A faux pas at the crag can mean the difference between getting helpful beta from locals and having them throw rocks at your head. For the most part, climbing etiquette comes down to basic courtesy, safety, Leave No Trace principles, and keeping things in perspective. Below are a few specific crag behaviors to avoid or practice.
Every crag has a specific style and level of tolerance, resulting in etiquette unique to that site. At some crags, locals will rip you for breathing through your mouth in a cave because, “It increases humidity!” In other areas, locals will wonder why you forgot to bring the circus of pads, videographers, and production assistants.
The best way to abide local etiquette is to familiarize yourself with the history of the area and who the locals are, and treat them with respect. The majority of climbing guides and Mountain Project site descriptions contain information on local ethics. The Access Fund also often includes “local pet peeves” for listed areas online. Read whatever tiny nuggets you can find to stay out of trouble. Be especially considerate when making a first ascent. Gluing, cleaning rock, and bolting are all hugely important to the local community.
Showing up and leaving trash everywhere may be what you do at your parents’ house, but it’s unacceptable at the crag. Picking up Clif Bar wrappers and climbing tape, as well as keeping chalk in your chalk bag remain the basic essentials of crag etiquette.
Noise remains one of the most overlooked forms of crag pollution. From bumping the latest Lizzo hit to shouting beta, loud climbers impose their noises on the people around them.
Most of us are all in it for the same reason: to send some routes and spend a little time outdoors. Be considerate of your fellow crag mates and everyone will have a better time for it.
Tag your gear with colored tape or another visual mark so you avoid arguments about who that cam belongs to.
It can be frustrating to travel to a crag in search of a little solitude only to find people waiting in line for routes. Try to approach the growing crowds at your local crag in stride—on the upside, more people are getting out and sharing the sport you love, right?
Keep a handle on your equipment, pets, and children to avoid trouble and irritating other climbers.
There are hundreds of ways that a good day of climbing can turn ugly—stay away from wrecking the climbing experience for yourself and others with inconsiderate or irresponsible behavior. Take care of the crag and it will take care of you.