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Chockstone Forum - General Discussion

General Climbing Discussion

Author
Access article - Magic Wood.
Access T CliffCare
28-Jul-2018
5:30:57 PM
Some timely reading
While the conversation about impacts from climbing and bouldering is always one of the key topics that guides the work that CliffCare does and always will, now more than ever, we need to be open to solutions that will not only conserve the areas we climb and boulder at but in the long run also help to protect what we do. We impact. No denying that. How do we manage it?

This is on bouldering but the same conversation can be had about roped climbing. Elsewhere in the world – These are all the same issues we are facing now and more so heading into the future. Throw the conversation around in your head and in your circles.
We will be talking more about it.

https://www.theprojectmagazine.com/features/2018/7/27/magicwoodsconservation

Goshen
28-Jul-2018
7:09:12 PM
well... with the almost complete ecological destruction of the areas around Trackside and Anderson's; it's a wonder bouldering hasn't been completely banned already. The only way trackside will be saved is with rock platforms being built around the entire boulder, and I don't think that would be a valid solution with the authorities...

Sure; I've bouldered at these places; so not completely blameless; but there is so much bouldering in the Gramps, why people need to keep going back to the same, tired areas is beyond me.


JimmyS
29-Jul-2018
1:15:04 AM
I guess after the fires in the North, access to the bouldering sites should of been held back a bit longer than the roped areas due to the fragility of the soil? This is not a crack at all your great access work Tracy, just a afterthought since the fires, as I was definitely one to get in there ASAP... I suppose you can look at how Buandik and Mt Fox have recovered with a longer rehab process as a comparison. These areas are much less frequented, and have some sort regrowth and base vegetation.

Maybe Anderson and Trackside, which are easily the worst affected could have some sort of seasonal closures... could/would this potentially do some sort of good? I know it wouldn't be a popular solution- limiting access, but anything is better than no access at all... As Goshen mentioned, there are so many great areas for bouldering in the Gramps, spread the load.
kieranl
29-Jul-2018
6:08:12 PM
On 28-Jul-2018 Goshen wrote:

>
>there is so much bouldering in the Gramps, why people need to keep going
>back to the same, tired areas is beyond me.
>
>

I think we need to re-assess our idea that "there is so much" bouldering and climbing in the Grampians. It leads us to treat the area as a limitless resource and it's clearly not.

I also used to believe that we could reduce the impact on popular areas by sharing the load out. But I'm coming to understand that this actually tends to spread the damage rather than share the load. The numbers of people climbing/bouldering are such that all popular areas get hammered.

When I found Weirs Creek I knew it was good and thought it would be popular but I wasn't prepared for the actual numbers who came.The first time I returned shortly after it was opened I was staggered at the number of parties who came in during the day. It was a half-hour walk-in (before the fires destroyed the barrier) and I thought it might get one or two parties on a busy weekend.

The truth is that the grampians are relatively small; about 90km north-south and 40 km east-west. Good, readily accessible climbing/bouldering is already a limited resource. When we overlay that with indigenous and environmental issues the resource is yet more limited.


JamesMc
30-Jul-2018
3:06:42 AM
I reckon there is very little climbing in The Grampians (actually Victoria really) that's to many climbers' taste. One big shortage is easy to moderate grade sport climbing. Crags like Weirs Creek, Dreamtime Wall, Labour Ward and Camels Hemp Back Wall are actually few and far between. If there were more of them then the impact would be spread thinner, (But there would be more climbers too.)

gordoste
31-Jul-2018
10:07:06 PM
On 30-Jul-2018 JamesMc wrote:
>I reckon there is very little climbing in The Grampians (actually Victoria
>really) that's to many climbers' taste. One big shortage is easy to moderate
>grade sport climbing. Crags like Weirs Creek, Dreamtime Wall, Labour Ward
>and Camels Hemp Back Wall are actually few and far between. If there were
>more of them then the impact would be spread thinner, (But there would
>be more climbers too.)

