In order to get some clarity on the Bouldering EMP for Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town, and so that everyone is in the picture with regards to where we are currently at – I thought it would be useful to put into writing all that has happened thus far:
From the Bouldering EMP draft document dated November 2013
To date, Red Hill and Topside are the most developed climbing areas in Cape Town and house many of the best bouldering problems. Previous to June 2011, they were being accessed by a wide range of climbers from locals, tourists, beginners and world class athletes. During early 2011 the boulderers started to be turned away from Red Hill by a South African National Parks (SANParks) ranger who stated that the activity was not allowed, even though neither the website nor park signage stated it was illegal. Climbers continued to go to the Red Hill area due to the mixed communication until June 2011 when the Mountain Club of South Africa stepped in and put out a request to the bouldering community to refrain from using this public area until access was resolved. Representatives from the MCSA rock climbing sub-committee and the local bouldering community met with SANParks, and SANParks requested for a bouldering specific Environmental Management Plan to be put forward to assess the sport’s impact on the area. The local climbing community has respected this request while this document was being drafted (although it is inherently more difficult to inform foreign tourist climbers). Since no sign or communication has been given regarding the Topside area or other bouldering areas, climbers continue to boulder in these areas to date.
From Cuan and Nick:
The creation of a Bouldering EMP has been on-going now for several years already, dating back to at least 2011 and possibly even further. There is a wealth of back dated information which Delaney kindly put together – if anyone would like to go through it, please contact Cuan.
There was a moratorium placed on bouldering at Redhill by the MCSA a few years back pending the outcome of the Bouldering EMP. This was not called for by TMNP, but self-imposed by the climbing community. In this time period a draft EMP was completed (again, contact Cuan if you want to see this). This was handed over to TMNP and for almost 1.5 years we heard nothing back. After numerous attempts to contact TMNP failed, in July 2013, the MCSA lifted the Moratorium on the Grootkop and Coppermine areas at Red Hill.
It was subsequently discovered that the person with whom we were dealing had left TMNP and they had no access to her data or PC and effectively, any record they had of the EMP had been lost. It should be noted that up to this point the EMP was being done “in-house” so to speak by MCSA members. The previously completed and accepted Sport Climbing EMP was used as a template. This was roughly sometime during the fourth quarter of 2015. At this point we re-submitted the EMP to the new contact people and were told it was not in the correct format and that it needed to be signed off by a registered environmental consultant or qualified person as well as stating that all of the previously visited sites need to be re-visited again.
Robert Breyer at this point committed to start attending MCSA Rock Sub Committee meetings after a request from the committee. He then made good progress to get the ball rolling again, an also got hold of an environmental consultancy. Cuan then offered to meet with the consultant, but heard nothing back. Tension in the committee then ensued, and most of members got fed up and left (Niel Mostert, Cuan Lohrentz, Nicolas Telford, Andy Davies?). It was around this time that Adam Ludford took over the reins.
In November 2015, Brian Lambourne, Robert Breyer and I met with Justin Miller, Andrew Purnell and Dean Ferreira at NCC to discuss moving forward with the EMP and how to best deal with the requirements detailed by TMNP.
Following this, a meeting was help between Robert, Jaclyn Smith (TMNP Central Section Manager) and Justin Miller at the end of March 2016 do detail a plan moving forward. All went a bit quiet despite Robert following up with TMNP fairly often.
Then in January 2017, I was contacted to conduct site visits with Jaclyn Smith. We managed to cover all of the Echo Valley sites on the 11th of January, before showing Jaclyn the start of the walk in for Stonehurst. I also shared the Stonehurst guide with her so that the rangers could visit this site independently.
I was asked by Adam to assist with showing TMNP some of the Topside bouldering areas. After some challenges with scheduling the meeting, we met at Silvermine East parking lot on the morning of 6th April 2017. Four of us (myself and 3 TMNP staff) spent 3 hours hiking around Topside, visiting each of the highlighted bouldering areas on their list (from the old Topside topo). They were very thorough, making notes, taking photos, and recording GPS coordinates.
So – let’s see what progress is made form here… Watch this space.
NB: If anyone has more information to add, or believes that the information above is incorrect, please let me know – let’s make this a collaborative and peaceful process 🙂