6 Ways To Be An Environmentally Friendly Climber

©istockphoto/AlexBrylovRock climb­ing as a recre­ational sport has grown immensely over the past few years; there are now roughly 436 gyms open in North Amer­ica. As more peo­ple flock to pop­u­lar crags around the world, it’s impor­tant to work even harder to reduce the dam­age we’re cre­at­ing in our wake. Here are a few tips for becom­ing a more envi­ron­men­tally friendly climber.

Clear the chalk
If you’ve been to some of the crags around places like Boul­der, Col­orado recently, you might’ve noticed that the rocks are start­ing to resem­ble graffiti-laced ware­houses in the Bronx more than they resem­ble a part of nature. All of the white stuff dot­ting the envi­ron­ment isn’t pretty, which is why we should reduce the amount we use and leave behind. Take a spritzer, tooth­brush and water with you next time you climb and try and remove some chalk, whether it’s yours or not.

No more prun­ing
Some climbers, the boul­der­ing type in par­tic­u­lar, have a nasty habit of clear­ing out brush under­neath a climb so they can place their pads. When you do that, you’re clear­ing out some creature’s nat­ural habi­tat. Instead, find a spot where you can gen­tly use a string to pull the branch back to make room if pos­si­ble. Oth­er­wise, con­sider pick­ing another spot to climb.

Stick to the trails
There are gen­er­ally trails set in place to reach the most pop­u­lar climb­ing routes in any area. Some climbers pre­fer to seek out short­cuts and use their feet to make new ones, dis­rupt­ing the local wildlife’s home to shave off a cou­ple min­utes of walk­ing. Slow down and stick to the most heav­ily used trails even if it takes longer to get there. Trust us, the route will still be there when you arrive.

Become a pick up artist
As in, pick up your damn trash. It’s fine to slam some gra­nola on the trail, but it’s not cool to leave it there for the birds to clean up. News­flash: ani­mals don’t eat plas­tic. When you’re done with a route or boul­der, take a cou­ple of min­utes to cir­cle the area and pick up your left­over trash that might’ve fallen to the ground, and maybe, if you’re feel­ing up to it,  pick up any extra trash you see lying around.

Use eco-friendly equip­ment
Most climb­ing gear is already fairly friendly to the envi­ron­ment, so this isn’t as big of an issue as some peo­ple try to make it. You still want to choose gear that’ll last for a long time instead of opt­ing for cheap crap. This is espe­cially true for shoes – always aim for syn­thetic over leather to min­i­mize the impact on wildlife. There are even some out­fit­ters sell­ing spe­cial­ized climb­ing ropes that are bet­ter for the envi­ron­ment. Look around and do your research before mak­ing a pur­chase and you might even save a squir­rel or something.

Remove old bolts
Nobody wants to climb on a rusty bolt that’s seen one too many whip­pers for its time. Unfor­tu­nately, some climbers either don’t know how to prop­erly replace bolts or just don’t care. Instead of leav­ing an old bolt and drilling a new hole nearby, take out the old one and use the same hole; if you have to widen it to fit a mod­ern anchor, that’s fine. In fact, it’s preferable.

These are just sim­ple, baby steps toward becom­ing a more envi­ron­men­tally con­scious climber that’ll help us all in the long run. If you can think of more ways to reduce a climber’s car­bon foot­print, don’t hes­i­tate to share with your friends and community.