Seeking Halfway Log Dump Site Hosts for 2017

Are you a boulderer who is looking for a way to help the OAC keep Ontario bouldering areas open? This is your chance to help! Enjoy time at one of Ontario’s premier bouldering crags while giving back to the community by becoming a site host at Halfway Log Dump!

Tyler Janzen bouldering, photo: Anne Tong

Tyler Janzen bouldering, photo: Anne Tong.

The OAC and Bruce Peninsula National Park are looking for help from the climbing community in the form of volunteer weekend Site Hosts. Site Hosts, like Camp Hosts, act as stewards and caretakers for the area. The Site Host program has been a huge success since its launch in 2010. The OAC and the Park are once again looking again for volunteers for 2017. If you would like to help access efforts and become a Site Host for a weekend, please fill out the form below:

OAC 2017 site host application form

What does a Site Host do?

I think of Site Hosts as being like the friendly guy/girl at the gym. Site hosts act as ambassadors for Halfway Log Dump. They ensure everyone is having a good time, communicate the rules that are in place, point out the endangered Lakeside Daisy (“see it right over there?”), explain bouldering to curious tourists and, of course, know all the beta on every problem ;). These honoured volunteers will receive free camping! (as available), and pre-paid parking at the park. This is all courtesy of Bruce Peninsula National Park as a thanks to volunteers.

Who makes a good site host?

If you like to boulder outside, can get yourself to the Bruce Peninsula, and are interested in helping maintain climbing access in Ontario, you will be a great site host! Even if you’re not an outdoor boulderer, you can still be a site host—one year, we had a host on crutches!

I would like to help, but I have never been to Halfway Log Dump. Can I still volunteer as a site host?

It might be your first visit or your 101st visit to Halfway Log Dump. This honour is still open to you. We can tell you what you need to know. It’s not hard. You can put it on your resume and land that promotion you’ve been after.

For an up-to date look at Halfway, Joe Ho’s beautiful new guidebook is available for purchase at your local climbing gym, MEC store, or online through the Ontario Climbing Guidebook Shop.

Ontario Climbing interview about Joe Ho guidebook
Buy Joe Ho guidebook through Ontario Climbing Shop

An older guide for Halfway Log Dump is also available for free from the OAC. If you download this guide we hope that you will take the time to become an OAC member, or make a donation if you are already a member.

HWLD Interpretive Bouldering guidebook

Yeah, but, if I go there I want to focus on climbing

The time commitment of site hosts at the boulders is minimal and can easily be incorporated into a regular day at the crag. You will be walking by other boulderers and they will be walking by you. In talking to other boulderers, you may discover that they know something you don’t. You could learn about the latest lines, new beta, local weather, best dining, local plants, or a shortcut home.

A big thanks to those of you who apply!

Annual OAC Survey now open for 2016

Please help the OAC by telling us about your climbing from last year. The survey is our key source of information about climber demographics and spending. This information improves our bargaining position when we negotiate with land managers.

We will hold a drawing on May 2 for a $50 MEC gift certificate. Thank you for your support!

2017 Garlic Mustard Pull

2017 Garlic Mustard Pull Banner

Help us preserve the environment and fight invasive species at one of Ontario’s most popular crags, Rattlesnake Point. Join us at the OAC’s annual weed pull and garbage pickup, held in conjunction with Conservation Halton!

All volunteers receive:

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

Sign up at our Facebook event!

Want to spread the word? Please post the flier where other climbers might see it: 2017 Garlic Mustard Pull Flyer

We need your help! Beaver Valley Climbing Festival 2017 volunteers

It’s not too soon to think about summer and outdoor rock climbing! We are looking for your help in making the 2017 Beaver Valley Climbing Festival happen.

Volunteers will receive free stay, food, and admiration from all. We are looking for people to help organize the event as well as day-of volunteers.

Please send us email at to help us bring together the community.

Thanks to the Ontario climbing community: plan amendments win

Late last year, we asked climbers to write to the Niagara Escarpment Commission about potential changes to the Niagara Escarpment Plan which would severely restrict climbing access. Thanks for all your support during the recent Niagara Escarpment Plan consultation. We believe that it made a difference in the final Staff Recommendations, which came out in December. Here’s an update about the Plan amendment process.

This January, the OAC confirmed that the Proposed Plan includes amendments clarifying that climbing may continue in areas where there is a history of climbing. It should be noted that climbing may continue. It is thus vitally important that climbers, like all user groups, continue to act responsibly.

Climbing will continue to be allowed in a Nature Reserve where it is an existing use, and is generally allowed outside of Nature Reserves, subject to management plans.

This represents a significant win for the climbing community and stands as an example of what we can accomplish when we come together as a community. While this recommendation is less than we asked for, it is something that we can live with. We at the OAC currently believe that this will not affect climbing at some of our highest-profile areas like Lion’s Head. We will continue to advocate for climbing access throughout Ontario. The OAC will be calling on the climbing community shortly in an effort to address long-held climbing closures in Provincial Parks.

The staff report specifically mention your advocacy:

“Numerous comments received from individuals and rock climbing organizations concerned that proposed policies will restrict opportunities for rock climbing which is a tourism opportunity. They state that there is no indication that the activity causes environmental harm. They propose that rock climbing be allowed to continue where a history of climbing activity has taken place and support preparation of climbing management plans.”

It lists the consideration:

“Where rock climbing can be identified as an existing use as defined in the [Niagara Escarpment Plan], it may be allowed to continue in NEPOSS.”

You can find the recommendations on page 43 of the following PDF document:

Get involved, stay informed, and climb safe.

