Clean Climber by Clean Climber

Mountain Protection, UIAA
Photo: © Clean Climber


Germany, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Europe, USA

Project Status:  
Launched August 2018

Gerard van Laar


Clean Climber organises clean-up events together with climbers and local people alike at rock climbing crags and access roads to these crags. We promote the event, provide clean-up material, contact local authorities, educate climbers and local people on the trash problem, and organise a BBQ at the end of the cleaning day for the participants. 

We aim to not just clean the crag, but also have a lasting positive effect on the local trash problem. We do this through education of participants and the placement of information signs at the crags. 


Through education of participating climbers, we aim to change their mindset. Trash found around the crag that is not theirs, should still be taken away. Besides that, some more education is needed, for example to not throw apple cores in the bushes. Through education of local people, we can inform them that the disposal of trash is harmful for their health and economy. In Banja Luka for example, talking through the people of the adjacent village had lasting effects. They understood that trash harms their livestock, after the clean-up event the local municipality has placed a permanent trash container in their village to prevent more used mattresses from ending up in nature. 


We work together with local climbers and local climbing organisations to understand which crag needs to be cleaned up, to co-promote the event and to get in touch with local authorities for permissions and trash removal after the event. 

Through local climbers and local climbing organisations we get in touch with the local communities. The local climbers know the area and the language and therefore can break the barriers and help to understand the root of the trash problem. 

The local communities benefit first of all by having trash removed in their area. Secondly, the positive publicity through Clean Climber can attract more conscious climbers to their area, increasing their income. Lastly, we aim to provide lasting solutions, for example by making the local authorities place and empty trash containers near the crag. 


For 2019, we aim to clean more crags and reach more people than 2018 by organising crag cleaning events during climbing festivals worldwide, as well as reusing lost & found climbing materials in climbing gyms. 

A milestone for 2019 is for Clean Climber to have organised 10 cleaning events since its start, removed 2000 kg of trash and have reached 1000 people both on- and offline. 

Future milestones include: 

  • Organising used gear returns from climbing gyms to the OEMs or reuse at climbing crags. 
  • Clean Climber with its activities becoming CO2 neutral. 
  • Clean Climber needs two volunteers for each event, as well as on average 1,500 euro per event for cleaning material, communication cost, travel cost compensation and operational expenses. The budget for 2019 is 14,000 euros. 

Clean Climber’s long-term vision is to make the climbing become the first sport that is in balance with nature. 

Climbers buy clothing and climbing material that they need to discard at the end of their life span and need to travel to climbing areas. The climbing community rarely gives back to nature and is therefore not in balance with nature. We will always have a negative impact on nature by buying products and transportation, to get the balance back, we need to compensate on all fronts. This starts with cleaning the crag, knowing that we will clean more trash than climbers have produced. We will need to reuse and recycle climbing material instead of discarding it (on which Clean Climber has already started, see website), we need to reduce and compensate our travel emissions and buy local products. 


We promote the cleaning events through our website, through our Facebook site, through the sites of the local climbing organisations, the sites of the climbing festival organisations and through the UIAA. We make movies after of all our events and post them on Facebook and our website

To discover more about the UIAA Mountain Protection Award please click here.

Please note that the content published in this article is courtesy of the Award nominee. The UIAA has made minor revisions to the original submission.