Fixed Protection & Development Guidelines Grampians

UPDATE: 5/9/17
Conversations via the Chockstone forum have slowed down but discussions are still ongoing. Some are public, some are private so if you have something you would like to provide feedback on, please feel free to comment either way. What are your thoughts on climbing areas in the Grampians? On development of newer areas, trad, sport and bouldering? Do you see any issues? Do you have ideas on solutions. All goes into the pot. A more recent Access report gives a little more on the topic. Give it a read. Link is here: https://cliffcare.org.au/2018/08/01/access-environment-report-august-2018/
A survey is also in the pipeline which will provide some questions for people which will enable us to get a better idea of numbers, thoughts and ideas to work with moving forward. Fixed protection and development is just one element of the sustainable climbing conversation we need to be having but it is one that is perhaps a little more pressing.

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MAY 19 2018. As noted in a number of Access reports last year, the time was fast approaching that the climbing community would need to start asking themselves the harder questions and the new year would see some of these conversations put in place. Following some issues in the Black Range (Greater Grampians area), where cultural heritage was directly impacted by new development and fixed protection, ensuing discussions with Parks Victoria, Aboriginal Victoria and  Traditional Owners involved not only these sites and the seriousness of it, but threw the conversation net much wider. PV’s concerns(which have been ongoing) about the amount of new development in the park, especially that involving fixed protection was much more than a just a passing comment. Solutions would need to be found. Climbing community feedback and involvement would be encouraged.

Fixed Protection and Development guidelines for the Grampians are now being developed by the climbing community and climbers are invited to provide feedback to come up with a draft framework. We can then finesse this further and my discussions with land managers will also shape the final set of guidelines. There are other elements to this and progressions will be updated as this occurs.

Getting the information out there and getting it back in, is in itself, no easy task, being the fragmented lot we are.We are currently using the Chockstone forum to discuss and provide information to develop a draft. I encourage you all to provide some feedback. Please be respectful and keep any personal slanging to yourself so that we can keep the discussion on track. As we all know, this is an emotive subject for many. There are a number of climbers that are trying to collate the information as it develops and finesse the draft further. At least scan through a good section of the conversation that is developing. This conversation will eventually move on from Chockstone when it becomes too unwieldy and I shall keep you informed on this. This draft will be developed and used in future discussions about climbing and it’s sustainable future in the Grampians. As the GNP is where the bulk of issues are coming from currently, and this is a complex process, working on the Grampians is a good place to start. This will then make it much easier to put together an overall one in the future that may have specifics for certain parks.

I will be setting up another section on the CliffCare website to provide ongoing reference material and links. So keep checking back. This one conversation is part of a bigger one.
https://cliffcare.org.au/grampians/fixed-protection-development-grampians-guidelines/

Chockstone link – Fixed gear guidelines in the Grampians http://www.chockstone.org/Forum/Forum.asp?Action=DisplayTopic&ForumID=1&MessageID=132730&Replies=118#NewPost

If you feel that commenting on a public forum is not your thing, please feel free to drop me a line cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au

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Central Gully Repair Project Work Day

This coming Saturday 5th May!

WOD. None of the other Workouts of the Day give you warm fuzzy feelings, or brownies for that matter. Rock up, haul a rock or two, feel pumped, eat a brownie, go climb. Or sleep. Whatever. Let’s do this people! (said in a deep, yelly and authoritative voice. But still a friendly voice:-)

 

central gully working bee 5th May

Access & Environment Report April 2018

I have been spending some time adding and updating info on the CliffCare website. At the moment I am focusing on the Education tab. Some of these topics will eventually be part of a poster and video campaign but all are definitely issues to take on board as climbers. First up:

Trails

Marking and Maintaining Access trails

Keeping on Track. Simple concept hey?

Staying on trail.          But which trail?                What if there is no trail?
(Established trail)      (Multiple social trails)    (New climbing and bouldering)

Hmmm….Now it sounds a bit more complex.

