purchases have gone up, which means more boulderers utilize the resource, have more impact, and create more risk for the NPC to take on. While the OAC will continue to bring this concern to the NPC, it is worth reiterating that the NPC is a self-financed entity. From the OAC’s understanding, the NPC has the full right to charge a fee for any activity they choose on any of their properties for any reason. The NPC has deemed certain activities to be free like hiking, while others have an associated fee like bouldering or parking in certain areas. Is it a perfectly fair system? Probably not – but no system is, and this one has worked out in a way that has kept bouldering open for a small fee not unlike other fees that climbers pay at other locations. This is a unique situation compared to other climbing areas and is part of the framework the OAC negotiates within when discussing bouldering with the NPC.

3. The issue of vandals and others degrading the Glen environment has always been a frustrating reality for boulderers and the NPC. This is a larger issue that the NPC continues to deal with and is part of the reason they report an increased presence at the Glen. The bottom line is that the Niagara Glen sits within one of the most densely populated regions in North America inside of one of the most visited cities in Canada. It sees a lot of visitors and many of them have complete disregard for the Glen’s sensitive and beautiful natural surroundings that most boulderers love so much. This is a fact of life for many urban parks. The OAC acknowledges the complexity of park management and feels the NPC is doing the best they can given the resources currently at their disposal. Further, and as the NPC highlighted, there are past examples of boulderers behaving poorly at the Glen including the development of social trails, climbing in closed areas, illegal placement of bolts, playing loud music, and congregating in large groups. While those examples are limited in number, the NPC has made note of them. Please remember to remind other boulderers to adhere to leave no trace practices if any of these activities are observed.

In summary, the OAC has built, actively maintains, and is grateful for the positive relationship it has with the NPC. The OAC is extremely happy that the Glen remains open to bouldering with the permit system in place. The OAC will also continue to bring the concerns of the climbing community to the attention of the NPC in the future including the bouldering permit system.

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 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 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 The video features OAC volunteer Garrett Hutson and OAC co-chair Tony Berlier. The video and article can be found here:
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 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 ( ).

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 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