Grampians Climbing in Decline – We Have the Figures

It’s been just over six months since the rock climbing “bans” in the Grampians were announced by Parks Victoria. It’s worth looking back and seeing what damage so far this has caused to the climbing community. Numbers don’t lie – so lets look at those!

If we compare the same six month period (February to July) from last year to this year we get an idea on what sort of downturn there has been in climbers visiting the Grampians. The most reliable data we have is from thecrag.com – a website used by climbers to log their ascents. This website is not used by all climbers, so it’s best to compare the percentage change between the two years. Drum roll please…..

46% decline in overall Grampians climbing

Anyone working in the tourism or outdoors industry should be horrified by that number. We have an Australian population that doubles every 40 years, so we can usually expect climbers growth to be going up year on year at a minimum of population growth (about 2%). To see climbing numbers plummet almost in half in one year is tragic. Take note government – you have just halved the climbing economy of the Grampians area. This is real and can’t be ignored.

44% decline in Grampians sport climbing
40% decline in Grampians bouldering
51% decline in Grampians trad climbing

It’s clear from the above stats that the closure of Summer Day Valley to recreational climbers has taken a big toll – half of all recorded trad ascents in the Grampians were once in Summer Day Valley. For PV to say they want to encourage clean climbing ethics – this is moronic. Summer Day is the ultimate clean climbing venue – bomber pro, easy grades, good established walking track. It’s as zero impact as you can get without nuding up and soloing.

Parks Victoria have been saying in their information fact sheets about the bans that “There are still hundreds of known climbing locations in the Grampians National Park, which are not in protected areas, for visitors to enjoy. “ It seems climbers know that the remaining sites are mostly mediocre or dangerous and are leaving in droves – taking their money with them. Local accommodation businesses have reported almost no bookings at all from climbers over the Autumn/Winter period. Many guiding businesses have seen similar falls in client inquiries – down 50%. The crags in the Victoria Range are ghost towns.

Have all the climbers just gone to Arapiles instead? Unlikely, as Arapiles is further away, doesn’t offer easy or middle grade sport climbing and has little local accommodation or tourist sites. The stats show a mild increase in climbers, but nothing coming close to replacing the 46% missing climbers from the Grampians.

14% increase in overall Arapiles climbing

So there you have it. Parks Victoria’s ill thought out blanket bans have decimated the Victorian climbing scene – and the impacts on businesses, recreation, mental & physical health etc are now only beginning to rear their ugly heads.

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