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  • #7630 Reply
    ed nepia


    i have a few questions about the bolting ban in the adventure climbing zone, I have looked at a few stunning chunks of rock in the area (I think) that could be developed into wicked sport/mixed trad crags so thought i’d find out what the go is

    1. Where exactly is this adventure climbing zone?

    2. Who defined the zone?

    2. Why cant you bolt there?

    Would CAWA support the development of bolted climbing in the area (I note that that would require changing the bolting policy)?

    I guess this will be a can of worms but its worth discussion as the potential for excellent cragging is there


    #7631 Reply

    a long dead agreement perpetuated by an out of touch heirachy. the old rules still stand – those who bolt will keep bolting regardless….

    #7632 Reply
    ed nepia

    thanks, i heard that this adventure climbing zone was declared by a small group of local south coast climbers a long time ago

    perhaps its time to revisit the policy especially if as you say climbers will carry on bolting regardless

    My hope is that CAWA might support climbers wanting to develop new areas, indeed advocate for development of new areas wherever possible

    #7633 Reply

    I have heard that local climbers have bolted 2 new routes at Peak Head – though I cant confirm this.

    #7634 Reply
    ed nepia

    wow perths wierder then i thought..

    chip and climb a new route in the quarries and expect a storm of controversy…

    talk about developing a whole REGION of non chipped, wild climbing and almost complete silence

    weird man

    oh well see you down south some time

    #7635 Reply
    Scott F

    I always scratch my head wondering why people are always so keen to put up new bolted lines when more often than not they have not yet done (and do not have the skill/courage/ability to do) all the available routes in the area? (eg – what is the point of putting up a 15mt over bolted contrived sport route when there are perfect majestic trad routes triple the length within a five minute walk you have not even done??????)

    When asked about their need to bolt, these people often answer `to make climbing more available to the wider community..`

    If you have just walked out of 6 months of gym climbing and you have a nervous `drilling finger` and are keen to immortalise you place in climbing history by getting your name in a guide book, I urge you to take a deep breath count to five and ask yourself what the outcomes of your actions will be. Previous recommendations to stop bolting in wilderness areas are there for good reason. Why? – because it is a wilderness area and favours a style sympathetic to the environment. If this wilderness is continually compromised it will eventually be lost and never regained. I agree that sport climbing is popular and well followed but it is a style unsuited to many environments (eg Sport Climbing is totally unsuited to most parts of SW WA sea cliffs).

    I am originally from SE Queensland and I can think of two occasions where bad behaviour by climbers has caused crag closures. During the 80`s at a spot called Western Wall near Boonah – climbers behaving badly and not following requests of local property owners caused access to be closed forever (the location is said to be amazing and due to the closure I will never have the opportunity to climb there due to the actions of others)

    The second crag closure unfolded about 18 months ago at a crag called Flinders Peak. To cut a long story short National Parks Qld requested climbers to stop bolting in one of the steep caves near the summit, instructions were not followed, bolting continued and hey presto another crag has been shut.

    Whether or not the bolting ban is official or unofficial the recommendation should still be respected. It is there for a good reason – to assist in CONTINUED ACCESS for the climbing community. Failure to respect it WILL result in the closure of these areas to climbers. Do not think for a second that these types of closures will not happen here in WA.

    If one member of CAWA even contemplates supporting bolting in the wilderness/adventure climbing zone they should hand their head in shame.

    #7636 Reply
    ed nepia

    nice one, thanks for the reply Scott

    Ive probably spent less then 6 days in a climbing gym but have spent close to 30 years climbing outdoors in a wide variety of styles, locations and countrys … so no my trigger finger isnt ‘itchy or nervous’ thanks for the concern

    i think you are confusing a few issues though

    i have done a bunch of stunning classic trad routes on the sea cliffs, and they were/are awesome routes

    i have also looked at some wild cliffs , completely devoid of natural protection possibilities, unable to be viewed or accessed by non-climbers (which would tend to void objections about visual disturbance) which could provide outstanding bolt protected climbing ( or if youd prefer death on a stick solos)

    why do you believe that sport climbing is totally unsuited to WA sea cliffs?

    while i completly agree with you that climbers should conform to wilderness regulations i understand that the area in question was declared an adventure climbing zone by climbers… not by the land managers, the land managers are taking their lead from climbers.. and in this case that seems to be a small core of locals in the Albany area who decided that they werent into sport climbing.

