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How To Close A Crag In 12 Easy Steps

With the recent closure of The Turtle, one of southern Ontario’s most popular crags, I thought this would be a good time to review some behaviour that we should avoid if we hope to prevent future crag closures.

So on that note, I present you with How To Close A Crag (And Piss Off Other Climbers) In 12 Easy Steps.
  •  How To Close A Crag In 12 Easy Steps

    How To Close A Crag In 12 Easy Steps

1. Take a shit at the base of the crag or on the trail.
And while you’re at it, leave your shit tickets in the area (like little brown prayer flags) so that everyone (including land managers) can fully appreciate how much you want to turn the outdoors into your own private toilet. I wonder how you would feel if someone took a shit on your front lawn? Heck, next time I visit your place, I’ll make sure to drop a deuce on your coffee table. You won’t mind, will you?
  •  How To Close A Crag In 12 Easy Steps

    How To Close A Crag In 12 Easy Steps

2. Bring a posse of 20 of your closest friends and make sure you all hang out at the same area.
Contrary to what some new climbers may think, outdoor crags are not your local climbing gym. Hanging out at the base with a huge group not only creates erosion problems, but it also makes it difficult for other climbers to use the trails. Newsflash, climbing is not a team sport. If you want to hang out with a large group, stay at home and take in a Jays game.
3. Bring an off-leash dog to the crag.
Full disclosure: I own two dogs. Now that I got that out of the way, a great way to piss off other climbers and land managers is to bring Rover to the cliff and not have him on a leash. Just because I like dogs, doesn’t mean that other climbers (or even other dogs) feel the same way. Crags are shared public spaces. Keep your dog on a leash or leave him at home. If nothing else you’ll prevent him from rolling in the deuce that some other inconsiderate climber dropped at the base of the cliff (see point #1).
  •  How To Close A Crag In 12 Easy Steps

    How To Close A Crag In 12 Easy Steps

4. Make sure you bring your hammock and then string it up across the trail or near the start of a route.
Look, if you’re so tired that you need a hammock for resting, then perhaps this is not a great day to go cragging. Stay home, lounge by the pool and enjoy some umbrella drinks. The crag will be there another day when you have more energy. Let me make it simple for you. Land managers and the general public tend to frown upon hammock shanty towns. Yes, the world is such an unfair place.
5. Get on a route and then proceed to top rope it all day.
A classic tactic (closely related to hanging top ropes as a way of claiming routes) that is sure to infuriate everyone around you, especially if you’re on a climb that you have no hope in hell of ever completing. If you’re struggling on the 5.8 intro section of that 5.12, I can assure you that you won’t make it to the top. Do yourself and everyone else a favour and allow other more experienced climbers to get on the route. This way you can salvage anything that’s left of your self-respect and avoid being the route-hogging douchebag that everyone talks about on the drive home. As for how this behaviour can close a crag, consider that most land managers still frown upon climbers pummelling you for hogging a route.
  •  How To Close A Crag In 12 Easy Steps

    How To Close A Crag In 12 Easy Steps

6. Climb at an officially closed crag and then spray about it on social media.
First of all, no one really cares about your recent semi-hard (some would say flaccid) ascent of some obscure route at a closed crag. Sure, spraying about it on Fakebook and Instasham might garner you some attention, but what you don’t realize is that your friends are simply liking your posts because they feel sorry for you and your stunted mental state. Seriously, what else could explain your inability to read relatively simple words like No and Climbing? Oh, and in case you weren’t aware of this, land managers, who control access to numerous other crags, are also on social media and may not appreciate your inability to follow some basic rules.
7. Leave your cigarette butts, used tape, food wrappers and empty beer cans at the crag.
Pay close attention to what I’m about to say. The crag is not your local gym or your bedroom at your parent’s house. Unlike the gym, no one is hired to clean up after you and I suspect that your mother might not be eager to come out to the crag to pick up your trash. She’s probably too tired from picking up after your sorry ass at home. I know this is going to be a bit of a shock, but it’s time you grow up and pack your garbage out.
8. Bring an off-leash kid to the crag.
Please read point #3 and substitute the word kid for dog and the name Logan for Rover. Seriously.
9. Bring beer and bongs to a busy crag.
Personally, I don’t see anything fundamentally wrong with indulging in these distractions at home. But if you take a minute and put down that beer bottle and bong you might notice that crags are not your private lounge. Like I said before, these are public spaces used by a number of different folks that may not enjoy being around people that are drunk and high. And even if these substances are legal there are still restrictions revolving around public consumption. Finally, you may not have noticed (it’s hard to pay attention when you’re in a constant alcohol-and-weed-induced stupor), but climbing is attracting a much younger demographic that may not be ready to see their grade school teacher at the crag chugging beer and doing bong hits between redpoint attempts. I suspect that land managers see things the same way.
  •  How To Close A Crag In 12 Easy Steps

    How To Close A Crag In 12 Easy Steps

10. Parking in the wrong areas.
Yes, I realize that you are a very important person and it must be taxing having to interact with the proletariat, especially when it comes to parking in designated areas. I mean look at how much further you’ll have to walk to get to the crag if you parked where you’re supposed to park. You could be using the few extra minutes you save on approach for such important tasks like choosing the best new filter for your next selfie post. And what if your actions end up pissing off the local landowners and compromising access to the crag? That’s not your problem. Cause you are a very important person.
11. Walking off the main trails.
You see that giant pile of brush that’s blocking a side trail to the crag? You know, the pile you’re about to push aside so you can save a few minutes on the approach. Well, chances are very good that the trail-blocking debris has been intentionally put there by someone (like the land manager) to keep you from using those secondary trails. But I’m sure you would already know this if weren’t such a self-absorbed special little snowflake.
12. Bring your boom-box to the crag.
Make sure you bring your boom-box (I guess today it would be a wireless Bluetooth-enabled music player) and share your saccharine Auto-Tune playlist with everyone at the cliff. And feel free to occasionally switch things up by bombarding other climbers with your eclectic EDM collection. After all, the reason we go climbing is so that we can try to replicate what it’s like to be at a dance club – right? And don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone that you secretly rock-out to Katy Perry.
Illustrations conceived and created by Margie Keats.
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Gus Alexandropoulos is a freelance writer who has been involved in the outdoor industry for over 25 years. During his career he has been the editor at Canada’s national climbing magazine, as well as the gear editor for a national cycling magazine, triathlon magazine and running magazine. His work has been published in Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and he has been a guest on television and radio broadcasts. His passion for climbing began in Ontario in the mid 80s and he continues to travel extensively in search of crisp conditions and steep rock.