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Rock Climbing Stewardship

Rock Climbing in Colorado
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Rock Climbing Stewardship

Stewardship: the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving.

    Rock climbing has exploded in popularity over the past several years and a lot of people are climbing every year. 7.7 million people to be exact and the sport continues to see about a 10% growth every year. I find it phenomenal that so many people are discovering the sport I love myself. It provides a physical workout, a mental challenge, and even throws in a dash of danger. And I can experience all of that while hanging out with my friends! No wonder the sport of rock climbing has become so popular.

     And of all those millions of climbers, about half partake in outdoor climbing on real rock. Rock climbing outdoors takes those alluring aspects and adds in fresh air and spectacular scenery. Actually, it ticks off pretty much every reason people pursue outdoor recreation according to this report by the Outdoor Foundation. The gym closures and limited capacity due to the Covid-19 epidemic have also increased those seeking an outdoor activity. We are so lucky to have access to these places but unlike an indoor climbing gym who has cleaning crews, bathrooms, and easily fixable features, our local crags don’t. Plus their is wildlife that lives in these outdoor spaces full time. So when outdoor climbing, we need to put in some extra effort to make sure our recreation is sustainable and enjoyable for everyone.

Outdoor Rock Climber

 

Things That We Do

   At Denver Climbing Company, we understand that rock climbing guiding does have an impact on outdoor areas. That’s why stewardship is out top priority. We want to make sure the sport is sustainable for us and others enjoying the local Denver crags. Here are some of the ways we make that happen:

  • We follow all Leave No Trace principles.
  • We teach each one of our clients these principles and also educate on how they can help further.
  • We volunteer our time to help upkeep our crags.
  • We donate substantially to local non-profits with the stewardship mission.

Things You Can Do at the Crag

   I’ll talk more later about how you can support local organizations but first let’s discuss some simple things you can do at the crag to keep it nice for yourself and others.

  1. Dispose of All Waste
    • Leave No Trace goes into great detail on ways to properly dispose of waste, both trash and human excrement. I highly recommend checking out their articles. But I see people all the time who know these rules but forget to bring the proper tools to make it happen. So plan ahead of time. And don’t forget your dog poo bags either.
  2. Stay on the Trails
    • Cutting through the switchback may save you a few seconds but causes erosion and kills the local plant life. Having to fix these problems absorbs a lot of resources that could go to other projects. Help us out by taking the few extra seconds to walk the trail.
  3. Learn the Local Ethics for Fixed Hardware
    • According to the Boulder Climbing Community, replacing a bolt costs them about $60 after you consider labor and other expenses. I’ll let you do the math on how much replacing a crag would cost. So we want to keep this hardware usable for as long as possible. Top roping directly through the fixed hardware cuts through the metal over time, even steel. I see nice big steel hooks with grooves forming all around Denver. We want to keep these pieces for cleaning and lowering procedures. So add your own anchor to the bolts. On the Front Range of Colorado, we welcome people to lower through the fixed hardware to lessen the accidents that happen through rappelling. But throw up your quad if your TRing.

 

Rock Climbing Stewardship

Other Ways to Give Back

    There are national non-profits, like the Access Fund, who fight for the climbing community in a variety of ways. They help maintain our crags, purchase land to keep areas open, lobby government for public land improvements, educate climbers on important topics, start discussions on diversity and more. You can donate money either as a one-off or become a member. This is a great way to help our climbing community while also staying informed of the topics effecting our sport.

    Popular climbing destinations, like Denver, usually also have a climbers coalition, a group of locals who teamed up to help out with our crags. The main one around Denver is the Boulder Climbing Community. If you’ve climbed around Denver, you’ve likely hung on their bolt replacements and walked on their trail repairs. They humbly work in the shadows making our areas more enjoyable and safe for all of us. You can donate, become a member, or even volunteer.  They hold events throughout the year where climbers can socialize while also giving back to the local climbing areas. And as a volunteer, you can help fix trails and replace bolts. Helping out these non-profits is a great way to help out the climbing areas we all cherish.

 

Garden of the Gods Rock Climbing

The Future of Outdoor Climbing

   More and more people will realize the physical and mental benefits of rock climbing just like I did. Our crags will continue to get more popular. This is a great thing as we can all share in the collective experience of rock climbing. But also with these increased numbers, we need to continually be vigilant of our impact to keep our sport sustainable for those into the future. And we can start with picking up after ourselves, staying on the trails, and giving back in some way. Join Denver Climbing Company in our mission of sustainability through stewardship. We are excited to share the crags with everyone and look forward to help taking care of them alongside you.

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