A Story From the Valley of the Giants

This a quick personal story from Caillan Sainsbury (published with permission) that appeared on Facebook a week ago, and we thought it worth sharing with other climbers, as this IS what climbing means to most of us.


My send of Flake of Fear, V2. Valley of the Giants

I am of mixed heritage including indigenous, climbing is my strongest connection to country. It is an activity which allows me to engage with, learn about and learn from the land. I feel like a part of the landscape when I climb in areas such as Gariwerd. I believe that this is experienced by most who come to these places to climb. At the time of this photo I was living in Halls Gap, I was a Parks Vic employee there, and I loved that I could do amazing work on country, caring for this special mountain range while at work and while recreating. It saddens me that the relationship between the climbing community and land management has eroded to the situation we currently are facing, but I hold great faith that a positive resolution is in the future.

So here I am doing something I love, something beautiful, natural and healthy. All the while being spotted by another PV employee and an ex Grampians climbing guide.

Photographer: Daniel Herrmann-Zol

We love this place and what it offers to us, in return let us offer what we can to sustain the health and value of this place into the future.

Caillan Sainsbury

3 thoughts on “A Story From the Valley of the Giants”

  1. Caillan, you have captured the essence of this unfortunate state of affairs in lass than 200 simple words. Thank you.

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    1. Here, I think, is where it all falls apart. The author says that he is a climber whose ancestry includes indigenous Australians, but your comment and link suggest he doesn’t grasp how indigenous people relate to the land. That’s to say, you suggest that he doesn’t relate to the land as an indigenous person ought to. Is that okay? To be honest, I’m not sure what the author intended when he claimed indigenous ancestry. Is that meaningful in the broader discussion about the climbing bans in the Grampians? It’s all very vague. Fact is, climbers do “exploit” the environment, inasmuch as they use it to their own purposes—it can’t be denied. And, if that’s an affront to how indigenous people connect with or feel tied to the same environment, then climbers are faced with a choice: climb in the Grampians but stop spouting platitudes about respect for aboriginal heritage, or demonstrate said respect by not climbing in the Grampians. I don’t see any ambiguity in the discussion. And I’d much prefer it were otherwise. I want to climb in the Grampians. I want climbers to negotiate for some outcome that suits both themselves and indigenous people. I just don’t see how it can be done.

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