Register for the OAC Virtual AGM, and Vote in the Board of Directors Election

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Our annual board election will take place during our Virtual AGM on Monday, August 17th! Register now, and be sure to attend in order to cast your votes.

Registration is required in advance in order to keep the event secure. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Click Here to Register.

Up for election at this year’s AGM are the following candidates:

Patrick Lam
Patrick Lam – Patrick has supported the OAC since its inception, becoming a director in 2013. One of Patrick’s main goals is to improve the lines of communication between the OAC and the climbing community. Patrick has been climbing for 8 years, 4 in Ontario. He enjoys sport, trad, multi-pitch and mountaineering.
Randy Kielbasiewicz – Randy has been part of the OAC since 2012 and Co-Chair since 2014. He has been climbing for 35 years in all seasons, enjoying all forms of climbing. Randy’s focus has been working on specific projects with land managers in the Beaver Valley and Conservation Halton.
Mike Makischuk – Mike became involved with the OAC in 2017. Working to bring the local climbing community together and educate them about what the OAC means is strongly one of Mike’s goals. Climbing for over 20 years, he brings a strong passion for all aspects of climbing from bouldering, to sport and alpine.

OAC Virtual AGM set for Aug 17

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Save the date: the OAC Annual General Meeting will take place Monday, August 17, at 7pm.  Join us as we meet virtually for a socially distanced AGM!  This is a great opportunity to ask questions about our organization and to share input on our future direction.   We’ll also be holding the election for board membership, talking about the year we’ve just had, and speaking about what’s on the horizon.

If you would like to run as a candidate for the board of directors, please submit your bio to info@ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca by July 24.  Details for the virtual meeting will be announced August 1.  Hope to see you all there!

Lion’s Head Climbing Access

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Climbing access at Lion’s Head has always been an extremely delicate issue.  We would like to update the community and provide some clarity to the events which have transpired over the past few months.

On May 12th, we were notified by a community member about hanger removal from select routes on Latvian Ledge.  The OAC did not consult on, nor condone the hanger removal.  We have made attempts to reach out to the individual(s) responsible, and while they have not come forward directly, we believe that the hangers were removed in order to reduce large group impacts and encourage regeneration of Latvian Ledge. More recently on June 25th, we were notified that the Stinger Gully fixed ropes have also been removed. Though not confirmed, we believe the fixed lines were removed to discourage hikers from descending and finding themselves unable to exit safely.

The OAC does not condone unilateral route removal.  However, we acknowledge that the impact observed on the Latvian Ledge is an increasingly important issue that needs to be addressed in order to preserve access. Upon careful reflection, the OAC does not feel it is in the best interest of the long-term access at Lion’s Head to replace the removed hangers and fixed lines at this time.  

If you plan on climbing at Lions Head, please be aware of the removed routes on the Latvian Ledge.  Please also be prepared to Leave No Trace by descending into the crag using your own equipment, and ascending to exit at the end of the day.

This recent series of events has emphasized some of the current issues facing Lion’s Head. As a result, we have developed some best practices in order to promote ongoing access and assist you in your visit to Lion’s Head.

BEST PRACTICES

Know Before You Go. Lion’s Head is an advanced crag and requires advanced technical rope skills to access the base, ledges and hanging belays. It’s critical you know how to rappel, ascend, self-rescue and navigate vertical terrain.

Do Not Tailgate, party or drink open alcohol on Moore Street or in the Bruce parking lot. Please arrive at the trailhead organized. Grab your stuff and quietly head in for a day of climbing.

Slow Down when driving in town and on Moore Street. You’ll get there soon enough.

Be Kind to Locals. Smile and say hello to anyone walking, running or biking on Moore Street. When speaking to locals in town, if climbing comes up, stress that climbing is safe when performed responsibly.

Pick Up Garbage along the trail whether it is yours or not – at both the top and bottom of the cliff

Leave No Trace. Stay on established trails as much as possible. Learn how to go to the bathroom outdoors. Do it far from any trail, and use a wag bag or bury your personal waste (not your garbage). When possible, go before you arrive at the cliff.

Be Kind to Trees. The escarpment is home of some of the oldest trees in Ontario, as well as sensitive cliff edge ecology. Lion’s Head is no exception. Please do no top-rope off the trees. If you must use a tree or two to access ledges or hanging belays, please take measures to protect the trees and anchor through fixed hardware as soon as possible.

Find Appropriate Accommodation. Sleeping in your car/van in town will not be tolerated. If you must sleep in your vehicle, do your research to find a place to stay beforehand

No Large Groups. If you arrive in a group, split up and swap partners periodically. You’ll get more done in pairs anyway.

Leave Pets at Home. Dogs are not permitted off leash in Lion’s Head Provincial Park at any time. Lion’s Head does not lend itself well to the inclusion of pets due to its sensitive ecology, challenging logistics and confined staging areas.