Spot on. Looking at the number of bouldering gyms popping up, this problem is only going to get bigger.
Setting up mechanisms to help people transition from plastic to rock (and on the way, spread good practices) is one management approach.

Access T CliffCare
31-Jul-2018
10:42:34 PM
On 31-Jul-2018 gordoste wrote:
>On 30-Jul-2018 JamesMc wrote:
>>I reckon there is very little climbing in The Grampians (actually Victoria
>>really) that's to many climbers' taste. One big shortage is easy to
>moderate
>>grade sport climbing. Crags like Weirs Creek, Dreamtime Wall, Labour
>Ward
>>and Camels Hemp Back Wall are actually few and far between. If there
>were
>>more of them then the impact would be spread thinner, (But there would
>>be more climbers too.)
>
>Spot on. Looking at the number of bouldering gyms popping up, this problem
>is only going to get bigger.
>Setting up mechanisms to help people transition from plastic to rock (and
>on the way, spread good practices) is one management approach.
Some great comments on this thread, that I want to comment further on - maybe a little later. But yes Stephen, transitions from plastic rock will help in some way and I think some of the gyms and even climbing shops are trying to get on board with this. Something we can definitely work on a little more. 'Cos there are more gyms coming next year... Good practices are an absolute must. The numbers as always, create the bigger problems.
gfdonc
31-Jul-2018
10:44:39 PM
On 29-Jul-2018 kieranl wrote:
>On 28-Jul-2018 Goshen wrote:
>
>>
>>there is so much bouldering in the Gramps, why people need to keep going
>>back to the same, tired areas is beyond me.
>
>I think we need to re-assess our idea that "there is so much" bouldering
>and climbing in the Grampians.

One problem is a lack of available, up to date and helpful information i.e. a guidebook.
The main recently-published areas in the Central Grampians (Bundaleer, Watchtower) have no shortage of visitors but other areas that are just as accessible go unvisited for months. Specifically there are 191 crags around Halls Gap with about 3000 routes and most weekends of the year you'd have most of those to yourself.

Yes it's a passion of mine and I'm working to address it soon but I believe the community is starving for 'where should I go today' rather than available rock. Spreading the active climbing community across 3x the current set of limited popular spots would be a good start.

That said, also agree with James' point.
- Steve
widewetandslippery
31-Jul-2018
11:32:40 PM
Maybe it's time to stop sharing detailed info. Find it yourself. What's described is left at that? Manage and contain the rot?
jacksonclimbs
1-Aug-2018
3:49:11 AM
Closing down climbing sectors for a 12 month period would be fair IMO, to allow for revegetation etc.

They have done that at Heuco Tanks and it has seemed to work for them.

https://rockandice.com/climbing-news/hueco-tanks-re-opens-the-five-bimbos-to-bouldering/ - 18 years is a long time and I think that's probably more to do with the desert type flora and fauna there. I think you would see a faster bounce back in the Gramps.

White Trash
1-Aug-2018
4:32:51 AM
On 31-Jul-2018 widewetandslippery wrote:
>Maybe it's time to stop sharing detailed info. Find it yourself. What's described is left at that? Manage and contain the rot?

+1

FatBoy
1-Aug-2018
4:45:02 PM
On 31-Jul-2018 gfdonc wrote:
>On 29-Jul-2018 kieranl wrote:
>>On 28-Jul-2018 Goshen wrote:
>>
>>>
>>>there is so much bouldering in the Gramps, why people need to keep going
>>>back to the same, tired areas is beyond me.
>>
>>I think we need to re-assess our idea that "there is so much" bouldering
>>and climbing in the Grampians.
>
>One problem is a lack of available, up to date and helpful information
>i.e. a guidebook.
>The main recently-published areas in the Central Grampians (Bundaleer,
>Watchtower) have no shortage of visitors but other areas that are just
>as accessible go unvisited for months. Specifically there are 191 crags
>around Halls Gap with about 3000 routes and most weekends of the year you'd
>have most of those to yourself.
>
>Yes it's a passion of mine and I'm working to address it soon but I believe
>the community is starving for 'where should I go today' rather than available
>rock. Spreading the active climbing community across 3x the current set
>of limited popular spots would be a good start.
>
>That said, also agree with James' point.
>- Steve
>
Interesting concept (in combination with James's assertion above - that I believe - that it would bring more climbers) ... esessentially "we can reduce our impact on this environment by getting more people into it" ? Hmmmm ...
gfdonc
1-Aug-2018
5:15:33 PM
No the point was there are a small number of crags getting most of the wear and tear. Spreading the activities over more locations will reduce the impact at any one location.

