Everybody does it. Learn how to do it right.

Whether you’re cragging, hanging off the side of a big wall, or making your way across a glacier, poop happens. But did you know that the improper disposal of human waste is a growing problem at our climbing areas?

Human waste can contaminate water sources, spread disease, ruin other people's experience, and raise the alarm of land managers. Different climbing areas require differing methods for human waste disposal, depending on the environment, local rules, and regulations.

Essential Skills

  • Use toilets whenever possible, even if you have to hike a bit further.
  • Keep a few waste disposal bags in your pack for emergencies.
  • In popular, high-use areas don't dig a hole. Pack it out in your waste disposal bag.
  • In remote forested areas where it is appropriate to use a cat hole, dig a hole 8" deep by 4" wide and bury only natural toilet paper.
  • Always pack it out in a bag in desert and alpine climbing areas. Both soils lack the microorganisms to break down human waste.
  • Whether you're going #1 or #2, move at least 200 feet away from water sources before doing your business.

Still unsure of what to do when nature calls? Check out this handy flowchart from Semi-Rad and GSI Outdoors.

Girl Talk

Feminine products do not decompose easily, and animals may dig them up. It's best to pack it out in a sealed bag. You can pre-pack your bag with aluminum foil on the inside for added discretion. We love this article from REI with tips for how to handle your period in the backcountry.

Be an Upstander, Not a Bystander

Have you committed to The Climber's Pact yet?


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Resource Center

Poop: Waste Disposal Strategies for Climbers

Human waste disposal is a significant issue in all types of climbing terrain. Check out the Poop: Waste Disposal Strategies for Climbers infographic to learn more about responsible human waste disposal.

Dave Wetmore Takes a Crap

Dave Wetmore shows how not to take a crap outdoors. Poop responsibly, people.

Anatomy of a Responsible Climber

Anatomy of a Responsible Climbing Infographic

Making the Transition from Gym to Crag

When transitioning from climbing indoors to outdoors, be prepared to venture outside by gaining awareness and skills to minimize your impact.