Rock Climbing And Environmental Issues

by : Kris Koonar

Environmental groups and rock climbers are always at loggerheads because of the impact of rock climbing on the environment. There have been numerous instances, wherein rock climbers are accused of venturing into secured natural territories, and mistreated the organisms and rocks that are there. However, with the changing times, rock climbers are conscious and carry out minimal climbing.

Rock climbers hammer bolts on climbing routes and in the process deface the nature of rocks. In addition, climbing activity also has an effect on the animals and plants situated near the climbing area. The plants and small shrubs growing near the base of rocks are trampled on and cut back, lichens and fungi growing on the rock are spoilt, and the animals living in the climbing area are forced to displace, whenever humans are around.

For example, during the summer climbing season, gravid females of an endangered species of rattlesnake dwell in open areas like roadsides, exposed walls, or rocks, where there is less canopy closure compared to areas inhabited by non-gravid females and males. According to climbers, these areas are very pleasant and apt for climbing during summer. However, this gravely affects the habits of the snakes.

Many rock climbers have understood the significance of wildlife plant and animal preservation and related issues and therefore make provisions to minimize impact in climbing areas.

Keeping in view the impact of human intervention in natural dwelling, animals of various national parks and wildlife agencies have put forth certain restrictions on climbers. There are Seasonal closures of climbing areas, to avoid illegal entrance of uninformed rock climbers.

Climbers are always expected to support wilderness preservation. Many environmental organizations have been formed to safeguard the environment and in the process put down certain guidelines for rock climbers. Both sides have come to a common understanding on the impact of rock climbers on protected areas. Some of the agencies involved in these issues are the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management(BLM), the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Of the mentioned groups, only the National Park Services have put forth certain guidelines with significant inputs from the rock climbers.

Given below are some standard guidelines for rock climbers:

. If rock climbers have been allotted a specific area for parking their vehicles, they should respect the rules and keep their vehicle traffic off the sensitive areas.

. Always follow established trails, as these are established for keeping the impact in these areas to the minimum.

. Always follow the "Leave No Trace" principle. You should be acquainted with these principles, whenever you are practicing rock climbing outdoors. For instance-pack all the trash and leave the area like you found it before.

. Establishing new routes and cleaning the area is good. However, avoid "aggressive" cleaning like creating holds, removing large obstructions in landing areas and chipping, or removing any living vegetation from the climb or its base.

. Respect all 'stay out' areas- If a certain area has been closed for some reason, entering it stealthily only poses more grave threat. If climbers sneak in and break rules, they are not making any attempts to help the cause.