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Q:  I have an awesome dog, and I love letting him run free whenever I can.  It’s great to bring him climbing with me, especially for desert climbing.  I climb, my friend belays, and my dog runs around!  It’s also nice that I don’t know where he poops, so I don’t even have to clean it up!  However, when I was climbing recently, other climbers looked mad at me.  What gives?  Why don’t they chill out?

A:  We all love dogs, but maybe not always at the crag!  First, you should make sure that the climbing area you are going to even allows dogs.  Next, you should make sure that your dog is well-behaved and not scaring other climbers.  It may be a good idea to keep your dog on-leash.  Finally, you need to pick up your dog’s poop everywhere, especially in the desert, where there are no microorganisms to break it down!  Check out the Access Fund’s crag dog guidelines to see if your dog meets the standard!

Q:  I always bring a bag to pick up trash with me to the crag.  My friends think I’m going to get infected from this.  Who’s right?

A:  That’s awesome that you are so conscientious about picking up waste!  However, you should make sure to protect yourself while doing so.  You should bring along gloves to use to protect your hands when picking up trash.  Also, be careful about what trash you pick up.  Glass, needles, and old electrical equipment can be very dangerous to handle.  If you are only using a thin bag rather than a bucket or other hard waste receptacle, make sure that what you put in the bag won’t cut it open.  In our cleanups, we use grabber pickup tools, gloves, and buckets to deal with glass.  And also, if you are finding you want some more help cleaning up your crag, contact us, and we’ll help!  Keep up your great work of cleaning up the crag – safely!

Q:  The last time I went climbing, there wasn’t a bathroom.  Problem was, I had to poop!!!!  I didn’t know what to do!

A:  In all but a sub-alpine environment, you’ll have to treat your poop like your dog’s:  put it in a bag and pack it out!  In a sub-alpine environment, you can dig a hole to put it into.  If you aren’t quite sure what environment you are in:  pack it out!  At many of our tabling events, we give away free ‘wag bags’ for just this purpose!  The Access Fund has great guidelines on what to do in different environments and how to package your poop.  Here’s a great example on what not to do!

Q:  My friend’s 21st birthday party is coming up, and I’d like to have a party for her at our local bouldering spot.  There’s a lot of people who hike near the area with their young kids.  Is this okay?

A:  Well, it depends what type of party you are going to have and how many people!  Will it basically be a bouldering session with a few close friends with a break for cake?  Or are you planning on a loud bash, complete with tons of people, alcohol, smoking, and loud music?  The first is okay, the second is absolutely not!  So, if you do have a party for your friend, make sure that you are doing it in a way that is courteous and respectful of the environment and the people nearby.  Keep the group size down, keep the noise down, make sure to clean up all of your trash, act respectfully, and don’t smoke.

Q:  I’m going climbing outside for the first time.  After taking part in Adopt-A-Crag events, I know that I definitely don’t want to litter or graffiti.  How else can I make sure that I act appropriately outside?

A:  Great question!  We are glad that you are so conscientious, and we hope you encourage your friends to be as well!  The Access Fund has great information on how to go from gym to crag, climbing respectfully in large groups, what a responsible climber does, and climbing in different environments.

Q:  I love climbing; I hate walking to the crag.  Oftentimes, the main trail just takes so long!  At St. Helena, I could cut the distance down greatly by cutting the switchbacks.  One person walking off trail won’t do that much harm, right?

A:  Wrong!  Is getting to the crag tough?  Maybe.  But it’s time to toughen up!  Walking off trail can greatly damage the area and contribute to erosion – even just from you.  Always stay on the main trail.  Keep your social leanings for posting your adventures on social media – not making social trails!