Grampians Access & Keeping up to date

Have you signed up to follow the CliffCare blog?

Rather than just one main site where the climbing community goes to collect information, we tend to be a bit scattered in this regards. Be it route info, access info and updates or general climbing articles, the sites we visit are many. And when it comes to social media, getting up to date info can be dependent on whether you check regularly or even if it shows up in your news feed. And that probably won’t change anytime soon.

There are some great sites to visit and many Facebook pages that can give real time feedback. Some of this can have the tendency to wander off track or continue conversations that may not be so well informed. And understandably, sometimes this happens because at that present time, there may not be many hard and fast facts.

As we start down the road of collaborating on a sustainable climbing future in the Grampians National Park, I would like to take this opportunity to ask that people sign up to follow the CliffCare website. What this means is that every time something is posted, especially important now with the Grampians, you will receive an email alerting you to it. Whilst I do share these also via social media – as noted above, seeing it can be dependent on what shows in your newsfeed or how regularly you check it.

This way you get the actual Access details and reports about any current progress. Links to any surveys or calls for help. You get the basics, the fundamentals. And then, after that there are plenty of other avenues and sites  to read others thoughts or suggestions.

We think Vertical Life gives some well thought out and balanced articles. Food for thought, ideas for the road ahead.

Their latest:

https://www.verticallifemag.com.au/2018/11/grampians-access-a-primer-for-the-confused-and-concerned/?fbclid=IwAR199yWr3lTrIfkYWtypGc7ZOuvcfdNyTvN9oN2aqIgDniF0hqTzRKsjHnM

As always, your feedback to CliffCare is much appreciated. It has all been, and will continue to be, taken onboard. I will endeavour to respond to all, but please understand that this isn’t always possible.

Tracey Skinner
VCC/CliffCare Access & Environment Officer

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VCC/Cliffcare Statement: Potential Changes to Climbing Access in the Grampians

There were some unexpected events last weekend and the community understandably wants clarification and answers. Getting answers and information can take time, and while it can be frustrating, there’s a process we have to follow. We appreciate your patience and support.

We want the climbing community to be involved in any decisions about climbing in the Grampians and this has always been our intention.

Background

Over the past 12 months, we’ve put out reports, shared ideas and suggestions for how to minimise impact. We’ve encouraged discussion about climbing practices and tried to make people aware of the connection to and importance of the area for Traditional Owners. We’ve also highlighted any incidents that resulted in negative impact to the park.

This was food for thought, and the hope was that it would get the community engaged and taking about how we use the park and how these issues might be better managed. We also hoped people would begin to think critically about the issues and to prepare for the road ahead.

Conservation and cultural heritage

There are many reasons behind the current scrutiny of access for climbers and other park users in the Grampians. These reasons include greater engagement from stakeholder groups such as land managers and Traditional Owners in recent years, and changes in community attitudes and government approaches to conservation.

Any decisions about how to manage access will consider the concerns of all interest groups in the context of new and existing legislation. Which is why it is so important to make sure climbers have a seat at the table and we are seen to be a respectful park user group.

This is not unique to the Grampians, and this information was provided to the community both publicly, and privately, where necessary.

Being proactive 

The best way to make sure we get a good outcome for climbers is to engage with other stakeholders proactively and this requires the community to understand the issues we’re facing.

Being proactive means we can’t wait to have explicit instructions in writing before we start to monitor and minimise our impact. If we do, we are compromising our position when it comes time to put forward our concerns.

We’ve had a number of incidents that resulted in serious impact in the park due to climbing. This has informed and changed how we need to approach this and will continue to.

More people are climbing

So far, our involvement with land managers has been positive but this doesn’t mean the road ahead will be straightforward.

There are very real problems with how we use the park now that the number of people climbing is growing. There are very real impacts driving the possible ways to manage this.

For the most part, climbers have the best intentions at heart when it comes to climbing in this unique and beautiful place. But we can’t keep doing things the way we always have.

