There are a lot of climbers now in the United States, maybe as many as a million. It didn’t seem like there was many climbers not that long ago but now a lot of popular areas are getting overrun with climbers. For instance, Indian Creek Canyon, a sandstone canyon in southeastern Utah that is one of the world’s best crack climbing areas, has seen a 200% increase in visitation in the ten years since 2000. Climbing, once a niche sport, has now become a national craze and our climbing areas are taking a beating.
Climbing Areas Being Damaged
More climbers at the crags means that there is more human impact on fragile climbing areas. Easily accessed cliffs get trashed—parking lots are full; social trails braid across the land to the cliff base; trash like cigarette butts and energy bar wrappers litter staging areas below cliffs; human waste and toilet tissue degrade and smell in the woods; and trampled ground at cliff-bases becomes compacted by feet and denuded of fragile vegetation.
Minimize Climbing Impacts
Climbers need to be aware of their impact on the climbing landscape and do everything possible to minimize that impact. If we as climbers don’t do it, then management agencies like the Forest Service and National Park Service will do it for us by restricting our access to cliffs and climbing areas.
Practice No-Trace Ethic
As climbers, we need to practice a Leave No Trace ethic. We need to commit ourselves to leaving climbing areas and cliffs in as natural a state as possible and ease our temporary passage through the vertical world.
Follow These Guidelines
Follow these simple guidelines from The Access Fund and keep our climbing areas free, unregulated, and natural:
- Aspire to climb without leaving a trace.
- Dispose of human waste properly.
- Use existing trails.
- Be discrete with fixed anchors.
- Respect the rules.
- Park and camp in designated areas.
- Be considerate of other users.
- Respect private property.