    My information is that this area was declared a long time ago, and many of those involved in the decision have quit climbing since, others are still active but i have heard are reconsidering their opposition to bolting.

    CAWA seems to be unable to see the positive benefits in reviewing the no bolting status of the area for climbers

    and isnt CAWA about promoting climbing for climbers?

    shouldnt CAWA be looking at supporting the future of climbing in this area especially if areas can be developed that dont conflict with other values ie. significant ecological concerns

    I believe that climbers get a bad rap for the visual disturbance provided by bolts… especially from people walking on a manicured walkway to scenic lookouts with signage, posts, fences, rubbish bins etc..

    all the sea cliffs in WA and elsewhere that i have climbed on bolts have been extremely hard to spot even when your on the route, so why climbers worry about the visual impact of bolting is beyond me..

    and yes I know that a new route will have shiny hangers/rings etc but they weather very very fast and within a few months they will be very hard to see.

    To assert that the bolting ban ‘assists in climbing access’ is ludicrous

    the bolting ban is a relic of a few well intentioned hard core locals, picked up by land managers and supported by CAWA

    the bolting ban limits the future of climbing in the state, places CAWA in the situation of supporting regulations that diminish the opportunity for climbing and climbers and should be challenged

    in the meantime while the climbing community bickers about chipped routes in the quarries a few committed , talented and quiet climbers are going to be out there putting up routes despite the ban

    and to be honest some of these routes are simply superb, and they are most definitely NOT contrived over bolted 15m sport routes… try 3 pitches of immaculate face climbing with very engaging runouts between well placed ring bolts and wherever possible natural protection

    Climbing is not a static sport and should not be defined by a rigid set of ethics that are forever set in stone, you have a reasonably traditional mindset and that is fine, but why should your view limit others?

    climbings a dynamic sport and new climbers (and some of us older ones) are looking at broadening and improving the sport by providing new challenges for ourselves and others

    this shouldnt be considered unreasonable, nor a reason to hang my head in shame

    climbers by their very nature are going to be always looking for new challenges, why are you prepared to limit this?

    CAWA as the peak body representing climbers should take the lead in discussing the relevance of the Adventure Climbing Zone

    Anyone from CAWA want to comment?

    #7637 Reply

    I agree. Back in NZ we all got over the “bolts are bad” and have found ways to expand the sport and help it grow, in a healthy way, moving forward for safer climbs but not taking away the experience of climbing.

    Id go as fast as saying that Perth are still in the dark ages of modern climbing and it seems everyone is happy to live in the past and re-living the glory days, when ever they were.

    If your the same Ed from the Wanaka region… Id be happy to climb any of your lines again!

    #7638 Reply

    Ed, while we probably don’t agree on every issue, I am a strong supporter for your vision and enthusiasm to go and bolt and develop new areas in the ACZ. Here is 1 vote from a past CAWA member (respectful bow of head)…

    #7639 Reply
    ed nepia

    Sweet, nah i dont expect that we have to agree on everything, be a boring old world if that happened eh..

    thanks be really good to hear from yous current CAWA peoples as well


    #7640 Reply
    Scott F


    #7641 Reply
    Scott F

    Ed – Let me apologise for the `shoot from the hip nature` of my response. I intended no offence or insult to anyone posting previously (yourself included).

    It just seems that in many cases when most people mention bolts along with that come other things like sport climbing, cragging, short spacings, lower-offs, crowds and sometimes poor quality. Are these things bad? – depends on what you are into. Do I think those things listed above belong in a wilderness/adventure setting like the SW WA sea cliffs – no. And it is this point that is the foundation of my argument. It is all about context and style.

