Spring weather means predictable unpredictability in our mountain weather, but those who have managed to find the weather windows have been rewarded with nice crampon conditions in the early morning and softening descents by lunchtime. Good conditions now for those that participated in the snow craft courses to get amongst it. The skiers have been making the most of it as well, with a number of successful descents from the summit. Good work if you can get it! With more snow falling as I write there is no immediate end to the spring season in sight, so it looks like we’ll be crampons well into November.
We’ll make the most of the spring conditions by running a slush summit on the 9th of November. This is aimed at the snow craft graduates, giving you all a crack at a white summit with a bit of supervision from some of the more experienced club members, usually a really popular day, so let Ange know if you are keen.
Some bad new recently for the rock rats among us, in that the Mangaokewa crag has now been closed to the public for the purposes of rock climbing. The background in brief, is that the Waitomo District Council has handed ownership of the reserve to DOC, who will ultimately be returning the reserve to Iwi as part of treaty settlement. Future management of the reserve is still being worked out, however in the meantime, Iwi have requested that rock climbing at the reserve ceases, noting that the reserve contains pa sites and waahi tapu. DOC also have safety concerns about the state of the fixed rope lines on the crag. We may be able to negotiate access to the crag again; TAC have made contact with DOC outlining our interest in maintaining access and will collaborate with other organisations such as NZAC to find a solution. In the short term I would advise that we be respectful of the wishes of the Iwi and let the process work itself out. In particular please keep social media rants to polite tone, you might be surprised who reads them.
Access to crags and climbing areas has always been a background issue, but with the closing of prominent popular North Island crags such as Castle Rock (Coromandel), Whanganui Bay, and Mangaokewa, the reality for North Island climbers is that ensuring access to climbing areas should be pushed to the forefront of our clubs roles. We need to ensure the continued use of our climbing crags is addressed during any consultation process that might affect access. TAC members should take special interest in the review of the Egmont National Park Management Plan, which may take place sometime early next year. This should be seen as an opportunity to work with the new park management structure to not only ensure access to Taranaki’s crags, but to improve their amenity. For example, what about setting aside Warwick Castle/ Organ pipes valley as a recognised rock and ice recreational area within the park, with managed bolting rights. We need to be talking about these things now, so when the time comes for submissions we are organised, supported and effective.
It’ll be up to us, as climbers, to take the lead in tackling the problems around access. No one else is going to care. Climbers and their clubs need to get a grip on the background issues surrounding access, find common ground with Iwi and landowners and accept where our activities might not necessarily accord with tikanga we need to find acceptable alternatives. Otherwise the days of free climbing crag development in the North Island are probably over.
Next club night is the 7th of November, Ross Eden, (well known rogue crag developer in his own right) will be taking a quiz night, at decanter bar. Brush up on your climbing trivia and come along for social night out. There’ll be a bar and food available.
See you out there,