Mt Arapiles will have some planned burns happening today and possibly tomorrow. The burns will be happening on the west side down to the golf course area.Whilst it won’t affect any of the main faces, it will mean that the summit road from Bushrangers up will be closed for a couple of days. You are still able to access Bushrangers itself. So if you are wondering what all the smoke may be from, wonder no more.
As Spring approaches, the number of enquiries I am receiving regarding closures and re-openings in the Grampians has increased. I am hoping to have some solid dates for this very shortly but, the indicators are good – aiming for a Spring re-opening in many of the areas. And first up, let me say that the response and care from the climbing community, of the closed areas has been impressive. And duly noted. For your interest please find the most recent update regarding climbing and bouldering areas following this article.
What is also very obvious is that the popularity of bouldering continues to grow., and quite noticeably at that. While this is great for the sport, for encouraging people to get outdoors and get physical with nature, it also means that there will be more human traffic that the areas and tracks in have to deal with. And this is really where we need to work hard to get some mindsets in place with those using the areas now and also those that will come in the future. This is so important when it comes to the environmental impact that these areas will inevitably have to deal with. We should do everything we can to minimize it – for the sake of the environment we love to climb in and those that will come after us, and also for the continued access that we currently enjoy. I don’t believe that the land managers we currently deal with want to just blanket ban climbing and bouldering so that the issues don’t occur and it doesn’t have to be dealt with. I do believe though that some of the concerns they have around traffic levels and impact, especially in more sensitive areas, are real and deserve to be addressed thoughtfully. This does mean taking into account the rights we have as recreational users, but there are also a suite of other rights and park values that land managers are required to manage. The Grampians is a National Park and one of its main goals (and for those that manage it) is to conserve its environmental values. So anything that contributes to more human usage immediately will be a concern. It is also an area that contains the largest amount of cultural heritage sites and has a strong indigenous community attachment to it. Again – anything that contributes to more human usage has the possibility of hindering the preservation of these sites and therefore destroying precious indigenous history in the process. All of this must be taken into account when managing the park.
Climbing and bouldering is now a very accepted form of recreational activity in the park, and for the most part, does not occur in visitor managed areas. Visitor managed areas = hardened surfaces, tracks etc.and budgets for staff and resources (minimal as they are!) And for climbers and boulderers – that probably sits a bit better for their experience. But if we want this, it also means we need to take on a role whereby we are constantly assessing our behavior and also the environment we are accessing. And when need be, we need to make adjustments – sometimes maybe even a little unpopular with others. I also believe that we can continue to engage in our recreational activity and still look after the environmental values of the park. As always, education is the key. And it’s not a one poster, one season kind of thing where the information gets put out there and that’s it. It’s a constant as new people continue to enter the sport.
Harking back to the first sentence of the second paragraph – very obvious is that the popularity of bouldering continues to grow. New areas are being developed around the Grampians. Some are in areas that can handle the traffic and impact more, and others less so. Getting people to understand this and adjust their behavior willingly, I think, is the key to continued access over time. CliffCare will be working on an educational campaign around bouldering and I am hoping that individuals and climbing related businesses will provide feedback and help when needed. And yes, there will be some posters but more importantly the issues and how to address them is information that is so easily passed on from one person to another. In general conversation the fact that a particular area may be closed at a particular time, and why that might be so. Areas that don’t handle larger groups as well. Suggested behavior when you can see activity of the negative kind. This is the kind of education that has more chance of sinking in.
There will be more of this over the coming months. Any thoughts you may have feel free to drop me a line, write a comment on the blog or facebook and just keep the dialogue going.
I know many of you have hauled a rock or two or even three. I know your forearms burned and your biceps felt like they would burst. And you thought to yourselves – not another working bee! When will this track ever be finished. And now it is! All good projects must have a good official opening. So on Saturday 6th June, we will be toasting the project and all involved. Come along to the Pharos Gully carpark where we will cut the climbers sling, have a drink, eat some cake and mutter a few words of big thanks to all involved.
Planned burn info for Grampians May 2015
Approximately 6 years down the line from the start of the project, the final rocks were put in place, and the Pharos Gully Track is now complete. This was a mammoth undertaking in a collaboration between CliffCare, Friends of Arapiles and Parks Victoria. Our artist in residence – anyone who has seen and walked the track will know what I mean – was Walter Braun. Walter is a climber and stonemason whom we employed to build the track. The rocks, of which the majority we had to bring onto the site were carried over the years by well over 1000 people. CliffCare and the Victorian Climbing Club would like to take this opportunity to thank Walter for his amazing work and to all the volunteers who believed the speel of ‘Take your training to a new level. Haul a rock’. We love you all and can’t thank you and your muscles enough. Peter Hawker the ranger at the park was also an integral part of this project and helped in whatever way he could along the way. Huge thanks also to our fellow collaborators – Friends of Arapiles and Parks Victoria. One word people. Teamwork.
