North Grampians climbing area updates 23/12/2014

The following is the latest update from Parks Victoria with regards to open and closed climbing areas in the North Grampians. As noted below Mt Difficult Range, Wartook basin,  Hollow Mountain, Summerday Valley and Coppermine Track areas – there is a good chance that these particular areas will remain closed until Spring 2015 in order to allow them to regenerate. I will be involved in a site visit early in the new year to look at a number of other sites, in particular bouldering to see how these are faring and whether some early reopenings may be possible. Parks Victoria has asked for it be noted that thanks are to go out to the climbing community for supporting these closures and supporting environmental recovery for the long term.

You can see some pics out and about in the North Grampians from a number of field trips I attended this year as well as some from the recent Summerday Valley LTO pilot reopening trial, of which the VCC was involved in. Here

Grampians National Park Fire Recovery Update For Rock Climbing and Bouldering
 Friday 19 December 2014

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 the Hollow Mountain, Summerday Valley and Mt Stapylton areas. We are now approaching twelve months since the fire and there have been many significant fire recovery projects completed. Some projects will continue into next year with the planning and rebuilding of visitor sites, infrastructure and experiences particularly across the Mt Difficult Range.

However, environmental recovery in the Northern Grampians has been slow to recover and vegetation will continue to take time to regenerate; in particular the rocky outcrop environments where soils are shallow and steep slopes exist. In addition, the north of the Grampians has received substantially less rainfall than usual, which has further slowed the regeneration of vegetation. The landscape is still very fragile – any off track walking, climbing and bouldering can cause these areas to take much longer to recover. Personal safety must also be considered with tree risk and unstable soils being present across all fire affected areas.

As a result, Parks Victoria will continue to keep some popular rock climbing areas closed to visitation to provide the chance for ecological recovery. This includes most of the Mt Difficult Range, with particular reference to Hollow Mountain, Andersons and the Kindergarten, Summerday Valley, North of Mt Stapylton, Van Diemen’s Land and Cut Lunch Walls, the Coppermine Track and Mt Zero road areas.

Please respect the fragility of the environment and support the long term recovery of the Northern Grampians by remaining out of any closed areas. While Parks Victoria regrets the need to enforce closures, substantial fines will be imposed on those found in any closed, fire affected areas.

Open Rock Climbing and Bouldering Areas Northern Grampians (Flat Rock and Stapylton Amphitheatre areas only):

Central Buttress
Grey & Green Walls
Taipan Wall (Upper and Lower)
Spurt Wall
Epsilon Wall

Other accessible rock climbing in and around the Grampians area:

  •   Victoria Range (Please respect cultural heritage and recovering fire affected areas)
  •   Serra Range (Including Bundaleer and Mt Rosea)
  •   Mt William Range (Seven Dials area)
  •   Wonderland Range
  •   Mt Arapiles
  •   Mt Talbot
  •   The Black Range

*Fore detailed information on open and accessible climbing areas please refer to relevant guide books or websites.

Please remember your climbing etiquette when in the National Park:

  •   Only climb in open and accessible areas
  •   Stick to formal tracks – don’t create short cuts or new tracks
  •   Respect fragile environmental areas and cultural heritage
  •   Keep an eye out for aboriginal art sites – report to Parks Victoria if you find anything new.
  •   Be mindful of cleaning
  •   No chipping or bolting
  •   Avoid excessive chalk
  •   Take your rubbish home with you.

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.

Access & Environment Report, December 2014

Feedback from members of the climbing community has been positive in regards to the reopenings in the Northern Grampians.

I have contacted Tammy Schoo to discuss ball park opening times for some of the other areas. We are hoping to get a meeting squeezed in before Christmas to look at some other smaller areas including bouldering sites. Whilst originally there was some hope for a Christmas reopening for some of the other major areas ie Hollow Mountain, this is unlikely to happen. Rainfall has not been good and with the Northern Grampians one of the driest, it doesn’t make for good groundcover regeneration. I will know more once I meet up with Tammy and we look and discuss the situation. The biggest problem is while a particular area might be on the way or even in a state to handle some traffic, opening up the area in order to access it causes huge problems. Much of the area around Hollow Mountain is still in a very fragile state. Opening it up in order to get to some area is a certainty that people will head off track to search and develop new areas, or just shortcut to get to a particular cliff they can see. I am only talking on the climber side of things. There are also walkers who would head off track to see an area they may not have seen before because of the bush.

