Access Report March: Clean Up Days at Mt Arapiles and The Grampians

With the Clean Up Australia event happening this coming weekend 5/6th March, it’s a great opportunity to do a little cleaning up in a couple of our favourite parks for climbing. CliffCare and the VCC  is jumping onboard and helping out. Have a look at the rubbish we have collected at other times in the photos below.

Tammy Schoo from PV in Halls Gap, The Grampians, is organizing a number of events at various locations around the park. http://www.cleanupaustraliaday.org.au/Grampians+National+Park One particular area, The Pinnacle sees a lot of human traffic and therefore collects its fair share of rubbish. Bec Hopkins (who was CliffCare’s 2015 raffle organizer extraordinaire) will be our Rep for the day. Bec will be getting on the rope to get to various ledges to help remove accumulated rubbish.

You can do your bit too. On your way to your favourite crag and at the crag itself – do a rubbish clean up. Take along a bag and fill it with any rubbish you find along the way. At the end of the day either deposit the rubbish in a public bin or take home and deposit with the rest of your rubbish.

At Mt Arapiles, we will also be running a Clean Up day with Friends of Mt Arapiles and Parks Victoria. Details are following

CLIFFCARE/VCC, FRIENDS OF ARAPILES AND PARKS VICTORIA IS RUNNING A CLEAN UP ARAPILES DAY AS PART OF THE CLEAN UP AUSTRALIA DAY EVENT. AND IT’S ON THIS SATURDAY 5TH MARCH STARTING AT 9AM.

We’re not looking for whole day commitments – just an hour or so is more than enough. If you have ever enjoyed Mt Arapiles as a climber, camper, day visitor, please spare this time and join us to give a little back. We will be picking up general rubbish around the campground areas particularly The Pines and also Bushrangers Bluff and along the Summit Road. And following the rains, the dreaded Bindi’s have reared their ugly, spiky heads in a few locations around the park, so we thought we would remove that rubbish as well.

MEET AT THE WASHING UP TROUGH LOWER PINES CAMPGROUND AT 9AM.

KEITH LOCKWOOD IS OUR COMMUNITY REP AND ZOE WILKINSON (AREA CHIEF RANGER) FROM PARKS VICTORIA WILL BE THERE TO MEET AND GREET AND HAND OUT BAGS AND ANY DIRECTIONS THAT MAY BE REQUIRED.

If you aren’t able to attend at this time, take a bag with you and keep an eye out for rubbish on your walk around the park or on the way to the cliff. It would be great to have some kind of tally of rubbish picked up, so if you are able to, take a photo of your collection before depositing in park bins. Any further info required or photos to be sent cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au

If you are planning on coming, dropping me a line would certainly help with preparations. Thanks!

AREAS TO BE TACKLED

Pines Campground and general camping areas
Bushrangers Bluff
Summit Road
Bindi (3 cornered jack) picking. Locations to be advised at morning meetup)

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Clean Up Arapiles day 2008

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Some of the rubbish we collected in 2008 on Clean up day. Lots of micro rubbish.

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This was found a number of years ago in the Grampians.

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More recently (2015) at The Gallery, Grampians

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VCC Access & Environment Report – February

Earlier last year, after a number of meetings and discussions on the Arapiles Advisory Group, we decided to actively pursue a project on the revegetation of the Pines Campground. The issue of erosion and lack of shade for campers has been an ongoing one. As with any kind of State or National parks, there is a process to go through and while immediate decisions and acting upon it sounds like the way to go, the reality is that it always takes a little longer than hoped for. Our hope to get some plants in the ground last planting season didn’t eventuate for a variety of reasons but in the end, the bad rainfall would have severely impacted our ability to do this. At our last meeting in January, we spoke of the need to get the ball rolling on this project asap. We are hoping that rainfall this year will help us out in order to get plants in the ground. CliffCare also put out a survey to the general climbing community and park users to get their feedback on some of the issues and topics which climbers have certainly brought up to me over the years. There were also more indepth suggestions via the survey and emails that I received and I hope to be able to put these into something a little more readable in the near future. Survey results were actually quite close to the general feedback I have received over the years when discussions like this have come up with various members of the climbing community. Hopefully what this means is that the end result of revegetating the Pines will be an acceptable outcome for the majority of park users. I will continue to fill you in as decisions are made.

