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Save the Planet: Climbing Style

Save the Planet: Climbing Style


It’s been the hottest winter on record, Blue Planet has shown the true perils of the plastic straw, and latest sea level projections are suggesting that we’ll be snorkelling up Pembroke’s seacliffs by 2300. OK, so maybe the last one isn’t quite right, but as climbers we can make a difference to the future. The environment needs our help!

At Womenclimb, we’ve had a think about how we can be more mindful of the environment as climbers and help make the countryside a place to be enjoyed for generations to come. here are our tips and tricks:

1. Take Waste Out

Ideally we would all live in a litter free world, but sometimes you just don’t have the time to handmake your own flapjack and store it in reuseable sandwich wrap. If you have to make litter, whether it’s that chocolate bar wrapper or your orange peel, make sure you take it with you. Think how sad you are when you walk past a screwed up crisp packet or manky banana under a rock – or worse, put your hand in it as you make a scramble approach!

You might turn a blind eye to the odd bit of organic waste, but contrary to some beliefs, fruit peel does not quickly bio-degrade and nor do cigarette butts. Filters take up to ten years to decompose, so if you need a smoke at the crag, bring a spare jar or bottle for your ends (with some water inside to avoid melting the plastic), then carry it all away. 

2. Bring a Bag to the Crag

Feeling helpful? Bring a bin bag to the crag and collect your rubbish along the way. 

All the best people do this, even BMC President Lynn Robinson, who recently helped out at Woodhouse Scar, an ‘urban crag’ in Yorkshire which sees its fair share of rubbish disposed of around all the nooks and crannies. 

3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose

What can you do with that old pair of shoes? That harness that’s past it’s best? Whilst our unwanted crag trousers can have second life via clothes recycling banks, it gets a bit trickier when it comes to gear.

If you’re feeling crafty, old ropes can be made into doormats, coasters and all sorts; metal gear into Christmas decorations, jewellery or bell pulls. Ready to get started? Edelrid offer a great rope-mat tutorial.  However, if you’re anything like me and don’t know one end of a sewing machine from the other, there is another option. Sheffield-based Scavenger believes your gear deserves a happy retirement after all it’s hard work. They take donations of unwanted gear which they transform into dog leads, cushions, wallets… Find your nearest collection point here.

4. Ditch The Gear Tape

We all like to know which gear is ours. Most of us do this by using electrical tape on our gear. The problem with this is that it doesn’t last forever, as you may have already found out. After a few years, you not only find your gear suddenly unmarked, but the little bits of coloured tape are now fluttering their way into the ecosystem.

“But what’s the alternative?”

Try some nail polish (on metalwork only). Pick yourself a colour and dab some lightly on. You could even have glitter! It’s much more permanent and less likely to end up somewhere in the foodchain. For slings and fabrics, you can try a Rope Marker in a pattern that only you can identify, as an alternative to tape.

Natasha Hirst Photography

5. Travel Smart

Whether that’s lift-sharing to the crag or finding somewhere conveniently accessible by public transport, not only is this better for the environment, but often cheaper. Think about your travel plans when you’re heading indoors too. If it’s close, why not switch your car or bus for travelling by two wheels, especially if it’s only your shoes you’re carrying? Lots of walls are now bringing in schemes to encourage this, such as free tea for cyclists, so make the most of it and get healthy in the process. 

6. Climb Dry

I know, I know, you’ve been planning that weekend at Stanage for months. And now it’s finally got there and it’s raining. Climbing when it’s wet can irreversibly damage some rock types, particularly sandstone, whilst chalking off the wet can make the problem worse. Better to go for a walk and hope it dries off and if not, maybe check out the local indoor wall. The climbs will be there another day. Or at least they will if we look after them.

Womenclimb trip to Catalonia Spain, November 2018. Natasha Hirst Photography

7. Respect the Countryside Code

If you don’t know the country code already, it’s time to swot up:

  • Keep to paths to avoid erosion
  • Leave gates as you find them to avoid irate farmers/unhappy sheep
  • Don’t light fires
  • Leave no trace

Also say hello in a cheery, bright tone to anyone passing by. At least, I think that’s included in there? Most importantly: Rule One – enjoy the countryside. More about the Countryside Code here: 


That just about rounds off all my ideas. Do you do anything else to help the environment when you climb? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Climbing!


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