As more people take up climbing and bouldering and then head into the bush, the issue of trails – the creation and the maintenance of them, becomes more and more a topic on the land managers blackboard. This then becomes more of an issue that we in the climbing community, need to take on board and work towards resolving. So addressing some of the problems now, hopefully can prevent them into the future as new climbing areas are created.

Why is staying on the trail so important?

Fragile plant life. Walking off trail means you will be trampling vegetation. Much of this is fragile. The parks now more than ever are also at risk of invasive plant species – weeds. Some of the native vegetation is in a struggle to survive as it is. Once it is gone, it basically allows the often stronger invasive species to take over with the indigenous plants never returning.

Erosion and Instability. A domino effect. When you trample vegetation, over time it doesn’t regenerate, leaving the top soil exposed. This is then lost through a combination of foot traffic,rain and wind. The problems with this are multiple. Gullies are formed and become water runnels which further erodes the area. As the gullies deepen, people walk a little further to the side to avoid them and the process starts all over again. Wider and wider sections of vegetation are lost and the trails and surrounding area become unstable.

So, First and Foremost –

Stay on the established trail. That means going into and out of a climbing area. In most cases established trails, whether they are formal ones created by land managers or the informal climbers access tracks, have been created to provide sustainable routes. If the trail is muddy or vegetation grows across, continue to stick to the trail rather than travelling wider to avoid. This just creates a new track or a wider one. Going off trail damages the environment. For all the reasons noted.

Creating New Tracks

The reality of developing new climbing and bouldering areas often means that people will go off track. If there is no way of staying on an established trail, please do this thoughtfully. And minimally. Guidelines to take onboard –

Choose the less steep option. Unless it is on a rock surface, steepness means erosion later on. Switchbacks are better options for steep ground. Going steep because it cuts a little time off getting to the climb isn’t worth the loss of our native habitat.

Gullies aren’t great as access tracks. Gullies are formed by water which means that excessive foot traffic will further speed up the erosion process as the gullies become deeper.

Stay on durable surfaces ie rock whenever possible, to spare fragile plant life.

Digging and disturbing soil – leave the tools at home. All of the parks in Victoria are required to adhere to the Aboriginal Act (2009). And before any soil can be moved, a cultural heritage inspection needs to take place to ensure that no cultural heritage is being impacted by soil being moved. For instance, if Parks Victoria want to put in a new trail, they are required by law to first get clearance to do so and that means getting a cultural heritage inspection along with a variety of other requirements.

Don’t install any infrastructure.

Refrain from cutting or breaking any native vegetation to create a trail.

And lastly – if there are any areas on climber’s access tracks that have issues, be it erosion, fallen trees, new multiple social tracks growing etc, drop CliffCare a line cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au and we can go from there. It is up to us to try and prevent and manage issues before they become major but as they are generally in state and national parks, it is also about going about this in a more thoughtful way and working with the land managers.

This can be found here: https://cliffcare.org.au/about/education/tracks/

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Pre fire. Track near Stapylton Ampitheatre

 

Access & Environment Report March 2018

On Saturday 3rd March, CliffCare took part in CleanUp Australia day at the Grampians. Along with Parks Victoria, Friends of Gariwerd, Halls Gap Primary School and community members, we managed to collect a whopping 64kgs of rubbish. Great work but sad that the public still finds it acceptable to throw that one piece of rubbish……