Along with the Pines revegetation project, we discussed the next trackwork project for Mt Arapiles. There are many areas requiring a bit of TLC in the park, especially as climbing becomes more popular. Louise Shepherd who heads Friends of Arapiles, Zoe Wilkinson who is Head Ranger at Mt Arapiles and myself, recently got together outside of the Advisory Group, with our whizbang stonemason, Walter Braun to discuss the starting date and course of action for Central Gully track. While this certainly doesn’t have the steepness of the Pharos Gully track and therefore the excessive erosion that often goes along with steep tracks, it does suffer from the same ‘loved to death’ syndrome. It is used extensively by climbers to access various climbing areas as well as walkers. Some sections will require little work whereas others will definitely need stonework to keep the track where it belongs. Some work was done on the track many years ago using concrete. This won’t be removed excepting where it has broken (concrete is wont to do this after time). Any work now done, will work with what was put in place previously. Following our meeting, we have decided that first workday will be sometime in March. Weather will have cooled by then (hopefully). I will be putting out a date shortly so keep an eye on your inboxes and on social media/websites as volunteers will be required. And whilst we are on the subject of volunteers, we have another smaller project that will require a few for a morning. Around the Pillars of Hercules area, between top of Dracula and Preludes,there are a lot of loose rocks and rubble that are starting to come down more often. Louise Shepherd has suggested a date in March and thinks that using a human chain method might be the best way to get the rocks moved. The larger rocks would be moved hand to hand well to the back of the Pillars. The smaller loose rubble could be gathered into buckets and then deposited at the back of Pillars cave. Again, a date will be announced for this shortly so keep an ear open.

There is also a further project around the Dreadnought Gully which has a loose dirt and rock shelf. This will need to be further assessed though and there is a good chance we may need to engage a little more than just volunteers to get this sorted. I will keep all informed as to the situation with this.

Survey results here Centenary Park Campground (The Pines), Mt Arapiles Questionnaire – Google Forms

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Checking out Central Gully with Area Chief Ranger Zoe Wilkinson

 

 

North Grampians Reopening Update Sept 2015

This update is a more detailed one than the previous one that circulated on Facebook late last week. The update is also available to download.

People – it has been a long time coming, and the recovering areas thank you for your patience. As of the 18th September, most of the climbing areas in the North Grampians still closed, will once again open. These areas though, are still fragile and deserve to have a little extra thought given, if and when you decide to head there. The Mt Difficult Range is still in a very fragile state and because of this, some of the closures here will remain in place, except for those cliffs listed. Check out the list below and please continue to read the care info following it. Thank you all in the climbing and bouldering community who have been understanding of the closures and have been actively promoting it to others. Lots of other areas have seen renewed interest. Whilst Nature will continue to throw these events at us, it is obvious that there are always enough cliffs and boulders to go around.

To aid the long term recovery of the Northern Grampians there is a general closure in place for rock climbing throughout the Mt Difficult Range, except for the main climbing areas stated below. Please support the long term recovery of fire affected areas by remaining out of any closed sites. See closure map for further detail. While Parks Victoria regrets the need to enforce closures, substantial fines will be imposed on those found in any closed, fire affected areas.
Open and accessible rock climbing and bouldering areas in the Northern Grampians
Hollow Mountain Area
Barc Cliff
, Gunn Buttress
, Battlescarred Blocks / The Ammo Shop, Amnesty Wall Area
, Andersens
, Clicke Area (incl. Kindergarten routes) The Kindergarten (bouldering) Expedition Crag, 
Turtle Rocks, 
Sandinista Cliffs, 
Pensioners Wall Area, 
Red Wall Area incl Echoes Block, Loopeys
, Hollow Mountain Cave, 
Legoland, 
Cut Lunch Walls
, Koalasquatsy Wall
Tribute Wall
, The Dungeon, 
Bad Moon Rising Wall
Van Dieman’s Land, Rambla Wall,  A-Frame Boulder