Stay Safe and leave the ego at home. Do your very best to avoid accidents. Be diligent and help others who might be in need.

Speak Up. If you see climbers acting poorly, please speak up and respectfully ask for their support in keeping Lion’s Head open.

If you see anyone from the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Niagara Escarpment Commission, or the Park, please let the OAC know and refer them to the OAC should they have any questions.

Have Fun!

Follow Up Study on the Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Outdoor Recreation Participation

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Brock University and ALIVE Outdoors have launched a follow up study to explore how Canadians have been impacted by the closure, and now reopening, of outdoor recreation areas. Study participants are asked to fill out a survey which takes about 15-20 minutes to complete and focuses on how outdoor recreation affects their physical, emotional and overall health. You may participate in this study regardless of whether or not you completed the Phase 1 survey.

This is an opportunity to provide land managers and outdoor recreation service providers with insight into how you feel about the reopening of these spaces, and what policies would need to be implemented for you to feel safe recreating outside.

The survey is only open until July 10th. If you have the time, please fill it out to ensure all outdoor recreationists are represented!

Link to survey:
https://brock.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_799N0OEnC2LLiCN

Rattlesnake Point opens to guided climbing

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Conservation Halton is now allowing guiding companies to run courses and lessons at Rattlesnake Point. As the first step in lifting restrictions on climbing, these small groups will allow them to easily manage the number of climbers at the crag, as well as test that appropriate protocols are in place for when restrictions are eased further.

Please keep in mind that ONLY guided groups are permitted to climb at this time.  Conservation Halton is looking forward to opening their crags to the general climbing population as soon as possible!

Bon Echo and Kingston Mills reopen to climbing

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Bon Echo has reopened to climbing access. The cliff top trail is now open, and the park is also open to car camping! Please remember that to climb at Bon Echo, you must either be a member of the Alpine Club of Canada and access the park through the Bon Echo hut, or register at the park with office staff. Also note that due to the presence of peregrine falcons, routes 1-23 are closed until further notice.

Kingston Mills has also removed the gate locks and is open for climbing. As always, you must stop by the lock office to sign in and fill out the waiver before climbing.

Please keep in mind that we must continue to recreate safely. Follow all government guidelines pertaining to COVID-19, and use our guidelines for climbing responsibly during this time. Be safe, look out for each other, and have fun!

Guidelines for Climbing in a Pandemic Poster
A simplified version of our guidelines for climbing during the coronavirus pandemic.

2019 OAC Climber Survey Open Now

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It’s that time of year again — the 2019 OAC Climber Survey is now open! This year we’re surveying climber attitudes to help inform our advocacy initiatives. Information we gather will remain confidential and anonymous, and the survey takes only 15 minutes to complete.

We have two $50 MEC gift certificates and some OAC swag to raffle off, so fill out your response today! The last day for entry submission is Sunday, July 19th. Raffle winners will be announced on August 1st.

Complete the survey here:
https://survey.ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca/2019

Our Official Statement in Support of Black and Indigenous Lives

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Until now, we had not issued a statement in support of Black lives following the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others at the hands of racially motivated violence. Historically, we have limited our public statements to land management access issues.  However, our members need to know that as an organization, we support equality.  Black Lives Matter.  Indigenous Lives Matter. There is no room for debate here.

Systemic racism is not unique to the United States; discrimination against Black and Indigenous peoples is prevalent in Canada’s past and present as well. We acknowledge that climbing is not immune to systemic racism, which affects members of our community in both subtle and overt ways. We also recognize that access to the outdoors and the resources to climb are luxuries that are not available to everyone equally.

We would like to thank our community members who reached out to us about our stance on recent events. We hear you.  We apologize for not speaking up sooner.  We are learning, and we are changing. 

We changed our name to the Ontario Alliance of Climbers because we want to unite the Ontario climbing community. Being representatives of our community, we cannot ignore important social issues that impact our members.

We have a lot to learn about how systemic racism affects our ability to ensure access for our members, and how we can work to dismantle it. Areas of influence we’ve identified include: 

The groups we work with
We will pay attention to the companies and organizations we accept support from, and those that we support. We will refuse to work with anyone who fosters racist or discriminatory behaviours. We will also help elevate outdoor initiatives which support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and equality in climbing when we are able to. If you are interested in contributing something in this realm, please reach out to us at info@ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca. We’d be happy to work together to find a way to assist you.

The events we host
We have a zero-tolerance policy for racist and discriminatory behaviours at our events.  All OAC functions are safe spaces for our community. We will work to promote diversity and inclusion at our events, and we will investigate ways to lower barriers for entry.

The composition of our board of directors
We acknowledge the lack of diversity on our board of directors. This is something we cannot change without your help. We are a small, volunteer run organization filled with people who are passionate about climbing and climbing access. We want you to know that we are not just welcoming of all volunteers, we encourage your participation.  Help us by getting involved. Take a seat at our table. We want to hear what you have to say, so that we can understand how to represent the community best. Please join us.  Send an email to info@ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca if you would like to get involved.