Rebecca Hopkins, Adam Demmert and Cameron Abraham scored the job of abseiling down some of the lookouts. Because that’s the best place to piff rubbish off. As all are accredited climbers ie guides, rope access, it means their skills can be used to access the hard to get to places. Not being an accredited climber, I scoured the car park areas and walks in to the Balconies. Fellow climber Neil Kelman from Ballarat also came for the day and he joined the Friends of Gariwerd team in and around Halls Gap.
Bec, Adam and Cam scored piles of bottles and cans along with the usual papers and packaging. As well as some randoms such as boomerangs (which obviously didn’t come back), fluffy toys, camera and large bits of metal. I feel I had the choicest finds of which the bulk was….toilet paper. Thank goodness for those large long handled tongs! At the end of our day we had 8 bags of rubbish.
After the work was done, we headed back to Hall’s Gap to a yummy bbq and told our tales of interesting finds, the excited audiences at the lookouts we attended and had a bit of a moan about the laziness of some of the public and what was the world coming to etc etc.
Great day all round. Huge thanks to Conor Smith and Hannah Auld who are Summer rangers with PV in Halls Gap. They organized the event and it worked like clockwork.We had some great convos and laughs with Conor at the Lookouts and Hannah held the fort back at the Gap. Thanks to Rod and Judith for filling the stomachs upon our return.

People, clear your calendars for the date next year – Sat 2nd March.
Biggest thanks to Rebecca Hopkins, Adam Demmert, Cameron Abraham and Neil Kelman who put their hands up straight away and helped out on the day. Thanks also to Kieran Loughran who put his hand up but some unfortunate admin requirement stopped him from attending. Next year Kieran!
CliffCare looks forward to being involved with the event next year. Wouldn’t it be great though if we only came back with a bag or two next time.
Tracey Skinner
VCC Access & Environment Officer

Clean Up Australia Day – March 3 & 4 Grampians & Burnley Bouldering Wall

CLEAN UP AUSTRALIA DAY

It is fast approaching. There will be a GRAMPIANS CLEAN UP Day on SATURDAY 3RD MARCH and once again, we are looking for some volunteers to help with some areas around the Grampians. As well as regular volunteers, we are also looking for a couple of accredited climbers(guides etc) that will be able to abseil in a couple of tourist locations to get to ledges where rubbish tends to accumulate. Please drop me a line if you can help in any instance. And for those who will be heading out climbing that day, it would be great if you could put aside a little time, take a bag for the walk in and around and clear any rubbish you may find. I’d love some photos!

And if you are city side? Ben Wright has organized a VCC cleanup at the Burnley Bouldering wall environs on SUNDAY 4TH MARCH. Many hands, light work as they say. https://www.cleanupaustraliaday.org.au/index.html…

 

Previous clean up days: https://cliffcare.org.au/2016/03/02/access-report-march-clean-up-days-at-mt-arapiles-and-the-grampians/

Access & Environment Report Feb 2018

Mt Difficult Access
Following a few queries via both email and on climbing forums, it makes sense to clarify the access situation into the Mt Difficult climbing area via the now closed Troopers Creek campground. You can check out in full, an early announcement I made on this in 2016, via the link at the end, but to summarise –

Access to the cliff climbing area at Mt Difficult from Troopers Creek campground(now closed) is as previous, although the trail is now noted on Parks Victoria website as closed. It is closed as an official walking track due to extensive damage in the North Grampians fire, and a variety of other reasons which include a nearby section of the GPT being planned. The Troopers Creek campground is also now permanently closed. The impetus for this was the GPT with a new campground slated for Dead Bullock Creek that will line up with a Trailhead and the newer section of the GPT. There were also some cultural heritage concerns near the old campground. The trail won’t be repaired so therefore it is no longer an ‘official’ trail that they promote as such to park visitors. After discussions, it was agreed that climbers could access the cliff via the old track but it must be noted that the track is quite damaged in some sections and access may not seem as clear as before. From these discussions, it appears there may also be access near the new campground once finished, but this will be a longer walk in than the present one.

The area is open for climbing now.

The old trail will not be part of the GPT.

I would be really keen to hear from any climbers who have been accessing Mt Difficult via this access point.

A little from a report in 2016 which gives a little more background https://cliffcare.org.au/2016/08/31/access-report-september
This conversation has brought up further ones about climbers tracks, creating them and also maintaining current tracks. I hope to have the CliffCare website updated on some points to take on board soon. https://cliffcare.org.au/about/education/tracks/

Tracey Skinner
VCC Access & Environment Officer

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