There are definitely areas that are bouncing back but some areas still look completely annihilated. At the recent Grampians Advisory Group meeting, we drove along the Mt Difficult Road – it was a very sobering experience in certain sections. We also had discussions around the Brush Tailed Wallaby program – I will have more on this very soon. We visited the new hikers camp near Rosea. This one is to be a test case for the other 11 camp sites which are part of the Grampians Peaks Trail. Looks very exciting and will be a great experience for those walking the trail.

I attended the recent Arapiles Advisory Group meeting which I thought was a very productive meeting. We discussed many things but one of the main discussions was around the campground itself and especially the issue with decreasing shade due to loss of trees. We have started a sub committee and have given ourselves a deadline date of planting season next year when we WILL get plants in the ground. The native pines that were planted a couple of years ago was a step forward but unfortunately that particular species is extremely slow growing and isn’t really classed as a good shade tree. There has been some research of various species and we will decide on this in a meeting in February. A survey will be put together and this will also be put out to the climbing community for feedback. Also some leveling of the campground was discussed. This would help in the long term for even distribution of campers across the whole campground. Currently people chase the shade(trees) as well as even ground. The long term effect of this is that compaction and erosion occur and further trees are put under stress.

I also recently attended the Grampians Roundtable and Fire planning forum. Much of the meeting was a field trip where we were visiting fire affected areas to either look at damage and recovery or to hear how the fire fighting or planned burns helped, didn’t help etc. I hope to have some information on these processes soon to put up on the website. Understanding how the burn program works, the improvements that are being made to managing landscapes via burning is an interesting, albeit controversial topic. The more informed we are makes it much easier to provide knowledgeable feedback to those who handle the burn programs. It is a complex and tricky business.

The following  images were recently taken in the Summerday Valley area that show some of the regrowth occurring. Thanks to Liam Beasley for the photos. You can also see some pics out and about in the North Grampians from a number of field trips I attended this year as well as some from the recent Summerday Valley LTO pilot reopening trial, of which the VCC was involved in. Here

wall of fools 2 08 by liam

sdv firescape 03 by liam wall of fools 99 by liam

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dsc_0068 dsc_0067

dsc_0017

carpark view 85 by liam mt stapylton 82 by liam Back Wall 1.1

Access and Environment Report, November 2014

Following the working bees in August and the opening of Stapylton Ampitheatre for recreational climbers, Summerday Valley has been closed to the general public whilst the area and surrounds is given a little more time to recover. Opening this whole area is still a little way off – December is a month being thrown around at the moment. In the meantime, some Licensed Tour operators have been able to access just the Summerday site in a controlled opening. This allows PV to keep an eye on the impact of users on the area before a general opening. LTO’s are only interested in being able to use the specific site of SDV therefore there is no risk of other areas that are still very fragile, being accessed. In order to allow some recreational climbers to attend the area as well, The VCC has been invited by Parks Victoria to participate in a restricted trial reopening of climbing in Summerday Valley. The club will be running two trips to Summerday Valley in the Mt Stapylton area.

As this is a trial reopening for this year, the total number of participants on each trip will also be limited.

For details on the trips and to register your interest, see the club trip page. Many thanks to Parks Victoria for allowing the club to be part of the trial reopening, and for Ross Timms who attended the induction program and Michael O’Reilly our new Club trips Coordinator.

FALCONWATCH

Following some information he received from a climber at Mt Arapiles, Kieran Loughran has informed me of two falcon and kestrelw nestings at the Mount. As per usual, this is nesting time, and it is hoped that all climbers will respect the birds and give them a wide berth.

