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A Leave No Trace Principles for Rock Climbing


Rock Climbers can minimize their impact by following the Leave No Trace Principles for rock climbing.


Plan Ahead and Prepare

- Know the regulations and special concerns for the areas where you plan to climb

- Schedule your climbing to avoid times of high use

- Bring the appropriate equipment for the routes(s) you intend to climb

- Check local regulations and ethics regarding the installation and use of fixed protection


Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow

- Always use durable roads and trails to access climbing routes

- When unpacking gear at crags, choose a durable location for your staging and belay areas

- Use existing anchors when available

- Good camps and bivy sites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary


Dispose of Waste Properly

- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and climbing areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, tape, and litter

- Carry out abandoned or forgotten gear and webbing

- Minimize the use of chalk when possible. Keep chalk bags closed when not in use to minimize spills.

- Consider packing out solid human waste using an approved method

- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet away from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished


Leave What You Find

- Preserve the past: observe, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts

- Leave rocks, plants and other natural items as you found them

- Avoid developing new routes near archeological or historical sites, or critical wildlife habitats

- Do not build structure, furniture or dig trenches


Minimize Campfire Impacts

- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcounty. Consider using a lightweight stove for cooking and bring a headlamp for light

- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans or mound fires

- Keep fire small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand

- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes


Respect Wildlife

- Learn about seasonal route closures and be prepared to back off a route if you disturb wildlife

- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach wildlife

- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely

- If bringing dogs to crags, ensure they are under control or consider leaving them at home

- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young or winter


Be Considerate of Other Visitors

- Larger groups should try not to monopolize popular climbing routes, especially during times of high use

- Maintain a cooperative spirit by being courteous to other users on the trail and at crags

- Let nature’s sound prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises unless necessary for communicating with your climbing partner(s)


Rock climbing is a wonderful and fun activity. Use these simple tips the next time you are out to minimize your impact on the land to help preserve our great outdoors for future generations! Learn more about how to Leave No Trace when you are rock climbing at the Leave no Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics:

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