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.
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.