2021 Calendar Sales are Live!

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Jacob Bell on ‘Shot Across the Bow’ at Old Baldy. Photo by Connor Drummond.

The 2021 Ontario Crags Calendar has arrived! Featuring local climbers shot by local photographers, the OAC calendar is a tribute to everything Ontario climbing has to offer.  With a mix of climbers, crags, and disciplines featured, this is the milestone 10th anniversary of the OAC Calendar published, and we think it’s our best one yet!

We’ve adapted sales this year to be conducted online, as well as at a selection of gyms volunteering to assist with this fundraiser.  Calendars are $20, plus $5 for shipping via Canada Post.  All proceeds from calendar sales go toward promoting, advocating for, and maintaining open access all across the province.

You can also find copies for sale at the following Ontario locations:
Alt.Rock
Boulderz – both Etobicoke and Junction locations
The Core
Grand River Rocks – both Waterloo and Kitchener locations
Junction Climbing
Ontario Resoles
Toprock Climbing

The Current Status of Outdoor Climbing in Ontario

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With the recent announcement of Grey Sauble Conservation Authority properties reopening for public use on June 6th, climbing areas across the province are finding themselves under varying levels of restrictions.  We’ve created a table to help the community more easily understand what crags are open for climbing. You can access the table here.  This is a living document and will be updated as permissions change. 

Please keep in mind that some smaller communities, including Grey County, have issued official requests that non-residents or seasonal visitors avoid visiting.  We’ve listed resources for the Public Health Units and municipalities that correspond with the various crags in our document — please use these to determine if there are any regional restrictions.

Currently, climbing is permitted on crown land, where access is tolerated.

Old Baldy is re-opening to visitor access on June 6, but at the time of this posting, climbing will not be a permitted activity. We are in direct communication with Grey Sauble Conservation concerning this. Please stay tuned for updates.

Climbing is still not yet permitted on Conservation Halton properties, which include Rattlesnake Point and Mount Nemo — but we are working with them to determine when we can do so safely. 

Bouldering is also not yet permitted at the Niagara Glen, but the NPCA is actively working on a plan to reintroduce it.  We hope to be able to share news of progress here soon!

We previously established a list of guidelines to help climbers decide whether to climb, and if they choose to climb, how to do so responsibly. You can access the complete list of guidelines here. A condensed version suitable for use as a poster is also available below.

If you do go out, this is an important time to make a good name for the climbing community!  Take the time to educate yourself on the best practices for climbing during this pandemic.  Remember to take care of the crag, yourselves, and others.

Please keep in mind that as our situation is constantly changing, it is important to be in the know before you go.  Stay up to date and do your research before you head out.  Please respect all government guidelines and be considerate of vulnerable communities.  Stay safe!

Guidelines for Climbing in a Pandemic Poster

On Being Thoughtful During Times of Need

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A lot has happened over the course of the past week. Restaurants, bars, entertainment facilities, and climbing gyms have been closing in efforts to slow the transmission of COVID-19. It’s a time of uncertainty for everyone, and it can affect us all both physically and mentally.

Climbing, physical activity, and being outdoors are all ways to alleviate stress. With the inability to climb indoors, it’s easy to think that heading out to the crag is a safe and viable option right now.  But should we be climbing outside at this time?

We encourage everyone to be responsible and respectful of the population as a whole. Even if we feel well, we may be asymptomatic carriers and not know it. By traveling outside your hometown, you increase the risk of transmitting the disease to other communities, many of which are remote and have limited access to supplies and healthcare services. All provincial parks are now closed, as well as many other public services. Additionally, if we get injured climbing outside, we can increase the load on an already overburdened healthcare system.

Tommy Caldwell provided the Access Fund with the following quote: “I cancelled my upcoming climbing trip to the southwest, not because I think my family will get sick while we adventure in the desert, but because it’s the responsible thing to do to slow the spread and protect vulnerable people. It’s our responsibility to stay put. But it’s also a great opportunity to stay home with your family, practice low-impact living strategies, and get some fresh air.”  We’re in accordance with this line of thinking.

Many climbing destination communities are urging visitors to stay away. We ask that you consider how your actions can impact the lives of others at this time. We all want to climb, and getting some fresh air is crucial to staying both healthy and sane. But the crags aren’t going anywhere, and staying local is only a temporary sacrifice that will protect our community.

There are many resources coming out that will help us stay in top climbing shape while at home, and we’ll be sharing some tips and inspiration to keep you motivated! But for the time being, we’re willing to put the health and safety of our community before our own desires.  We hope you’ll join us.

OAC 2022 AGM Recording

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Thank you to everyone who tuned into our 2022 Virtual AGM last week!

Congratulations to Patrick Lam, Mike Makischuk, and Randy Kielbasciwicz on their re-elections to the board! Also a big thank you goes out to Joshua Leyte-Jammu, the recipient of the 2022 OAC Service Award, for his work as OAC treasurer.

As always, we are looking for more volunteers to join us in ramping up efforts for the next year. If you are interested in getting involved, please reach out to info@ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca for more information!