I will have another article soon on the project, that gives a little more detail on project costs, volunteer hours and project timeline. Along with pictures along the years. Stay tuned.
Thanks to Acacia Rose and Peter from K7 Adventures for being on hand to take the photographic evidence of finished project.
Hoping that many of you manage to check this before you head off for the weekend. As I noted in the previous post, the main bouldering areas such as Andersons and Kindergarten are still closed but there have been a few new openings so check the post or download the official PV document uploaded to this site.
As always, please remember that many of the sites that have been opened are still recovering from fire. Take care to stay on the designated tracks, avoid going in with large groups and be mindful of your packs and gear and try to keep them off the vegetation as much as possible.
Grampians National Park Fire Recovery Update – Parks Victoria
For rock climbing and bouldering
Monday 30th March 2015
In January 2014 a large bushfire swept through the Northern Grampians causing widespread damage to visitor sites, roads and walking tracks. Many popular rock climbing and bouldering sites were also impacted including Hollow Mountain, Summerday Valley and Mt Stapylton. While three main visitor sites have since re-opened ( Flat Rock, Mt Stapylton return walk and Mt Zero), the majority of the Mt Difficult Range remains closed to visitation, this includes rockclimbing.
Environmental recovery in the Northern Grampians has been slow – shallow soils and lack of rainfall has meant vegetation has taken longer to regenerate. The landscape is still very fragile – Parks Victoria has been working closely with the local rock climbing community and CliffCare to ensure there has been a considered approach to re-opening rock climbing sites in the Northern Grampians, taking into account long term sustainability of climbing. Please support the long term recovery of fire affected areas by remaining out of any closed sites.
Open and accessible rock climbing and bouldering areas in the Northern Grampians:
(Accessible from Mt Zero Picnic Area, Flat Rock and Stapylton Amphitheatre areas only):
• Spurt and Afterglow
• Between the Sheeps
• Plaza Strip
• The Citadel
• Caves Club
• Central Buttress
• Grey & Green Walls
• Taipan Wall (Upper and Lower)
• Epsilon Wall
• Trackside Bouldering area
*Hollow Mountain (Gun Buttress to Andersons), Farside, all climbing areas on the Northern Side of Stapylton (Van Dieman’s Land to Sandinista) and other climbing areas in the Mt Difficult Range such as Eastside, Pohlners and Smiths Rd remain closed. Summerday Valley is currently only accessible via Licensed Tour Operators and school groups.
Other accessible rock climbing areas in and around the Grampians:
• Victoria Range (Please respect cultural heritage and recovering fire affected areas)
• Mt William Range (Seven Dials area)
• Serra Range (Including Bundaleer and Mt Rosea)
• Wonderland Range
• Mt Arapiles
• The Black Range and Mt Talbot (west of the Grampians) remain closed due to fire.
You can help support sustainable climbing in the Grampians by considering the following:
Stay on designated tracks – any off track walking can impact soil stability and the regeneration of vegetation. Spread of weeds and other pathogens can occur by foot traffic in fragile soils and recovering mossbeds. Don’t create short cuts or new tracks.
Consider other options – There are many climbing and bouldering sites within the Grampians. By giving these fire affected areas some time to recover they will be here to enjoy in the future.
Think about your safety – tree risk and unstable soils are present across all fire affected areas. Please remember your climbing etiquette when in the Grampians National Park:
Only climb in open and accessible areas and keep group numbers low – Avoid taking large groups into area where there are no designated tracks.
• Respect fragile environmental areas and cultural heritage
• Keep an eye out for aboriginal art sites – report to Parks Victoria if you find anything
• Be mindful of cleaning
• No chipping or bolting
• Avoid excessive chalk
• Take your rubbish home with you.
* Visit http://www.cliffcare.org.au/ for rock climbing access and environmental reports.
* For detailed information on open and accessible climbing areas please refer to relevant guide
books or websites. Please note park closures.
* The closest camping option in the National Park is Plantation Campground, approximately 10km north of Halls Gap, or private accommodation in the Northern Grampians area. Bush camping in closed fire affected areas is not appropriate.