    I realize that sometimes bolts may also bring all the things you expressed ` try 3 pitches of immaculate face climbing with very engaging runouts between well placed ring bolts and wherever possible natural protection` . Climbing a route like this sounds interesting (and perhaps more difficult than I am able) especially in a remote spot like the south west.

    So no, bolts do not always equal sport climbing – how can they? There are bolts on the Bachar Yerian – clearly this is not a sport route. The style of its ascent was unique, a true test piece which has stood the test of time.


    John Bachar touches on the idea behind the style of the ascent in this short clip


    I agree100% with your point that most fixed protection has zero visual impact on the natural environment when compared to the horrible blight created by other National Park infrastructure such as, walking trails, carparks, signs, rubbish bins, etc etc etc. The saying `give an inch and they will take a mile` applies perfectly in this instance. If there is a bush track, soon someone will get lost, they will blame the authorities and the bush track will turn into a signposted concrete 2mt wide footpath.

    As climbers the notion of wilderness is now probably only a theoretical concept and never truly obtainable – as soon as you walk there and see it perhaps it is no longer wilderness? But what is wrong with retaining wilderness attributes where possible?

    Ed I would love to head out with you for a climb some time to talk about this further. Whether or not we agree there are always two sides no matter how thin the issue is sliced and we can all learn from each other.

    Please get in touch via my email scfielding@gmail.com

    #7642 Reply
    ed nepia


    I am fully in support of the notions of wilderness, and wild places and agree with the general sentiments attached with non modification of the area

    but it seems we are talking bit about 2 different general issues

    1. The Adventure Climbing Zone

    2. Wilderness areas

    I guess my views and questions about the ACZ are clear, but I’m not certain about wilderness?

    Where i come from Wilderness areas are gazetted by Act of Parliament and human usage is heavily prescribed.

    Are areas of the SW coast declared wilderness or is this your descriptor?

    Like I said in my original post I am hoping for some clarification about the ACZ

    its history and relevance today but the CAWA folks arent responding .

    the negative aspects of climbing that you mention are not exclusive to sport crags, over crowding, pollution etc.. happen at every crag to a greater or lesser extent. You seem to have an aversion to terms like cragging, sport climbing etc fair enough but is the basis of your aversion simply that the climbs are bolt protected?

    over bolted routes is another issue, but i think experience shows that 99% of routes are sensibly bolted not over bolted.. and as in the bachar yerian bolted routes can be very bold

    in fact you could argue that bolted climbs on clean faces are less environmentally damaging then trad routes in cracks… most cracks are home to plants, lichens, invertebrates, lizards, birds nests etc

    Lower offs are an extremely sensible solution in some areas as they can minimise damage to trees etc used as rap anchors, avoid building descent trails through native vegetation etc. But not every route need have a lower off, its just another effective way of managing use in some cases. the CAWA bolting code supports this

    Over crowding would be an issue if there was a huge pool of local and visiting climbers … as you know the SW is a wild place and the weather not to mention the long drive, difficult access etc will help minimise crowds.. its never going to become Nowra or Arapiles

    #7643 Reply

    Earlier this year when the new CAWA bolting code was introduced, a couple of us communicated our dismay re the ACZ to the powers that be. In the draft copies of the code, the ACZ was conspicuously absent and we gratefully thought it was gone and forgotten.

    The response I received about it’s reanimation was due to the fact that it was in shane’s guide for the area and therefore still exists. Nevermind that the premis for the ACZ was long dead, that no DEC documentation for Albany environs references it (that i can find) nor that people have been bolting in the supposed ACZ for years.

    Years of lingering ACZ fug have meant that development of Albany’s many cliffs slowed. In beautiful irony, the few climbers left in Albany now bolt cherry lines left for years – the ACZ was originally introduced to stop Perth climbers from despoiling the Albany climbers’ home crags!

    As a couple of posts on this thread have alluded to, people are bolting some wicked lines in these areas. As for concerns about the bolts bringing wanton anarchic destruction from gym-virgins – it just wont happen. We have established routes in the SW that have still not had a second ascent, some after almost 10 years.

