You might be surprised to learn that the biggest environmental and social impacts at climbing areas are not caused by blatant misbehavior, but by the often overlooked and unintentional impacts of visiting climbers.
Those tiny little scraps of finger tape, tip ends of energy bar wrappers, fruit peels, nutshells, cigarette butts and similar “micro” garbage are among the biggest contributors to unsightly crags. Did you know that it can take up to two years for an orange peel to biodegrade? Be conscious of the little bits you’re unintentionally dropping, and pack them out. Learn more about the decomposition rates of common climbing trash.
Human waste is becoming an increasing (and disgusting) issue at popular climbing areas around the country. In some areas, it’s impossible to walk to the crag without stepping in land mines and getting a not-so-scenic view of TP flowers. It’s best practice to pack out your poop and TP using a waste disposal bag, like Restop. Learn more about how to manage your human waste.
Chalk spills and tick marks may seem like minor impacts, but they leave unsightly visual evidence of climbing activity and do not go unnoticed by land managers and other visitors. If you spill chalk, clean it up. And invest in a brush to remove tick marks and built-up chalk on holds. In some cases, land managers have shut down climbing access due to overuse of chalk. Learn more about how to use less chalk.
Spreading your gear out at the base of the crag can cause soil compaction, trampled vegetation and eventually damaging erosion. Contain your gear as much as possible and place your stuff on durable surfaces to preserve native plant life. Learn more about how to tread lightly with your gear.
It’s someone else’s job to clean up climbing areas, right? Wrong. The responsibility for the care and conservation of our crags lies directly on our shoulders. To do your part, follow the advice above, spread the word and remind other climbers to pick up after themselves, and volunteer a few hours at your local Adopt a Crag.
The future of climbing access depends on us—the strong, passionate tribe of climbers who are committed to caring for our treasured climbing areas. If you haven’t already done so, commit to The ROCK Project Pact, a promise to your climbing peers that you’ll act in a way that protects our outdoor landscapes.