Ontario’s Joe Skopec
This year promises to be the busiest at Canada’s crags. Climbing is booming with new gyms across the country, new school programs and entry into the Olympics. This is the year for climbers to become the best climbers they can be. Being a good climber is about more than sending hard things, it’s about being a positive part of the community of Canadian crag-goers.
Chances are high that you’re planning to travel somewhere this summer for rock climbing, whether it’s for a weekend or a month. There are two types of climbers when they travel: those who plan and pay and those who go on a whim and dirtbag, both are cool. Whichever type you are, be sure that you respect the rules of the area you’re travelling too. At some areas in Quebec, such as Weir, you need to pay a day rate. Some crags’ access, such as Crag X in Ontario are closed and others such as Lion’s Head’s are just tolerated, so tread lightly. There are strict parking rules at some Alberta crags such as Echo Canyon, so park where you won’t threaten access. Bird closures exist at many areas in Canada, such as on The Chief in Squamish. Check the local access boards and social media to find a list of seasonal rules.
Crags are sensitive areas, they’re not indoor climbing gyms. Less is more, so leave the music at home, don’t bring hyper dogs and clean up after yourself. Don’t leave wrappers, roaches or fruit peels in the outdoors. Don’t smoke at a busy crag (not everyone is keen) and don’t bring booze to the base of climbs. Tread lightly and use your common sense. Don’t be the annoyingly loud bolt-to-bolter who kills the buzz. And don’t hog routes, get your lap in and move on and please clean your tick marks.
Be safe this year. Check your gear, and knot and wear a helmet. Practice good communication. Study the topo, and bring the right number of quickdraws and cams. Call other climbers out if they’re being sketchy. Feel good about backing off a dangerous move. It’s better to be a live chicken than a dead hero. Don’t send newbies on lead until they know what they’re doing. Know how to make an anchor before leading. If you’re a new climber, don’t be pressured to do something you’re uncomfortable with.
Use your social media to hype others, areas, climbs and your sends. Don’t use social media to be a poser. Just because you’re having a good day at the crag doesn’t mean that everyone is, so use that stoke to encourage others. Give good bouldering spots, protect multi-pitch traverses, stay roped up on glaciers and don’t free-solo just because you watched Free Solo. Buy guidebooks, make new friends and be the best climber you can be. And if you send hard things, bonus.