FatBoy
1-Aug-2018
6:04:21 PM
On 1-Aug-2018 gfdonc wrote:
>No the point was there are a small number of crags getting most of the
>wear and tear. Spreading the activities over more locations will reduce
>the impact at any one location.
>

Sorry, I wasn't drawing a conclusion .. just mulling - counterintuitive outcomes can be real.

"Spreading the activities over more locations will reduce the impact at any one location." is an assumption - supported by your world view.

I could just as easily assume ...
"Spreading the activities over more locations will invite more people to the park and spread the impact across more locations."

And then we're both just stating stuff we reckon, but don't know.
kieranl
2-Aug-2018
5:25:30 PM
On 1-Aug-2018 FatBoy wrote:
>On 1-Aug-2018 gfdonc wrote:
>>No the point was there are a small number of crags getting most of the
>>wear and tear. Spreading the activities over more locations will reduce
>>the impact at any one location.
>>
>
>Sorry, I wasn't drawing a conclusion .. just mulling - counterintuitive
>outcomes can be real.
>
>"Spreading the activities over more locations will reduce the impact at
>any one location." is an assumption - supported by your world view.
>
>I could just as easily assume ...
>"Spreading the activities over more locations will invite more people
>to the park and spread the impact across more locations."
>
>And then we're both just stating stuff we reckon, but don't know.

That seems a pretty fair summation. So... is there research on this stuff? If so, what does it say?
kieranl
2-Aug-2018
5:40:06 PM
And here's some research on something like the topic :

Longitudinal variation in environmental impact at
rock climbing areas in the Red River Gorge limits of
acceptable change study area, Daniel Boone
National Forest, Kentucky

Nicholas Walendziak
Eastern Kentucky University

Tried to paste the link but getting the suspicious input message.

Here's what may be a salient point :

Research suggests that initial low to moderate levels of use generally cause most
of the damage to recreation sites (Marion, 1998; Hammitt & Cole, 1998; Cole 2013).
Furthermore, impacts to recreation sites develop quickly with “near-maximum levels of
impact within the first couple of years and remain relatively consistent thereafter [and]
recovery rates are always slower than deterioration rates” (Cole, 2013, p. 88).


FatBoy
2-Aug-2018
6:01:20 PM
On 2-Aug-2018 kieranl wrote:
>And here's some research on something like the topic :
>
>Longitudinal variation in environmental impact at
>rock climbing areas in the Red River Gorge limits of
>acceptable change study area, Daniel Boone
>National Forest, Kentucky
>
>Nicholas Walendziak
>Eastern Kentucky University
>
>Tried to paste the link but getting the suspicious input message.
>
>Here's what may be a salient point :
>
>Research suggests that initial low to moderate levels of use generally
>cause most
>of the damage to recreation sites (Marion, 1998; Hammitt & Cole, 1998;
>Cole 2013).
>Furthermore, impacts to recreation sites develop quickly with “near-maximum
>levels of
>impact within the first couple of years and remain relatively consistent
>thereafter [and]
>recovery rates are always slower than deterioration rates” (Cole, 2013,
>p. 88).
>
>

This is significant.

It directly contravenes the view that "more areas = less impact because there's some kind of tolerance before an area gets affected".

