The first thing you’ve got to know about a clean-up is that you don’t do a clean-up after a clean-up… Yes, there was something remarkable during our CleanUp event in Bleau during the Women’s Bouldering Event on 17 September; Elephant climbing area was pristine! Yet, there was enough to do for the 20 volunteers who showed up for our joint clean-up with ace climber Tiba Vroom from Wildflower Climbing!
Dirty campers and parkers
Soon after planting our beach flags on the parking at Elephant, we realized there was less work to be done than expected. While the blocks had been well taken care of by a kindly group of locals in recent weeks, the main dumping grounds near the village of Larchant. Clean-ups, however, are more than just picking up rubbish. More important is our ability to meet with like-minded individuals, connect to other organizations and exchange knowledge. But we’ll get to that, first we dove into the bushes and picked them clean on the parking strip and impromptu camping spot. A lot of thrash clutters the edges of climbing areas, and while climbers are likely to be blamed, they’re probably not the culprits. Showing our good intentions by cleaning up is always a good thing in showing the locals that we, as climbers, care about the area too.
We were especially honoured by the presence of Tiba from Wildflower Climbing. The Dutch climber is building her own gym for boss-level climbers, and is a passionate voice for sustainability in climbing. Having her represent us in part during such an event is fantastic. Tiba supported us in promoting the CleanUp and warmly welcomed participants together with our ever-courteous chairman Gerard. Though there was less cleaning to be done than expected, the ever-sharp Tiba noticed an exceptional amount of chalk on the rocks and joined by a group of fellow volunteers went on a brushing spree. They also discussed chalk ethics with various visiting climbers, many unaware of its impact.
Women’s Bouldering Event
The yearly Women’s Bouldering Event revolves around climbing for women (the name does kind of give it away). The event does not exclude men, but it strives to create a safe space for women to climb, interact and explore outdoor climbing. Justina Segers, who photographed the CleanUp, also joined the climbing event on Saturday: “It is very pleasant to be among women, who share insecurities or maybe lack experience in outdoor climbing. It creates a sense of togetherness and inclusivity, where you help each other out in a non-invasive way. For me, this was a very pleasant experience.”
Meeting, Sharing & Connecting
What we like to achieve mostly on events such as these, is to connect and share our message with others. When an impromptu gap in the program opened up and allowed us to host a talk about sustainability in climbing, we obviously took the opportunity with both hands. Tiba was willing to join us on stage for a discussion on the wider topic. On behalf of Clean Climber, Justina kindly took on that role to talk about the ReSole program and other initiatives. Though there was little preparation, the talk was a big success, with both ladies speaking passionately about the topic and their appreciation of nature. Visitors participated enthusiastically, sharing ideas and experiences. Of particular interest was the participation of Francis from Chalk Rebels and local fire marshals in the discussion. Did you know a smouldering cigarette thrown in the sand can cause a fire up to three days later? Now you know, and a lot of people know. And that is the best possible result of an event for us, connecting to others and together growing our awareness.
Our thanks go out to Tiba Vroom/Wildflower Climbing and Justina Segers for their participation and support during this event in helping us reach others and spread awareness. Special thanks also to Zofia from Women’s Bouldering for having us, supporting us and so enthusiastic and kind. And to all volunteers for showing up and helping out. Everyone can be a Clean Climber. If you’d like to know more about Women’s Bouldering Event, visit their website.