Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

For the posting and discussion of Access Issues and Closures for Areas around South Africa.
BreytJ
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Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by BreytJ » Tue May 02, 2017 2:10 pm

Climbers who frequent the Lord of the Rings Sector at Chosspile will know that there is a Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle nesting site at the right side of the crag, just right of the chains of Fossil Fuel.
We have received news that nesting activity has commenced and hence notify climbers that with immediate effect no climbing is permitted at the Lord of the Rings until end October.

It should be noted that the Verreaux’s Eagle is on the red-data list and therefore to disturb a nesting pair is a criminal offense; in the interests of maintaining long-term access to the crag, the Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA) is implementing following restrictions on climbing at Chosspile.
1. With immediate effect no climbing is permitted at the Lord of the Rings sector until end October.
2. If it is confirmed early in this period by an appointed representative of the club that the eagles have abandoned the nest climbing may resume
3. No dogs are allowed at the Lord of the Rings Sector during the nesting season.
4. If it is observed by an appointed representative of the club that the juvenile birds have fledged the nest, climbing may resume earlier than the date in point 1.
5. Updates on breeding status and restrictions will be posted via the weekly “Reminders” e-newsletter.

The consequences of climbers not observing these restrictions could lead to closure of these crags, so please work with us so that we can secure long-term access and help protect the wonderful Black Eagles.

Mountain Club of South Africa, Magaliesberg and Johannesburg Sections.

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by mokganjetsi » Tue May 02, 2017 11:17 pm

will you also put up a sign at the crag?

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by BreytJ » Wed May 03, 2017 4:01 pm

Yes. We are busy having one made and should hopefully have it installed by end of the month. Reception at Mount Amanzi will also inform climbers when they sign in

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Forket
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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by Forket » Wed May 03, 2017 11:01 pm

So when will Tonquani be closed or are Verreaux Eagles only protected at sport climbing crags?

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by MCSAJHBChairman » Thu May 04, 2017 9:27 am

Dear Ebert,

I think you are confusing an area where the climbers respect the Eagles and stay away from them at all times - Tonquani, with one where a sport route goes right up to the nest. In Tonquani, as on our other land, Conservation does indeed come first - as it should. Our members know this and stay far away from the Eagles.

What the MCSA is doing is attempting to prevent all climbers from being banned entirely from Chosspile - which is a likelihood if climbers continue to climb right at a nest. There are various Conservation bodies and Organisations that are empowered by law to do that.

So once again we are asked to discipline ourselves (self discipline) to prevent a much more drastic action by outsiders. It is not an unreasonable expectation for most climbers (just like not trespassing is not difficult for most of us).

I do realise you are just stirring but I want to be clear that these restrictions and their VOLUNTARY support is in the best interest of the climbing community.

Have a good day

Grant Rens
MCSA JHB Chairman

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by Forket » Thu May 04, 2017 2:57 pm

No no no no no no no Grant, I am not just stirring. MCSA is being 100% hypocritical in this matter.

In your response you are inferring that climbers at Chosspile don't respect the Eagles.
The Verreaux Eagles have been nesting there since before 2008 and have been back every single year since. I have seen them, they arent bothered by the occasional climber that clips chains (below a bulge that doesn't even allow for direct visual contact). The handful of people that are able to climb 30 respect the birds way more than the NONC hikers in your kloof. I guarantee it!!! There are also trad routes adjacent to the nest in Tonquani?! I also guarantee you that 95% of the people entering Tonquani don't know where the Verreaux Eagles nest, thus how can they know where not to walk or climb???? With that I also guarantee you that the noise made in a confined kloof is amplified greatly and is way more likely to upset breeding eagles then against a cliff facing the Hartebeespoort Dam where there is an abundance of continuous noise 24/7 because of the dam wall and all the tourists hooting etc.

On your website you even recommend the eagles as an alternative attraction!!!

This is completely unfair! If you going to close my favorite crag, close your favorite crag as well!
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BreytJ
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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by BreytJ » Fri May 05, 2017 8:14 am

There are 4 breeding sites located at MCSA climbing venues
LOTR Choss
Tonquani
Wilgepoort
Bronkies

Last year there was no nesting activity at Tonquani, so no reason to close climbs in vicinity of the nest.

LOTR Choss and a section at Wilgepoort was closed due to nesting activity.

Should we receive reports that the Tonquani nest is occupied this season similar action will be taken to close the relevant section to climbing.

Bronkies has a permant closure, something MCSA is challenging. However, it is difficult to justify when climbers ignore restrictions. We are building a case to prove climbers are sensitive to conservation and will respect restrictions should a pair of eagles start using the Bronkies site again.

