Bon Echo and Kingston Mills reopen to climbing

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Bon Echo has reopened to climbing access. The cliff top trail is now open, and the park is also open to car camping! Please remember that to climb at Bon Echo, you must either be a member of the Alpine Club of Canada and access the park through the Bon Echo hut, or register at the park with office staff. Also note that due to the presence of peregrine falcons, routes 1-23 are closed until further notice.

Kingston Mills has also removed the gate locks and is open for climbing. As always, you must stop by the lock office to sign in and fill out the waiver before climbing.

Please keep in mind that we must continue to recreate safely. Follow all government guidelines pertaining to COVID-19, and use our guidelines for climbing responsibly during this time. Be safe, look out for each other, and have fun!

Guidelines for Climbing in a Pandemic Poster
A simplified version of our guidelines for climbing during the coronavirus pandemic.

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

Our Official Statement in Support of Black and Indigenous Lives

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Until now, we had not issued a statement in support of Black lives following the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others at the hands of racially motivated violence. Historically, we have limited our public statements to land management access issues.  However, our members need to know that as an organization, we support equality.  Black Lives Matter.  Indigenous Lives Matter. There is no room for debate here.

Systemic racism is not unique to the United States; discrimination against Black and Indigenous peoples is prevalent in Canada’s past and present as well. We acknowledge that climbing is not immune to systemic racism, which affects members of our community in both subtle and overt ways. We also recognize that access to the outdoors and the resources to climb are luxuries that are not available to everyone equally.

We would like to thank our community members who reached out to us about our stance on recent events. We hear you.  We apologize for not speaking up sooner.  We are learning, and we are changing. 

We changed our name to the Ontario Alliance of Climbers because we want to unite the Ontario climbing community. Being representatives of our community, we cannot ignore important social issues that impact our members.

We have a lot to learn about how systemic racism affects our ability to ensure access for our members, and how we can work to dismantle it. Areas of influence we’ve identified include: 

The groups we work with
We will pay attention to the companies and organizations we accept support from, and those that we support. We will refuse to work with anyone who fosters racist or discriminatory behaviours. We will also help elevate outdoor initiatives which support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and equality in climbing when we are able to. If you are interested in contributing something in this realm, please reach out to us at info@ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca. We’d be happy to work together to find a way to assist you.

The events we host
We have a zero-tolerance policy for racist and discriminatory behaviours at our events.  All OAC functions are safe spaces for our community. We will work to promote diversity and inclusion at our events, and we will investigate ways to lower barriers for entry.

The composition of our board of directors
We acknowledge the lack of diversity on our board of directors. This is something we cannot change without your help. We are a small, volunteer run organization filled with people who are passionate about climbing and climbing access. We want you to know that we are not just welcoming of all volunteers, we encourage your participation.  Help us by getting involved. Take a seat at our table. We want to hear what you have to say, so that we can understand how to represent the community best. Please join us.  Send an email to info@ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca if you would like to get involved.

Our community involvement
We have decided to create a Nominations Committee to actively reach out to community members to get involved with us.  As a volunteer organization, we are always eager to have more voices join us.  Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of the opportunities to get involved.  We’ll take a more active role in soliciting the public when we think someone may offer a different perspective or skill set, and we’ll work to increase our diversity.  Please feel free to nominate community members you think would be an asset in our continued fight for open access!

Our continued growth and education
We know that the movement doesn’t end when the protests do. This is a lifelong learning opportunity. We will make race and inequality subjects of ongoing discourse. We have always kept an eye on international crag access issues to stay informed and to learn from activities elsewhere. It is our responsibility to add issues of inequality which impact the outdoors to our discussions, whether they have occurred locally or far from home. We will continue to help each other learn by sharing resources and having tough conversations. 

The messages we share on social media
We do our best to ensure that our messaging is always thoughtful, considerate, and respectful. We have made efforts to showcase the diversity of the Ontario climbing community in our posts, and will continue to do so. If you have images you would like to share with us, please tag @ontarioallianceofclimbers or send them to submissions@ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca. We love having the opportunity to meet our members and celebrate the outdoors with them. Moving forward, we will no longer be silent on issues of equality. There is no room for racism and discrimination in our sport.  Please help us when we make a mistake. We are learning, just as many of you are.

There are many resources others have already created to help us learn to be better allies for BIPOC in the outdoor community. If you are looking to understand how you can help, please consider these materials that we have found to be insightful:

https://www.outdoorresearch.com/blog/article/how-to-be-an-ally-in-the-outdoors

https://www.theatlantic.com/sponsored/rei-2018/five-ways-to-make-the-outdoors-more-inclusive/3019/

https://www.saltlakeclimbers.org/news/2020/6/11/racism-and-racial-justice-at-and-beyond-the-crag

We look forward to continued progress in the fight for equity. We will do our best to keep the needle moving in the right direction. The outdoors is a place for all, and we look forward to seeing you out there.

