/ NEWS: Rocklands Bouldering Access Restricted

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UKC News - on 30 Jul 2013
The Rocklands, 3 kbThe Rocklands, South Africa, has become a Mecca for boulderers from all around the world in recent years. The main draws being an endless sea of quality boulders of all heights, angles, aspects and styles, the good weather and conditions when it is hot in the Northern Hemisphere, and the wilderness of South Africa, along with the associated flora and fauna. However, the future of climbers' access to the Rocklands is uncertain due to a lack of respect for the area, and a disregard for the programme put in place to allow climbing whilst at the same time protecting the environment found there...

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=68246
swiss gneiss - on 30 Jul 2013
hm, the common problems we know from our big areas in switzerland like chironico and cresciano... a shame that even in relativly remote south africa the same shit (literally) causes problems. it's a sad story that our community does not seem to have the manners to go along with landowners and the rest of the evironment.
In reply to UKC News: What a disaster. Basically it sounds like the problem is simply litter and crap - why can't people work this out? Don't drop litter, and if you can't satisfactorily dig a hole for your crap to bury it don't go, or get organised and go in bag. It's not rocket science.
Arms Cliff - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to TobyA: An trails - there seems to be a lot of work in the states at places like Bishop and RMNP to get people to stick to defined trails, but that doesn't seemed to have made it to SA yet.
unclesamsauntibess - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to UKC News: Nasty boulderers. Ethically moribund. Cheapskates all round.
Michael Gordon - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to UKC News:

It's surprising that boulderers are so much more of a problem than trad or sport climbers. It seems there's problems with resin and graffiti (who on earth would consider either a good idea?) but perhaps they also have less respect for the environment?
witnessthis - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to UKC News:
Very sad.
Climbing in places like this along with places closer to the UK,like ceuse,seynes and the the tarn area (all in france)).
These could all be under real threat of closure soon-just like the ones mentioned in this article.
We just have to expect this reaction unless we get our act together.I look accross 'the pond' for examples of exellence as well as here in the Uk with the local BMC events for instance(eg crag clean up days etc).
Michael Ryan - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Less to do with what type of climber you are and more to do with what type of person you are.

It is also a lot to do with the nature of bouldering itself. Different types of climbing activity have different types of impact on the land.

It appears in this case that local climbers, land owners and land managers have done everything they can to manage they area and get the message across. You've just to keep repeating those messages.
cyberpunk - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to UKC News: Do people still use Pof. I dont think I have ever seen it. That stuff should be treated like DDT and banned.
Michael Gordon - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Michael Ryan - UKC and UKH:
> (In reply to Michael Gordon)
>
> It is also a lot to do with the nature of bouldering itself. Different types of climbing activity have different types of impact on the land.
>

It's strange - I'd have thought trad and especially sport would have more of an impact since there is no need for fixed gear in bouldering. Perhaps it's partly that in bouldering human impact is concentrated over much smaller areas (by definition)?
Michael Ryan - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Yes and no.

With roped climbing climbers are usually concentrated in one place all day. There is usually one path to the crag. Climbers there self-police each other. At some crags there maybe even a accessible toilet.

With bouldering, at places like Rocklands, climbers wander all over the place creating braided paths, then concentrate in the hot spots shuffling about. And it is all too easy to stash rubbish and go to the toilet behind a boulder. Multiply that a few thousands times a season and you have a problem.
Michael Ryan - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:

The fixed gear thing is often a red herring when it comes to access, not in all cases of course.

As long as you don't go hanging perma-draws, when climbers aren't there, there is usually just a path.

Bolts are small, and usually can't be seen (there are exceptions of course).

Similarly with chalk, although it does depend on the rock colour, rainfall, amount of use and whether the cliff is in public view.
Offwidth - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Michael Ryan - UKC and UKH:

I agree with the first and third points but not the second (except for pof use). I've been to popular trad, sports and bouldering crags in various places aroud the world that were disgusting with litter and shit from climbers. I think it's to do with must tick venues bringing in tourist climbers who don't care. Its just that in Rocklands thats going to be mainly bouldering tourists.
martinph78 on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Michael Ryan - UKC and UKH: I also think that trad climbers see the complete "mountain experience" as part of climbing, which gives them a respect for their environment that other folk don't always have.