(photo credit: Mike Penney)

Next steps for climbing access in Ontario

This past October, the OAC launched a campaign to address proposed closures to Ontario climbing in the new Niagara Escarpment Plan. It is unclear when we will learn the outcome of our community’s efforts. It is vitally important that we as a climbing community continue to pressure relevant management bodies to recognize rock climbing as a legitimate conforming activity.


Rock climbing in Canada is growing at an incredible rate. The current ban on rock climbing in Ontario Provincial Parks (with the exception of Bon Echo) is placing increased pressure on existing areas. Additional closures to public lands on the Bruce Peninsula and Devil’s Glen will further increase impact at remaining climbing sites. While every other province in Canada with significant climbing opportunities works with their local climbing community, Ontario instead proposes blanket closures, a unique approach.

In January 2017 the OAC will be issuing a CALL TO ACTION. Details will be provided at that time. It is vital that every climber get involved regardless of ability, style of climbing, or experience. We as a community must continue to push for our right to enjoy climbing on public lands.

Ancient Cedars and New Perspectives

Turtle Island book cover

Heart of Turtle Island: The Great Escarpment

I have long said that climbers are lucky to be able to visit the cliffside environment. And never is this more evident than when a non-climber gets to see what we see. The expression of joy on their faces helps remind me that our climbing areas are truly special. Recently, I was contacted through the OAC and Conservation Halton to help a world-renowned photographer access the cliffside at Mount Nemo. Mark Zelinksi is currently working on a book about the Niagara Escarpment and wanted some photographs of ancient cedars to complete the project.

Throughout the day, as we searched for and photographed ancient cedars, we crossed paths with numerous hikers at Mount Nemo. They were enjoying a stroll through the forest on a beautiful autumn day. Occasionally they would stop at the many lookout points along the top of the cliff and take in the vista-of-humanity in the valley below—farms, golf courses, and cities—unaware of the ancient world below their feet. An ancient world that Mark hopes to capture and showcase for everybody to see. His work aims to preserve this ancient world in images and words.

I’ve been philosophically wrestling with human impact these days. The conservation versus enjoyment trade-off hangs heavy in my mind. What is that balance between preservation and being able to experience what we are preserving? Is it even meant for us to experience, to enjoy? Does the old environmentalist adage of “leave no trace, take only photographs” still fit with the current, and growing, usage of our parks and natural spaces? We can’t pretend that we have no impact when using these trails. While these trails are created to preserve the environment, they are still highways for humanity into previously natural areas; every footstep a micro-construction site of steamroller compaction and bulldozer erosion. In a world where everyone has a device capable of professional-quality photographs, does a picture of an ancient cedar inspire us to preserve the space, or does it inspire us to go take a selfie with the tree?

Climbers have long been the scapegoat of Escarpment conservation. As we are the only user group on the side of the cliff, we are an easy target. That cliffside ecosystem is ancient–one of the few undisturbed ancient worlds left on Earth. Climbers need to recognize that it isn’t a playground or a climbing gym. We need to educate ourselves on what is being protected, and to try to co-exist with it. It seems the more time we spend in the cliffside environment, the more we are desensitized to its uniqueness and beauty. Mark’s excitement over seeing the amazingly sculpted ancient trees reminded me how lucky we are as climbers to experience this cliffside environment. But it isn’t just the ancient trees, it’s the whole ecosystem that the cliffside supports, itself supported by the trees.

Next time you’re out climbing, open your eyes to the world around you and ask questions. “What’s this plant?” “What’s that tree?” “What type of bird is singing that song?” In doing so, we can deepen our relationship with the natural world. And a deeper relationship will help us remember how special our time is when spent in this space.

Mark’s book, Heart Of Turtle Island: The Great Escarpment, is expected to be released in October 2017. It should be required reading for Escarpment climbers, as the words and images contained within will guide us to deepen our appreciation for our local crags.

Written by Justin Dwyer

MEC Staff Choice Community Grant

MEC Mountain Equipment Co-Op‘s ongoing support has been instrumental in funding our operations. Their contributions free us to focus on our core competence, advocating for Ontario access, confident that we have money for ongoing operations.

We’re grateful that the staff at MEC Burlington have chosen to award the OAC $500 as part of their Staff Choice Community Grant program!

Get your Ontario Crags 2017 Calendar now!

The Ontario Crags 2017 calendar is available now at MEC stores across Ontario! Don’t miss out on our best collection of photos yet! Featuring 12 different crags, plus a bonus centrefold poster of Lion’s Head, this calendar is a reminder of just how much great rock and ice this province has to offer. Get yours (and a gift for a friend) today! A HUGE thanks to our contributing photographers. We thank you in advance for supporting the OAC through this purchase!


Help with Bon Echo hut renovations!

Bon Echo Provincial Park is one of Southern Ontario’s only multi-pitch trad climbing destinations. The Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) Toronto Section maintains a hut on an incredible piece of land just outside the park boundary. Accessible by boat only, the setting is both isolated and beautiful. As with all fifty year old structures, the hut cabin is in need of renovations to help preserve the hut for future generations. Use of this property is open to all ACC and non ACC members at very fair pricing.

If you are not an ACC member, we would encourage you to consider joining the ACC. Climbers of all abilities and interests (bouldering, sport climbing, trad climbing, and skiing) can benefit from ACC trips and programs.

Also, the ACC Toronto Section donated over $11,000 and the ACC National Section donated $500 towards the land purchase of Old Baldy securing access for all climbers in the climbing community. Here is your opportunity to get involved and give a little back.

We are asking all to support the project of renovating the Bon Echo hut. No donation is too small or too big. If you haven’t had the pleasure of climbing at this unique area, Bon Echo definitely needs to
go on your list.

Tax deductible donations may be made by going to and clicking on the donations button. For more information, contact