Sincerely,

The Ontario Alliance of Climbers

Randy Kielbasiewicz, Co-Chair
Mike Penney, Co-Chair
Patrick Lam, Director
Mike Makischuk, Director
Kacy Wilson, Director
Tony Berlier
Jessica Best
Tyler Coffin
Jeremy Fortier
Dustin Johnston-Jewell
Jenna Rines
John Vellone

The Niagara Glen opens to bouldering

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The OAC is excited to announce that we just received official word from the Niagara Parks Commission – The Niagara Glen is officially open to bouldering!

All trails are open, excluding the Whirlpool trail, which is flooded at the moment. Niagara Parks buildings are still closed, therefore, bouldering permits can’t currently be purchased in person. However, you can purchase a permit online at: https://www.niagaraparks.com/visit-niagara-parks/nature-activities/bouldering/

The park has asked that climbers print their confirmation and keep it with them as their permit. You can also print off a second confirmation and put it on your dashboard to use as your parking pass.

In addition to following all regular park rules, we suggest climbers yield to hikers at all times. If padding a climb blocks a path or makes social distancing difficult, please avoid climbing that boulder. The park has mentioned the possibility of closing some boulders to better facilitate social distancing, so it’s up to us to be respectful and share the space to avoid having boulders closed.

Please remember to follow all Leave No Trace principles, and consider our guidelines for climbing responsibly during the ongoing pandemic.

Please enjoy responsibly! 

Guidelines for Climbing in a Pandemic Poster
A simplified version of our guidelines for climbing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ontario Climbing Access Update

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Grey County has notified the OAC in response to our inquiries that they are now welcoming visitors to their outdoor areas! Grey Sauble has also confirmed that rock climbing is no longer prohibited by Provincial Order. With this news, we are happy to announce that climbing access is now open at Metcalfe, The Swamp, and Old Baldy, without any travel advisories.

Please check our crag status document for updates.

The North Bruce Peninsula, where Lions Head is located, has also officially announced it is welcoming visitors! If you choose to climb there please be mindful that Lions Head is an advanced crag and access there is extremely sensitive. The OAC has been informed of the temporary removal of all moderate Latvian Ledge routes for the purposes of rehabilitation. These routes represent the bulk of moderate routes at Lions Head. Please ensure your plans do not require these routes to be available, and remember that top roping at Lions Head is not permitted. It may be difficult to secure overnight accommodations at this time as many campgrounds are not yet open, so plan ahead before you go. Car camping is not allowed and people caught doing so will be ticketed.

It is important to remember that although the province is beginning to open up again, COVID-19 still poses a serious threat to smaller communities. If you choose to climb, it is important to plan your outings responsibly. Take all necessary precautions, follow our guidelines on how to climb during this pandemic, and enjoy some good weather!

Guidelines for Climbing in a Pandemic Poster

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

By | Access, News | One Comment

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!

Ontario Releases Framework for Stage 1

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Today, the Ontario government released a framework for Stage 1 of reopening the province.  While this is exciting news, it is not yet clear how our crags are affected by this latest announcement.  We are reviewing the information and reaching out to land managers.  We aim to make a statement by Saturday. 

Until then, please exercise good judgment, do your research, and if in doubt, err on the side of caution to avoid negatively impacting access.

A Study on the Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Outdoor Recreation Participation

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Brock University has teamed up with ALIVE Outdoors to study the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on Canadian outdoor recreation participation patterns. Study participants are asked to complete a survey which takes about 15-20 minutes to complete and focuses on how outdoor recreation affects their physical, emotional and overall health. It’s an opportunity to provide land managers and outdoor recreation service providers with information about the impacts of the recent recreation area closures. It will also provide insight into how outdoor enthusiasts feel about the reopening (or not) of these spaces.

The survey is only open until the 15th of May. If you have the time, please fill it out to ensure all outdoor recreationists are represented. This is your opportunity to tell land managers how much you value the outdoors!

Participate in the study here: https://brock.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2nP3retfFIYnuWp

Ontario Parks begin to open for walk-through access

By | Uncategorized | One Comment

With cautious optimism, Ontario is set to open Provincial Parks and conservation reserves starting this week. This is exciting news, as the ability to enjoy the outdoors is vital to both physical and mental health!

It is important to remember that recreational activities will be limited to walking, hiking, biking and birdwatching. Climbing is currently not a permitted activity. Park usage will be monitored to ensure proper physical distancing protocols are being followed, and we need to respect the situation to prevent these spaces from closing to visitors again.

For more information and to determine if parks near you are open, see http://www.ontarioparks.com/covid19

Conservation Areas on the other hand, such as Rattlesnake Point and Mount Nemo, are individually owned or protected by Conservation Authorities. They are not operated by the provincial government, and will not be opening with the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves.

Each individual Conservation Authority will determine when, and under what circumstances, their Conservation Areas will open to the public. So far, climbing is not permitted at any Conservation Area. The full list of Ontario Conservation Authorities can be found here https://conservationontario.ca/conservation-authorities/find-a-conservation-authority/.

We are working directly with land managers at the various crags, and will update the community whenever there are changes. For now, we must respect our relationships with the land managers in order to not create long lasting access issues.

Thank you for your patience and continued support!