Ben1983 - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Michael Ryan - UKC and UKH:

Indeed - despite what we as climbers might think, fixed gear does not really pose a serious environmental threat - nothing eats it, and the only thing damaged is the rock, which is only useful to ourselves. Boulderers cause more erosion because they spend more time on the ground, move around more, and to a certain extent, are simply more numerous where there are good boulders. What is happening here is part of a familiar pattern with bouldering areas, which we have seen in the Peak already (Eagle Tor) and has occurred repeatedly in the Alps. Basically it is all about where you shit.
Michael Ryan - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Martin1978:
> (In reply to Michael Ryan - UKC and UKH) I also think that trad climbers see the complete "mountain experience" as part of climbing, which gives them a respect for their environment that other folk don't always have.

That may be true. But I think it is counter productive to point fingers at say, boulderers, or sport climbers. Especially when the majority of climbers do a mix of different types of climbing.

Also consider this, Jon Krakauer and Conrad Anker taking a dump on Denali a few weeks ago

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20130627/wild-author-creates-mount-mckinley-stink
Dave Garnett - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> (In reply to Michael Ryan - UKC and UKH)
> [...]
>
> It's strange - I'd have thought trad and especially sport would have more of an impact since there is no need for fixed gear in bouldering. Perhaps it's partly that in bouldering human impact is concentrated over much smaller areas (by definition)?

That's probably true but I think the real problem here is just numbers. Access to Rocklands used to be very tightly controlled (I'm talking early 90s) and climbing was tolerated largely because it was a very small group involved (and very Mountain Club-based). The whole area was basically a wilderness area in the US sense, with strict controls on people even hiking through. Perhaps people don't realise just how pristine this environment was and how much impact we've been making.

There was quite a lot of disquiet when the first bolts went in (bolts were generally not permitted anywhere in the Cedarberg and I was surprised they were tolerated) but people behaved themselves and there wasn't too much of an issue.

However, the area is now an international honeypot, which a huge range of users, some of them not quite as aware as they should be. Given the background, I guess it was unfortunately pretty inevitable that this would happen sooner or later.

What happens next will depend on us but we may have to get used to Roacklands not being as accessible as before.
Brendan - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:

I found this blog post from last year quite illuminating - sounds like the place has been going down hill for a while. Such a shame.

http://www.moonclimbing.com/blog/moon-blog/bouldering/the-dark-and-the-bright-side-of-rocklands/
Beardyman - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to UKC News: God, there is far too much debate here on which type of climbing has the most impact. This is primarily an issue of climbers not respecting this beautiful area and leaving their poo. There is no excuse for this anywhere and we ALL need to step up our game so as not to risk losing another climbing area.

It's easy enough to pick up other folks litter, clean off excessive chalk, stick to trails, etc. but the feces is the main issue here.

My bouldering kit contains a trowel and doggie poop bags, does yours?
In reply to Beardyman:

> My bouldering kit contains a trowel and doggie poop bags, does yours?

I've got the wonderfully named Sea to Summit iPood in my climbing bag. Where I live, that and a lighter to burn the TP before it's all buried is enough - but in drier climates "wag bags" seem to be the answer. It sounds like in this case they are giving those away free too! Pretty poor show if people still won't use them.

Jim Brooke - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:
>
> It's strange - I'd have thought trad and especially sport would have more of an impact since there is no need for fixed gear in bouldering. Perhaps it's partly that in bouldering human impact is concentrated over much smaller areas (by definition)?

They're just saying bouldering has more impact than sport or trad climbing, *in the Cederberg*. That doesn't mean the same is true elsewhere! I can think of certain sport crags in Spain, and certain Alpine bivvy huts were you can barely move without stumbling across another gift from a previous visitor...
Michael Gordon - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Jim Brooke:

I meant there specifically, I don't think I said I was talking generally.
eugeneth - on 30 Jul 2013
In reply to Jim Brooke:

> They're just saying bouldering has more impact than sport or trad climbing, *in the Cederberg*. That doesn't mean the same is true elsewhere! I can think of certain sport crags in Spain, and certain Alpine bivvy huts were you can barely move without stumbling across another gift from a previous visitor...

