ACC and the Environment

The Alpine Club of Canada in 1907:

“A national trust for the defense of our mountain solitudes against the intrusion of steam and electricity and all the vandalisms of this luxurious utilitarian age.”

ACC Co-Founder Elizabeth Parker


Throughout its history the Alpine Club of Canada has worked to protect the alpine environment and, while times have changed, our commitment to the environment remains as strong as ever.

Part of the ACC’s mandate is to promote self-propelled alpine pursuits and by definition that means encouraging more people in the backcountry: more climbers and skiers, more nights in tents and huts. Isn’t that the opposite of preserving the environment?

The way we see it, wilderness is an irreplaceable resource of great value to everyone on our planet, not just to those who recreate in it. If we can promote self-propelled alpine pursuits in the most environmentally sound manner possible then we will be increasing the number of people who are exposed to that environment and increase the number of people who love it and who will act to protect it.

Or put another way, the footprints and the ski tracks will fade from the mountains, but the memories of the mountains, and what they mean to us, will last a lifetime.

We will tread lightly. We will leave no trace. We will inspire people to care about the environment.


“We will act as stewards of the mountains”


Today, the ACC works hard to reduce our own impact on the mountains by making ACC backcountry huts and adventures as “green” as possible; and we let Canadians know about threats to the mountain environment – from climate change to inappropriate development and use. In everything we do, the ACC and its members are guided by our Environmental Values and Principles.

Statement of Environmental Values and Principles

As Canada’s national mountain organization, the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) promotes mountaineering while being committed to conservation of mountain environments. As ACC members we recognize that access to the mountains obligates us to understand and protect these unique environments. To this end, we, ACC members, are guided by the following environmental values and principles of action.

Our Values

Leadership: We believe that we must act as stewards of the integrity of mountain environments and seek the knowledge and understanding required to do so effectively and responsibly.
Responsibility: We believe that we are accountable for our impacts on the mountain environments we travel through.
Human Development: We believe that access to mountain environments is essential to the full development of the human spirit, and that such access should not be unduly constrained, except where it is essential for the protection of these environments.
Sustainability: We believe that future generations should have access to similar experiences and personal challenges as those we seek in the mountains, and that we have an obligation to protect their interests.
Culture: We believe that communities and cultures that live within mountain environments deserve our understanding and respect.

Our Principles of Action

We will act to ensure that our activities in the mountains are carried out in accordance with our values. We will utilize “leave no trace” practices. We will act on our individual and collective responsibility to ensure that this standard of practice is met.
We will act as stewards of the mountains, seeking to reduce human impacts that threaten the integrity and sustainability of mountain environments.
We will act to increase our knowledge and understanding of mountain environments, and our impacts upon them, so as to inform and guide our mountain practices and stewardship efforts.

Access & Environment Committee

The National Access & Environment oversees the ACC’s responsibility to advocate the freedom of mountaineering and to promote conservation of the mountain environment in coordination with the Club sections’ Access & Environment Committees.
The mandate of the Access & Environment Committee is guided by both the Access & Environment Policy and the Wilderness Code of Ethics.

Wilderness Code of Ethics

Stewardship of resources and protection of the environment are both essential to preserve the quality of the experiences which we value so highly. As more people take advantage of outdoor recreation, the level of protection must increase or the experience will deteriorate.
All wilderness users have four obligations:

  1. Manage Waste: eliminate adding solid waste to the wilderness by carrying in less, and carrying out that which you carried in.
  2. Tread Lightly: eliminate all visible signs of passage, and avoid contact with wildlife.
  3. Natural and Cultural Resources: treat protected areas, private property, other cultures and other users with respect.
  4. Education / Advocacy: educate yourself, volunteer your time, and ensure that all who will listen hear what you value in the wilderness.

Environment Fund

In order to provide support for projects that contribute to the protection and preservation of mountain environments, the Club offers grants through its Environment Fund. Projects are evaluated and ranked in accordance with the criteria established by the ACC Environment Committee. The deadline for receipt of applications for each review is January 31st of each year.

For more information and application forms, visit: The Environment Fund.

State of the Mountains report

Athabasca Glacier. Photo by Wayne Lynch

Athabasca Glacier. Photo by Wayne Lynch

Glaciers are melting and the landscape is changing. We know this because we can see it happening. The ACC Access & Environment Committee teamed up with the ACC Mountain Culture to sponsored a report on this subject, researched and authored by mountaineer and writer Meghan J. Ward. Find out more about the project and read the report at State of the Mountains report.

ACC Huts and the Environment

BalfourandOuthouseACC huts play an increasingly important role in reducing the environmental impact of backcountry travel in wilderness areas. The ACC is an acknowledged leader in the environmentally responsible operation of backcountry facilities. Through ongoing research efforts, the Club seeks ways to further reduce the “environmental footprint” of backcountry visitors through the use of appropriate technology.
For more information, visit: ACC huts and the Environment.

Environmental Partners & Associations

Leave No TraceLeave No Trace

The ACC is proud to be a partner in Leave No Trace Canada, a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and inspiring responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships. Leave No Trace builds awareness, appreciation and respect for our wildlands.
For more information including a list of Principles, visit: Leave No Trace Canada.

Backcountry Energy and Environmental Solutions

BEESThe ACC is proud to be a founding partner of BEES (Backcountry Energy and Environmental Solutions) a non-profit collaborative initiative formed to facilitate research, find solutions, and share information about energy, potable water, grey water, and blackwater at alpine and subalpine backcountry facilities. The ACC uses BEES principals in its facilities management.
For more information, visit BEES.

International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation

uiaa-logoAs a member of the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA), the Club follows it doctrines. The organization’s mission is to promote the growth and protection of mountaineering and climbing worldwide, advance safe and ethical mountain practices and promote responsible access, culture and environmental protection.

UIAA Environmental Objectives
UIAA Mountain Ethics Declaration (PDF)
On October 10, 2009 the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA) amended and approved their Mountain Ethics Declaration.

Enjoy yourself in the wilderness, but protect it for the enjoyment of all, and for its own sake!