Ontario Parks Survey — Fill it out now!

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We want your help! From now until November 25, 2019, the Province of Ontario is collecting public feedback on how they can improve access to and raise awareness of nature’s health benefits.

As someone who visits our provincial parks, the province wants your feedback. Let them know what rock and ice climbing means to you, in your own words. Let them know if you’d like to see more Ontario Parks opened up for climbing activities. We would be pleased to work together with Ontario Parks to open up climbing access at more of our Provincial Parks.

Please go and fill out the survey, and pass it on to all your friends!
https://www.ontario.ca/form/survey-healthy-parks-healthy-people

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.

OAC Annual General Meeting: June 26, 2017

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The OAC invites all members to partake in our 2017 annual general meeting on June 26, 2017. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions about the organization and our on-going projects in addition to sharing your input on the future direction of the OAC.

The meeting will be held at True North Climbing (75 Carl Hall Road Unit 14, Downsview Park, Toronto, ON) on Monday June 26th at 7:30 PM. Discounted climbing daypasses ($17) are available for all attendees (but not required to attend!)

To be eligible to vote at the AGM, one is required to be a member of the Ontario Access Coalition. To allow for the processing of new members, please ensure applications are submitted prior to June 9th. Please visit our membership page at https://www.ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca/join/ for further details.

The OAC is very interested in increasing its capacity by attracting new ideas, leadership, and energy. At this meeting, we will elect three members to the Board of Directors (all for a two-year term). As always, we are also looking for portfolio managers and general volunteers. While members can be nominated to the Board at the AGM, any nominations submitted by June 9th will have their profiles distributed to the membership in advance. This will facilitate a structured voting process. Interested members are encouraged to contact the OAC in advance.

Potential board members should have:
– An interest in (learning about) outdoor climbing access issues in Ontario
– A varied skill set with a self-starter attitude
– A positive, proactive team-based approach to problem solving

As a board member the individual will:
– Attend bi-monthly board meetings
– Lead projects and/or access portfolios
– Participate in developing and executing the OAC’s strategic plan

Further details will be provided to members 14 days prior to the AGM. If you do not receive notification by email, please send us a note (info@ontarioaccesscoalition.com).

OAC Annual General Meeting: June 27, 2016

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The OAC invites all members to partake in our 2016 annual general meeting on June 27, 2016. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions about the organization and our on-going projects in addition to sharing your input on the future direction of the OAC.

The meeting will be held at The Rock Oasis – Toronto (388 Carlaw Ave Suite 204, Toronto, ON) on Monday June 27th at 7:30 PM. Half price climbing for all attendees!

To be eligible to vote at the AGM, one is required to be a member of the Ontario Access Coalition. To allow for the processing of new members, please ensure applications are submitted prior to June 10th. Please visit our membership page at https://www.ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca/join/ for further details.

The OAC is very interested in increasing its capacity by attracting new ideas, leadership, and energy. At this meeting, we will elect three members to the Board of Directors (all for a two-year term). As always, we are also looking for portfolio managers and general volunteers. While members can be nominated to the Board at the AGM, any nominations submitted by June 10th will have their profiles distributed to the membership in advance. This will facilitate a structured voting process. Interested members are encouraged to contact the OAC in advance.

Potential board members should have:
– An interest in (learning about) outdoor climbing access issues in Ontario
– A varied skill set with a self-starter attitude
– A positive, proactive team-based approach to problem solving

As a board member the individual will:
– Attend bi-monthly board meetings
– Lead projects and/or access portfolios
– Participate in developing and executing the OAC’s strategic goals

Further details will be provided to members 14 days prior to the AGM. If you do not receive notification by email, please send us a note ( info@ontarioaccesscoalition.com ).

OAC raises $130k for purchase of Old Baldy Conservation Area

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Two year fundraising campaign thrusts OAC into land conservancy movement in partnership with Grey Sauble Conservation Authority.

Kimberley, ON – On October 8, 2014, the Ontario Access Coalition (OAC) presented the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority (GSCA) with a cheque for $130,000 to be used towards the purchase of a land parcel located at the base of Old Baldy Conservation Area in Kimberley, Ontario. This action initiates the OAC as stewards of the land conservancy movement and marks the culmination of a two year fundraising campaign to purchase the land. The partnership between the OAC and the GSCA addresses climbing access to Old Baldy and ensures its protection for future generations of recreational land use.

Old Baldy, the birthplace of the modern style of bolt-protected sport climbing in Ontario, is a historically significant climbing area for climbers. With over 100 rock climbs from beginner to expert, the area has been enjoyed by climbers for over 40 years. It affords expansive views for climbers and hikers over the lands of the Beaver Valley.

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), The Alpine Club of Canada – Toronto Section, OntarioClimbing.com and The Alpine Club of Canada – National demonstrated significant leadership in the community by supporting the OAC regarding this project. Their funding, with the additional support of numerous individual donors from the climbing community, were crucial in raising the necessary funds to make this OAC initiative a reality.

