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ACA call for Blood!!!

10:08:01 PM
The Australian Climbing Association is fading and drastically needs some new blood. The ACA was founded in 2004, and over the last 5 years, its founders and members have attempted to provide some foundations for the climbing community... with some successes and many dead-ends. However, those individuals, for various reasons, have lost the initial drive and commitment. New blood is needed.

In climbing terms: we started a ground-up ascent. We did our bit for the first few pitches but we're feeling a somewhat knackered. Time for a new partner to grab the rack and assume the sharp-end.

So, this is a call for some new climbers to get involved and take the lead. Specifically, four people (at least) to fill the following roles: President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. Without new members motivated to drive it along, the ACA will shortly be de-registered.

(Chad, Mike and Martin)
mikl law
12:14:04 AM
This sounds like thrutch amagzine in 1972 when people realix=zed it isn't reallly a business, but a passion. People wafted in and out of the torrent, but the need remained..
7:24:29 AM
Does that mean the website is to be canned?
Perhaps the database can be maintained by the SRC or the VRC (or perhaps both). They seem to have pretty good longevity, and a good sized membership.
Karl Bromelow
8:09:42 AM
Crikey, you are in trouble. What is your perceived reason for the lack of interest in supporting a
national representative body for Australian rock climbers? Why is there such little interest or
understanding of the activity amongst the wider public, authorities and land managers? How can this
all happen in a land that likes to think of itself as both sporting and outdoorsy?

Is the sheer size of the country and disparate nature of it's various states a problem when it comes to
a continuing national body for rock climbers with little financial support. The BMC (model for the ACA)
was able to grow into such an effective body for a number of reasons, I reckon. The large and active
size of the British climbing community. The small size of the country with ease of access to all it's
many varied rock climbing and mountaineering areas for all members of the community. The wider
understanding of the activity in the British population and amongst conservation and government
bodies and it's high media profile and well documented history with some semi celebrity characters.

Australia really could do with an effective representative body for climbers. In my own neighbourhood
and in other parts of this country I have visited access issues alone are a seriously bad problem.
What's going on? I thought Austraians where outdoorsy. Does that really just mean gas powered bbq's
and 4WD's?

I'm sure there must have been early days when the BMC struggled but it is a very powerful lobby now.
It would be nice to imagine that a similar thing could succeed in Australia but are the problems
insurmountable? I'd like to help if I could but I live in Victoria. How can regular committee meetings
take place in the same way that the BMC operates it's offices. Skype? It's hardly the same.

If there's anything I can do and I'm missing the point please let me know.

Cheers, Karl
4:33:18 PM
On 13/09/2009 cogsy wrote:
>Does that mean the website is to be canned?
>Perhaps the database can be maintained by the SRC or the VRC (or perhaps
>both). They seem to have pretty good longevity, and a good sized membership.

Maybe this is the wrong thread, but anyway...

I made contact probably a year ago suggesting that an API (Application Program Interface) be added to the site to allow the data to be extracted from the site and be used in other ways. Kyle was open to the idea and gave me access, unfortunately due to my general slackness I never did anything.

I still think it is a good idea and maybe some sort of standard be established in the way that climb descriptions are stored. The logic being that multiple sites and applications (eg offline phone application) could share climb data, it wouldn't be that hard and may even lead to sites such as VCC and "sharing" data. It would also ensure that if any site disappears the data wouldn't be lost.

5:27:23 PM
On 13/09/2009 cogsy wrote:
>................... the SRC or the VRC (or perhaps both). They seem to have pretty good >longevity, and a good sized membership.

And even the Canberra Climber's Association has a pretty good membership. The also have regular meetings, a nice website, get involved in access issues, organise slide shows and speakers, rebolting and regularly run introductory courses for beginners.

I think the regional climbing representative's longevity and healthy membership is the problem, in so much as, it's the ACA's problem.

This is from the 'About' section on the ACA website

"It is hoped that this organisation will fill a void, while fostering good relations with the existing organisations. The ACA will lend its support in most cases, and take over the reigns in others."

I think the problem may be that the actual number of rockclimbers in Australia is so small that, that void doesn't really exist. The regional climbing clubs/associations along with university clubs pretty much have it covered, if you know what I mean.

If you read the ACA's Charter, it reads as one enormous wish list. Even if every climber in Australia was a paid up member, it would be impossible to do all that.

The BMC manage to achieve a lot of the things that the ACA aspire to but there are more climbers in the UK and there is more of a history of climbing there. Also there is a climbing industry in the UK. In Australia we have a few outdoor chains that make some of there own gear and a few independants. In the UK thay have big companies like Wild Country, DMM, Berghaus, etc and heaps of independants. This all means there is a lot more money getting around that is related to climbing. There is more advertising, more sponsorship and more members joining the BMC.

In the USA there are a multitude of regional climbing bodies and two national bodies, The American Alpine Club and The Access Fund, who between them would largely cover everything a national representative body (as in the ACA Charter) really needs to do. The amount of climbing related money floating around over there is over the top and as a result membership is big. Add the very big population of climbers and there is no way the AAC or The Access Fund are going to be crying poor.