Summerday Valley
Flying Blind. Wall of Fools, Back Wall Bowler Boulder

  • *Note closures are in place to Main wall, Left wall, Bird wall and Calcutti crag and others east of Summerday Valley due to threatened plant species regeneration, cultural heritage protection and trail degradation.Mt Stapylton Amphitheatre
    Northern Wall, Central Buttress, Sabre Gully, 
Grey and Green Walls, Taipan Wall
    Spurt Wall, 
Bouldering Buttress, Lower Taipan, 
Afterglow Wall, Afterglow Boulders
,The Plaza Strip,
The Snake Pit
, Trackside Boulders. Citadel
. Ground Control Caves, Cave Club, 
Between the Sheeps, Spurt Wall (Bouldering), The Titanic (Bouldering)
    Flat Rock Area
    West Flank / Wall of Fuels, Bellepheron Wall
,Epsilon Wall
,Bouldering
    Cloud Cuckoo Land
,
    Note: new access track between flat rock, the kindergarten and Andersons via Bellepheron wall.Mt Zero Area
    Pangaea Walls, Toolondo Waters, 
4 Cornered Crag, 
Mt Zero Summit Cliff, Mount Zero West WallsIskra Crag
    Flower Power Block, Shadow Buttress,  Emu Crag
, Sunstroke Area
, Pigs in Space Buttress, Main West Face, Dolgoruki Wall
    First Tier, 
Second Tier, 
Third Tier
, North Western Outcrop, Eastern Walls
    36 Chambers
, Dolgoruki Wall and Three Tiers

    Asses Ears Area
    Sunset Crags, 
The Secret Crags
, Cherub Wall
, Maul Wall, 
Wallaby Rocks, 
Conifer Wall
, Geranium (Brim) Springs, Porcelain Wall
,Wallaby Rocks
,Joey Blocks

    Pohlner track and Smith Road Area
    The Rust Bucket, Martini Rock, Worship Wall, Point 447 ,Bordel Buttress, Mt Emu
    The Crows Nest, The Eyrie
, The Unnamed Cliff, An Unnamed Cliff, Olive Grove,
    Cave Of Ghosts Cliffs, Ghost Block,
The Olive Cave,
The Ravine

  Mt Stapylton Campground area
Campground Boulders

  • *******************************************

    CLOSED CLIMBING AREAS

    Eastern Mt Difficult Range
    No Mans Land, Heatherlie Heights, Cape Canavera,l Woomera
    The Promised Land / The Pine Plantation, Cliff Lebanon,
The Heavens, 
Lower Heavens,
    Lunar Walls, The Tim Tams

  • North West Mt Difficult Range
    Sickle Wall
, Mawson Slab, 
Mt Difficult Cliff, Epaminondas Buttress, Troopers Creek Cliff, Mt Difficult Summit ,Mt Bloody ImpossibleMt Stapylton Campground
    Cave
, Sentinel Wall
, The Guardhouse,  Warden Wall , Titanic Boulder, Doddery Rock, Mt Pleasant
,The Rockwall Area ,Briggs Bluff AreaNE Mt Zero Range
    Golton Rocks -
Cave Cliff
, Wave Wall (aka The Sundeck) / The Sun Deck  The Sun Gate,
Golton Wall, 
Gog-Magog Crag, 
G-Land, 
Watchmen Wall, 
Coppermine Track Cliff
    *NOTE – 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:
  • Keep in mind that any damage caused now will remain long term. 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 moss and seed beds. Please don’t create short cuts or new tracks, particularly in steep gullies
  • Only climb in open and accessible areas and keep group numbers low – Avoid taking large groups into small crags or areas where there are no designated 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:
  • Respect other climbers and park visitors
  • Stick to established tracks and avoid damaging or removing vegetation
  • Many areas have significant Aboriginal cultural sites, please respect this unique cultural landscape by 
only climbing in established areas
  • Avoid excessive chalk and be mindful of cleaning
  • No chipping of rock or new bolting
  • Carry out all rubbish
  • Use toilets provided
  • 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
    For up to date climbing access reports visit http://www.cliffcare.com.au
    For up to date fire recovery information sheets and general park information visit http://www.parks.vic.gov.au phone 13 1963 or call into Brambuk – The National Park and Cultural Centre in Halls Gap, open 9am-5pm daily.
  • 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 permitted.