Just to clarify (just back you up here) what you are saying. Bouldering has more of an impact in an area like rocklands due to the nature of the landscape and the tyoe of vegetation. The land is incredibly dry and highly susceptible to erosion. The vegetation cover is pretty sparse and with climbers continually walking erratic trails and placing their mats on this type of ground, erosion will increase. Seeing the bouldering is pretty widespread in the area erosion from straying off the trails would be high. More so that sport/trad that are in more limited areas, with more defined trails leading to them. Areas like Albaraccin have similar problems with erosion, etc but there are clearly defined rules that people tend to adhere to (or so I believe). It is not the farmers responsibility to maintain trails, so I can see their frustration. The area also has many species of plant that are found nowhere else in the world. These are the very plants that we put our pads on and destroy.

This is only one part of the story. The 'big' part is that people are leaving all their trash at the crags. This includes their lunch wrappers, finger tape, cigarette butts and most problematically their own shit and paper. This is not specific to boulderers but in a high profile area like the rocklands, it is. There are a handful of sport routes and negligible trad there, so its easy to apportion blame.

And i agree that certain european sport crags smell worse than a public toilet!!!
Richard Horn - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to Jim Brooke:

I visited Majorca for DWS a few years back and was shocked at how trashed Cala Barques was - purely by cheapskate bivying climbers. Given we got an off-season apartment for 100 quid for the week, i.e. 25 quid each it seemed especially stingy that people were sleeping/sh!tting and leaving their rubbish at Cala Barques, and unsurprisingly I read recently access there is now threatened. So its not just boulderers...

Dave Garnett - on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to eugeneth:
> (In reply to Jim Brooke)
>
> [...]
>
> The 'big' part is that people are leaving all their trash at the crags. This includes their lunch wrappers, finger tape, cigarette butts and most problematically their own shit and paper.


It's been years since I've been to Rocklands but if this is true then the only surprise is that access to whole area wasn't completely banned long before now. There must have been a big change at Cape Nature if they've tolerated this in what used to be a pristine wilderness.

Actually, I've just checked Cape Nature's website and their information on Kliphuis specifically mentions the importance of the area for bouldering, so clearly things have changed a lot. I suspect it's something to do with budgets and revenue.
Durbs on 31 Jul 2013
It does seem boulderers tend to be the main culprits for this - and I am one, so not looking to put down on bouldering - but I think it's more the nature of the climbing combined with probably an equal percentage of thoughtless idiots that exacerbate the issue.

As someone above said, a day's bouldering you'll go from rock to rock, weaving in and out of trees & boulders, basing yourself if loads of spots. If someone happens to be the kind of person who litters, this then spreads it all over an area.

Rocklands, Cala Barques, Albarracin, Font (in places) - can we allow a small bit of smugness we don't have such an issue in the UK?
Lower numbers, more thoughtful climbers?
Durbs on 31 Jul 2013
In reply to Durbs:

Not that I advocate paying-to-climb, but would an access arrangement like Hueco (limited numbers, pay to visit) help?
Ackbar - on 01 Aug 2013
In reply to UKC News: So my question would be, what can be done about it? It is clear that as with any group, there are plenty of climbers that are completely selfish and don't give a damn. Where i boulder in austria, the wire brushing is unbelievable. Every hold is complete scratched. And the floor is like an ash tray. For people who do this in such beautiful and pristine areas, the moral arguement will not work. So what can be done?
Dave Garnett - on 01 Aug 2013
In reply to Ackbar:

Well, if that's the case, I suspect a lot of access will be lost. I have no doubt that even a few years ago all access would simply have been prohibited. The private farmers would certainly have refused access (there isn't a great tradition of public access to such private land).

Now I suspect that there may a financial reason to tolerate a certain amount of damage and some continued access, but I don't know the local situation now.
progrupicola - on 05 Aug 2013
In reply to UKC News: Number, in a Little community hooked by a perfect activity, which happen to be done in the most amazing-diverse setting, nature, you'll hardly see this behaviour (and in the odd case it would be of the least impact),...well all that it's gone (fact)...it's relatively cheap, besides it's cool, you keep a low fat pecentage&tanned body (who rocks!)more and more popularity pays a wider recognition and the no rules nature of the sport-side, leaves enough space for the complex-egos to be gods in their own created universe,...this it's only the surface, it's not far the time when mirrors will be brought to the crags for the full effect,...(wasn't this, what we tried to escape)..I've no doubt, some new comers get into climbing with genuine purposes, but again, NUMBER (what about a cheering cry for the olympics?..welcome Messis,..)
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