2019 OAC Climber Survey Open Now

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It’s that time of year again — the 2019 OAC Climber Survey is now open! This year we’re surveying climber attitudes to help inform our advocacy initiatives. Information we gather will remain confidential and anonymous, and the survey takes only 15 minutes to complete.

We have two $50 MEC gift certificates and some OAC swag to raffle off, so fill out your response today! The last day for entry submission is Sunday, July 19th. Raffle winners will be announced on August 1st.

Complete the survey here:
https://survey.ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca/2019

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

An Update on Climbing in Ontario as We Move to Stage 1 of Reopening

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It’s been a week of hope and change as Ontario prepares to loosen certain COVID-19 restrictions.  Collectively we’ve worked hard to flatten the curve, enduring weeks of difficult social distancing measures and uncertainty about the future.  We’re now at a point where the province is ready to slowly begin the process of reopening, which is an exciting milestone.  What does this mean for Ontario climbers?

Crown Land may officially be accessed for recreational activity, including rock climbing where access is secure or tolerated. However, visitors must continue to respect all physical distancing recommendations.  Visitors must maintain a distance of 2 metres from other people, avoid gathering in groups of more than 5, and follow local restrictions.  Please keep in mind that some smaller communities, including Grey County, have issued official requests that non-residents or seasonal visitors avoid visiting.  Provincial enforcement officers continue to patrol Crown Land, which is managed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.  You may be questioned regarding non-essential travel.  Please strongly consider not traveling to access Crown Land if you are not a local resident.

Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves have opened for public access, but permitted activities in these spaces are still limited to walking, hiking, cycling, and birdwatching.  Climbing is not yet permitted.

Conservation Areas are independently managed by their respective Conservation Authorities.  Please check with the appropriate Conservation Authority to determine if they have opened to the public, and what their restrictions are.  Conservation Halton plans to open Mount Nemo and Rattlesnake Point in the coming week via a reservation system for all visitors, but climbing is not yet a permitted activity.  Climbing at the Niagara Glen is also not yet permitted.

We understand that things are moving quickly and it can be confusing to know where climbing is permitted.  Please adhere to all local guidelines.  Undertake research on the areas  you wish to climb at before planning your trip to ensure they are open for climbing.  Respect requests for visitors to stay away from vulnerable communities.  Be patient and wait for local crags to open up again.  If ever in doubt, please err on the side of caution and avoid putting access at risk.

We’re just as eager as you to be able to get out on real rock, but we must remember that COVID-19 poses a serious threat to health and well-being, and that the loosening of restrictions does not mean that the threat is gone.  Let’s do our best to continue preventing community transmission while enjoying the outdoors in order to maintain access!

With that in mind, we’ve established a list of guidelines to help you choose whether to climb, and if you climb, how to do so responsibly.  Please read them, and do your best to stay informed.  Be safe, be patient, and be considerate!

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 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 ).

Get Your 2015 ‘Ontario Crags’ Calendar Today!

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Peter on Naked Soul The OAC’s ‘Ontario Crags’ calendar for 2015 is now available at Mountain Equipment Coop in Toronto, Barrie, Burlington, aaaaand Ottawa! Highlighting the amazing beauty and variety of climbing in Ontario throughout the seasons, the calendar makes a great gift for any climber on your list or for yourself, and helps support the OAC in the process! Thanks to all the talented and generous photographers & climbers who donated to this annual project, and to you for your purchase!

Above: January photo of Peter Hoang on ‘Naked Soul’ at Papineau Lake, by Bojan Uzicanin

Get Your 2015 'Ontario Crags' Calendar Today!

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Peter on Naked Soul The OAC’s ‘Ontario Crags’ calendar for 2015 is now available at Mountain Equipment Coop in Toronto, Barrie, Burlington, aaaaand Ottawa! Highlighting the amazing beauty and variety of climbing in Ontario throughout the seasons, the calendar makes a great gift for any climber on your list or for yourself, and helps support the OAC in the process! Thanks to all the talented and generous photographers & climbers who donated to this annual project, and to you for your purchase!

Above: January photo of Peter Hoang on ‘Naked Soul’ at Papineau Lake, by Bojan Uzicanin

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

Beaver Valley Climbing Festival

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sport climbing “You are adventurers, you are people who have love for the earth, and so we have more common ground than we would think” – words of Gaisheda Kheawok from Whispering Song Teaching Lodge during the Beaver Valley Climbing Festival’s opening ceremony at Metcalfe Rock. “The earth has a consciousness, and it is talking to you, which is why you came here. It speaks to you and soothes your soul in every way that is right for you. That is really the alchemy of the earth’s consciousness and your consciousness. It is a conversation.” Kheawok’s blessing left everyone feeling high-spirited and gallant for the day’s journey.

Picture 1 The festival, now in its second year, had a large turnout of climbers, curious non-climbers, families and friends. Envisioned and organized by local companies, Free Spirit Tours and On The Rocks, the festival was an amazing success, raising over $6000 to support current and upcoming OAC projects, such as a proposed climber’s parking lot at Devil’s Glen. An even greater success of the event was uniting climbers with land managers and local businesses – a rare opportunity to celebrate the beauty of the Beaver Valley together.

Women's Clinic Rock climbing may have been the reason we all gathered together, but it was not the only activity featured in the festival. Throughout the day, alternative activities such as caving, rappelling, and slack-lining were popular, as were the yoga sessions led by Two the Core and the bike demos by Ride Guides. The family-friendly festival offered lots of fun for the young adventurers in attendance with a scavenger hunt, a Kids Survival Camp, and face painting. Of course, being a climbing festival there was plenty of climbing happening – beginner clinics, a training and nutrition session by At Last Adventures, climbing comps, and the Women’s Rock Star clinic put on by festival organizer Leslie Timms.

Picture 3 Metcalfe’s bridge area acted as the central hub for the day’s events. Participants gathered here before venturing out for their clinics. Representatives from the OAC and the Alpine Club of Canada answered questions about climbing and access.

Massage The bridge’s most popular spot was with Sonya Lee Reimer, the massage therapist from Living in Balance. Offering massages at just a dollar a minute it is easy to see why she was fully booked all day, with all the proceeds being donated to the OAC!

Picture 4 The festival volunteers were easy to approach and very personable; the whole atmosphere of the event was warm and welcoming. And the day ran without a hitch, which is a testament to the great organization, energy and commitment put in by everyone involved.

Picture 6 The aerial silk performance by Aerial Silks Collingwood wowed the audience, and wrapped up the activities at Metcalfe Rock. The festival continued at Rob Roy Dogsled Farm with live music and food catered by The Flying Chestnut (a very climber friendly establishment located in Eugenia). Activities continued into the night with the G6 Rock Climbing pull-up competition, and the Canadian National Ice Climbing Team’s figure-4 challenge, which not only raised $155 for the OAC but also created awareness for competition climbing in Canada. It is safe to say that everyone who participated had a great time!

Thank you On The Rocks Climbing and Free Spirit Tours for organizing such a wonderful event in support of the OAC. Thank you to all the sponsors and to those who have put a lot of time and energy into making this amazing festival a reality.

written by Elli Levene and Justin Dwyer
photos by Elli Levene and Dennis Barnes