For updates on the many camping, walking and driving opportunities in the park, call into Brambuk, the National Park and Cultural Centre in Halls Gap, visit the local Visitor Information Centre or call Parks Victoria on 13 19 63.
While Parks Victoria regrets the need to enforce closures, substantial fines will be imposed on those found in any closed, fire affected areas. For fire recovery updates, maps and further information on activities, campgrounds and car touring options in the Grampians National Park please visit http://www.parks.vic.gov.au phone 13 1963 or call into Brambuk the National Park and Cultural Centre, Halls Gap, open 9am-5pm daily.
Following quite a few enquiries more recently about bouldering areas open in the Grampians, notably the Northern Grampians, I have tried to put together a list of bouldering areas and their open/closed status. As was noted in an email I received from boulderer Vanessa Tocatijan, it can sometimes seem a little unclear especially to international climbers, what is exactly what. Trying to marry up areas in the reports which often highlight ranges and popular bouldering areas to the info contained in the Grampians Bouldering guidebook can be a little tricky if you aren’t that familiar with the Grampians. As I explained, putting the information together in a report in a timely manner can often make this quite difficult and we don’t always manage to get it right. It is an important point that Vanessa has raised and I hope this info can help clarify things a little more. What I must also say is the interest of the climbing community to get the right info and get it right when it comes to closed fragile areas is really heartening and should be commended.
There are a number of extra bouldering sites reopened for Easter. They are still contained predominantly in the Mt Stapylton area
Northern Grampians areas
Andersons, sub areas include: CLOSED
This area, including the sub areas mentioned, is still closed and needs more time to recover. It was burnt quite extensively, with the fire quite hot. Little rainfall hasn’t helped.
Hollow mountain, sub areas include: CLOSED
Hollow Mountain Cave
As above, this area is still closed. Hollow Mountain provides access to a much larger area, parts of which are still delicate and will not handle the traffic climbers and boulderers bring as well as all the other park users who want access to the tracks. Another point to note – It is also a trait of climbers and boulderers to wander off track to find and develop new areas. After fires the ability to access these is made much easier. Unfortunately, this is a death sentence for recovering environments. And as it has been proven in the past, new sites have been developed whilst the areas have been closed. This is not the only reason (climbers are not the only users that are being taken on board) but it does inform whether opening a particular area that provides easy access to another nearby fragile area is a wise move.
Mt Stapylton area, sub areas include:
Kindergarten – CLOSED
Daves Cave – OPEN
Epsilon wall – OPEN
Trackside – OPEN
Spurt and afterglow walls – OPEN
Snakepit – OPEN
Lower Taipan – OPEN
Wildsides – OPEN
Between the Sheeps – OPEN
The Citadel – OPEN
Caves Club – OPEN
Ground Control Caves – ??
Campground area, sub areas include:
Campground Boulders – The boulders that are in park property are still off limits. There are some boulders that are on private property. These boulders were part of a negotiation with the private owners a number of years ago, whereas we managed to arrange access providing we took care of the sites, not using them to toilet etc. I have not managed a site inspection of this area as yet but would imagine the area would be quite fragile if it was contained in the fire zone. I would recommend giving this also some time to recover. Also accessing the boulders on private property requires you to pass through parks land and then the issue of toileting elsewhere becomes a problem.
Titanic – CLOSED
A number of enquiries have revolved around the Kindergarten closure. The track in is predominantly on rock, the site itself has a solid rock base so the question is – how is the environment being impacted and why is it still closed? On a site visit early last year that included myself, local boulderers and Parks Victoria, this was one area that we were really hoping would be in a situation that it could be reopened. All of us were throwing around possible workable options to make it happen but the agreed outcome at the end of the day was that it wasn’t really possible without risking 1. Access to nearby Andersons which was in a very fragile state 2. The amount of users that would then use the Kindergarten would be substantial and along with this would come the need for toileting areas. The surrounding soil was very fragile and shouldn’t be accessed. Where would people toilet? If you think about it, the reality of this ‘ small’ problem isn’t so small. Toileting on the rock is never acceptable yet digging a hole or moving off rock wasn’t an option either. Multiply that by the groups of people that head out to the area. Makes it tricky.
I will have a couple more updates to put up on the blog today. Stay tuned and be informed.
you think about it, the reality of this ‘ small’ problem isn’t so small. Toileting on the rock is never acceptable yet digging a hole or moving off rock wasn’t an option either. Multiply that by the groups of people that head out to the area. Makes it tricky.