We also need to think about people who are new to climbing. Education will be the focus of much of what we do, and that goes both ways—helping climbers to understand, and helping other interest groups to understand the concerns of climbers.

CliffCare education campaigns 

CliffCare is working on an education campaign with input from prominent and experienced local climbers and developers. We expect to be ready to launch this soon.

We’re also planning more education campaigns for the future because this will be an ongoing effort to make sure people have the information they need to minimise impact, and to climb safely and respectfully.

We will also release surveys and every campaign will be the result of input and suggestions from the climbing community.

Protecting climbers’ interests

We’re also working to put in place measures to make sure the climbing community has a seat at the table when it comes to deciding on the future of climbing in the park.

Respecting other stakeholders and working collaboratively with land managers is extremely important. We also want climbers to be respected and to have the processes in place that give the climbing community, as an important user in the park, a solid standing.

Getting on board

We appreciate your patience and understanding while we work to gather information that makes sense and gives you a clear idea of the road ahead.

We encourage you to get on board and to support a proactive approach, either through volunteer involvement, feedback or even by considering your actions and the actions of others more thoughtfully when you are in the park.

More information and feedback

Please take the time to read the reports on the CliffCare homepage, especially the reports dating back to start of 2017. Any feedback from the climbing community will be welcomed and appreciated.

Of special importance is:
the proposal for an Updated PV climbing code of conduct/policy
the proposal for a Climbing Management Plan for the Grampians.

These documents were submitted to Parks Victoria. A series of constructive engagements will take place with Parks Victoria post the caretaker period.

Thank you.

Voluntary CLIMBING ROUTE DEVELOPMENT MORATORIUM – GRAMPIANS NATIONAL PARK

 

VCC CliffCare Climbing route development moratorium letter NSB e

VCC CliffCare Climbing route development moratorium

 

Interested in knowing more about the current park management plan?

Head here https://cliffcare.org.au/grampians/

 

 

Access Proposal letters – Parks Victoria GNP Climbing Management Plan Climbing Code of Conduct/Policy Update

As many in the climbing community may be aware, climbing/bouldering in the Grampians National Park has more recently come under the spotlight for a variety of reasons. Recent impacts to cultural heritage in the park may be driving the current push for climbing management, but there are other issues also, that have been building for a long time. Increased route development – both climbing and bouldering, increased use of fixed protection, lack of boundaries, environmental impacts and the increase of people coming into the sport are all concerns to land managers. All the usual issues that impact climbing areas and that the community eventually need to deal with. But now access to many of the areas we climb at is under threat. The Victorian Climbing Club and CliffCare are now engaging in discussions with Parks Victoria, Traditional Owners and other stakeholders. We are concerned that the activity that we love is impacting cultural heritage. We are committed to engaging with land managers to ensure that these values are protected whilst still ensuring that the legitimate activity of climbing in the park can continue sustainably. We look forward to positive engagement with Parks Victoria and ask the climbing community to support us in our endeavours to look after your interests.

On 4th October, we submitted the following letters to Parks Victoria. These can be viewed on the CliffCare website.

VCC/CliffCare Proposal – Climbing Policy Update

https://cliffcare.org.au/current-access-campaigns/parks-victoria-climbing-code-of-conduct-update-proposal/

VCC/CliffCare Proposal – GNP Climbing Management Plan

https://cliffcare.org.au/current-access-campaigns/grampians-climbing-management-plan-proposal/

Ongoing updates on the process will be communicated regularly to the climbing community. Over the next few weeks, more information will be made available.

Thank you

Tracey Skinner                                                            Paula Toal
VCC Access & Environment Officer                       VCC President

PICK MY PROJECT – UPPER CENTRAL GULLY WALKING TRACK REPAIR PROJECT

We need your help! Your voting help. Pick My Project.

