Getting Outside: Tread Lightly

Concentrated use of the land is a serious threat to our delicate forest habitats. Many different species of plants and animals inhabit our favourite climbing and camping spots. It is important to tread lightly to preserve these areas so that everyone can continue to enjoy the natural environment. Respect other users, respect wildlife and ecology, and always honour closures — they are in place to protect this unique environment and its inhabitants.

Below are some guidelines developed by the Access Fund that will help keep your climbing activities access-friendly:

Respect Other Users

Be considerate of other climbers and non-climbers every time you go climbing.

Parking and Camping

Know where you are allowed to park and camp at each area and follow the rules. Poor parking and camping practices can raise the alarm for land owners, managers, and locals.

Place Gear and Pads Properly

Avoid placing gear and pads directly on vegetation or on exposed roots of trees.

In Ontario, do not use ancient cedars as part of your anchors.

Place gear on durable surfaces such as rocks or highly impacted zones close to the base of the cliff.

Avoid placing gear and pads at the edge of the impact zone and vegetation zone. Over time this will increase the size of the impacted zone.

Keep a Low Profile

Avoid blaring music at outdoor climbing areas.

Take steps to minimize group size.

Keep your gear and personal belongings organized and contained.

5 Tips for Climbing in Groups

Respect Closures

Avoid climbing in areas that are closed for cultural significance, private property or other reasons as designated by land managers. If you have questions about closures, contact the OAC for more information.

Be an Upstander, Not a Bystander

Lead by example and put these guidelines into practice each time you go climbing.

Give back to climbing in a way that is authentic to you.

Steer others toward responsible future behaviors using a positive tone that connects negative behaviors to ecological or social impacts.

Dispose of Waste Properly

The best practice to minimize impact is to use a toilet before you go climbing. Failing that, pack out human waste, toilet paper, and feminine products using RESTOPs or Go Anywhere Toilet Kit bags (available at your local outdoor retailer), or other methods.

Digging cat holes is marginally acceptable at more isolated Ontario climbing areas without nearby facilities (for example, not at Rattlesnake Point or at Mount Nemo) and is strictly an emergency option. However, increased numbers of climbers visiting outdoor climbing areas make this practice highly undesirable. Use the toilet before getting there, or pack it out, to have the least impact.

Human Waste Disposal for Climbers (JPG)

Leave No Trace Principle 3: Dispose of Waste Properly

Stay on Established Trails

Stay on established trails and climbers’ trails whenever possible.

Avoid trail cutting or use of social trails.

When traveling cross country, strive to minimize your impact as much as possible.

Clean Up Chalk

Brush off tick marks and extra chalk after each session.

Brushes can damage the rock—use the appropriate brush for the type of rock you are climbing.

Clean up loose chalk spilled on the ground.

Pack Out Trash & Gear

Pack out all trash, especially micro-trash like tape, food wrappers, etc., even if it isn’t yours.

Avoid stashing crash pads and gear. Carry them out after each session.

Link: How Long Will It Last?