posted by dpm on 07/29/2013
One classic sector of the world famous bouldering area of Rocklands, South Africa has already been closed and the future of other areas is uncertain. Delaney Carpenter -Chairperson of the Rock Climbing Committee of the Mountain Club of South Africa, Cape Town Section- has asked for help in spreading the word to climbers about the dire access situation in Rocklands. The Mountain Club's letter follows:
For years climbers have been enjoying the world-class bouldering in the area known as Rocklands in the Western Cape, South Africa. Many climbers have been oblivious to the fact that Rocklands is owned by five different landowners: four farmers and Cape Nature.
When climbing became a prominent activity in the Cederberg, the Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA) and Cape Nature (CN) drew up the Cederberg Environmental Management Program (EMP) to jointly manage climbing in the Cederberg, including bouldering in Rocklands. It was agreed that permits would need to be purchased in order to maintain the pathways and environment of the bouldering areas, which all cost money, and that climbers would need to adhere to certain rules in order to prevent irreparable damage to the environment. It was found through the EMP that bouldering has quite a substantial negative impact on the environment – more than sport or trad climbing. The private landowners have been allowing climbing on their land under the assumption that climbers would manage their climbing the same way that they would for Cape Nature Land.
Unfortunately, when Rocklands became internationally famous, this set of rules was not communicated effectively to the international climbers. As a result, the land began to suffer and the environment has sustained significant and continuous damage. This complete and utter disrespect for the land has caused both Cape Nature and the landowners to start viewing boulderers in a very negative light. All land belonging to one of the farmers has as of Saturday 28th June 2013 been closed to climbing; this includes Tea Garden and all areas from Klein Kliphuis down to Clanwilliam on both sides of the road. Anyone caught climbing in these areas will be prosecuted and probably fined by the landowner. To continue climbing in this area will only damage the reputation of boulderers even further.
The Wild Card is no longer accepted for Cape Nature Land and the permit is R60 per day per climber. The MCSA is scheduling meetings with CN to find a middle ground for this recent development. Fortunately, CN has agreed to accept the Wild Card for the 2013 bouldering season.
Delaney Carpenter(Chairperson of the MCSA Rock Climbing Committee, Cape Town Section) recently stood up at this year’s Rock Stock to inform all climbers of the current deteriorating relationship between climbers and the Rocklands’ landowners and has urged all climbers to adhere to the below rules when climbing in Rocklands:
Most climbers have the attitude that things are not as bad as people say they are; that Rocklands will always be available to boulderers; that as long as they aren’t caught, there’s no problem. Boulderers don’t need to be caught defying these rules. Human feces, filthy toilet paper, litter, cigarette butts, trampled vegetation, graffiti and pof are all evidence of the disobedience of climbers.
There are four farmers who make their living off of their land – the land that boulderers are trashing. One farmer has already closed her lands to boulderers. It is only a matter of time before the other three do the same. CN is clamping down on boulderers; their rangers are making more visits through the bouldering areas, insisting on permits.
The complete disrespect of boulderers for the land on which they climb is a very serious and very real threat to bouldering in Rocklands.
Rocklands bouldering is in peril.
Rocklands does not belong to the climbers.
Our access is not a right, it’s a privilege and our treatment of the land is the difference between us being allowed to climb in Rocklands and us being banned from climbing in Rocklands altogether.
Irresponsible boulderers have caused this problem and boulderers are the only ones who can fix it.
Please respect the land you climb on in South Africa and adhere to the above mentioned rules. Your privilege to climb in Rocklands depends on it.
- Notice from Delaney Carpenter, Chairperson of the Mountain Club of South Africa Rock Climbing Committee, Cape Town Section.