Significant because it suggests that adding more areas, whether through better information, or creating and thereby giving people access to more easy / moderate sport climbing (since when was that a right BTW ?) is a road to ruin for the Gramp's.

Very concerning since that is precisely the path we're headed down. It might be better to just accept that areas of heavy use (like Trackside), are permafu(ked and give up.
kieranl
2-Aug-2018
6:13:21 PM
On 2-Aug-2018 FatBoy wrote:

>Very concerning since that is precisely the path we're headed down. It
>might be better to just accept that areas of heavy use (like Trackside),
>are permafu(ked and give up.

I don't think that it's as negative as that. That paper also suggests that management for such intensively used areas can be effective as impact doesn't greatly increase over time. That's just my reading from a quick scan. And this is just one paper found with one quick google search by a person not trained in research.

I found a heartening piece of research here :

Chattanooga Climbing Impact Report
UTC Tourism Center June 2016
https://www.utc.edu/health-human-performance/pdfs/climbingimpact16.pdf

While this is primarily a study of economic impacts of climbing visitors, it includes a survey of climbers on responsibility on Page 20 :

" climbers were also asked who, specifically, should be responsible for caring for and maintaining the natural areas which
support recreational climbing. Below is a chart detailing climbers’ responses. It is very clear
that climbers possess a personal responsibility to ensure the preservation of climbing sites in which they recreate... Climbers should be commended for their ownership of the areas and the sport. "

This is heartening stuff as it suggests that there is plenty of goodwill out in the climbing community to be harnessed.


Duang Daunk
2-Aug-2018
7:54:50 PM
On 2-Aug-2018 kieranl wrote:
>And here's some research on something like the topic :
>
>Longitudinal variation in environmental impact at
>rock climbing areas in the Red River Gorge limits of
>acceptable change study area, Daniel Boone
>National Forest, Kentucky
>
>Nicholas Walendziak
>Eastern Kentucky University
>
>Tried to paste the link but getting the suspicious input message.
>
>Here's what may be a salient point :
>
>Research suggests that initial low to moderate levels of use generally
>cause most
>of the damage to recreation sites (Marion, 1998; Hammitt & Cole, 1998;
>Cole 2013).
>Furthermore, impacts to recreation sites develop quickly with “near-maximum
>levels of
>impact within the first couple of years and remain relatively consistent
>thereafter [and]
>recovery rates are always slower than deterioration rates” (Cole, 2013,
>p. 88).
>
You sound surprised bro k-man?

I would think it’s a self evident sequence that goes something like...

A) Pristine natural climbing area found.
B) As more peeps access the joint it gets conveniencified, you know, level up the landings, clear the shrubberies (shades of Monty Python!), including those pesky snaggy bits on the track in, brush the lichen, etc.
C) Tell the mates about the awesome new crag, only after the majority of trashment err development has taken place though!

How long did that take again? Oh yeh, the initial period when majority of damage is needed!
Once the damage is done it doesn’t generally require re-doing! Minimal maintenance required, unless dangerouser cliffs finds the rings!

D) Keep coming back, but take (heartening) ownership and bitch about the holds being worn, caked in chalk, and poo tickets breeding in the shrubberies that are still pesky because they keep trying to come back!!

I reckon the dude that did that study was on mates rates for stating the obvious without saying to the authorities “Well derrr, bros!”
kieranl
2-Aug-2018
10:46:59 PM
DD, it doesn't greatly matter what you or I think is self-evident in this, unless of course you're the MInister responsible for the Parks Service. We're each only one semi-informed voice.

We need to have something to support the decisions that are going to have to be made about managing our climbing areas. So, we need the research to tell us whether what we think is what actually happens.

I've quoted a single paper but I haven't had an in-depth look at it. It may or may not be good research. The research design may be good or it may be fundamentally flawed. I may well not be able to tell the difference. It would be interesting to hear what people with a background in environmental sciences can tell us about it.


There are 20 messages in this topic.

 

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