Climbing and the Environment

San Diego is full of people who love the outdoors and regularly visit local backcountry areas. As this user base grows, we must be increasingly mindful of our impact on the environment, and as responsible outdoor recreationists, minimize our impact. Below are five simple recommendations that serve as a foundation for responsible stewardship when visiting the wild and scenic areas of San Diego and beyond.

Climbing EnvironmentStay on Established Trails

Do not create new trails or take short-cuts to existing trails. Staying on well established trails minimizes disturbance to surrounding habitat and prevents erosion. Look for existing access trails to boulders and be aware of crash pad placement.  Do not crush or trample vegetation found along the edges of trails, boulders, or at the base of walls.

Do Not Litter

Pack out your trash and dispose of it properly (including fruit peelings and nut shells). Garbage should never be left at the base of climbs, along trails, or at parking areas. This includes cigarette butts, climbing tape, and food and beverage debris. Do your part and pick up trash that others may have left behind.

Manage Your Waste

Use restroom facilities when they are available and, when they are not, choose a location at least 200 feet from water sources (even when dry), camping areas, and trails, and away from the base of climbing walls. Make sure to bury your waste (at least six inches deep) and pack out your paper (plastic baggies work well for this). Do not burn your paper; it is illegal and dangerous in San Diego backcountry areas prone to wildfires. Be sure to clean up after your pets as well, and make sure their waste is not left on the trails.

Avoid Harming or Disturbing Wildlife

Be respectful of all wildlife, this is their home. When you see wildlife, make sure to give them space. Keeping your distance and just watching wildlife in their environment can be a very rewarding experience. It is also important to manage your pets, keeping them on leashes or in a controlled area. Remember, a rattlesnake will find your dog off-leash before a ranger will.

Be Respectful of Your Surroundings

Respect for your surroundings includes being respectful of people, property, and wildlife in the area, along with the natural habitat. Do not play loud music at the crags, smoke, or litter. Check your boots for seeds that you might be spreading into backcountry areas. Many invasive plant species are spread when seeds “hitch-hike” on a hiker’s boot from one area to another.

Take Action!

If you see others not following these principles, kindly inform them that their actions are harmful to the environment and may impact everyone’s access to the area. In many cases, they may not recognize the impact of their actions. More tips like these can be found at the Access Fund’s Education page.