There’s no subtle way to describe a new project launched for rock climbers in Squamish, BC, designed to reduce human waste in the forest.
About 64 kilometers north of Vancouver, near the halfway point to Whistler, organizers provide bags for climbers to break in, seal and collect out of the wilderness for proper disposal.
The Waste Mitigation Gel (WAG) bag program was created by the Squamish Access Society (SAS) in partnership with BC Parks and sponsored by businesses in the mountaineering industry.
“There has been an explosion in the use of our backcountry areas in B.C. in the Southwest and the Sea to Sky Corridor, and rock climbing is part of that,” says SAS President Ben Webster.
“Increasingly, we are finding that there are problems with human waste, especially in our more remote reefs.”
Webster said dogs usually find the trash in the woods around the base of popular rock formations frequented by climbers, but sometimes people find it, and on very rare but “absolutely terrifying” occasions, a climber comes across a small ledge. climbing a cliff to find someone is relieved there.
Two stores that sell climbing equipment in Squamish, Valhalla Pure and Climb On, contributed to the program as sponsors, and BC Parks funded WAG bag stations in its parks.
Climb On co-owner Kathy Holm was careful not to blame the climbing community for the overall problem of human waste in the Squamish area, saying much of it has to do with people camping or living in their cars, and more broadly. the popularity of the region’s recreation.
“I don’t think it’s an acute problem on the cliffs,” Holm said, although the program is limited to distributing the bags on cliffs or crags or climbing routes.
Holm said the use of bags is common practice at many U.S. rock climbing destinations, especially in the desert.
“Climbers are certainly familiar with it,” he said. “Those who have traveled won’t think of it as anything new, but I’m sure others will have trouble accepting it.”
He said the bags aren’t like the little bags people use to collect their pet’s poop.
“It’s completely solid. You don’t have to worry about it exploding or anything. You can wrap it, there is no smell. It doesn’t feel dirty at all,” Holm said.
Webster agreed that B.C. it will be a paradigm shift for some people in the climbing community to start dipping in bags and taking it out of the woods.
He said five stations had already been set up at the cliffs, with four more expected to be ready in the next two weeks, and the stations had already called for refills, something that was expected as people pick up a WAG bag to drop them off. the package. when required.
“We’re excited that people will grab them, use them, and maybe people will be brave enough to tell their friends they’ve used them, because that will get the word out there,” Webster said.
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