Major funding was provided by:

  • MEC — $100,000
  • The Alpine Club of Canada Toronto Section — $10,000 (plus $1,410 from members)
  • Ontarioclimbing.com — $6,000
  • The Alpine Club of Canada National — $5,000

The OAC especially recognizes the MEC contribution.  MEC has been a partner of the OAC since 2009.  With this donation, MEC continues to demonstrate support for access to recreational lands across Canada, particularly climbing access.  The Ontario climbing community owes a special thanks to MEC for stepping forward early to kick start this initiative with their generous donation.

Additional Partners with the OAC and GSCA who supplied critical funds to finalize this initiative are as follows:

  • The Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC) donated $25,000.  The BTC is a consistent champion of protecting the Niagara Escarpment and has been instrumental in working towards its environmental protection.  Only fifty percent of the 890km Bruce Trail is safe from development; year after year, the BTC raises millions towards conservation.
  • The Nature League donated $2,000.  Several years ago the Nature League funded the current parking area for Old Baldy Conservation Area and continues to show its support through their donation.

 

The OAC plans to maintain partnerships with the BTC and the Nature League in a continued effort to preserve Escarpment lands from development.

The Old Baldy purchase demonstrates that climber-led groups are capable of raising significant capital to preserve access to Ontario climbing areas; a model that the OAC will continue to adopt. This community-led approach is consistent with an evolving access strategy model that sees access groups purchasing property to preserve lands and make them available for public recreation.

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ABOUT THE OAC

The Ontario Access Coalition is an independent volunteer nonprofit organization working to preserve access to climbing and bouldering areas. The OAC helps to conserve the climbing environment by resolving Ontario climbing access issues by engaging with and educating the climbing community. Our team is committed to and passionate about working with the community, land owners, conservation authorities, and other property managers to educate, mediate and negotiate on behalf of climbers, in order to bring all parties together in a manner that is mutually respectful of one another’s needs. www.ontarioaccesscoalition.com

For images and more information contact info@ontarioaccesscoalition.com

ABOUT OLD BALDY

Old Baldy Conservation Area, located near Kimberley, Ontario, is frequented by many outdoor lovers thanks to its trail system and stunning position overlooking the Beaver Valley. Rock climbers can sample over 100 routes from beginner to expert on the beautiful dolostone of the Niagara Escarpment. Old Baldy is a historically significant climbing area for Ontario climbers, who have enjoyed the cliff for over 40 years.

Read more about Old Baldy here: http://www.ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca/2014/10/20/old-baldy

Old Baldy: an OAC success story

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courtesy Mike Penney

courtesy Mike Penney

Old Baldy is an excellent Escarpment cliff with almost 100 rock climbs of varying grades. One of the first cliffs to dry in wet weather, Old Baldy features pocketed limestone sport and trad routes in a beautiful setting looking out over the Beaver Valley. We’re ecstatic to announce that, with the help of our partners and the Ontario rock climbing community, we have secured access to Old Baldy for rock climbing. On this page, you can read about the history of Old Baldy as a climbing area and how we have secured access to it.

Historical Context
The cliffs at Old Baldy are on Grey Sauble Conservation Authority (GSCA) land, near the village of Kimberley. Old Baldy abuts the Bruce Trail and hikers have enjoyed the views for decades. The cliff base, as well as access to the cliff, have been on private land, and the GSCA has historically had an arrangement to permit access to recreational users.

Rock climbing’s recorded history at Old Baldy dates back to a visit by John Kaandorp and Pete Zabrok in 1982. (A pinnacle-top cairn and various documentary evidence indicate that technical climbing occurred even earlier; there are mentions of an outing to “Kimberly Rock” on June 17-18, 1972, led by Dave Read.)

Sport climbing became popular at Old Baldy around 1989. Soon thereafter, the GSCA closed Old Baldy to climbing, as reported in the 1991 Escarpment guidebook. [1] In the mid-90s, the Alpine Club of Canada Toronto Section’s Access Committee and the GSCA negotiated a permit system to allow climbing access. This system was primarily negotiated by the important Ontario climber Judy Barnes. The permit fees covered the cost of administering access to the crag, including the arrangement with the private landowner.

Recent Events

courtesy Mike Penney

courtesy Mike Penney

The 90s-era fixed hardware at Old Baldy has been replaced in the past few years, thanks to an OAC initiative supported by donations by Mountain Equipment Co-Op and local volunteers.

In 2013, the private landowner listed the land adjacent to Old Baldy for sale. This land is key to Old Baldy access; a friendly landowner ensures that access will continue, while an unfriendly landowner would threaten access to the cliff. The GSCA indicated that it would be interested in helping to preserve access to Old Baldy by administering this land, if the OAC could find money to purchase it. Over the next 18 months, we’ve managed to build a coalition of institutional and grassroots donors. Our many supporters have worked hard to make the land transaction a reality. Much thanks!

