Rock Climbing Etiquette

When it comes to rock climbing etiquette, the two main areas of focus are on safety and about ethical considerations towards both conservation and the environment as well as consideration for others.

Climbers are only too aware that mountain climbing and any form of rock climbing can be dangerous so safety towards both themselves and towards others is of the utmost importance. They are also appreciative of the pleasure they derive from climbing in the great outdoors and how important it is that they try to conserve this so that future generations can derive the same amount of pleasure from their climbing in years to come.

But for those of you who may just be starting out in rock climbing, here are a few important things to remember.

General Etiquette

Firstly, before you even get to showing consideration to other climbers, you need to respect the other people with whom you might come into contact with. For example, you may need to take into account seeking land owners’ permission, dealing with park rangers, campsite owners and their guests and others who are sharing the great outdoors with you. Always ask permission whenever you’re unsure about something and remember to keep the noise down, especially if you’re staying at a camp site overnight.

Safety Etiquette

On a climb, learn to wait until it’s your turn. You should not try to pressure any other climber into rushing their climb even if they’re much slower than you. Remember they might just be starting out as you’ll have done once. Rushing a climber into something can often cause accidents.

Be honest and don’t mislead other climbers about the specific characteristics of a particular route. Climbing is a risky business at the best of times so putting them onto wrong trails or giving false directions can be very dangerous. Be very wary about sharing routes with other climbers and make sure that their safety system’s security has been checked before engaging in a manoeuvre using other people’s equipment.

Always keep your eyes and ears open so that you’re alert to any dangers or emergencies and always be prepared to stop and assist if another climber or group of climbers is in trouble or if there has been an accident.

Environmental Etiquette

Always try to use removable protection when you’re out rock climbing. Bolts and pitons can permanently change rocks and you should not be drilling or chipping any holds into rock. Where bolts are permitted, make sure you follow the rules of use.

If you’re using chalk to maintain your grip, make sure you use a colour that will blend in to the rock and clean it off when you have finished your climbing session. If you’re developing a new route, firstly consider what is likely to be the environmental impact upon trails, vegetation and wildlife before going ahead and use existing routes whenever possible.

If your rock climbing or mountain climbing involves camping overnight somewhere, make sure that you take out anything you bring in or dispose of it correctly. All of the rubbish you generate should be disposed of in the designated disposal units or litter bins or carried out with you if you’re out in the wilderness.

If you’re permitted to build a fire, make sure you only do so in a designated place and that you fully extinguish it and dispose of all the remainders of coals or wood safely.

Generally speaking, most people who are involved in rock climbing are very conscientious when it comes to etiquette. Therefore, make sure you follow in their footsteps.