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ecocliffchick


Oct 28, 2002, 7:02 AM
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Toronto Star Article

Oct. 28, 01:00 EDT
Climbing raises concerns for nature
OWEN SOUND (CP) — Rock climbers are in a tussle with park wardens over the environmental impact of their sport after rare vegetation was destroyed at one Ontario park over the weekend.

Climbers scraped clean some rocks in one area of the park, which is both an archeological site with known remains of First Nations encampments as well as a place where several rare ferns and other plants thrive in the dense cedar forest.

"I can't imagine anyone thinking this is okay or that it's an activity that we would support in the national park," said Kirk Gibbons, senior park warden at Ontario's Bruce Peninsula National Park. "I wouldn't want this sport to start growing in the national park by any means because it's pretty damaging, that's for sure."

The big limestone rocks at the delicate site are ideal for bouldering, a variation on rock climbing that requires little equipment.

Small indentations and fissures, which climbers clear out with wire brushes, are filled with rare and delicate ferns, small cedars and other vegetation that has taken root and slowly grown for hundreds of years, Gibbons said.

"Those roots up there have just been hacked off," Gibbons said, standing at the base of the rock. "That tree up there could be 500 years old and it's doomed. It's not going to survive."

Banff, Alta.-based climber Paula Zettel admits to some concern about the environmental impact of the growing popularity of all types of sport climbing.

"With increasing numbers of people, it's going to have a lot more impact," she said.

However, she said most climbers would be open to suggestions on how to minimize their impact on the environment.


therelic


Oct 28, 2002, 7:35 AM
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Good post Kathryn!! We are dealing with the same issues in the Pacific Northwest, its just some climbers aren’t aware of it yet. BLM went through the roof when they first found out about expanded development at a local area named Rattlesnake Crag. After the local rare bird expert found out about the development he went forth to tell land managers in the PNW about the new threat to their land and endangered species called “Rock Climbers”.

One of our local problems is a self centered, arrogant attitude among a small minority of climbers. An example of a very dangerous attitude exhibited by a couple of local climbers is they were in a meeting with local land managers while in the meeting all parties agreed to “not print a climbers guide”. After the meeting, in the parking lot of the BLM office two of the climbers agreed with each other to print the guide saying they could always tell the land managers the guide was already in print, Duh. I know this is fact for I was also in the meeting.

Presently some of the climbing areas on the Umpqua River are under review by the Umpqua National Forest and right now it’s anybodies guess how climbers are going to come out on this one. I think all climbers need to be aware of these issues and their impact on the environment, too many of us are still unaware and ignorant.

Bill


[ This Message was edited by: therelic on 2002-10-28 08:25 ]


climblouisiana


Oct 28, 2002, 7:41 AM
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People need to educate themselves before proceeding with any kind of scrubbing or cleaning. Talk with land managers first. Don't be an idiot!


kwmoore


Oct 28, 2002, 4:55 PM
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It frustrates me that it only takes one idiot to brand climbers as environmentally insensitive. In city councils meetings, groups who advocate closing these areas to climbers will latch on to stories like this and paint us all with the same ugly brush. Most climbers I know just love to be outside and understand that they share the beautiful spaces with the things that naturally live there. Obviously, who ever did this thought the ferns were in the way of a kick-ass problem. How do we educate them so they realize the consequences of their actions?


ecocliffchick


Oct 30, 2002, 9:14 AM
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  I'm not sure how to educate the climbing community about route development. Any suggestions would be great. I'm all for keeping access open and for preserving the environment by practicing minimal impact development - but unfortunately some people feel that all the vegetation has to be scrubbed off a boulder in order for it to be fit to be climbed... and with bouldering, EVERYONE can be a route developer - you really don't need much in terms of specialized gear compared to developing sport cliffs.


ecocliffchick


Oct 31, 2002, 9:06 AM
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This response might upset some, but I actually believe that sport climbing may be having less of an impact than trad climbing (at least on the cliff face vegetation communities). I'm going to be researching this for my Master's - and when I've got some results to post, I'll let you all know.

It's not the bolting, it's the cleaning and trampling that's the problem...


eric


Oct 31, 2002, 9:47 AM
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I have to agree, I don't think it's necessarily the bolting that's the problem, although bolting does make a route more accessible, thus increasing traffic. In the long run trad probably causes more wear on the rock 'cause it's not confined. Look at the grooves from cams on routes like Mungenilla in Yosemite.

ecocliffchick (hey, I miss the Albion, is it still there?), I'm very interested in your research. I'm constantly amazed at how much impact we have, both on the routes and on the access to the routes. It would be cool to have a set of basic guidelines on how we can minimize the impact... that may sound silly to some, but it's no more strange than some of the basic rules we take for granted, like don't drop trash on the trail, etc.
The only things I can think of are to treat routes like trails, and to be more concious of access to routes. Stay on the trail/route and confine the impact.
And cleaning/scrubbing is just dumb. Why do people do that? If you can't climb it the way it is, try a different route or stick to the gym.



christopher


Oct 31, 2002, 10:20 AM
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Sounds like the same thing is starting to happen to climbing that happened to skateboarding. A thoughtless few are building a reputation for everyone. Let's start fighting the trend before it comes to slapping "Climbing is Not a Crime" stickers on our gear.

Unfortunately, this is a problem of public perception. Until we get together and build visible counterexamples, we're going to get hammered by BLM and other officials who've only heard the horror stories.

I'm new to climbing, but I'd be interested in joining a group that organized area cleanups, helped reduce impact, worked with local authorities to resolve access issues, etc. I'm sure they're out there, but I'm not sure where to start looking. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

[ This Message was edited by: christopher on 2002-10-31 10:22 ]


hugepedro


Oct 31, 2002, 10:31 AM
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Christopher -

The Access Fund

www.accessfund.org


ecocliffchick


Nov 1, 2002, 9:25 AM
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to khanom - thanks for taking an interest in my research. I think if I can figure out which routes minimize impacts, we can then steer new route development that way. Though bolting may seem to increase traffic, I don't know yet whether it's the first ascentionist or the traffic afterwards that is causing the majority of the impact. You would assume from a scrubbing, cutting and cleaning point of view that it would be the first ascentionist/ route developer causing the most damage. I don't know of too many climbers carrying chainsaws up the route for the redpoint!

And yes the Albion is still alive and thriving!

[ This Message was edited by: ecocliffchick on 2002-11-04 07:35 ]


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