Updated: Nov 16, 2021
This past Sunday several volunteers from the Alpine Club of Canada – Manitoba Section, including myself (Brad Friesen), headed out to the Gooseneck Cliffs near Minaki, Ontario for a much needed cliff cleanup day. Having been out to the cliff several times throughout the summer, we all had a good idea of what to expect and where we needed to focus our efforts. Using the motto divide and conquer, we split up into smaller teams and worked on various tasks.
“Josée Lavoie and I picked up a full bag of garbage from the ditches adjacent to the cliff,” said David Cormie. “These cliffs are a sacred place for the local Ojibwa people and as we cleaned up we noticed several signs of this. We found a small red pouch of tobacco and colorful ribbons tied to trees. We left these undisturbed. We would remind others that as they use the area for climbing and camping to also be respectful.”
In total two full bags of garbage were packed out from the area. Most of it was from the area along the road, but some was also picked up along the trail and alongside the cliff.
While scoping out the trail heading into Hobbit’s Knees, Simon nearly tripped over a large steel beam, which was buried and covered by dirt and tall grass.
Ye Olde Outhouse
“When I first started climbing at Gooseneck, there were a variety of trails you could take to get to the lake,” said Rob. “They wound throughout the swamp and crisscrossed each other. Without a good trail, people would create new trails when a tree would fall, or when the water was high in the swamp. Now we have one really good trail that is on higher (drier) ground that is easy to maintain and keeps us out of the swamp.”
Simon and I also removed one of the log staircases on the lakeside trail as the log was quite rotten. In it’s place there is now a new stone staircase. During this upgrade, Josée and Adrien learned the importance of yelling “ROCK” when you’re the one responsible for dropping a rock down a slope and someone is standing at the bottom.
Hobbit’s Knees Boardwalk and Climbing Platform
The ground in and around Hobbit’s Knees can be notoriously wet at times. As a result many climbers don’t venture into this area, which is too bad because there are some really fun routes to be climbed, especially Hobbit’s Knees. In the past wooden pallets were placed along the base of the cliff face. Over time these have sunk into the ground and rotted out.
However, be warned that if you step off the boardwalk the ground is soft and will try to eat you. I unexpectedly was swallowed up to my knees when I stepped off the platform.
Hmmm…I wonder if my experience has anything to do with the name of the climb?
Paisley Park Climbing Area
Rushing to get the most of the available daylight, which was now fading quickly, Mike, Rob, and Val headed over to the Paisley Park bouldering area to clear the trail into the Voodoo Walls. After a solid hour, the trail was greatly improved and walking through the woods was made much easier. For those of you not familiar with this area, Paisley Park is located down the Cygnet Lake Road from the fabulous Hilton Campsite. Bouldering problems range from V1 to V7. We’re currently working on adding a guide for this area. Stay tuned for more info.
Hopefully this article serves as an important reminder for everyone who visits these areas. Please remember to pack out all of your garbage. Going forward, let’s all do our part and try to pick up at least one extra piece of garbage every time we go out climbing. Doing so will not only ensure that we have clean and safe climbing areas, but it also shows our appreciation and respect for these amazing wilderness areas.
“Maintaining cliff access is important to the community because we are among the users of the area and it is good to keep areas that we use well maintained for now and future access,” said Simon. “Being good stewards of the areas we use is exemplary to the community at large and strengthens continued trouble free future access.”
Interested in Volunteering?
Want to help out next time? Send us a message or leave a comment below. We’re always looking for volunteers to help us out. Volunteering with the club can be very enjoyable and rewarding. It is a great way to network and meet new people, while also providing a sense of accomplishment.
“It was a beautiful fall day spent with like minded people giving back to our club,” Adrien said. “I think that the spirit of volunteering, so prevalent in Manitobans, is alive and well in our club. We worked really hard doing some difficult and demanding physical tasks, but now the Gooseneck area is cleaner, more user friendly, and easier to access. In the midst of this we had a lot of laughs and finished the day off with some pizza and beer! Don’t know that is gets much better than this. Yes my sixty year old body aches today but I will be out again next time!”
The club organizes at least one cliff cleanup per year. In 2014 the club spent the day out at Roadside clearing brush alongside the cliff, and in 2011 the club spent the day installing those fancy green thrones you see out at Gooseneck and Panorama. You can read all about that experience in the January 2012 Cliff Notes Newsletter.
The club would like to thank all of the volunteers who came out to Gooseneck for our 2014 Cliff Cleanup and Trail Maintenance Day.