Home Forums Climbing Talk CALM, draconian regulations on climbing

Viewing 19 posts - 1 through 19 (of 19 total)
  • Author
  • #3733 Reply
    John Knight

    For anyone that skips the front page and heads straight to the forum, please check check the front page news by clicking on Home.


    #3734 Reply

    FYI / amusement:

    You can find the draft plan that has caused the interest at:



    1) Very similar changes to regulation 33 have been proposed in the past. (eg 2002 and 2004. See and example at “http://www.naturebase.net/haveyoursay/pdf_files/calm_regs2002_c4c.pdf”

    2) These must not have been passed if the amendments are proposed again in 2006.

    3) I could not find a copy of the current regulations on CALM’s website, so I don’t know exactly what they say now.

    4) Regulation 33 already requires all abseilers (commercial or not) to have permission from CALM

    5) For non climbers, it does not seem outlandish for climbers to have permission from CALM if abseilers already requires permission…. !

    6) Who knows how this applies to rock climbers who abseiler as part of the sport.

    7) Note how the CALM regulations and management plans frequently refer to CAWA and its code of ethics. This implies they do listen to CAWA and view it as an authoritive body wrt the sport. This is an excellent example of what CAWA can do and has done to improve our sport.

    An extract from the cape range draft management plan that has caused the recent alarm follows:

    (note how it indicates abseilers already need permission. note also that this extract is a bit misleading, i believe that the full regulation allows bolting if you consult the applicable regional CALM authority):

    “Abseiling and Rock Climbing

    In recent years there has been a marked increase in abseiling (and to a much lesser extent, rock climbing) by organised groups in Western Australia. This is often on a commercial basis. Abseiling as a motivational or team building exercise is also becoming more common.

    Abseiling can involve large groups of beginners under instruction. Participants may not necessarily have experience in mountain safety and climbing, and group instructors have a responsibility to ensure that all members of the group observe safety, environmental and ethical standards. Certain minimum standards of experience and competency in instructors, and acceptable student to instructor ratios are required. People conducting commercial rock climbing and abseiling on lands managed by CALM must obtain a commercial activity licence. All commercial operators and not-for-profit groups conducting rock climbing/abseiling with dependent participants must also be registered under the National Outdoor Leader Registration Scheme or hold current equivalent accreditation. The Abseiling Instructors Certificate and Professional Association of Climbing Instructors schemes are currently regarded as equivalent to National Outdoor Leader Registration Scheme.

    Under CALM regulation 33, a person must not, without approval, abseil on CALM-managed land. It is proposed to amend regulation 33 to include rock climbing as an activity requiring lawful authority. The CALM Regulations also prevent climbers from drilling bolt holes, gluing bolts, chipping or drilling holds and gluing on holds, as an aid to climbing. “

    #3735 Reply

    Here are some facts to underpin Toc’s call for action to preserve climbing in Western Australia.

    CALM Regulation 33 at present in force reads “A person must not, without lawful authority, abseil on CALM land. Penalty $500.” To check this go to http://www.slp.wa.gov.au/ and follow the links to Regulations. That is all it says, no mention of commercial operators or activities undertaken in groups. The word “abseil” is not defined in CALM Act (1984) or CALM Reguations (2002) so a dictionary definition will apply.

    A document titled “Call for Public Comment: Proposed amendments to CALM Regulations 2002” can be accessed from Neil’s link http://www.naturebase.net/haveyoursay/pdf_files/calm_regs2002_c4c.pdf

    Go to pages 4 & 5 of that document to see CALM’s rationale for their proposal to add rock climbing to Regulation 33 and thereby create and offence of rock climbing on CALM land. You’ll see that public submissions to those proposals closed on 27 February 2004. However the current draft Cape Range Management Plan (public submissions close 14 April 2006) accessed from Neil’s first link mentions on page 83 (p95 of the pdf) that it is proposed to amend Regulation 33 “to include rock climbing as an activity requiring lawful authority”. This matter is therefore under active consideration by CALM right now.

    So there we have it. Time is of the essence in mounting a campaign to stop this ill thought out amendment making climbing as we know it illegal.

    #3736 Reply

    If you need anymore material, go to:


    fossick around to the “have your say” section and read the position papers and similar that are presented for the walpole and leeuwin regions.

    Note the specific comments to areas that we frequent: mt frankland, mt roe, bobs hollow etc etc etc !

    i am not an old man and i’m not a member of CAWA. but i am interested in being proactive in a constructive manner to make sure we don’t all end up in a big pile of poo.

    #3737 Reply

    My thoughts;

    Given that this has been attempted twice before (see above) we need to find out how serious this actually is – is it a mistake or a genuine backdoor attempt at getting rockclimbing banned.

    Why would CALM want to ban climbing? Insurance, liability?

    And how on earth does whoever is pushing it think they are they going to enforce it? Does CALM really have the resources?

    A point about abseiling, it is mostly (only?) commercial and therefore, I suspect, actually in the interests of the commercial operators to have this ruling – reduces their competition.

    Climbing is completely different to this. People just go with their own gear. Numbers of parties are much bigger for climbing than for abseiling. It is all much more casual with only petrol money passing hands.