There are a hell of a lot of climbers in Australia who don't hang on the internet. If I didn't hang on the internet I doubt I would have even heard of the the ACA. To me the ACA is a few guys, up in Queensland, who had an idea for creating a national representative body for rock climbers in Australia and got a website going that contained an Australian route register. I'll admit that the route registar is a handy recepticle and source of climbing info but it would be easily debatable, as to whether we really needed either.

I think that the people who are interested in doing the same stuff that the ACA are interested in doing, such as organising cliff care projects and rebolting cliffs to make them safer and working towards resolving access issues, were already doing it and still are now. I'm sure some of these people are members of clubs and associations and some just do it off their own bat.

I'm not sure these proactive groups and individuals, in the Austalian climbing community are particularly ready or willing to let some ephemeral, internet-based representative body "take over the reigns" and I also believe the fact that this thread has recieved only five replies in almost as many days proves that there is no real void for the ACA to fill.

I apologise if I appear too harsh in my summation of the ACA and it's position in the landscape of Australian climbing. It was never my intention to offend anyone or get anyone offside.

Please remember that opinions are like arse holes - everybody's got one.

6:24:35 PM
On 13/09/2009 wallwombat wrote:

>And even the Canberra Climber's Association has a pretty good membership.
>The also have regular meetings, a nice website, get involved in access
>issues, organise slide shows and speakers, rebolting and regularly run
>introductory courses for beginners.

This may be a bit of an exaggeration.

8:27:27 PM
The ACA national body needs new blood that have the passion AND the time to do their part behind the scenes. Things outside climbing can come up (like kids, longer work hours, etc) and before you know it you're dealing with ACA stuff and not getting in enough climbing...

This combined with distance and local knowledge is why the QLD chapter was started and so far has fortunately had vocal and dedicated executive members that keep the ball rolling and the community updated.

So far the QLD chapter has organised several track and clean up days as well as spoken up for climbers about access issues at a couple of crags.

If you have the time and are based in NSW why not put your hand up?

Sarah Gara
8:46:48 PM
On 13/09/2009 gremlin wrote:

>If you have the time and are based in NSW why not put your hand up?

I'll put my hand up for VIC and NSW -in a 4 hour radius of where I live anyway.

Where do the ACA meet? QLD a wee bit too far... x
9:13:13 PM
Wallwombat's summary of the situation is pretty accurate.
There aren't all that many climbers to go around and there are correspondingly fewer prepared to take on the onerous roles of running an organisation and lobbying.
In Victoria this niche has been occupied by the VCC for donkey years. Not everyone goes for the VCC and that's fair enough, no organisation is going to suit everyone. However the VCC is the organisation on the ground and it actually does the hard work of organising cliffcare and negotiating access. It has employed an access officer for many years.
I've been a member of the VCC for about 35 years, even though I haven't been to a meeting for 20 years because I live to far away. When I was in Melbourne Ield a number of VCC positions including president for a couple of years. I'm not a VCC member because of the social scene but to support the VCCs access role.
I've put in a fair bit of work on some of the ACA online guides because I saw them as a potentially valuable resource. Hopefully this will continue and some sort of agreement for sharing the data with other databases can be worked out.
For the ACA to be relevant in Victoria it needs to complement the VCC, not be a rival to it. There just aren't enough of us to have rival organisations. I guess that's a challenge for any new people who put their hand up for the ACA

8:33:15 AM
my 2c

I agree with everything Wallwombat said. It seems there is cycle of enthusiasm and dedication to these sort of projects. My own experience with CRUX was the same, after three years people lost interest and the paperwork becomes too hard ect ect, same goes for and even Chockstone. All had a few years of intense creativity and then abandoned as their creators tried to make time for a normal life.

Interestingly there was certainly a bit of friction between the VCC and the ACA about the route database. At the time of it's launch I tried to convince the VCC to use the ACA database as a back end for recording new routes, but the VCC didn't like the idea of another organization holding the master data file.

I also think it was never clear why people should become a member of the ACA. There was no perceived great benefits and there was little in the way of a visible ACA presence at climbing events, track days, comps ect. I think to most people they would wonder where their $50 was going...

Ditch the current very under-utilized forums, and maybe somehow get the Chockstone forums integrated into the site. I think these two websites would make great partners. Chockstone has by far the biggest users of any Australian climbing website, its the 21st century equiv of a club in some ways.

sht have to go to work... will finish when I get some time to think about it...

9:42:39 AM
I am involved in the Livestock Saleyard Association of Victorian (long story). Some similar themes going on here too, need for national representation, not enough money, some states very effectively represented, some barely, different interest groups with different ideas. Our suggestion (not perfect) is to have an national body made up of a couple of delegates from each state based assoc (phone?skype meetings and agendas/lobbying driven by the state groups but presented in the context of a national voice) rather than a totally seperate national org.
Without knowing much about the background of all this I wonder whether this model could apply to oz climbing.

1:05:49 PM
On 14/09/2009 nmonteith wrote:

>Interestingly there was certainly a bit of friction between the VCC and
>the ACA about the route database. At the time of it's launch I tried to
>convince the VCC to use the ACA database as a back end for recording new
>routes, but the VCC didn't like the idea of another organization holding
>the master data file.