For everyone who visits Mt Arapiles, you would know that getting people to the top and bottom of the mount via tracks, whether to access climbing locations or taking time out for a walk can have an impact on the environment. CliffCare/VCC and Friends of Arapiles have been working over the years in collaboration with Parks Victoria to create tracks that will last a lifetime, for the community to enjoy for many lifetimes. We have one more project to do in order to create an amazing loop walk with views of the Wimmera and a hardened stoneworked track. The only place in the Wimmera to see these views. A sustainable track for a community of generations to come, a place of peace and quiet enjoyment, for wellbeing and pride of community.

We need your help in voting to win a grant to pay for this project. Upper Central Gully Walking Track. Please register for an account and vote for our project. What to do:

1. Create an account.
2. Choose Natimuk as your location. You can change the location on the website by clicking the little pin at the top of the page.
3. Shortlist the Mt Arapiles-Upper Central Gully Walking Track Repair Project. You can choose 3 projects to shortlist. They will all need to be in 50kms of your location choice. You don’t need to live in that location.
4. Verify your phone number and submit your vote. Please remember to verify your phone number or the vote won’t count.

Please spread far and wide to all your friend and those who love Mt Arapiles.

You are allowed to choose and shortlist 3. Please vote for Central Gully Walking Track
Visit here https://pickmyproject.vic.gov.au/rounds/pick-my-project/ideas/mount-arapiles-upper-central-gully-walking-track-repair-project
Voting closes on 17th September, 2018�

PLEASE SPREAD FAR AND WIDE
Thanks!

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Walter Braun, Stonemason. Walter has been working tirelessly on many of the tracks at Mt Arapiles. We need your help so he can build another section of track that will create a complete loop walk of Pharos Gully and Central Gully.

Transitioning Into the Outdoors Event

We need more of these kind of events! There are more people now coming into climbing and bouldering through different avenues – more often than not via gyms. Without so much of the mentoring that used to happen years ago, it is easy for people who then choose to head outdoors to not have the skills and knowledge of being aware of the issues that can impact the environment and therefore, our continued access. Great that Bogong are running this event. CliffCare has provided some postcards and info sheets to give a little guidance to those that attend.

Please consider attending this event. Pass the info you learn onto others who can’t attend. Lead by example. Continued access will be your reward.

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Access & Environment Report August 2018

Simple Equations

No-one can deny that the amount of people now heading into climbing and going outdoors has grown since the early heydays of climbing. And by that simple statement, I am sure that the majority of you can relate to the fact that as anything grows, its wants, needs, advancements and issues, grow along with it. Many codes of conduct, any operational guidelines or policies soon become outdated as the activity outgrows the very guidelines put in place to protect it or the space in which it exists.
In more recent months, some conversations around fixed protection and development in the Grampians has come to the fore. Some people are asking why? What’s the problem? Rather than outlining too much here, I will leave it up to the reader to read back over previous Access reports. It is all there.

Fixed protection is one element of the bigger picture. It is not the only one. We will need to deal with all.

The biggest issue though that has an overall impact on all of the issues we need to deal with, whether it be environmental, cultural heritage or sharing the space with others, is growth. The amount of people now climbing, bouldering and accessing the outdoor option is growing and will continue to. Which means that the impact is much greater. How climbing was managed, or not managed previously, is no longer looking after the space and in the longer run, looking after the activity.

A complex conversation. There are land manager and traditional owner perspectives. There are climbing community ethics. There is the evolution of climbing and bouldering. And there are rules and regulations. The reality is all do change over time. Which means that we all need to reassess what works. It is something we do everyday in many aspects of our life and the world we live in. Especially if it’s due to growth. It’s why we re- assess our energy options, why we re-assess the way we package our food, our lives… The sheer volume has an impact.

Climbing/Bouldering is no different. That moment in time and the joy of being on rock both spiritually and physically, simply isn’t the only thing anymore that we have to think about. The sheer volume is having an impact and those impacts are relayed to me directly by those who are tasked with looking after the space, as well as those who also share it.
Victoria has a range of climbing areas across the state with the most heavily visited being the Grampians National Park and Arapiles Tooan State Park.