    #3738 Reply

    i paid my first visit to willyabrup today, and am amazed at the work done by CALM for that area. the path, the toilet, not to mention the bolts. oh the plethora of bolts. all with the little tags on them, which from what i remember reading on here, means CALM placed them. personally, i think they have placed WAY too many bolts, but thats another argument….

    it just seems strange that they would do a backflip like this, after all the work they’ve done.

    #3739 Reply

    No backflip. The bolts are for abseilers in organised commersial groups who have got permits and accredited instructers.

    #3740 Reply

    I don’t know Andrew, I think it would be pretty easy to enforce… just hang out at Churchmans Brook on a Sunday, or spend a weekend scoping Willyabrup or Bobs Hollow… or give the ranger at Bluff Knoll some binoculars! I’d feel rather vulnerable if the law was passed, that’s for sure.

    The amendment is obviously not for ecological reasons given Willyabrup’s plethora of bolts, so I can only think of liability or ignorance (hoping it’s the latter because we have a better chance of setting that right)

    Also, can’t see how it affects commercial abseilers that much – I imagine they get most of their money from school and corporate groups, so we’re not really competition. Can’t see that it would be them trying to knock us out of the game.

    Can anyone think of any other reasons for this apart from ignorance and liability?

    #3741 Reply


    Rock climbing is not that easy to explain to non climbers, bouldering is even harder.

    I recently spent 3 days in a workshop with CALM, Water Corp, Dep Sport and Recreation etc etc. The subject was mountain biking, but some of the lessons will be very similar to climbing. These people have a very limited understanding of what we do, how we do it and why. You should have seen the impact of sending a bunch of government minions and amateur beurocrats down a technical and steep race track on a $10,000 race bike ! It didn’t take them long to catch on with what we wanted and why we were in the game so to speak.

    The main thing I learnt from all this was; that in general, these guys (and girls) are willing to listen to educated viewpoints from user groups eg mountain biking and rock climbing.

    #3742 Reply
    John Knight

    As long as we present ourselves as a united bunch of educated-reasonable people, instead of just long-haired hippies, we should be okay! Pen-pushers only relate to their own kind! 😉

    #3743 Reply


    A few members of CAWA (myself included) will be meeting with a couple of CALM reps – one of whom has a reputation for being sympathetic to climbers – next Thurs morning.

    This will be followed by a preliminary meeting next Thurs evening (16 March)at Rosie O’Gradys at 8pm (non-CAWA members welcome). The meeting will be a debriefing session, and a forum to start thinking of strategies to defend our right to climb!

    Another meeting is being planned for late March so that we can finalise what will be included in our submission

    If anyone has any questions for CALM, you can put them up on this thread before next Thurs, and we’ll endeavour to get them answered.

    #3744 Reply

    Enforcing of this will depend on whether the ranger can identify your car. If he can, he can from police get your home address and will know where to send infringement notice for $500.

    Otherwise the ranger will rely on your honesty in giving your own address and name etc, let’s face it how many people carry walets to crags I forget mine all the time. If anyone thinks that a ranger will wrestle and arrest anyone over this then put yourself into his shoes when faced with a few fit climbers at a crag. He’d be nuts.

    So if CALM ban it, in practice all that will happen is that CALM land managers will be able to say, “we did all we could” if anyone sues them. Climbing itself will go on as before, albeit with more stealth and with tacid tolerance of status quo, same as at Bob’s Hollow today.

    At the end of the day we all live in the real world, lawyers excepted.

    #3745 Reply

    The questions and comments I would like to be put forward to CALM are as follows:

    1. What would the permit system entail? And what is CALM’s definition of lawful authority?

    I personally do not see a problem with a permit system say on a yearly basis that says “I am going to rock climb / abseil on CALM land within the next 12 months and am aware that it is a dangerous activity Blah blah blah”. At least CALM then has a register of climbers who intend to climb on public land. For visiting climbers I also do not see a problem with a similar system. The question here is ease of access and registration of activity. This is what climbers hate. We hate the idea of going out of our way to register. We want to be able to jump in the car on a Friday and wake up sat morn ready to climb. Not wait till 10.00am when the CALM office opens (if it opens at all on weekends) However, in areas like Bluff Knoll, Kalbarri it is as easy as placing you name in a registration book and I don’t hear too many outcrys about this form of registration. It is a question of getting methods of registration to particular areas that best suit the area. For remote nonpatrolled/gated areas, internet registration is one suggestion…

    2. I fully support the implementation that all commercial operators and not-for-profit groups conducting rock climbing/abseiling with dependent participants must also be registered under the National Outdoor Leader Registration Scheme or hold current equivalent accreditation.

    3. The CALM Regulations also prevent climbers from drilling bolt holes, gluing bolts, chipping or drilling holds and gluing on holds, as an aid to climbing. This point I strongly disagree with and question 1. The reason of such decision. 2. How they intend to police this regulation. 3. How this effects areas that have established bolted climbs and the potential for future development 4. If it applies to all CALM land or just “no bolting zones”. I would also like to see a clearer definition on “No bolting zones” and “Wilderness climbing areas” as questioned previously in the bolting thread. CALM together with strong input from CAWA impose these imaginary lines. It is not clear to climbers however where these lines are and why they were put there in the first place. And can the be (re)moved?

