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Chockstone Forum - General Discussion
General Climbing Discussion
G'day all - another message from the frozen north - that is, the ACT. Great autumn weather, blue skies, howling winds, snow, sleet, even a drop of rain to remind us that it's still a drought and the bushfire season starts next month.
Went out yesterday to have a look at the granite: first of all, on the road up to Booroomba were big yellow signs saying, No Entry, No Public Access, No Rock Climbing, trees are still falling and the cliffs are unstable because of the January fires.
OK, so we turned around and headed for Tidbinbilla and Gibraltar.
There was something happening at the Namadgi National Park information centre - lots of cars and people with day packs and hats and boots.
The road was open to Tidbinbilla, the pine forests are blasted with little regrowth, and the higher tops look bleak. Unusual views of Gibraltar rocks, with no screen of trees.
First of all we went to The Fortress, which you can reach with 4WD. The rock is scaling off and there's a pile of granite flakes right around the base of the rocks, with quite a lot still to come down. No climbing yet ...
We walked up to the top of Gibraltar, (the track was too badly washed out for the Brumby); we didn't bother to take the rope, looking at the dead trees and the little regrowth. There were signs everywhere saying: no climbing, and that the park would re-open on 27 September (the day before!). There were two climbers on Hey Jude (17), who said that the rock was fine except where the bush had been close to the rock surfaces. They had also been in to Booroomba, also fine except in a few places.
On the news that evening there was a story that Namadgi National Park had been officially re-opened that day, which was what the crowd was all about.
Conclusion? That the ACT granite cliffs are open again but should be treated with extra caution, especially the boulder areas on the Orroral Ridge where the rock may have been overcooked. And somebody (official?) has chopped the two essential bolts at the top of Gibraltar, making the top belay a tad difficult.
And take a sweater ...
Thanks Nico, as an ex Canberran glad to hear that climbing in them granite hills is about to start. As to bolt chopping, the rumour I heard was that a company involved in rope related activities may have chopped the bolts and then informed Parks that all the bolts are bad and needed replacing. There been some talk of this being a profit making exercise???? I repeat this is a rumour only .
The reformed Canberra Climbing Club may have further info.
thanks for the update. The newly formed Canberra Climbers Association (are you a member? If you are you know this already) is in the process (in collaboration with ACT Parks & Wildlife) of reassessing the state of cliffs around the ACT and their suitability to climbing. I suspect that anyboby that climbs at Booroomba now is taking the risk of running foul with Parks & Wildlife, a thing that right now maybe would be best avoided (we don't want the cliffs to be closed indefinitely!).
I have heard that most of Booroomba has remained unaffected by last January's fires, although Gibraltar would appear to be more damaged. Anyway, these are only speculations at the moment - I have not been there since last summer.
Hi Nico and Sagarmatha,
The Canberra Climbers Association (newly reformed) did an inspection of Booroomba a few weeks ago. The official report will be out in a few weeks once all the information has been collated. The consensus is that that the condition of the rock face itself is fine and access is the main item that needs some attention.
The park was 'opened' with much fanfare recently, but they neglected to say that significant areas are still closed to public access. At Booroomba the main concern is the state of Apollo Road about 1 km past the locked gate at the park entrance. The large granite boulders on the left hand side of the road have been undermined and there is concern that they may do a number on some passing motorist.
Parks informed us that the plan is to have the roadwork work completed by late January or early February.
For those contemplating climbing, please stay off the rock within the National Parks for the short term. The relationship the CCA and climbers have with Parks is very good and they are keen open the rock up for public access asap.
The double carrot belay at the top of 'The Southern Tablelands' was removed by parks officials after concern that someone may trip over them. The CCA has been in consultation with Parks and any concerns they have in this area will new be addressed through the association.
If you are concerned that the rock is not being opened up quickly enough for your liking, then join the CCA and get your whip cracking to speed up those lazy committee members like me who need the occassional poke with the electric cattle prod.
The CCA plan to inspect Gibralter Peak on the weekend of the 18/19 October.
If you are interested and want to help out give me an email at
david.cameron(aaaat)gpsports.com for more details.
Everyone is welcome, we would like to keep numbers below 15 to keep things managable.
Replace (aaaat) with @ for my correct email
Thanks Dave - good to get an informed view - and hope that the cliffs are opened again soonest. As for chopping the bolts on the Southern Tablelands, tripping over them seems much less severe than the likelihood of a nasty pendulum for someone at the top of, say, Scarborough Fair, if the nearest anchor is a tree somewhere off in the bush.
Oh well. Perhaps they can be replaced on one of the vertical surfaces nearby where tourists won't trip ...
Scarborough Fair, three * climb in my mind but not for you average grade 18 leader. The 15m plus run out from the ledge to the top gets you heart going.
The removal job done on the bolts was very poor to say the least, they chopped one of the bolts above the surface. This has left anexposed metal spike ready to poke anyone with bare feet!!!. The bolts were bash in stainless carrots, a socket and a 1 metre bar would have easily removed them as they were in good condition, only about 3 years old.
The CCA reformation is in part due to incidents like this. I believe these bolts were not placed with climbing in mind but rather to aid abseil access for commercial groups.
The placement of the anchors was not particulary good either:
1. Bolts were protruding way too much from the rock surface (~25mm)
2. Bolt were much too close together (~3-4 cm) , preventing any form of equalised anchor setup.
3. Bolts should be at least 10-15 cm apart for redundancy reasons. Bolts next to bolts are not as strong as in virgin rock.
4. Miles too far back from the edge of the rock face, maximising any rope drag present.
(Great for abseiling!!!!, clients well back from edge)
Gibralter had some access issues a few years ago, Parks were planning on re-establishing a rare yellow footed rock wallaby nearby and were considering limiting access in the area. The CCA will be discussing the status of this plan in consideration of the recent fires and aiming to open up the area again asap.
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