It is global practice to close climbing on crags during raptor breeding season.

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by Forket » Fri May 05, 2017 9:03 am

Funny how the birds nest in a noisy place with lots of people about.

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by BreytJ » Fri May 05, 2017 10:10 am

This is not all about noise.
Agree birds do become habituated and occupy nests in residential areas.
There is a reason birds build nests in inaccessible spots. If the inaccessibility is constantly challenged a nest is no longer safe and breeding is abandoned.

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by Forket » Fri May 05, 2017 10:24 am

Yeah BreyJ I agree totally. Must also be the reason why they don't nest at Tonquani and Wilgepoort anymore, where people trad climb and choose to nest in the two most popular sport climbing crags in South Africa. It's like the birds know trad climbers climb everywhere with no restrictions and sport climbers stop before infringing on the birds' nesting spots.

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by dirktalma » Fri May 05, 2017 11:22 am

The eagles tend to nest in Tonquani close to the climb The Great Pursuader (ironically), which is upstream of Reunion gulley. I am willing to bet that no-one has climbed in that area in the last 2 to 5 years. Anyone?

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by BreytJ » Fri May 05, 2017 1:21 pm

Thanks for engaging.
It presents an opportunity to clear misinformation.
To correct one point.
Breeding was succesful at Wilgepoort last year - a trad venue. (Dirk may want to comment)
And a general statement - very few nests were occupied in Magalies last season (from memory only 3 of the documented 13). Reason unknown (may have been due to drought), even more of a reason to ensure each occupied nest has the best possible opportunity at success.

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by Forket » Fri May 05, 2017 2:48 pm

Dickie I don't know Tonquani 100% but isn't the nest then just upstream from the medical aid stash and the campsite which is frequently visited?

BreytJ was wilgerpoort closed last year while the Eagles bred? And Chosspile successfully bred eagles for 8 years in a row 2008-2016, with climbers not bothering them, don't you think removing climbers from the equation will lead to the Eagles becoming less use to humans and in future then be hesitant to come back if they don't remain use to us?

E

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by IdratherBeCimbing » Fri May 05, 2017 3:38 pm

Ebert I get you like to stir the pot , I myself enjoy it too , but a few things what are you hoping to gain here the chosspile closure for the eagles is not a new thing I totally understand you're trying to justify why you should be allowed to climb there but you come into this so hostile and agro as if someone's come from left field with this crazy and ludicrous idea. second I thought you were up in the middle of africa playing enjoying the beautiful scenery amongst the ever looming civil war or are you kicking back on a beach somewhere , either way is there nothing better to do there than twiddle your thumbs and flog the same argument over and over again like a toddler that doesn't understand why they can only have a slice of cake rather than the whole one, don't you have a an unsent project in the man cave maybe instead of causing kak on here you should be finding a way to train for that . finally apart from the fact that you're not even in the country I thought when you got back you were buggering off up north to go bolt a whole limestone crag where there's no black eagles ( or so you hope ) so take a deep breath go bolt some cool lines and leave nature to run its course , and don't get your knickers in such a twist when people tell you that you cant have everything I know you love the dirtbag lifestyle but I hate to break it to you man you have a degree and a job now you're as much a corporate sell out as the rest of us ,so don't act like you're above the rules take a step back from your rant and pot stirring to appreciate that mother nature should be respected first and your climbing goals second.

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by BreytJ » Fri May 05, 2017 6:51 pm

Thanks again for the opportunity to clear misinformation.
Yes a section of Wilgepoort was closed in 2016.
Yes Choss Eagles have bred successfully in the past, but at the alternate nesting site where there is no climbing. Last successful breeding at LOTR nest was in the time period there was no climbing due to security concerns.

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by Forket » Fri May 05, 2017 8:50 pm

BreytJ, people didn't stop going to chosspile when MCSA announced it to be closed. MCSA stopped going to chosspile when they announced it closed. Nobody got mugged at the dam wall entrance, the hikers entering at the current "legitimate" entrance got mugged. LOTR has always been safe. The Eagles have bred successfully at LOTR every single year as long as I've been climbing at LOTR since 2008. Trust me. I use to "live" there.

I'dratherbeclimbing, I am in the DRC yes. There isn't a single rock to climb here as chemical weathering has turned it all to dirt/vegetation on everything:'(. The reason why I'm so passionate about this particular topic is because Chosspile is a winter crag. Condition dependant when you start pushing the 30+ grades. I learnt to climb at this crag and taking winter conditions away is like taking tonquani away from MCSA for a few months of the year. Seeing the Eagles land while climbing below them has always been special. It's made me respect them a lot more seeing them so often. All the climbers projecting below them will agree. Exposing the Eagles to humans that respect them is most likely the best and only way to keep them from extinction as they won't see us as a threat and continue to breed. LOTR crag is the perfect example.

