For the posting and discussion of Access Issues and Closures for Areas around South Africa.
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Should access negotiations for bolting a new crag happen before or after people start bolting? This may sound like a stupid question, but I think it is a very relevant topic in light of recent developments at two of our crags that are on private property.
I think the logical answer would be before. Land is generally owned and controlled by someone and as far as I know this country hasn't, as yet, forsaken Property Law.... Yet, judging by, as you say recent developments, this doesn't seem to be the case. I actually find it quite fascinating that some climbers seem to feel that its okay to go and bolt routes on private property?? or public for that matter. how would they feel if someone pitched up and painted their house pink without asking permission???
I would have thought it was obvious to ask the land owners permission before dong ANYTHING on his/her land - that includes: climbing, walking, biking, picnicing (is that a word?). Sometimes permission is pre-approved (eg biking in Tokai or climbing on TM) and sometimes it must be specifically requested (eg when you want to bolt at a new area).
Ja the answer is of course obvious! And yet climbers continue to make their move before really going through the full process. Perhaps they are scared that the landowners/managers will say no and then their great discovery will not come to fruition, after all once the bolts are in there is little most people can do about removing them as it is a pretty specialised task. So the bolt-and-be-damned mentality has persisted and spread to the furthest reaches of the globe. The drawbacks are however just as obvious; landowners freak out when they do eventually find out whats going on (the bolters usually dont care, by then they have climbed their routes and moved on), but the resultant backlash affects all climbers as we get a bad rap as anarchistic unruly vandals, leading to less and less people being inclined to allow us any access at all. A very major venue is at present under threat because this back to front approach was employed. It now seems possible that no further bolting will be allowed there, which would be an inestimable loss to the world climbing community, as this crag could have provided cutting edge routes at the highest levels of difficulty for many years to come. It saddens me to see that this pattern is being repeated elsewhere. Please everyone from now on if you find a piece of magic in the hills, remember that others may also like to follow in your wake and sample the gems. Do things the right way, talk it through with the owners first (they will probably need educating) if they are resistant and its really good perhaps bodies such as the MCSA can help convince them. If worst comes to worst and they are still not compliant we have no choice but to simply accept it and move on. lets not screw it up again!