As presented at our AGM, our financial statements have been made available here:

If you were unable to attend this year’s AGM, the recording is available here:

Submit your photos for the 2023 Ontario Crags Calendar NOW!

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It’s that time of year again!  Our call for photo submissions for the 2023 OAC Ontario Crags Calendar is now OPEN!!

The Ontario Crags Calendar aims to celebrate and highlight the wide variety of climbing that Ontario has to offer. We want to showcase everything from as many different crags, seasons, and climbers as possible — ICE, SPORT, TRAD and BOULDERING are all honoured here.  Let’s celebrate the diversity of our province and our community!  Valid photo submissions must have LANDSCAPE orientation (i.e. horizontal), and be of climbers at Ontario crags only (of course!).  In order to meet print standards, full size images must be clear and at least 8.5″x11″ at 300 dpi.

Submissions do not need to be dated from this year, but they DO need to showcase your love for Ontario climbing.  So make the most of this tail end of the season, or take some time to venture down memory lane and rediscover some forgotten gems!

The Crags Calendar helps us raise awareness and funds in support of Ontario access.  Please consider donating a photo!  Send your best shots to submissions@ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca by WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 2ND for a chance to be featured.  Chosen entrants will receive a free copy of the calendar, credit complete with name and website, and a little slice of local fame 😉

Please see additional rules of submission here:

Save the Date: AGM to be held November 8th!

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The OAC Annual General Meeting will be held Tuesday, November 8th, at 7PM! We will once again be holding our AGM virtually.

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 recent developments, 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. Those who submit their candidacy before October 21 will be included in our formal email announcement. Miss the window? That’s okay, candidates are able to declare their application all the way through to our live meeting!

Details for the virtual meeting will be announced October 25 via official email to all OAC members. Hope to see you all there!

A Call to Action: GRCA Board Elections

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Do you live in the Region of Waterloo or another municipality touching the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA)? If so, the upcoming municipal elections are an opportunity for you to  advocate for pro-climbing policies. Waterloo has the greatest number of seats on the GRCA Board, but you still have influence  even if you’re as far west as Hamilton, or as far east as Halton.

The GRCA Board Elections

The Grand River Conservation Authority controls a number of cliffs, including those at Rockwood and Elora. The OAC has been working to establish climbing access on GRCA land, but we have not been able to convince GRCA staff to work with us. However, the staff do not get the final say. The GRCA Board, which is made up mostly of elected municipal officials, is responsible for matters of governance.  While the Board usually defers  to the wishes of the staff, these elected officials are ultimately answerable to you, the voting public. So you, too, can have a say in how these cliffs are managed.

The GRCA Board has 26 members, 10 of which are appointed by Waterloo Region. Guelph and Brantford each appoint 2 members, while Hamilton and Halton each appoint 1 member. Outlying towns and counties appoint the other 10 members. 

Ontario municipal elections take place on October 24, 2022.

Members will be re-appointed next election, but you can look at who is currently on the Board for your municipality to get an idea of what’s likely to happen next term. Here is the current composition of the Board, so that you can check what your representation is.

Waterloo Regional Council candidates:

https://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/regional-government/2022-regional-candidate-listing.aspx

Current GRCA Board members: 

Guelph candidates:

https://vote.guelph.ca/candidates/registered-candidates/

Current GRCA Board members: 

  • Bob Bell (not seeking re-election)
  • Cathy Downer (cathy.downer@guelph.ca)

Brantford candidates:

https://brantfordvotes.brantford.ca/en/candidates/candidates.aspx

Current GRCA Board members:

Hamilton candidates:

https://www.hamilton.ca/municipal-election/election-information/certified-candidates

Current GRCA Board member:

Halton local elections links (choose your local municipality):

https://www.halton.ca/The-Region/Regional-Council-and-Committees/Municipal-Elections

Current GRCA Board member:

The full list of GRCA Board members is available at https://www.grandriver.ca/en/who-we-are/GRCA-Board-and-Administration.aspx.

What can I do?

This is a once-in-4-years opportunity for you, as a climber, to open discussions with your candidates for elected office as they seek election or re-election. Turnout is often low in municipal elections and the number of voters is small, so if you live in the right city you have a disproportionately valuable chance to gain the attention of your elected officials.  Let them know that open access to our public lands is an issue that matters to you!

Here are some suggested points you can discuss with your candidates for Regional Council (Waterloo Region) or for your municipal councils:

  • Are you engaged with what goes on with the Grand River Conservation Authority? Have you served on the GRCA Board?
  • Rock climbing is a recreational activity that is strongly supported by our neighbours at Conservation Halton and appears in many of their promotional materials. Yet, next door, we are unable to legally climb on GRCA land. Why is that?
  • Did you know that rock climbers are a responsible and fast-growing user group that contribute substantially to the local economy? 
  • Rockwood is a unique climbing area in Southern Ontario, with a type of rock that is found nowhere else nearby. We have had Olympic and World Cup downhill skiers whose home club is Chicopee in Kitchener. Imagine if we had an Olympic climbing champion who started climbing in Ontario!