I will be repeating this argument on a yearly basis until access returns for winter conditions at LOTR. I'm willing to fight for this because Mountain Club South Africa doesn't give a fuck about sport climbing, only hiking.

We've respected the birds so much, they keep returning! Taking us away will lead to the extinction of their kind

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by BreytJ » Mon May 08, 2017 2:22 pm

Ebert, your single minded intent is clear.
No point in continuing the debate.

Official breeding record for Verreaux's Eagles at Harties (source GDARD)

2011 - No breeding attempt
2012 - LOTR Crag
2013 - Alternate nest
2014 - Alternate nest
2015 - No breeding attempt
2016 - LOTR
2017 - activity at LOTR nest

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dirktalma
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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by dirktalma » Tue May 09, 2017 1:12 am

Breeding was successful at Wilgepoort last year - a trad venue. (Dirk may want to comment)
True, I saw them there. The MCSA asked for reports on the eagles. Here are some parts of what I sent in.
Me and Magdaleen went climbing at Wilgepoort today (4 Sept). We were on Cabernet, a couple of routes to the right of Bottleneck Bulge.

The chick (well, its a juvenile now. Definitely not a chick anymore. Please note that I am no expert) was in the nest and when we reached the second stance the parents came back to feed. It was such an amazing experience being able to witness this event. Each time we see the eagles at Wilgepoort, I always leave there carrying a lighter heart.

It is such a privilege to share a space with these incredible birds. I thank you for the effort and work you put in to support climbing at the venue.


Johann sent this reply. Johann, please forgive me for quoting you, but you explained it so well to me that I thought others might like to hear as well:
Thank you for the feedback. Really great news to hear the chick is now better described as a juvenile. Not exactly sure when it hatched, but beginning of June we had first reports of chick in nest, hence estimates of age must be round 80-90 days. They usually leave the nest round day 98.

Regarding comments of impact of climbers, from research into the matter and in consultation with the experts, there are critical periods in the breeding season. The most critical being nest building, brooding and the first couple of weeks post hatch.
We are perceived as predators (baboons) that pose a risk to raid the nest. Nest building may be abandoned for a "safer" site if the risk seems too large. If no alternate site available, as they are territorial, they don't breed. Climbers getting to close to nest, disturbing the eagles, during brooding may result in the eggs being unattended for too long resulting in death of the embryo. Likewise the young chick is reliant on the parents for thermoregulation, extended periods away from the nest could be detrimental to the chicks survival.
Eagles are less likely to abandon a chick, thus the older the chick the lower the risk climbers will result in nest failure. On contrary climbers may find themselves on the receiving end as the eagles defend the chick.
Two points that impact on the perceived threat - how close and numbers.
The more people there are in a climbing party the higher the perceived threat. Unfortunately with climbing this often translates into no climbers Monday to Friday with masses on Saturday and Sunday (Choss, Bronkies). Fortunately Wilgepoort being a trad venue mostly has small parties.

In summary: we should keep the eagles in mind April - June, start of breeding season. Our choice of routes climbed can have an impact on whether or not we get to witness the great sighting you had this past weekend.

Dickie I don't know Tonquani 100% but isn't the nest then just upstream from the medical aid stash and the campsite which is frequently visited?
The question seems rhetorical, but I'll answer it anyway. Yes, its upstream from the first aid dump. You can see the nest from the campsite. Pictures added.
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Seeing the Eagles land while climbing below them has always been special. It's made me respect them a lot more seeing them so often.
Respect only matters if you follow it through to the end. Its like redpointing. Respect isn't just acknowledging something of worth, it means actively caring.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. I hold that the more helpless a creature the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of humankind.” - Mahatma Ghandi

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by mokganjetsi » Tue May 09, 2017 7:28 am

Shot for the expert opinion there Dirk.

There is an insane amount of rock in SA and unlike most countries we can climb year round. There is absolutely no valid excuse to disturb raptors while they're nesting.

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by Forket » Tue May 09, 2017 10:22 am

BreytJ wrote:Ebert, your single minded intent is clear.
No point in continuing the debate.

Official breeding record for Verreaux's Eagles at Harties (source GDARD)

2011 - No breeding attempt
2012 - LOTR Crag
2013 - Alternate nest
2014 - Alternate nest
2015 - No breeding attempt
2016 - LOTR
2017 - activity at LOTR nest
BreytJ I guarantee you they have been breeding there every year since 2008. You don't have to believe me. In 2011 i was projecting fossilfuel while they were breeding. In 2012 i sent fossil while they were breeding. In 2013 I even took the time to watch the ugly as f baby from the chains of shadowfax (which is far to the left) after I sent. Your records are not correct. You don't have to believe me! Your intentions are clear.

