Access Threats at Devil’s Glen: A Community Discussion

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Rock climbing access at Devil’s Glen (DG) is facing steep environmental, social, and logistical challenges.

In response, the Ontario Alliance of Climbers would like to invite you to a community discussion about the important issues that are facing our beloved crag. Thursday, July 11th, we’ll be meeting at Climbers Corner in Collingwood from 7-9pm

The topics we’ll be discussing include:

1. The history and current state of rock climbing access at DG
2. DG’s primary access threats
3. What climbers are seeing when they visit DG
4. What we can do, as a community, to improve access
5. The formation of the Beaver Valley Climber’s Collective

So, come out for a few pitches and some productive conversation about the important issues that are facing our beloved Devil’s Glen!

We look forward to chatting with you!

Lions Head and Devil’s Glen Climbing Access – AT RISK

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Lions Head and Devil’s Glen climbing access is AT RISK. 

The OAC is currently in talks with Ontario Parks to address their concerns regarding the impact of climbers in these areas. 
As these sensitive discussions progress, please continue to be great ambassadors for our sport by minimizing your impact at all Ontario crags. Steps you can take include:

  • Avoid visiting these crags in large groups.
  • Please visit other areas when possible. Ontario is home to many great climbing areas. Please do your part by spreading the love to other, less traveled areas! 
  • Continue to practice good crag etiquette and leave no trace ethics. This also applies to human waste. 
  • Be proactive in communicating best practices to other climbers.
  • Do not visit these crags without the appropriate level of skill. 
  • Reminder: Lions Head is an advanced crag and it is not suitable for new climbers.

For more information, read our Gym-to-Crag best practices.

We’ll provide updates as conversations with Ontario Parks progress.

Q&A from the 2019 OAC Annual General Meeting

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Every year, the Ontario Alliance of Climbers holds an Annual General Meeting. We appreciate Conservation Halton’s support in hosting us at Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area this past June 1st, 2019. The short formal portion of the meeting allows OAC members to elect Directors for the coming year (as legally mandated). Afterwards, the AGM gives us the opportunity to connect with the membership in a loosely structured Q&A discussion session.

Discussions during this year’s Q&A included:
* Why were glue-in bolts chosen for the Rattlesnake project?
* Does the OAC need help with (other) bolting projects?
* When is the OAC going to start buying crags?
* What are the different ways volunteers can support the OAC?
* Why does the OAC not provide funding to individuals engaged in retro-bolting?
* Does the OAC have policies in place about who can bolt?
* Are records being kept of hardware specs when bolting/retro-bolting is being done?
* Will more 2019 OAC calendars be available?

Thanks to those who came out to the meeting!

2019 AGM materials (Q&A, minutes, access sends)

Introducing the Rattlesnake Bolting Project

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During the winter of 2018, Conservation Halton (CH) and the Ontario Alliance of Climbers (OAC) opened discussions regarding ongoing concerns about climber safety and the impact of climbing on Mt. Nemo. The OAC proposed a plan which would address several key points. This plan was approved with support from Conservation Halton, as well as feedback from the guiding and instructional community.

Why was this project necessary?

  • Climbing in both Ontario and North America are growing at an exponential rate.
  • New climbers lack an area which offers a sufficient number of routes in a controlled environment.
  • Climbing instructors and guides do not currently have access to an appropriate outdoor teaching area for training new climbers.
  • Mt. Nemo as a climbing area poses challenges to conservation efforts.
  • Mt. Nemo is not conducive to emergency services and evacuation of injured individuals.

The Solution
Several routes have been identified at Rattlesnake Park and have been updated to the modern standard of sport climbs. In addition, a teaching stations has been installed to better facilitate anchor management practice.

Rattlesnake Park is the only climbing area in the CH properties which allows for guiding or teaching. Teaching stations at all other climbing areas will be removed. Several routes at Mt. Nemo will be reviewed and may be removed if deemed necessary.

The equipment for the project was purchased by the OAC with support from MEC in the form of discounted pricing. All equipment was installed by qualified volunteers. Conservation Halton will not test these protection bolts and were in no way part of the installation process. As with bolts located on all Ontario cliffs, climbers must view all fixed protection as being used at their own risk. NO ADDITIONAL BOLTS SHOULD BE PLACED ON HALTON REGION CONSERVATION AUTHORITY LAND WITHOUT EXPRESS PERMISSION.

Project Details

Randy Kielbasiewicz and Richard Messiah share a combined 75 years of climbing experience. Both individuals share a deep-seated respect for the history of climbing and an understanding of the complex issues facing climbing in today’s context.

Richard Messiah is a Level 3 Rope Access Supervisor with a long history of climbing instruction, first ascents, and sustained efforts to preserve traditional rock climbs.

Randy Kielbasiewicz is Co-Chair of the OAC, working closely with land managers in several areas. Randy maintains a long history of first ascents in both traditional and sport climbing styles.

The newly bolted routes follow the following guidelines:

  • This project is limited to Rattlesnake Point. No routes at Buffalo Crag have been altered.
  • Routes that are recognized as classic or that are safely protectable crack lines were not considered for this project.
  • Routes with excessive rock quality challenges not in keeping with the modern sport climbing model were not considered for this project.
  • Routes with significant historical value were not considered for this project.
  • Where possible, the new sport routes limited infringement on existing routes.
  • All routes are bolted using glue in bolts with ring anchors.
  • Existing Pin placements on traditional lines will be replaced with conventional bolts and hangers. Some traditional routes will receive ring anchors to facilitate rope work.

This project will help re-establish Rattlesnake Point as a climbing area specifically targeting routes graded 5.10 and under. The area is well suited to large volumes of climbers.

THE OAC DOES NOT CONDONE THE ADDITION OF BOLTS TO EXISTING ROCK CLIMBS WITHOUT EXPRESS PERMISSION OF THE FIRST ASCENT PARTY. This is a unique project addressing specific challenges in a specific area. TAMPERING OR REMOVAL OF BOLTS AT RATTLESNAKE PARK WILL BE CONSIDERED AN ACT OF VANDALISM AND WILL BE ADDRESSED ACCORDINGLY.

The OAC believes this project represents an excellent example of the climbing community self-managing their activity and looks forward to using this as a reference in future discussions with land managers.