Fifteen people turned up in reasonable sunshine to visit the Hollow Mountain area. Earl, of the rock-climbing company “hanging out” based in Halls Gap, conducted us on a guided tour of Summerday Valley, highlighting the track hardening work and fencing carried out to maintain and improve the tracks in the area. We learnt that the Grampians was regarded as one of the world’s premier climbing locations, attracting visitors from all over the world, and that numbers doing this had been growing very rapidly until the recent climbing bans. Summerday Valley is special in that it caters for beginner and school groups, with good access to climbs and good toilet and parking facilities.
We heard how the current climbing bans were placing additional strain on other areas where climbing was still allowed, such as Mt Arapiles and closer to Halls Gap.
A discussion evolved round the necessity of bolts for safety in climbing, the use of chalk, and erosion and trampling caused by sheer numbers using popular or beginner climbs. We all agreed that the problem had to be managed and that a major obstacle was a lack of funding for Parks to carry out hardening and upgrades of popular spots.
At this stage, the group split with a number of members retracing their steps to the carpark, and then doing the walk to Gulgurn Manja art site, before proceeding to the Mt Zero Picnic area for a late lunch.
The remainder ascended the 100 steps and rejoined the walking track to Hollow Mountain. A further split in the group occurred at the overhang wall, which is rated as a 23 climb up the crack portion, and a 32 in the smoother overhang bit…and is an international destination for climbers. Two members opted to sit and chat while the others ascended Hollow Mountain. The windblown cave system was investigated, and the view onto Taipan Wall ogled at, before we proceeded to the cave of the west, which contains a bouldering scramble knows as “The Wheel of Life”, again an internationally renowned series of moves.
A quick examination of gnammas nearby revealed a healthy population of Clam Shrimps flitting about. We then descended and walked to the Mt Zero Picnic area via the famous Anderson bouldering area.
Lunch was enjoyed in pleasant sunshine, followed by a short walk to look at historic graffiti (1919) plus more recent stuff on a spectacular overhang at the end of Flat Rock. While the committee met to discuss stuff, others went on an orchid ramble along the Mt Zero track.
Thanks to Catherine for organising an enjoyable and informative day.