These are their regular nest sites and have returned once again.
Above Cassandra , which is near Flight Deck. They generally nest near the rap anchor area Eurydice on Bard Buttress.

When birds are nesting, your presence can impact hugely on their breeding and survival of chicks. It may be annoying that you can’t do the climb you had planned but it will always be there for another day. If you do the climb, there’s a good chance that the Peregrine won’t be there for another day. It’s not worth it.

Access & Environment Report October 2014

Following the working bees in August and the opening of Stapylton Ampitheatre for recreational climber, Summerday Valley has been closed to the general public whilst the area and surrounds is given a little more time to recover. Opening this whole area is still a little way off – December is a month being thrown around at the moment. In the meantime, some Licensed Tour operators have been able to access just the Summerday site in a controlled opening. This allows PV to keep an eye on the impact of users on the area before a general opening. LTO’s are only interested in being able to use the specific site of SDV therefore there is no risk of other areas that are still very fragile, being accessed. In order to allow some recreational climbers to attend the area as well, the VCC has been invited by Parks Victoria to participate in a restricted trial reopening of climbing in Summerday Valley. The club will be running two trips to Summerday Valley in the Mt Stapylton area.

As this is a trial reopening for this year, the total number of participants on each trip will also be limited.

For details on the trips and to register your interest, see the club trip page here

Many thanks to Parks Victoria for allowing the club to be part of the trial reopening, and for Ross Timms who attended the induction program and Michael O’Reilly our new Club trips Coordinator.

FALCONWATCH

Following some information he received from a climber at Mt Arapiles, Kieran Loughran has informed me of two falcon and kestrel nestings at the Mount. As per usual, this is nesting time, and it is hoped that all climbers will respect the birds and give them a wide berth.

These are their regular nest sites and have returned once again.
Above Cassandra , which is near Flight Deck. They generally nest near the rap anchor area Eurydice on Bard Buttress.

When birds are nesting, your presence can impact hugely on their breeding and survival of chicks. It may be annoying that you can’t do the climb you had planned but it will always be there for another day. If you do the climb, there’s a good chance that the Peregrine won’t be there for another day. It’s not worth it.

Adult female peregrin falcon - photo Victor Hurley

Adult female peregrin falcon – photo Victor Hurley

Northern Grampians Reopenings – Further updates

Hi All,

Below is the official update from Parks Victoria on the reopenings that will take place this Saturday 20th September. Please take note of what isn’t accessible at this point in time and also the fact of what campgrounds are not open – especially Stapylton Campground. Most of all, while you are having a great time out there, take great care of the places you love.  Cheers!

Grampians National Park Update – 17 September 2014 (Rock climbing and Bouldering)

In January 2014 a large bushfire swept through the Northern Grampians causing widespread damage to visitor sites, roads and walking tracks. Many popular rockclimbing and bouldering sites were also impacted including Hollow Mountain, Summerday Valley and Mt Stapylton.

The dry, rocky landscape is now extremely fragile and will take a long time to recover – the fire burnt extremely hot so in many cases regeneration will now occur (very slowly) from seed. Loss of vegetation, loose rocks, unstable soils and loss of access tracks means any foot traffic will have long term impacts on the recovery of the environment. Impacts now will also affect the sustainability of rock climbing sites well into the future.

Recently, Parks Victoria, volunteers and contractors completed recovery projects within rock climbing areas to reinstate damaged walking trails, realign rock climbing access and replace directional signage.

As of Saturday 20th September access will once again be available to rock climbing and bouldering areas within the Stapylton Amphitheatre in addition to those already available in the Flat Rock area. The access track from Flat Rock has been realigned into Grey and Green Walls and to Taipan wall. Please follow these new alignments and refrain from walking off track.

Open Rock Climbing and Bouldering Areas in the Northern Grampians:

  • Central Buttress
  • Grey & Green Walls
  • Taipan Wall (Upper and Lower)
  • Spurt Wall
  • Epsilon Wall
  • Trackside Bouldering area
  • Snakepit
  • Wildsides
  • Spurt and Afterglow

Closures remain in place at all other Northern Grampians Climbing and Bouldering sites for the time being, including Summerday Valley, Andersons, The kindergarten, Van Diemens Land and Cut Lunch Walls. Stapylton Campground also remains closed. Plantation Campground is the closest, open campground.