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by Forket » Tue May 09, 2017 10:25 am

Mcsa is allowed to camp in direct line of site of the Eagles? No wonder they don't go back to the nest

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by mokganjetsi » Tue May 09, 2017 10:46 am

Ebert I'd like to believe you, but even if you are right, why risk it? Endangered species' ability to survive vs our leisure & pleasure (while there are more than a few alternatives available). Just stop it please.

PS: I think Dirk's piece adequately explains why being in-sight and climbing to close vicinity of a nest are two very different issues.

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by Forket » Tue May 09, 2017 11:35 am

Sport crags loosing access in the past 2 years:
- Chosspile (winter)
-Hiddenkloof
-Wigwam
-narrowkloof

That's 4 of 5 sport crags in the magaliesberg where access has been lost in the last 2 years. Sport climbers pushing grades is an endangered species!

You all you a bunch of lazy hikers not willing to fight for anything that's not easy.

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by mokganjetsi » Tue May 09, 2017 11:57 am

fight for access but leave the eagle's out of it - that is a legitimate closure.
as a hiker i lose my favorite local sport crag for 3-months every summer due to kestrels nesting and i'm fine by it.
i don't know the reasons for the other closures you listed so can't comment - why did we lose those crags?

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by Warren G » Tue May 09, 2017 1:29 pm

Forgive me for asking two questions Ebert:

1. Are you a member of the MCSA, and why or why not?

2. Were you on the MCSA Supertramp recently?

If yes to the questions above one must respect the tolerance shown above by MCSA management: clearly their investment foresight is well beyond my own.

If 4 of the 5 crags have been closed I do feel sorry for Gauteng sport climbers, but I certainly take a lesson from the above thread, and hope so do they.
Sandbagging is a dirty game

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Nic Le Maitre
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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by Nic Le Maitre » Tue May 09, 2017 3:08 pm

MCSA Supertramp award winners:

2005: Guillaume du Toit and his partner explored rock climbing possibilities in India
2006: Greg Borman could not undertake the planned rock climbing trip to Brazil due to the Brazilian airline going bankrupt and not refunding their tickets
2007: Donovan van Graan and his brother went on an alpine climbing trip to climb high peaks in Turkey, Armenia and Georgia
2008: Not a single application was received in time!
2009: Kyle Meenahan walked the circumference of South Africa.
2010: Michael Woodward climbed on Mt Mulanje in Malawi.
2011: Joe Mohle explored climbing in Morocco. Also see here
2012: Alasdair Walton climbed in the East Andes in Colombia. Also see here.
2013: Duncan Frasier went on a trip to Madagascar and opened a sport route. Also see here.
2014: Bernie Theron did an unsupported solo trek across Iceland. Also see here.
2015: Matthew Davies for ‘Other’ 9000+ft East African Rift Valley Volcanoes.
2016: To help celebrate the 125th year of the MCSA, our Supertramps explored the world:
- Micha Stiller trekking solo for 400 kilometres of rural Himalayan Nepal solo and unassisted over the course of three weeks, allowing him to immerse himself in culture and landscape virtually untouched by tourism.
- Chris Arderne, Michael Kloos and Rick Kotze bagged volcanoes in the Cordillera Neovolcanica in Mexico
- Alex Bester explored bouldering options in Chimanimani Mountains in Zimbabwe
- Jed Johnson and Craig Burton went rock climbing in Ethiopia
- Tiffany Wells and Kirsten Roberts climbed in South East Asia


TL:DR Ebert's not on the list
Happy climbing
Nic

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by Forket » Tue May 09, 2017 4:01 pm

Warren after the head of the Western Cape MCSA told me to join the MCSA because i was going to break my leg in the mountains and MSAR was going to have to come save my life, I paid my fees and I got rejected before going on the supertramp (with Alex who was awarded the funds. Our mission was to try open 125 new routes in South Africa as our foreign trips were abandoned due to lack of funding etc). I subsequently donated the fees to the MSAR.

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by shorti » Tue May 09, 2017 5:03 pm

Ebert, just some background info: The Tonquani nest is more than 150m away from the campsite. The med stash is at the Reunion buttress, about 100m from the nest. Like Dicky, I've never seen (or heard of) anyone climb or walk closer to the nest than the Reunion buttress. Obviously it doesn't mean no-one has, I mean there are routes written up there, but that was a very long time ago.