We encourage you to politely email your candidates, and identify yourself as a climber and a voter in your local municipality. We’d be very interested in learning about anything you find out from your local candidates! If you have information to share after following up with your campaigning candidates, please reach out to patrick.lam@ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca.

Crag Updates, Spring 2022

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Here’s a brief rundown on Crag Updates for Spring 2022.

Halton Crags

Bookings are here to stay for the foreseeable future. However, Halton allows climbers to book back-to-back slots, giving you more time to enjoy the crag.

Turtle Crag

Good news: The new booking system is working well, and our relationship with landowners has improved! For a link to the reservation page and the Turtle Crag Code Of Conduct, click here.

Great work, everyone, and continue to enjoy the space responsibly.

Hamilton

We need your help! We seek a team to help with advocacy and access in the Hamilton area. Please get in touch with us about volunteer opportunities. Contact Us!

Rockwood

Currently, no change – there is no climbing permitted at Rockwood. The stakeholders have no interest in allowing climbing at this time.

Campden

The Niagara Conservation Authority is still undergoing an ecological assessment of the cliff in order to protect the bat population.  Because of this Campden is still closed for climbing, but we remain in constant contact with the NCA.

Cow Crag

We have published parking and access guidelines – click here to see the latest.

Devil’s Glen

The situation is ongoing. For the latest news and new parking guidelines, click here.

Metcalfe

We have porta-potties again this season (Yay!). The porta-potties are a collaboration between Arc’teryx and the OAC. The OAC is also hard at work with a parking expansion project. We will keep you posted on developments.

Lion’s Head

Paid parking continues to be enforced. For tips and best practices for a fun day at Lion’s Head, click here.

The Nooks, Sudbury (*new guidebook)

The Nooks is one of Ontario’s newest bouldering areas, featuring over 150 problems. You can purchase a new The Nooks Guidebook here. This is a newly developed area, where special care is required to minimize climber impact: stay on the trails, and no camping.

If you have any news or questions about your favourite crag, contact us!

Have Fun!

Devil’s Glen Update

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Let’s talk about what’s going on at Devil’s Glen.

As you may be aware, through early 2022, our members began reporting vandalism and mischief at Devil’s Glen. From there, things seemed to escalate, and we have  continued to share updates via our website and on Social Media.

If we had to sum up the last few months in a few wordsessentially, the climbers at Devil’s Glen are being bullied by anti-climbing mischief. 

We currently have not yet gathered conclusive proof about who is causing the trouble, and we do not know their motivations. However, we believe that the people responsible are also reading these posts. With that in mind, the OAC is exercising discretion about what tactics we may be pursuing to address this serious issue. We ask that our members be similarly discreet.

While the events are ongoing, there have been some developments.

The OAC has been in ongoing communication with land managers and the OPP on this matter, and the discussions have been positive. This matter is serious, and efforts are underway.

Devil’s Glen is on public land  and we understand that Ontario Parks is happy to have climbers enjoy the space.

So what can climbers do?

Copied from our April news article:

  • Do not engage with individuals who approach you while parking/leaving/arriving at your vehicle unless they can provide proof of OPP, By-law or similar credentials.
  • Do not engage if you are approached/questioned by other park users unless that individual can provide proof of Ontario Parks, MNR or similar credentials.
  • Do not leave valuables in your car while climbing.
  • Keep your personal belongings near you at all times.
  • Be sure to assess the bolts & anchors on each climb before & during climbing.
  • Take extra caution to assess the climbing up to the first bolt & use a stick clip if necessary to protect the moves to the first available bolt.
  • Continue to be great climbing ambassadors, respecting the space and fellow park users when out at the crag.
  • In the event of an emergency, call 911.
  • The non-emergency OPP telephone number is 1-888-310-1122.
  • Please share with the OAC any information you may have related to this ongoing situation.

Please Report further incidents

We continue to encourage all climbers to report any suspicious activity to us. Contact us here.
If you are approached aggressively by anyone in the park or surrounding area, or if you experience theft or damage to your property, please call the police.
In the event of an emergency, call 911.
The non-emergency OPP line is 1-888-310-1122.

What the OAC is doing

We are often asked what efforts are underway to remedy this situation.

As this is ongoing, we prefer not to discuss our plans publicly — but rest assured, this is a high-priority task for us, and we are working with agencies assisting us in solving this.

We will keep you posted on developments.

The Silver Lining

When faced with challenges, we try to find a silver lining.

From the beginning, climbers who’ve visited the crag and experienced this nuisance have taken the high road.

Everyone has handled it like champs and demonstrated respect and care for the space. (Thanks for the clean-up efforts, gang!)

As a community, we are working to find solutions through dialogue and long-term solutions, and this has not gone unnoticed by the various agencies we work with. (Thanks to everyone—go team!)

Parking and Access

New parking restrictions exist on the side of Concession 10 (by Devil’s Glen) to accommodate local farmers.

Climbers are still encouraged to park on Concession 10, but No-Parking signs will prohibit parking for the first 175 metres on the east side of the road, and the first 50 metres on the west side, and will be enforced by Bylaw.

We appreciate your understanding in this matter.

Enjoy the crag responsibly.

Devil's Glen Crag - Parking and Access