    The reality is that a handful of WA climbers with passion, ability and drive develop new routes, that are thoughtful, engaging and wild in their own right. ACZ or no, they will continue to do so, but will never communicate their existance while such restrictions exist.

    #7644 Reply
    ed nepia

    can anyone from CAWA comment on the ACZ please ..

    #7645 Reply
    Mark Weatherill

    Ed, I don’t personally know the details of the ACZ. I expect the committee members that do are Ross, Phillip, Dena and Toc. I have emailed them to ensure they are aware of this thread. I can also ensure that this issue is tabled for the next committee meeting on Wednesday 25th November.

    #7646 Reply
    ed nepia

    thanks for that, seems this isnt the first time this topic has been discussed

    it would be awesome if CAWA could re-examine the ACZ , I struggle with the notion that our peak body is prepared to limit the climbing opportunities available to WA climbers through its bolting code

    Emil was spot on, The SW sea cliffs will never become over crowded sport crags but instead can offer a variety of routes.. trad, mixed, bolted which will always be wild and fairly intense adventures

    my vote…ditch the ACZ

    #7647 Reply

    I am the Secretary of CAWA, hear me roar and tremble before me!!

    OK, seriously, this is my personal opinion here, and not the opinion of CAWA Committee, which has not discussed this item as yet, but I have been in CAWA for 15 years or so so have some idea.

    Some facts. Once upon a time when the Earth was younger(around ’93?, just before my time on the Committee….see the old papyrus “Redpoint” issues on display in the climate controlled rooms of the State Library in Northbridge), a bunch of (young, rebellios) Perth climbers went and bolted (very sparsely) some lines on Peak Head. Not only that but they whacked in some Petzl long life bolts with fixed hangers which are rather big and visually offensive. As Emil points out, the Albany locals (traditional, stout fearless fellows) who were active then were very anti-bolting, got upset and there was a follow on discussion with CAWA, which was then also very anti bolting (the whole discussion was raging in the early 90s here and there were no climbing gyms in Perth and probvably 5 sport climbs in the qarries) and the ACZ was agreed. Since that time, the ACZ has included Mermaid Point, Peak Head, the Albany Area Crags on the peninsula and the area east of Chester Pass Road in the Stirlings. It has never included WC Howe, Mt Frankland and Lindsay. The map is in the old CAWA guilde and the Richardson South Coast Rock guide. The bolts you see in there were placed before the ACZ was agreed mostly, except for a couple of lines on Bluff Knoll placed in doubtful ignorance (the ACZ is identified on the sign at the entrance to the Nat Park). Things quietened down for a while.

    Since then, the mood in Albany has shifted, and some Albany climbers have now gone and bolted some lines in the ACZ without consulting anyone, as one of them admitted to me last year at West Cape Howe. Clearly, they see the area as their back yard and feel no need for a state-wide engagement, pretty much the same as we would not talk to them if we were developing access regulations for the quarries (eg. the new Canning Dam Quarry, which is under way now). And it gives them a great head start, with some plum lines to be picked…an added advantage of keeping mum. So this is understandable, although, in the view of history, a bit hypocritical.

    What is required, is that Albany and CAWA engage again, and the issue is made clear to all. To me, the wishes of Albany climbers need to be respected, as it is their back yard and they climb there every weekend, we don’t. I also believe that the ACZ is too large, and some of the places with large blank faces are clearly an under-utilised asset and can and should be sensibly bolted, with minimum visual impact techniques such as GIMBs.

    Perthaps this is a place to highlight that carrots are no longer allowed in WA, as per the Codes of Conduct and Bolting which (at least as carrots are concerned) reflects the wishes of the great majority of WA climbers, as documented by discussions on this web site. The Codes tend to be referred to by DEC in their management plans which makes them mandatory, plus there are now added legal ramifications exposing carrot bolters to litigation in case of injuries.