Our community involvement
We have decided to create a Nominations Committee to actively reach out to community members to get involved with us.  As a volunteer organization, we are always eager to have more voices join us.  Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of the opportunities to get involved.  We’ll take a more active role in soliciting the public when we think someone may offer a different perspective or skill set, and we’ll work to increase our diversity.  Please feel free to nominate community members you think would be an asset in our continued fight for open access!

Our continued growth and education
We know that the movement doesn’t end when the protests do. This is a lifelong learning opportunity. We will make race and inequality subjects of ongoing discourse. We have always kept an eye on international crag access issues to stay informed and to learn from activities elsewhere. It is our responsibility to add issues of inequality which impact the outdoors to our discussions, whether they have occurred locally or far from home. We will continue to help each other learn by sharing resources and having tough conversations. 

The messages we share on social media
We do our best to ensure that our messaging is always thoughtful, considerate, and respectful. We have made efforts to showcase the diversity of the Ontario climbing community in our posts, and will continue to do so. If you have images you would like to share with us, please tag @ontarioallianceofclimbers or send them to submissions@ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca. We love having the opportunity to meet our members and celebrate the outdoors with them. Moving forward, we will no longer be silent on issues of equality. There is no room for racism and discrimination in our sport.  Please help us when we make a mistake. We are learning, just as many of you are.

There are many resources others have already created to help us learn to be better allies for BIPOC in the outdoor community. If you are looking to understand how you can help, please consider these materials that we have found to be insightful:

https://www.outdoorresearch.com/blog/article/how-to-be-an-ally-in-the-outdoors

https://www.theatlantic.com/sponsored/rei-2018/five-ways-to-make-the-outdoors-more-inclusive/3019/

https://www.saltlakeclimbers.org/news/2020/6/11/racism-and-racial-justice-at-and-beyond-the-crag

We look forward to continued progress in the fight for equity. We will do our best to keep the needle moving in the right direction. The outdoors is a place for all, and we look forward to seeing you out there.

Sincerely,

The Ontario Alliance of Climbers

Randy Kielbasiewicz, Co-Chair
Mike Penney, Co-Chair
Patrick Lam, Director
Mike Makischuk, Director
Kacy Wilson, Director
Tony Berlier
Jessica Best
Tyler Coffin
Jeremy Fortier
Dustin Johnston-Jewell
Jenna Rines
John Vellone

The Niagara Glen opens to bouldering

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The OAC is excited to announce that we just received official word from the Niagara Parks Commission – The Niagara Glen is officially open to bouldering!

All trails are open, excluding the Whirlpool trail, which is flooded at the moment. Niagara Parks buildings are still closed, therefore, bouldering permits can’t currently be purchased in person. However, you can purchase a permit online at: https://www.niagaraparks.com/visit-niagara-parks/nature-activities/bouldering/

The park has asked that climbers print their confirmation and keep it with them as their permit. You can also print off a second confirmation and put it on your dashboard to use as your parking pass.

In addition to following all regular park rules, we suggest climbers yield to hikers at all times. If padding a climb blocks a path or makes social distancing difficult, please avoid climbing that boulder. The park has mentioned the possibility of closing some boulders to better facilitate social distancing, so it’s up to us to be respectful and share the space to avoid having boulders closed.

Please remember to follow all Leave No Trace principles, and consider our guidelines for climbing responsibly during the ongoing pandemic.

Please enjoy responsibly! 

Guidelines for Climbing in a Pandemic Poster
A simplified version of our guidelines for climbing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ontario Climbing Access Update

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Grey County has notified the OAC in response to our inquiries that they are now welcoming visitors to their outdoor areas! Grey Sauble has also confirmed that rock climbing is no longer prohibited by Provincial Order. With this news, we are happy to announce that climbing access is now open at Metcalfe, The Swamp, and Old Baldy, without any travel advisories.

Please check our crag status document for updates.

The North Bruce Peninsula, where Lions Head is located, has also officially announced it is welcoming visitors! If you choose to climb there please be mindful that Lions Head is an advanced crag and access there is extremely sensitive. The OAC has been informed of the temporary removal of all moderate Latvian Ledge routes for the purposes of rehabilitation. These routes represent the bulk of moderate routes at Lions Head. Please ensure your plans do not require these routes to be available, and remember that top roping at Lions Head is not permitted. It may be difficult to secure overnight accommodations at this time as many campgrounds are not yet open, so plan ahead before you go. Car camping is not allowed and people caught doing so will be ticketed.

It is important to remember that although the province is beginning to open up again, COVID-19 still poses a serious threat to smaller communities. If you choose to climb, it is important to plan your outings responsibly. Take all necessary precautions, follow our guidelines on how to climb during this pandemic, and enjoy some good weather!

Guidelines for Climbing in a Pandemic Poster