Gus Alexandropoulos, who runs the ontarioclimbing.com internet forum, organized a climber-focussed fundraising campaign which raised over $6,000. This contribution helped improve the viability of an OAC proposal to Mountain Equipment Co-Op’s Land Acquisition grant program. We gratefully acknowledge MEC’s significant support of $100,000, a capstone donation for this project. The Grey Sauble Conservation Authority and the Bruce Trail Conservancy also made large donations of $25,000 each, along with the Alpine Club of Canada Toronto at $10,000, ACC National at $5,000, and the Nature League at $2,000, which were instrumental in enabling us to complete the transaction.

The Future
The Old Baldy transaction has been made official. What does this mean for you as a climber?

  • GSCA and OAC have agreed (in writing) that rock climbing is a permitted activity on some GSCA lands (e.g. Old Baldy);
  • Going forward, GSCA will own and administer the Old Baldy lands.

Enjoy the rock!

See also: Old Baldy Press Release

[1] “Unfortunately, the cliff has been closed to climbing, as both the private landowner and Grey Sauble Conservation Authority have refused to grant climbers permission to use their property. Please respect their decision, and climb at the other cliffs in the area where access is not a problem.” p138, Escarpment: A Climbers’ Guide

OAC RECEIVES 100K FUNDING FROM MEC TOWARD PURCHASE OF OLD BALDY

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The OAC is pleased to announce that on Nov 8, 2013, Canadian Retail Cooperative – MEC, stepped forward as a major contributor towards the purchase of lands adjacent to Old Baldy Conservation area. MEC has agreed to fund $100,000.00 towards the purchase of a crucial parcel to help solidify sustainable and safe climbing access to the cliff at Old Baldy while promoting tourism in the Beaver Valley region for generations.

Additional funds are still required to make the purchase, and the OAC will continue partnership with the Toronto section of the Alpine Club of Canada, the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority, and the climbing community towards gaining the additional funds. This presents a significant opportunity for the climbing community to step forward and become relevant in large scale conservation efforts in the region.

The cliff at Old Baldy provides sport and traditional climbing opportunities at all grades in a picturesque setting above the Beaver Valley. The OAC has previously partnered with MEC, and the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority to successfully replace the existing climbing hardware at the cliff to enhance the safety of the cliff at Old Baldy.

Please donate via the PayPal option at www.ontarioaccesscoalition.com or email Randy Kielbasiewicz for inquiries.

Contact: Randy Kielbasiewicz
Email: randy@riversideopticalab.com

Downloadable Old Baldy Funding Press release

OAC participation at the 2013 Niagara Escarpment Leading Edge Conference

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The OAC continues to increase its visibility among stakeholders by participating at this year’s Niagara Escarpment Leading Edge Conference, held October 24 at Country Heritage Park in Milton, Ontario. The Niagara Escarpment Commission hosted the conference in partnership with the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act (NEPDA). The NEPDA aims, in part, to provide for outdoor recreation. Stakeholders at the event included the Niagara Escarpment Commission, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario Parks, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and Parks Canada. Presentations and panel discussions ranged from how to revitalize quarry sites to the intangible values of Escarpment lands.

At the conference, the OAC displayed its informational bouldering poster, typically housed at the Niagara Glen Nature Center. The poster generated a lot of interest in the state of climbing in Ontario and the OAC’s role in protecting climbing environments. Overall, the conversations were progressive and positive. The OAC hopes that continued representation at this conference will bolster collaborative efforts between climbers and land managers in Ontario to make climbing a more sustainable and accepted form of outdoor recreation along the Niagara Escarpment.

Niagara Glen bouldering permit enforcement starts today!

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As of August 16th, 2013 the two year trial period for purchasing bouldering permits at the Niagara Glen has lapsed. If you have not done so already, make sure to purchase your bouldering permit before bouldering at the Niagara Glen. Your cooperation is critical for climbers and the OAC to maintain a positive relationship with the NPC. If you are approached by NPC personnel, please gladly show them your permit and encourage others to do the same. The NPC made this decision in concert with OAC representatives and the OAC continues to support the NPC in its environmental and recreation sustainability efforts. Bouldering without a permit may result in loss of bouldering privileges. For details see the attached NPC press release: 2013-Bouldering in the Niagara Glen (NPC Press Release)

Official NPC bouldering rules and permit information can be found here: http://www.niagaraparksnature.com/things-to-do/bouldering.html

As always, make sure to practice ‘Leave No Trace’  principles and help educate other users to mitigate potential environmental impacts to the Niagara Glen.

Urgent! Donors needed to preserve access to Old Baldy!

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An opportunity to secure access to Old Baldy has arisen—the OAC and the ACC Toronto Section have been in discussions with the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority(GSCA) on the subject of land acquisition. We hope to find suitable large-scale donors to raise half of the purchase price of land next to the crag. If you, or someone you know, can help us by leaving a lasting legacy for future generations of climbers, please contact the OAC immediately.  For detailed information, see attached PDF letter here: OAC – Old Baldy – Land Acquisition