So why the current focus on the Grampians? Because at this moment in time the impacts via climbing and bouldering are growing and being relayed to me, as now no longer acceptable in the current state of play. So how do we manage this? There are so many questions and there will be many conversations moving into the future. So as a starter, some food for thought, some direction for conversations for the climbing community. On a rope. On a boulder. Or over a beer.

A few points of interest:

The bulk of cultural heritage ie indigenous art sites, sacred locations occur in the Grampians. The Victoria Range in particular has the highest percentage of all known and registered sites in the park. A large amount of these sites are also rock sites.

The majority of Indigenous cultural heritage sites that are known and registered are not known to the general public. It is against the law for Parks Victoria or anyone else with that information, to notify the public of their exact locations.

It is a National Park. It’s main aim is to conserve its natural and cultural values. Any recreational activities need to sit alongside these values but with minimal damage/loss to them. Impacts will differ from location to location

Climbing is a recognised activity in the park and one which is promoted. There are some areas within the park that are particularly sensitive for either cultural or environmental reasons and climbing amongst other activities, is not allowed.

The Grampians National Park is moving towards a Joint Management Plan whereby it will be managed by both Parks Victoria and Traditional Owners.

Land Manager and Traditional Owner Concerns – Grampians National Park

Direct impacts to cultural heritage sites

Route development in known areas of cultural heritage significance and therefore possible impacts to undiscovered sites

Environmental impact to surrounding cliff landscapes due to increased traffic. Excessive social trails especially in bouldering areas

Human waste issues at climbing/bouldering sites/bush camps

Increased use of fixed protection

Chalk impacts

Wire brushing

Vegetation removal to access climbing or bouldering sites or the actual routes

Current management plan boundaries not being followed

Questions & Actions – to ask yourself, your climbing friends, to ponder, to respond.

Climbing and Bouldering Route developers:
Check the park management plans. Understand the environmental and cultural heritage values of the park and the particular areas you are developing. Does the plan prohibit climbing in that area? Is there a high level of sensitive cultural heritage in the area. Rare flora or fauna in a threatened habitat?
Caves and overhangs often have a higher likelihood of cultural heritage. Bouldering development can impact a larger area either directly or indirectly with traffic and multiple social trails, within a location that contains a high percentage of sensitive sites.
Don’t know? Ask.

When using fixed protection:
Alongside the perspectives of land managers and park management plans, this brings up the topic of climbing ethics within the climbing community ie traditional and sport climbing. A complex and often divisive one. And a changing conversation as our sport has evolved. That fixed protection is an element of climbing is not denied, but how and when, is the conversation we will need to have. At this point in time, climbing in the Grampians (and Victoria) has operated on the understanding that if it goes at trad it should remain so. Fixed protection besides the physical impact, can increase the traffic to an area so this should be taken into account. The following points are some suggested already by members of the climbing community that might go some way towards helping to manage this one aspect in the future. Only a guide at this point but something to develop further.

Is the route you wish to bolt in a predominantly sport climbing area?

Is the route in a sensitive area be it cultural heritage or a fragile environmental landscape?

Is the route you wish to bolt naturally protectable?

Is the route visible from major tourist/public tracks or areas?

Do you have sufficient knowledge of and experience in placing fixed gear? Same as in the case of removing it.

If you are considering retro-bolting the route, do you have permission from the person (s) who made the FA?

As noted , climbing is a recognized activity in the park. We are working towards a joint understanding between all parties for a sustainable climbing future. There will be many conversations like this. Throw this info around in your head. Ask the questions in your groups. Your help via feedback, support for closures that may be in place and a little extra care when developing or out climbing or bouldering, can and will make a difference. Any thoughts on this you want to send me? I am very keen to hear. Drop me a line. Any other way you think you can help, maybe a particular issue you feel passionate about – there are always jobs. Drop me a line.

Many thanks to all the people from the many different avenues of our climbing community who have taken the time to provide their thoughts, be it publicly or privately. It all goes into the pot.

Tracey Skinner
VCC Access & Environment Officer

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