Parks Victoria will continue to assess damage and undertake recovery works over the coming months. Updates will be posted as re-openings occur.  Please respect the fragility of the environment and support the long term recovery of the Northern Grampians by remaining out of any closed areas. While Parks Victoria regrets the need to enforce closures, substantial fines will be imposed on anyone found in any closed, fire affected areas.

 

Due to closures in the Northern Grampians, the availability of rock climbing, camping, car touring and bushwalking experiences is limited. Sourcing information on available campgrounds and other accommodation options is recommended. Please visit www.parks.vic.gov.au  for park maps and regular Grampians fire recovery updates.

For detailed information on available rockclimbing and bouldering sites in and near to the Grampians please refer to recognised guidebooks/websites. A general list of open and available areas includes the following:

Rockclimbing sites open in the Grampians:

  • Stapylton Amphitheatre
  • Flat Rock
  • Wonderland Range
  • Serra Range (Including Mt Rosea and Bundaleer)
  • Mt William Range
  • Victoria Point area
  • Victoria Range (Including the Red Rock, Muline and the Gallery area. Please respect cultural heritage and recovering fire affected areas)

Limited Bouldering Sites available in and near the Grampians:

  • Stapylton Amphitheatre
  • Victoria Range (Including the Gallery area. Please respect cultural heritage and recovering fire affected areas)
  • Serra Range (Including Mt Rosea and Bundaleer)
  • Mt Arapiles
  • Mt Talbot
  • The Black Range

Please remember your climbing etiquette:

  • Only climb and boulder in open accessible areas
  • Stick to tracks
  • Respect fragile environmental areas and cultural heritage
  • Keep an eye out for Aboriginal Art sites – Report to Parks Victoria if you come across anything new.
  • Be mindful of cleaning
  • No chipping or bolting
  • Avoid excessive chalk
  • Take your rubbish home with you

Northern Grampians reopenings update – Saturday 20th, September.

With the September school holidays just around the corner – like this Saturday the 20th to be exact, the question on many people’s lips is – what is open for climbing in the Northern Grampians?

Following many discussions, site visits, working bees, more discussion, assessments etc, I can confirm that this Saturday, the Stapylton area will be open for climbing. This includes the Amphitheatre, Green and Grey Walls, Epsilon Wall, Bellepheron on Flat Rock, Trackside and, and, and …..Taipan!

This is only the beginning of the reopenings and while I am sure there are many out there that are not seeing the cliffs and bouldering areas they want open on this list as yet, it is important to understand that all the areas – including the ones that PV have decided to open for this coming weekend, are still recovering and have a long way to go before they are anywhere near a healthy, robust state. What PV are responding to is the fact that this part of the park is a critical piece of the climbing landscape and have taken on board that the majority of enquiries from recreational climbers/ boulderers be they local, domestic or international have centred around these areas. Many discussions, as I noted, have taken place between a variety of climbing reps, myself included. Our feedback has been taken on board.

Recovery has been slow in all areas due to below average rainfall so decisions needed to be made around the areas that could best handle the visitor traffic as well as concentrating on a number of work projects (of which there are many). The work projects in the Stapylton area have been pushed to the front.

I will put together a longer report that helps to explain to climbers the rationale behind why some areas are opened and others are not. Often it seems that as long as a track seems to be okay into an area then there should be no reason why it can’t be opened. This is so far from the reality of the situation – there really are a multitude of worm cans that start opening when discussing each area. But for now, I wanted to get this information out to the climbing community so that those who had planned their trip around a Stapylton/Taipan visit these September holidays could do so. I have had many enquiries. I will have some further information over the next few days and there will also be a Parks Victoria update on the situation out this Friday which will contain more info.

Further reopenings will occur and I will keep you up to date as soon as they are confirmed.