    I will table the Albany ACZ issue at the CAWA Comm meeting for discussion….this take place in about 3 weeks. It would be useful if (additional) people described their position re: this on this web site, as well as the rationale behind it, so this can be included. Thanks to the contributors so far and to Ed for starting this useful discussion. It is the Committee’s intention to promote climbing in WA (this is in the Constitution), and this always includes avoiding conflicts of interest though, and to engage the outdoor climbers active in the ACZ areas on this in this case.

    BTW there will be a Committee election in Jan’10, so if people have strong feelings and actually want to make a difference, please nominate yourself. There are almost always vacant spots on the Comm (2 now).

    Also, DEC area Rangers are not blind and do see new bolts. The sensible behaviour of climbers in this state has resulted in no climbing bans other then Mt Chudalup where selfish individuals went and bolted and the area was then closed. The rangers recognise that climbing is a legit activity and climbers need “trails” just like bush walkers. It is not a black and white issue but one of management, engagement, and cooperation.

    And lastly, while opinions on the web are useful and definitely engage the community, we need doers to realise things like agreements…… anyway, enough moanings.

    The Secretary has spoken, you may sit down.

    PS: …just as well you were not at Blackwall Reach yesterday Ed, I was soooo crap….am going to the Grampians in a week so we’ll see just how crap. Last time I was there I onsighted “Sandinista”…..mmmm.

    #7648 Reply
    ed nepia

    nice one Ross, great to get the historical perspective and thanks for agreeing to table it at the meeting

    sorry i will be out of town in three weeks otherwise i would have liked to attend and discuss

    i support engaging the albany crew in the discussion however i dont support them dictating what the result should be

    in essence the climbing resource belongs to everyone, and although they are lucky enough to live close by that dosnt grant automatic rights in my view

    especially if ,as you say, they have proscribed restrictions on bolting then quietly ignored them as it suits them … hypocrisy has a price afterall

    as far as bolting styles are concerned my vote is that ‘the best possible anchors are used’ and to me that means fixed hangers or ring bolts rather then GIMB

    any hanger or ring bolt will quickly merge into the rock once its weathered

    maybe you’ll have to settle for an amnesia flash of Sandinista? Bloody good route eh!

    #7649 Reply

    Some of the concern in years past was that visually obvious bolts should not appear in tourist areas. Particularly the Gap. We have been told that we’re not supposed to climb at the Gap, but no one goes out of their way to enforce this. There’d have to be some voluntary restrictions so as not to get banned from the whole peninsula. When you talk about carrots that’s bashin carrots. GIMBs are the least obtrusive and strongest bolts. Though if they’re not visible from the ground it doesn’t matter. On the south face of Peak Head the biggest rings and hangers would never be seen by tourists or DEC; the only people that might be offended are other climbers.

    One would hope this issue would be discussed only among the climbers. DEC is fairly unpredictable and their safest and most likely response is restrictions on climbing. It’s a quaint idea that bashins might be viewed differently by the legal world. DEC are the only ones who attempt to have any traceability on their bolts, with id tags and paperwork for each bolt. The engineering audience will know that on failure you get no points for undocumented diligence with no quality assurance or control, no qualification of procedures or materials, and no maintenance. Which is why bolting is best done on individual initiative

    #7650 Reply

    Correction- the bew bolted routes at Peak Head were put up by Perth climbers

    #7651 Reply
    ed nepia

    WA must be about the only place in the world which still advocates placing GIMB

    supposedly because they are less visually intrusive, but its worth having a look around the rest of the world, no one else is using them (ok maybe in australia they are)

    ring bolts or fixed hangers are standard everywhere where bolting occurs

    they arent visually offensive

    theres thousands of them in scenic, tourist areas world wide, nah make that tens of thousands and no one (except climbers) notices them

    chalk is far more visually distracting

    have a look at the pic above of the promenade, you can see the blobs of chalk but bolts? have a look at the photos on the site, esp the promenade, big white chalk marks all over but can you honestly spot the bolts? and thats when your looking for them.. not when your a passerby whose looking at the whole landscape

    WA cargs are not unique in their use by climbers , tourists and others.. i bet most non climbers cant even see a single bolt on most crags

    how ofetn have you as a climber stood at the bottom of a route trying to spot the bolts? and again thats when your looking for them…

    GIMB are dated and should have fixed hangers wherever possible,

    some folks on this forum have previously suggested that GIMB are fine up to grade 25 after which fixed hangers or rings should be used.. this is completely illogical as it suggests that only expert climbers need the safety of fixed gear wheras those climbing more modest grades should have to struggle and stress placing removable hangers

    Time WA got over GIMB i reckon and joined the 21st century

    #7652 Reply


    What do you mean by “rest of the world”? Where is this place? Every place has its own ethix.