PLEASE NOTE: CAMPGROUND BOULDERS NOTED AS CLOSED IN THE PV UPDATE IS OPEN. THIS OFFICIAL DOCUMENT WILL BE UPDATED SHORTLY.

Sept 2015 Grampians National Park Rock Climbing Update v2

Sept Fire Recovery Map Nth Grampians_010915

Grampians National Park Update Sept 2015 v2

Grampians Update – Re-openings and Bouldering August 2015

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.

Grampians-rock-climbing-update

Early post fire Andersons

Early post fire Andersons

Climbing updates – Grampians Easter 2015

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):
•    Wildsides
•    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
•    Snakepit
*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.

Further Information
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.

Grampians National Park Update 31.03.15

March 2015 Grampians National Park Rock Climbing Update

Map

Grampians_Road_Report

Bouldering in North Grampians Update – Easter 2014

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
Amnesty
Left main
Right main
Lower Clicke
Clicke

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
Sandanista
Legoland
Ramble wall
Echoes Block
Hollow Mountain Cave
Loopeys
Project wall

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.

Access & Environment Report January, 2015

I seem to have the same kind of news each time I come back after the Christmas New Year break. Fires, heavy rains, closures. And no different this year. Black Hill was hit pretty hard by fires in early January. I have left it up to Steven Wilson (who is the club’s eyes and ears of all things Black Hill) to give you a rundown on the area and you can get a good idea just by looking at the photos. The post following this report contains Steven’s report. There are more on the clubs photo site so check these out also. Current situation is that Black Hill is closed. I plan to be in contact with Macedon Ranges city council to chat further on reopenings and how we might help out.
The Grampians as well as Arapiles was hit from a number of sides although all fires at Araps were contained in a short time. Areas that include climbing sites still closed due to fire:

Black Range State Park
Mt Talbot Scenic Park

Following the fires, we received some much welcomed rain. As often happens, these rains were quite heavy and impacted on a number of roads and areas in the Grampians. Due to it’s fragile state, some parts of the North Grampians suffered a little more from the rain with washouts.  Summerday Valley had a couple of sections of track blow out. A part of the new access track in took a blow. This was a section of the track that was being monitored already because of erosion. This will need to be assessed as to whether it can be rebuilt or the track needs to be slightly realigned.  Hardest hit in the valley though was the access track around to Main Wall. This small track  followed closely to the creek and unfortunately when the heavy rains hit, the creek rose and completely washed out the track. This again will need to be assessed as to the best course of action.

There has been some confusion over a number of climbing areas in the Northern Grampians as to whether they are open or not, such as the Ravine and other crags  along the Pohlner Road. Also the Asses Ears. By default, these areas no longer fall into the  closed and no access category, as the roads have now been opened. As there are no real visitor sites in these areas, the concern of human traffic is not so high but this doesn’t take away from the fact that the areas are still really fragile. After having conversations with the PV team at Halls Gap, it is worth noting that giving these areas a wide berth for a while yet would be the right and  sustainable thing to do. Many of our climbing areas are not official visitor sites. This means that they are not always included in every single communication so it gets a bit difficult sometimes to ensure that climbers are not putting these areas at risk from further damage. This is something that will definitely be a future discussion with PV.  The term ‘sustainable climbing’ is something that all climbers need to take on board and understand that because many of the areas in which we climb are not always  an  ‘official visitor site’, we need to take some responsibility for doing the right thing, thereby ensuring that any environmental damage is limited.  Take a closer look at some of these areas if you are visiting them and make the call yourself. Is there limited vegetated ground cover? Loose soil? No distinguishing original tracks meaning new ones (and often, less sustainable ones) appearing. Multiple tracks.  These things are noticeable if you actually look for them rather than just making a beeline to the cliff to climb. The other concern that isn’t so noticeable in the early days, is the transporting of outside weeds and pathogens into a fragile and bare area that has little or no natural vegetation system happening. With no other plant life competing with them, weed seeds and pathogens can take hold and forever alter the environment in which native flora used to thrive.
For many people, maybe these things aren’t really a concern, but I would hope that many of the things that you love about the Australian bush is the flora and fauna. Would be a shame to see this diminish over time.

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Overlooking Summerday Valley and recovery progress. 6-7th December VCC trip. Trial reopening program. Photo Ben Wright