As I noted at the start of this report, the area is still fragile and requires care in using it. Going off track onto ground that has very little regrowth will further hamper nature’s efforts to recover. Stay on the tracks. There is a new one up to the Grey and Green walls area and some realignment on the Taipan track. Take care when you place your packs and gear on the ground. One of the hardest issues to deal with is toileting which generally requires you to head away from the cliff area. Visit the toilets in the carparks before heading up to the cliff, and obviously if you must go, choose your spot carefully. It won’t just be you trampling the sensitive ground.

I really must thank all the team at the Grampians Parks Victoria office. They have been keen to push this along, understanding the needs of the climbing community whilst still having to deal with the environmental and cultural values of the park. They have praised the efforts of the diverse climbing community to pitch in and help out on the work days and of respecting the closures by staying out of closed areas to let them recover.

As always I am happy to respond to any enquiries regarding the closures and reopenings. Stay tuned folks and enjoy the beautiful rock that the Stapylton Amphitheatre and Taipan have to offer.

Stapylton/Taipan view

Stapylton/Taipan view

Access & Environment Report, September 2014

The work days for the North Grampians achieved many of the targets. Due to back injury
I was unable to attend any of them therefore huge thanks must go to Tim Lockwood and
David Singleton for standing in as the reps for the days. Many thanks to all the volunteers who turned up. We had groups from MUMC, The Lactic Factory and VCC along with a number of individuals. Tim Lockwood gave me a brief rundown on the work that was achieved. At the time of going to print, I didn’t have any photos of the days themselves -hopefully I will have some for next issue. I will also have more information on the reopenings shortly. Assessments are still going on as to the areas that can be opened without risking too much damage to the still very fragile ground.

Wed 20th August –

Clearing of track to Taipan and around the base. Barely any clearing was required under Taipan wall, Spurt wall being the worst hit. Cleared a few protruding branches which people used to come close to hitting falling off Tyranny, Dial a lama, Fabios route.
Clearing of base of Grey and Green wall areas. Not too much required here, mostly manicuring. Clearing of track to and around Summerday Valley. One or two larger trees had to come down here but nothing too dramatic.

Thursday 21st August –

Cleared the track to Sandinista, around to Amnesty wall, through Anderson’s and marked the track to Kindergarten. Cleared around Barc wall area for the stone work. Van Diemans land track was walked and assessed. There’s a bit of track clearing to do that way. The cliffs out there as well as the Anderson’s boulders are relatively untouched. There is however one cliff on the way to VD which was dubbed the “Impossible wall” as it was superb orange rock but nigh impossible for any climbs. This cliff has been annihilated, the ground is littered with rock flakes. It’s not dangerous but rather sobering.

Saturday 23rd August –Cleared all the way to Van Diemans land and worked on Barc wall stone work.

If you remember last report, I noted that there was going to be a bouldering site visit with
a number of local boulderers to look at hardening some of the tracks into Andersons and
a general discussion about bouldering in the future. The meeting went really well. It was attended by Dave Roberts (RIC GNP) Tammy Schoo and Kyle Hewitt from Parks Victoria. Boulderers attending were Scott Clarke, Oliver Miller, Braeden Hyland. I also attended. Some of the tracks will be delineated and some hardened. The following photos are a few from the day. We also visited Summerday to see the work that had taken place there. Majority of the boulders in the Andersons area are okay. There are a few of the warmup boulders which have taken a hit but all in all, the rock has fared okay. Ground though is still very fragile and there is little vegetation especially in the way of shade trees. It will be a while before chilling out under the shade of a tree will be possible. Probably won’t be the best place to be when the weather is warm.

andersons 2

Oliver Miller at Andersons, Grampians

andersons 3

Kyle Hewitt (PV) at Andersons, Grampians

new walkway section across fragile ground - new access track Summerday

new walkway section across fragile ground – new access track Summerday

barc wall track

Access track into Barc Wall, Summerday area

 

summerday 2

New stepwork up to Wall of Fools area from access track