    In Europe they bolt everything without batting an eyelid, cracks, everything. Noone cares if it has trad placements. they even fix chains between bolts and call these “via ferratas”, i.e. “steel paths”.

    In UK on grit if you plase a bolt you will get shot. In the same country on limestone you can bolt away.

    In Yosemite you can bolt new rotes any way you want but not if they have trad gear and not if you use a powered drill. Hand drilling only.

    In East Germany in Elbsandstein they use massive ring bolts…..8m apart….and so on.

    So the point is, what we use here is up to us, and out own considerations of what is good for climbing here, based on our own experience with access problems. This is not New Zealand. The land managers are twitchy and secretive…a lookout get bid for Castle Rock in the porpongurups without consulting any climbers. Our approach is to be inobtrusive and with the exception of a few me-first wallys, it has worked great so far, so let’s keep it that way.

    Someone else made a comment about the quaint legal angle about carrots. Rest assured if someone kills themselves off a pulled carrot, the investigation will look at that carrot. It will also find the CAWA code of bolting on the web. It will then ask the bolter, proudly listed in the guidebook, “why did you place a bolt when the peak body in this state forbids it”….and when tests consistently show this is the weakest and worst way to bolt. That is the legal aspect. Of course the idea of the CoB is not to nail people in courts but to stop this kind of thing happenning. There have been at least two accidents in the quarries over last few years where a carrot has pulled and the climber decked out. In engineering failures ( I have a degree in chemical engineering) people ask “did you use the best practice” and “did you obey the safety guidelines” and if not then why not.

    #7653 Reply

    totally agree ed….

    * I doubt as Richard states above that GIMBs are in fact stronger than glue in ps or decent expandos. In fact I would hazard to say that they are weaker or at least not as safe for the following reasons:

    — The weakest link in the chain is likely the hanger, which is a necessary part of a GIMB.

    — If you look at the accidents that occur around Oz, there are an inordinate number as a result of using bolts that require hangers. This is becasue of incorrect placement of hanger or using small or wire gate biners with them. Human error yes, but it means the same – theyre simply less safe.

    Thus if you are bolting with the best possible system around, GIMBs (or carrots) are not it. To have stated in the bolting code that GIMBs are preferred seems illogical.

    *look at any of the issues between land managers and climbers in this state (or others) and the central issue is not the visual impact of the bolts. bolts have certainly been a concern for CALM or DEC but moreso that they have been placed without consultation and they are concerned about litigation.

    The chudalup issue mentioned earlier is a classic example. GIMBs and carrots were used, but the objection by DEC was to the fact that people were climbing in a sacred area…

    Trying to lay low out of land managers’ field of view by placing GIMBs is missing the point. The stuff they are interested in is traffic, erosion, shit and toilet paper in the bushes, conflicts and of course, money.

    *We have bandied about this idea of GIMBs in highly frequented tourist areas. Where exactly is this? If we mean The Bridge and Gap area, well i thought we’re not meant to climb there. So where else? I cant really think of another place were we climb and tourists frequent. So is the stress on placing GIMBs necessary?

    *Ross, you say that each area has its own ethics, and implicitly that GIMBs are a part of these ethics. However it seems that outside of your coterie, no one else uses them. I cant think of one person that I have climbed with locally that doesnt curse them routinely.

    Adding this all up, can we just forget about GIMBs versus everything else and just call it bolting? As long as it’s safe, each party will use their preferred method.

    #7654 Reply
    Mark Weatherill

    For reference, here are some other threads that discuss the ACZ:



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