Mount Nemo Access Update

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Conservation Halton (CH) manages climbing policy for Rattlesnake point, Mt. Nemo, Kelso, among others. These crags are home to hundreds of routes that have been enjoyed by climbers for decades.  The OAC has just received the following email from Conservation Halton regarding the installation and recent removal of fixed hardware at Mount Nemo:

“Hi guys,

This was just brought to my attention. I thought I would forward to you as there are two points here that are bothersome. One is that bolts are removed by someone and the second is the call to replace the anchors without consultation with Conservation Halton. I would really like to try and get a handle on this so that bolts are not replaced until we see Nigel’s report and discuss the recommendations that he might have. 

I am hoping that the OAC may take this matter over and bring some calming affect to this situation. Would you mind seeing what can be done from your end. 

Ron Kindt

Conservation Halton”

The OAC would like to request that the individuals involved in this matter respect the wishes of the Land Manager who is, and has been for many years, a leading supporter of climbing at some of the province’s most popular cliffs.  The OAC is meeting with CH in January and we are hopeful that a mutually agreed upon plan can be approved for the Spring.

Mount Nemo Update

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A number of members of the climbing community have contacted the OAC regarding concern over the removal of fixed protection at Mount Nemo.

Through 2011 and 2012, the OAC has worked with Conservation Halton (CH) in conducting an environmental assessment to determine a climbing anchor strategy at Mount Nemo. The strategy aims to eliminate cliff-top impact, manage mid-face impact caused by climbing, and maximize climber safety.

An ecologist from CH documented the condition of the entire cliff line managed by CH, with the help of an OAC representative. The report from this assessment, which is currently pending, will guide the development of the strategy by CH and OAC.

The OAC continues to collaborate with CH in the official process to develop a detailed anchor strategy for Mount Nemo. Once the strategy is approved, we anticipate inviting volunteer work teams to implement the strategy, and hope to enter into potential funding agreements for the cost of hardware. Modification of the cliff-top, mid-cliff or cliff-bottom environments jeopardizes the process.

The OAC remains committed to maximizing climbing opportunities while collaborating with CH to help them effectively manage their properties. CH is a leader in incorporating climbing management into the operational models that they manage.

Kelso re-opening delayed until October 15th, 2012

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Unfortunately Kelso will not be re-opening this weekend. The revised target date is now October 15th. Stay tuned for the latest updates.

The Kelso area manager just sent us an official update this morning. Here is what he said:

“Unfortunately we will not be able to re-open Rock Climbing this weekend. We have some work to do on the grading which is the reason for the delay. Contractors have assured me they will be able to take the fencing down on October 15th.

I apologize for the delay.

Thanks for your understanding”

Swamp Update

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The OAC has been receiving inquiries from the climbing community asking for an update on climbing access to “The Swamp”.  The popularity of “The Swamp” rose very sharply after news of its existence spread in the community during the 2010 climbing season. The area features both sport and traditional climbing on cliff lines and detached pinnacles in a pleasant forested setting.

The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) manages the area and currently tolerates climbing thanks to the efforts of the OAC. In 2010, the OAC met with the MNR in a successful effort to prevent the closure of the area. The MNR is currently conducting an assessment of the environmental Natural Heritage of the larger area which includes “The Swamp” climbing area.  The OAC is in regular contact with the MNR regarding “The Swamp” and is working hard on behalf of the climbing community to ensure sustainable access to the area.

Rumour has spread that climbers should steer clear of the area while the Natural Heritage Assessment occurs. In an effort to update the climbing community with correct information Shawn Carey, Area Manager (and an ex-climber himself) with the MNR has issued this statement:

 

“MNR and OAC have been in regular contact regarding climbing activities at the Kolapore Uplands.  OAC is aware that MNR is currently conducting a natural heritage and trail inventory in an attempt to better understand the ecological features and functions in the area and also to assess the potential impacts of various recreational uses on those features.  Our goal is to ensure that recreational opportunities continue to exist but are managed in a way that ensures adequate protection of the unique features in Kolapore. OAC has been very helpful in providing advice and recommendations with respect to assessing the climbing routes and looking at various management options for the future.  MNR continues to encourage climbers to follow “leave no trace” practices and understands that their actions during this process will impact the outcome.  MNR looks forward to continuing to work with OAC and appreciate their efforts to date. “

 

As always, please follow the OAC’s “Code of Ethics” when climbing at “The Swamp” and other Ontario crags.