    4. I fully support a government organisation that promotes a public voluntary organisation like CAWA and references articles like the CAWA Code of Ethics. I do however feel that review and update of CAWA’s climbing and bolting ethics is required to fall in line with climbing majority of today. I acknowledge climbing history and the efforts and “style” that past climbing areas and lines were put up in however I don’t feel that we should be stuck in this “history”.

    5. I fully support permanently or temporarily closing sites to abseiling and rock climbing if rock wallabies or nesting birds are likely to be significantly disturbed, or if other fauna or values are being unacceptably impacted. Access to these areas can however be improved by provision of access points (CAWA promotes this). And for climbers, tracks are not often the best means of preventing environmental impact. This would mean installing rap station see point 3.

    My 2 cents

    #3746 Reply

    several things i’d like to add….

    is it only climbers they are targetting …what about other calm land usergroups..ie bushwalkers..mountain bikers…etc

    why would they do this after taking the time to do up and make better places such as the quarries and churchies…all the time money and resources that went into the betterment of these areas..

    what type of permit are the expecting…

    i dont htink too many of us would have a problem of a once a year permit for say $10-20 if we knew the money would go back into these areas for maintanence…

    unfortunately i will be unable to make the meeting on thursday dur to work commitments…but you are more then welcome to put my name on a petition agasinst the blanket proposal as it stands

    #3747 Reply

    Jamie’s point is spot on, a few years ago the corresponding US agency tried to ban bolting in all “wilderness areas”. This was fought by the Access Fund on the basis that they would also have to ban bushwalking etc., as bolted climbing routes are simply formed vertical trails. The Access Fund won the legal challenge.

    #3748 Reply

    I’ve been climbing for six years (mainly in the Peak District as I lived in Sheffield, but also N Wales and the Lake District). There are a few places in the UK where climbing is not allowed, but these tend to be on private land or recently abandoned quarries which are unstable. The BMC (see <a href=”http://www.thebmc.co.uk/&#8221; target=”_blank”>The BMC</a>) do an excellent job negotiating access rights to areas where there is a conflict.

    Fortunately (off the top of my head) I can not think of any National Park where climbing is restricted in such a manner in the UK.

    I’ve made a few forrays out to the local crags already thanks to Andy (Pinjara, Churchmans and Stratham so far), and it would be a real shame if this legislation went through.

    Its not clear from what I’ve read as to the reasoning behind the proposal, but it may well stem from a fear of litigation.

    This goes completely against the principle and ethos of climbing (outdoors at least) where it is the individuals responsibility to assess the quality of the rock and their ability to climb it, and should they choose to do so, the inherent risk in doing so.

    I’ll be coming along on Thursday to lend my support, and find out more details as to why this has been proposed and what we can do to protect ours and others freedom to enjoy the rock that others have done freely for years.

    slack—line (Neil)

    P.S. – Would love to join CAWA at the same time if thats possible, who should money orders be made payable to?

    P.P.S – I can think of a few other areas around the world where there have been access restrictions/bans placed on climbing….

    Hueco, Texas USA – Initially a ban was placed to protect ancient rock art on the boulders and caves, this has now been relaxed, but you have to apply for permits each day and you are accompanied by a ranger.

    El Chorro, S. Spain – When I was there a couple of years ago, climbing was supposedly banned in the upper section of the gorge, although quite a few of the locals paid little attention to this, and it didn’t seem to be enforced.

    Meschia, Italy – Access was(/is) severly restricted due to the disruption to the owners livelihood (chestnut farming).

    #3749 Reply

    Hi Slack–line,

    Money orders payable to Climbers’ Association of Western Australia. And bad news about El Chorro… I was hoping to climb there in June! Thanks, everyone, for the comments – we’ll put your queries to CALM tomorrow morning

    #3750 Reply

    Thanks Marianne, will pop to the post office today.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the upper gorge being out of bounds, there are over 600 routes in and around the gorge alone to go at of all grades, and even more if you have a car, Desplomandia, El Torcal (take a local, its very confusing!!). An excellent new guide had just been published (in Spanish & English) when I visited in 2004.

    Look forward to meeting people this evening.

    slack (Neil)

    #3751 Reply


    After last night’s discussion I found this on the internet. It is for Tasmanian Education but it speaks of National Qualification. It also talks about guidelines and Safety & risk Management issues. It also provides quite a number of extra links to other information. Thought it might be of some help….


    Also, there is the ACIA to consider. It is a national body for training outdoor climbing instructors. Unfortunately the courses are only in the eastern states but it may be something to consider if we do need accreditation. It has four levels of training and also has recognition of prior learning. The levels are:-

    Single Pitch Guide (SPG)

    Multi Pitch Guide (MPG)

    Climbing Instructor (CI)

    Instructor Trainer/Assessor (ITA


    Hope this helps…

Viewing 19 posts - 1 through 19 (of 19 total)
Reply To: CALM, draconian regulations on climbing
Your information:

Scroll to Top