Most climbers support "minimum impact climbing practices." However, over time climbers have made a noticeable impact on many areas at Pinnacles. Current problems associated with climbing and hiking at Pinnacles include soil erosion, trail degradation, damage to trees, bushes and rock flora (lichens etc.), litter, human waste, and indiscriminate use of fixed anchors. Climbers should set an example for all user groups by working to reduce or eliminate environmental impacts. To ensure the future of open access to Pinnacles, minimal regulation, and a healthy Pinnacles environment, each climber must do everything he or she can to prevent or reduce impact...TODAY!
Proper Disposal Of Human Waste
- Use toilets when available. (Toilets are located at both trail heads and at the Scout Peak Junction in the High Peaks).
- Don't leave human waste within 50 meters of any water source or at the base of the cliff.
- Bury feces at least 6" (1/6 meter) below the soil surface.
- Always pack out used toilet paper (do not bury or burn it).
New Disposal Alternatives
With the many long hikes at Pinnacles and the lack of bathroom facilities, waste displosal is a serious concern. We all know that we are supposed to pack out our waste, but how many of us really do that? Restop's new Waste Containment Pouch actually makes packing out waste doable. Not only can you contain the waste, but the smell as well. Inside the bag is a powder, a polymer/enzyme blend, which biodegrades and gels the waste, giving it EPA approval to be simply thrown in the trash after use.
Check out their Web site at whennaturecalls.com
Erosion and Trail Maintenance
- Stay on climber access trails where present (designated by a sign showing a locking carabiner).
- Avoid traveling cross-country whenever possible, and don't cut across switchbacks.
- Remember that you may create the worst damage to soil and vegetation on your way to or from a climb. Even when you're eager to get there, or tired and heading home, avoid steep slopes with loose soils, stay on solid rock whenever possible, be aware of your surroundings and respect the wilderness you're passing through.
Observe All Closures And Regulations
Pinnacles' park management closes some areas temporarily or seasonally to protect nesting raptors' habitats, protect hikers passing below trailside routes, or allow overused areas to recover from erosion. Check the climbers' bulletin board at the West or East side trailheads for current information about closures (and reopenings) and the latest climbing management policies.
Be aware that motorized drills are always illegal in the monument.
Climbing Practices & New Routes
- Don't sculpt, chisel, glue holds onto, or otherwise deface the rock.
- Don't scrub streaks of lichen. Clean only individual holds.
- Adopt a minimum impact frame of mind concerning climbing.
- Establish NO new routes over trails.
- Do not stage or belay from park trails unless the trail is a designated climber access trail.
- Use natural colored fixed anchors (i.e. bolt hangers) which blend with the rock.
- If you must leave slings at rappel stations or "back off gear," use camouflaged (rock-colored) webbing.
- There's lots of great climbing at Pinnacles
Before putting up any route think carefully about what it add to Pinnacles' climbing and the monument. Set aside your own personal gratification. Ask yourself if the route is a significant positive addition? If the climb requires bolting, is it worth permanently altering the rock?
Safety - Climbing At Pinnacles Is Uniquely Dangerous
- Nuts and camming devices can pull out of the comparatively soft Pinnacles rock. On any climb where self-placed protection is required, expert skills are mandatory, regardless of the rating. You cannot place too much protection.
- Many climbs, especially older ones, have significant run-outs. Climb with fanatical caution. You can always tell a long-time Pinnacles climber by the curious way they tap the holds. The sound of that tap can tell everything about the permanence of the hold.
- As you venture onto the less-traveled routes outside popular areas like Bear Gulch, Discovery Wall, or the High Peaks, be prepared for greater risks. The rock is less likely to be trustworthy and the route data less accurate. You may also face bad or no protection bolts and bad anchors.
- Bolt placements on a number of routes can unknowingly put you in danger of a groundfall. Be aware of this potential when pulling up the rope to clip into the second bolt.
- Don't take bolts for granted. They are not necessarily "bomb proof" protection. Always examine the state of any bolt.
- The rock is LOOSE. Debris constantly is falling from the gravelly cliff tops. Always yell "ROCK!" if you dislodge something and be aware of people above you when on the ground.
Chalk / Tips To Reduce Chalk's Use And Impact
Chalk creates a visual impact at the Pinnacles that causes many complaints. Chalk marks and bolts can mark the passage of climbers in ways hikers and other visitors can't help but notice. Because the rain is infrequent and may not wash all the chalk off when it does come, it is important to use as little chalk as possible when climbing here. Some suggestions:
- Don't use chalk at all. On long easier routes there is enough dust and dirt to do the same job as chalk.
- Try using chalk contained in a mesh bag. You will use less chalk and not spill it as often.
- Try some of the other chalk substitutes.
- On harder routes, don't mark the holds with chalk. Use visualization instead to remember which holds you want to use (work out the sequence in your head).
- Pick up any large pieces of spilled chalk and brush away the dust.
Pinnacles is an excellent fall, winter and spring climbing area, often remaining dry when everywhere else is wet. Winter days are often clear, but can be very cold in the shade. Year-round climbing is available, but the summer months can be sweltering. Bring extra water during the hot days. There are NO water facilities on the trails.
If you haven't already checked, see our home page for the latest weather report.