 

Kelso Access Update

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Climbing at Kelso is scheduled to re-open Sept 30, 2012.  Halton Conservation is working hard to expedite construction and allow climbing to resume as soon as possible.

Premature climbing in the area may compromise the construction permit and cause a further delay. A further meeting scheduled for mid-August is expected to build on increased mutual understanding to date of the OAC’s, climbers’ and Conservation Halton’s perspectives.

The OAC would like to thank Jon Rigg for his volunteer efforts in facilitating conversations with the Park Superintendant and doing a fine job representing the interests of the climbing community.

We can’t wait to get back on some of the classics like DraglineZip and Jolly Roger.

 

Come Climb at Lake Kushog

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The rock and ice climbing around Lake Kushog offers wonderful opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, but amazingly it isn’t well known. The Firehouse Restaurant has reached out to the OAC to reach out and build a long-term relationship with the climbing community. Together, we have identified areas of concern and erected signage clearly communicating best practices for that area. Even a Climbers’ Special menu item has been announced to encourage climbers to refuel in the restaurant after climbing.


NPC offers explanation of fee and waiver management plan structure at Niagara Glen

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Through the coordinated efforts of the OAC and the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC), the Niagara Glen now formally permits bouldering.  With the new establishment of a formal management plan for bouldering many in the bouldering community are questioning why they would pay for access to something that has been free for so long.  In response to these questions the OAC has reached out to the NPC and asked for clarification on the fee. The Niagara Parks Commission has provided a statement that explains the need for the fee, why boulderers and not other users pay, and how the funds collected from the fee are used:

“Bouldering Activities in the Niagara Glen

During the 1980’s, The Niagara Parks Commission moved to limit the recreational pursuit of cliff-face climbing within the Park, by restricting it to emergency and maintenance purposes only.  At the same time, the Commission continued to allow the recreational activity known as bouldering to take place.  Over the years, bouldering has increased in popularity and the Niagara Glen has become a noted world-wide bouldering site.  The need for a more formal program to oversee this activity was therefore needed to protect the physical, cultural and ecological integrity of the Parks and Niagara Glen.

Following consultations with the public, the Ontario Access Coalition (OAC) and other interested groups, new rules were developed to permit the continuation of this sport in the Niagara Glen. Annual Bouldering Permits will now be issued to encourage safe access by users, while protecting the greatest concentration of Species at Risk, which are found in Ontario within the Niagara Glen.  However, there are costs in doing so in terms of staffing, insurance, legal, monitoring, mapping and maintenance, which Niagara Parks would not otherwise experience, if it did not allow this sanctioned activity to occur.

As a self-funded agency of the Province of Ontario, The Niagara Parks Commission operates in a commercial manner with revenues raised reinvested back into the Park to support its much needed stewardship and preservation activities.  The bouldering community, by way of this new permit fee, will also be contributing to the responsible continuation of the sport and protection of the most sensitive aspects and nature of the Niagara Glen.”

Climbing in the Niagara Glen was first recorded in 1922.  After nearly 100 years of free access to Niagara Glen the recent growth of the sport has resulted in the need for change to allow bouldering to continue to grow.  In Ontario and around the world the climbing community and land managers are challenged with how to incorporate environmentally responsible activities on their land.  The OAC continues to believe climbing to be a low-impact self powered recreation opportunity.  We encourage climbers and boulderers to follow our code of ethics in promotion of Leave No Trace practices.  Please support this partnership by purchasing your annual bouldering permit at the Butterfly Conservatory this Fall/Winter; hours of operation here: http://www.niagaraparksnature.com/things-to-do/butterfly-conservatory.html