“To do good, you actually have to do something,” Yvon Chouinard said (ironically, in an American Express commercial. But hey, it’s a mad inspirational commercial!).
Start with these simple actions to limit your impact.
(1) Practice Leave No Trace (LNT).
Climbers might argue the ethics of ground-up versus rap-bolting ad nauseam, but in general, being an ethical, sustainable climber is not excessively complicated. It starts with practicing Leave No Trace (LNT).
LNT is a set of guiding principles that limits our human impact on natural spaces. You can read the seven principles here, and the specific rock climbing ones here. They include guidelines such as stay on the trail, pack out your trash, minimize chalk use, extinguish campfires properly and respect wildlife. Simple but crucial stuff.
Remember that every place you climb has different conservation issues. In many desert locales like Red Rocks and Moab, for example, you have to pack out your poop because it will not decompose naturally, even if you dig an appropriate hole. It’s a pain, for sure, but do you want to step in some dude’s poo while walking through the desert? No, no, no.
Disobeying LNT can get you in other kinds of deep shit, too. The Cold Springs fire in Boulder County this past July – which destroyed several homes, evacuated over 2,000 people and dispatched hundreds of firefighters – began when two men failed to extinguish a campfire properly. They were charged with fourth-degree arson and will likely serve 2-6 years in prison. One thing’s for sure: there’s no rock climbing in prison.
Practice LNT. Be a steward for the places you love.