Speaking of a long time ago. Tonquani used to be free for all. It was madness, people (mcsa people and my parents included) didn't look after place properly. The upper camp was a wasteland. Too many people camped there and cleared almost all the vegetation for campsites and making fires. Back in the 70s people climbed at a crag called Apiesvuis. I've never been up there, but it looks a bit uninspiring from the road. Point is, people climbed there, but stopped, because of eagles nesting. Then there is the great vulture nesting site at Kransberg. A big section of the crag was lost for good. I was told that one of the greatest trad climbs in the country is there, but it's lost now. I can get salty about it all over the internet for not being allowed to climb it, or I can go climb it and jeopardize access for everyone else, or I can just go do something else. My point is people did things wrong in the past, people do things wrong now. People sometimes realize their mistakes and it is a good thing to do as much as we can to make it better. Sometimes making it better means we have to sacrifice something. Some people lose more than other people (people who are most invested into something loses the most).

I think I know how you feel. I also hate being policed. I love getting close to nature. I was up close and personal with a big elephant and a not so big shark in the last 2 weeks. It was awesome. What wasn't awesome was people telling me what to do even though I did follow the rules by the book (something I really don't like doing). I'm not going to tell you what to do, like lots of other people are trying to. All I can say is fighting the system tires you out eventually, so make most of the opportunities you get. Remember the ugly eagle chick, people can and will try to stop you from ever seeing it again.

There were no rules, rules are created in an attempt to force people to do something. In this case "something" is an attempt to protect eagles. The problem with rules are that it has to be constructed in a way that treats sensible people and morons in a fair and equal way. Inevitably you punish the sensible people, who don't need to be forced to do the right thing in the first place, more. Something you might not realize is that most mcsa folk don't like rules either. To be honest I think that's why they like mountains, to get some freedom from all the rules. Nobody actually wants to police you or anyone else for that matter. People like Grant (he is a great guy btw) just don't want to lose access to crags. I bet he also doesn't like being talked to like this, when all he wants to do is something good.

Maybe it is a good idea to hear what Ebert says, even if you don't like how he says it. I think he has an interesting point about the eagles' behavior. Not just the proximity, but maybe line of site has something to do with it even when the distance is big. I had an eagle scout my camp once after dark. He flew straight over our heads, very very low. I'm dead sure it was only because we were there.

Btw, what happened at wigwam and narrow? I'll admit I was too busy growing up, getting a wife and a house to notice it was lost :(

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by DavidWade » Tue May 09, 2017 6:01 pm

It is very sad to loose Choss pile during winter - when conditions are actually good for climbing. I wonder if Shadow Fax will actually see a 3rd ascent during the 30 degree plugs summer months. I use to enjoy watching the eagles fly over the crag - but not so much any more.

The next route I bolt is going to be called "Scrambled Eagle Eggs", and the route after that "Eagle Biltong" :lol:

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Re: Climbing Restrictions Chosspile

Post by Forket » Tue May 09, 2017 10:47 pm

Shorti :thumleft:

I'm done at LOTR, I've sent all of the routes there. I fight for the next generation. They have lost an awesome crag because people havent done their homework and dont bother to fight for a very valuable asset as a result of it.

I understand humans disturb nature but taking the human aspect out of the picture (in this case) will make us(climbers) alien to the birds in the future. This will have a detrimental influence in the future and I won't be surprised if the eagles stop nesting at LOTR as a result.

I use Tonquani as an example because it's valuable to mcsa and know they will fight for it. Trad climbing requires a lot more shouting than sport climbing and in a confined space this can infringe upon Eagles way more. This is evident in the Eagles nolonger nesting in this location. The campsite is in direct line of sight of the old nesting spot, in a confined space, thus it will infringe upon the Eagles coming back. Weekly patrols will infringe upon the Eagles coming back. The walk-in from the campsite is at the same altitude as the nest and less than 75metres across the valley from the nest. Everyone is forced to camp at this campsite (or at Cedarberg campsite) as camping in the kloof is bad for the water. MCSA even make fires at their larger meets at this site even though they disallow anyone else to do so. I'm pushing this point because of the hypocritical nature of this topic.

I will keep doing so on a yearly basis.




Wigwam/narrow: property sold and access hasn't been renegotiated by the people that did it originally (MCSA).
Hiddenkloof was declared open by MCSA but when they realised they got access from the wrong people (after a dozen routes had been bolted), they declared it closed. The neighbors that originally granted access have had access to the kloof for more than 50 years and this isn't good enough for MCSA even though the Hiddenkloof property is for sale (currently being leased) and the owners living in New Zealand.

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