I'm not sure it was quite that simple. A major stumbling block was that the VCC (in theory at least) made money from selling guides, and hence there was some resitsance to giving the info away for free. (In reality the guide breeak even if that.) Also, the VCC is commitee driven, and no sinlge person on the commitee really has the authority to make a unilateral decision - so a lot of thngs just don't happen - the organisation just can't respond in a timley fashion, a lot of the time. Don't get me wrong - the VCC run some great trips, I've been a member ever since starting climbing, and always will. They do a great job serving as a state based body. The ACA should not worry about this role (as others have said, the void does not exist), but concentrate on what they do well (the climing route database), which the VCC, despite the best intentions of several members, has struggled to get of the ground. If you took the trips, cliffcare, and representation role of the VCC, combined it with the forum / internet presence of chockstone, and the on-line routes of the ACA, you'd have a great combination. You just need a local club / body in each state.


1:23:24 PM
On 14/09/2009 Richard wrote:
>If you took the trips, cliffcare,
>and representation role of the VCC, combined it with the forum / internet
>presence of chockstone, and the on-line routes of the ACA, you'd have a
>great combination.


>You just need a local club / body in each state.

Don't most of the states already have one?!? Arguably NSW and Queensland do, in the form of the SRC and the BCC - dunno about other states / territories.

The Sydney Rockies have a fund dedicated to supporting these types of things (they subsidise the Sydney climbing site, amongst other things) - perhaps the clubs would consider pooling together to fund a national online database of climbs?

I'd envisage a site where (like the ACA) the information is freely available online, and can be updated / modified by "trusted" people (for some definition of "trusted"). The clubs would then have the right to publish that information in printed form as/when they desire - they benefit in not having to keep the route information up to date, and everyone benefits by having the information freely available (albeit only free-as-in-beer in soft copy).

And to flog a near-dead horse, I personally feel that it's critical that the information in the database have a clearly stated license, ideally one that keeps the information (and all updates) in the public domain. The Australian climbing community is simply too small to support information being locked up behind closed doors (be they the doors of Victorian publishers, the musty libraries of the clubs, or the unreliable hard drives of temporarily motivated individuals).
1:31:11 PM
if ACA is de-registered what happens to the online guide?

can those of us who contributed get a copy of the database so all our hard work won't be lost?
1:32:52 PM
What are the non tech boring components of the ACA that nned constant attention.? Is it possible if there was a distinct leadership structure delegation could occur. It sounds like you have cooks but not kitchen hands. Creating a "casual work force" may be a direction. I am not promising but if there was an ad hoc work list or such a dill like I may be able to help with minimal commitment.

3:19:19 PM
wallwombat has summed things up pretty well for my 2C.

Richard wrote;
> If you took the trips, cliffcare, and representation role of the VCC, combined it with the forum / internet presence of chockstone, and the on-line routes of the ACA, you'd have a great combination. You just need a local club / body in each state.

+ 1Agreed more.

Interesting to note the front page Forum of Chockstone has now integrated the
>Upcoming VCC Events

... ~> so the evolving technology+club based thingy, appears to already be started?

4:14:06 PM
I do the web development for ACA, (yes i know, this year has been rather crazy for me)

Here'[s my $0.2...

1) Each time i (try) run something by the national body, it takes a month to get a hurried response and no action. This is not their fault, life gets in the way. This is why the about/charter section is in tatters and the route DB has no license. (i'm a freetard and would like to see it all under GPL).

I'd like to see some dedicated people to provide some direction, make decisions and write some documentation.

2) I could go and just make these changes, but it's supposed to be an association of climbers, not just me making shit up...

3) I've never liked the ACA forums as i've always felt this niche has been adequately filled by Chocky, Qwank and CragX, it's mostly been handy for organizing maintenance of the route db. My idea has always been to have a news section / calendar for people to make announcements, the route DB and then pull information from sites like chockstone, qurank, vcc, etc in the way of RSS feeds and similar technologies... organize it all on one site where people can easily find stuff in once place.

4) The national body should be made up of members from each state chapter.

5) Let the VCC do what they do (it sure ain't broken), forget about a vic chapter and just work with 'em.

It all comes down to dedicated people that are willing to donate time. If you can spare a day a fortnight put your hand up for the job.

WW&S, i like that idea...

4:41:49 PM
Well, ditch the ACA Charter to start with. None of that is achievable without lots of money and lots of active, paying members. I doubt that will be happening soon.

Ditch the forums and stick with a notice board that can intergrate news and announcements from all states. That's a good idea.

If the ACA's role is purely to maintain the Australian Route Register and have a notice board with news and events from around Australia, it should be easier to manage.

Start from there and work outwards.

If you set yourself a dozen unacheivable goals, it goes without saying that you will burn out. Start with the things you know you can do and work at addding others along the way.

4:58:18 PM
I actually like the part were on the main page you can click on the various forums listed and see latest post.sdaves surfing all the others all the time..though it not working at the moment...hint hint :)

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