Rock climbing on the Niagara Escarpment: Emerging entanglements of care at the crag

Schaefer, Brittany
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University of Guelph

The increasing popularity of rock climbing on the Niagara Escarpment poses both environmental and social challenges. To explore these issues, 18 semi-structured interviews were conducted with Ontario rock climbers exploring their experiences in relation to two main themes. First, following the post-human turn in anthropology, this research explores the environmental challenges on the Escarpment by attending to how climbers cultivate intimate relationships with the cliffs through affective encounters that in turn motivate environmental care. Second, drawing from gender studies, this project documents how social injustice manifests within this community as microaggressions, exclusion, and lack of mentorship opportunities. Overall, these findings reveal that the community is concerned with issues related to a growing and diversifying population, suggesting a need for changes in management and policy, as well as in community attitudes and acceptance. This research contributes to discussions of social and environmental justice in anthropology by drawing connections between gender, colonialism, and rock climbing.

gender, Niagara Escarpment, ethic of care, decolonizing the outdoors, anthropology of sport, environmental anthropology, rock climbing, women in sport, Southern Ontario, route names