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Adventure, Climb / April 23, 2017

Don’t be “that guy” at the crag

Written by: Roxanne Trujillo

Rock climbing etiquette is not complicated, but the sport is not without its social mores.

Thankfully, they aren’t complicated. Follow these seven tips, and you’re more or less assured to not come off as a jerk at the crag.


1.Don’t yard sale your gear

Climbers pack in a lot of stuff. But there’s no reason for it to take up the whole crag. Keep your climbing gear out of walking paths, out from underneath climbers, and not spread out all over the vegetation.


Look for an area up against the rocks (ideally where no one is climbing), and pile your gear there.

2. Keep your music down

I’ll admit it—this one is sort of a personal beef. Rock climbing, to me, is a way to reconnect with the healing force of nature. And that process gets really mucked up by blaring dubstep.

It’s also unsafe. Climbers often need to communicate with their belayers, and loud music makes that harder to do. So if you do bring speakers to the crag (which I’d prefer you didn’t do at all), please keep the volume at a reasonable level.


No one wants to walk all over your gear, but they will if you leave it everywhere. Photo by Roxanne Trujillo

Remember: no one goes to the crag to discover new music. Keep yours to yourself. Photo by Roxanne Trujillo.

3. Don’t spray beta

Maybe you’ve got some insider knowledge about the crag you’re visiting. Maybe, for example, you know there’s a bomber sidepull hidden away just to the left of that climber above you. You should tell her, right?

Wrong. Many climbers consider figuring out a route’s sequence to be part of the challenge—shouting out tips to them is sort of like shouting out spoilers to Game of Thrones.

As a general rule, don’t share beta unless someone asks.


4. Don’t walk under climbers

The area directly beneath climbers is called the “crash zone.” It’s not hard to guess why—when climbers fall, this is often where they land.

Even if a climber falls high on a route, the force often pulls their belayer into the rock (and thus into the crash zone). So don’t be there. Walk around.


5.Keep your dog under control

Climbers love dogs. But if you’re going to bring yours to the crag please be sure they have a relaxed, friendly temperament , are minimal barkers and can follow commands. Always have a leash handy, even if your dog doesn’t need one, and bring enough plastic bags to clean up any messes it might make. 


6. Same goes for your kids

I’m all for encouraging children to climb. The adventures we have had together in nature will always exist.  I understand that children can be unpredictable and can have outburst out of your control, but that doesn’t mean you should lock them and yourself in the house forever.

Just be mindful. If your child starts having a fit, walk away with them. If that fit never ends, pack up and leave—you can always try again.

Put a helmet on your child, even if they aren’t climbing, and make sure they know where they can stand and where they cannot.

When your dog eats someone's lunch or steps on their rope, you'll be the one they take it out on. Photo by Roxanne Trujillo.

A child's place is outside of the crash zone... with a helmet on. Photo by Roxanne Trujillo.

7. Be safe

For a sport that is basically death-defying by nature, rock climbing is actually very safe. And at most crags, everyone wants to keep it that way.

Make sure you know all the necessary safety skills before you hit the crag, and research each climb before you get on it. Most guidebooks (or pages) detail the protection required for each route, so there’s no good excuse for being unprepared.

Stay on your own route (of course), and don’t interfere with anyone who is actively belaying a climber.

Did we miss anything? Email your rock climbing etiquette pet peeves to [email protected] 

about the author

Roxanne Trujillo

Roxanne is a Coloradical single track slayer, crux seeking, pow loving, thrill taking mom of a child that's comparably wild. Armed with enthusiasm and good coffee, she devotes herself to the outdoors and keeping pace with her adorable and energetic daughter. She is an ambassador for RaceFace, a V-something climber and goes by Birdy. She fantasizes often about throwing herself, daughter, friends and bikes in a Sprinter wrapped in #canvasthetoddler and peeling out to chase the mundo hermoso.

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