Earth Day serves as a powerful reminder of our collective responsibility to protect and preserve the planet we call home. Earth Day is every day in climbing culture. Our passion for scaling cliffs and exploring the great outdoors comes with a duty to steward the environments we love. From minimizing our impact to advocating for sustainable practices, here’s how we as climbers can be year-round Earth Day-ers. Here’s what we can do to protect our crags and places we love.

1. Leave No Trace

The mantra of “Leave No Trace” is more than a slogan – it’s a guiding principle for responsible outdoor recreation. Whether climbing, hiking, or camping, always pack out what you pack in. This means removing all trash, including small items like climbing tape, labels and tags from gear, and anything else that isn’t natural to the environment. Be proactive in picking up litter left behind by others, leaving the landscape cleaner than you found it.

2. Respect Local Traditions and Rules

Every climbing area has its own unique traditions, rules, and etiquette. Take the time to familiarize yourself with these guidelines, whether it’s respecting access restrictions or adhering to bolting regulations. Volunteer with local access committees to help maintain climbing areas and advocate for responsible stewardship.

3. Waste Management

Proper waste management is essential, even in the great outdoors. Avoid relieving yourself at the crag or parking lot – use designated facilities before you arrive, or practice Leave No Trace principles for waste disposal. Be prepared to pack out human waste if necessary.

4. Respect Nature and Others

Be mindful of your impact on the environment and other climbers. Keep noise levels to a minimum, respect wildlife and vegetation, and be considerate of other climbers sharing the space. Keep climbing groups small to minimize your footprint and avoid overcrowding at popular crags. Stay in the designated climbing area and avoid trampling over brush and micro-ecosystems. (Let’s be honest, this one isn’t too hard in AZ. If you do, you’ll probably come back with a couple cactus pricks!)

5. If you Chalk it, Brush it

Avoid leaving behind heavy chalk marks or tick marks on climbing routes, especially on boulders where they can be particularly unsightly. Brush off excess chalk after your climb to minimize visual impact and preserve the natural beauty of the rocks.

6. Fire Safety

Never build fires at climbing areas, as the dry desert brush can easily catch fire and cause quick damage to the environment. Respect fire bans and restrictions, and if you’re needing to cook, carry a portable stove instead of relying on open flames.

Conclusion

As climbers, we have a profound connection to the natural world – and with that connection comes a responsibility to protect and preserve it. By embracing everyday environmentalism and using sustainable practices, we can ensure that future generations have the opportunity to experience the beauty and adventure of rock climbing. Like Wendell Berry says, “The Earth is what we all have in common.” And we need to protect that! Every day is Earth Day for climbers, and together, we can make a positive impact on the places we love. Happy climbing, and happy Earth Day!