Monday, 28 October 2019

We are better than this

Let's start this post on a positive note :) The headline isn't a question or a call for action. It is a simple statement because a handful of climbers created the Gariwerd Wimmera Reconciliation Network to form positive and enduring relationships with Traditional Owners of Gariwerd and Djurite. Among those climbers are Claire Evans, Mark Gould, Daniel Earl, Adam Demmert and Kieran Loughran who are all without a doubt great ambassadors for this initiative and the climbing community in general. 

The formation of the GWRN has already sparked positive reactions both from climbers and the Traditional Owner which hopefully is a good foundation for future relationships. You will find more about the GWRN on their facebook page so head over there, give them a like and be part of this journey of reconciliation. 

"Where there is light, there must be shadow."

Unfortunately not everything is nice and rosy this week in the news of climbing access. Let me get straight to the point: Last week the ACAV's president Mike Tomkins announced that he'll disregard the current climbing bans and therefore the Traditional Owner's wishes and go climbing in Special Protection Areas. On Sunday he decided to rub it into the face of Traditional Owners that he has done that[1].
The ACAV president is struggling with this
Personally I'll file that type of behaviour under intentional stupidity but if you want to use different words, be my guest. In any case it is important that we as a climbing community speak up if someone is doing the wrong thing and this is what I'm doing here. After all there are these two posters of CliffCare's Access Is No Accident campaign. However the topic just doesn't stop there.

Access Is No Accident

The VCC should not affiliate with the ACAV

In the upcoming adjourned part two of the VCC AGM the members will be asked whether they should affiliate with the ACAV. There are four options for affiliation so let me quickly run you through them and explain what they mean:
  1. No affiliation
    Both clubs stay separate and there is no formal affiliation. If they want to collaborate in certain areas, they can still do that.
  2. Supporting partner
    Open reciprocated support between the clubs but no flow of money.
  3. Affiliate club membership
    VCC pays $500 and members can buy a $10 discounted ACAV membership. VCC gets a vote at the ACAV's AGM (Yay! As if you couldn't buy that for $15 as well)
  4. Automatic dual membership
    VCC pays $10 for every new or renewing membership. Currently that'd be ~$5000 per year.
First of all option d might be a bit of an administrative nightmare because I wouldn't know how you handle the memberships of people who are already signed up with ACAV but that's not my problem. Now the real question isn't how to make this work but

"What's in it for the VCC?"

And this is where the whole thing falls down. The sales-pitch is that the VCC gets a certain amount of influence but the reality is that the players in the ACAV are doing whatever they want - see above. The ACAV obviously is happy to pocket the money and any legitimisation which comes with an old standing club like the VCC. I can't see how this could be beneficial for the Victorian Climbing Club. In fact I believe there are a two big disadvantages which outweigh any perceived benefit:
  • Financial Loss
    The money would just be gone and couldn't be used for CliffCare, Social Events or the Bouldering Walls. Would it be in good hands? I doubt it given the ACAV has been found in breach of gambling regulations by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) because they couldn't even set-up a simple club-raffle the right way[2]. How on earth should they be able to handle real litigation as they plan to do?
  • Damaged Relations
    So far the positive engagement of the ACAV and their committee members with the Traditional Owners has gone up like a lead balloon. Given that no climbing ban will be lifted against the will of the Traditional Owners, it would be foolish to affiliate with such an organisation. This would simply remove the VCC's option to have meaningful and respectful conversations in the future. And yes - there's already a potential backlash for the atrocious behaviour of the ACAV's president. 
Nope. I think this is a terrible idea and therefore as a VCC member you should vote No affiliation on question 6. Now to make this easy for you here's the proxy form you can use for that. If you don't have a proxy who's voting no, check with any committee member if they'll be there and proxy vote for you.
  1. Download this Proxy Vote Form
  2. Open it and fill it out with 
    1. Your details
    2. Your proxy's details
    3. Your vote
    4. Today's date
  3. Sign the form (You can sign the form without printing and scanning it within the Adobe Acrobat Software. You can also use this website:
  4. Email it to the VCC Secretary and CC your proxy
Personally I'd like to return to all those great crags in Gariwerd and know that this has been achieved by following a path of honesty, genuine listening and true reconciliation. I trust that the Gariwerd Wimmera Reconciliation Network has taken the first steps on that very path and I will support them along the way. 

Thanks Claire, Mark, Earl, Adam, Kieran and whoever else is with you! 

Cheers 🍻

[1] I decided to not link to the post or upload screenshots of this infuriating behaviour but if you want to see them, feel free to drop me a line.

[2] CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post I stated that the ACAV is facing enforcement actions by the VCGLR. The ACAV's secretary has clarified that this is not the case and the matter has since been resolved.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Alpine Club Melbourne


We're stoked to announce that the Alpenverein Melbourne / Alpine Club Melbourne is a thing now! Last year we started this adventure and this month we put the final pieces together. The club is registered, has an ABN and is officially part of the Austrian Alpine Club and therefore also the wider Club Arc Alpine and UIAA family. 

We've come a long way and it's always good to remember why we started this in the first place. Most of us are one way or the other a member of the Austrian Alpine Club since it comes with the awesome Alpenverein Worldwide Service (insurance for SAR, limited medical and unlimited repatriation).

"We're already paying anyway with no local benefits so let's make it an Australian thing."

Top of Ama Dablam with
Cho Oyu in the back
That was the initial idea and soon we realised there isn't a real Alpine Club either - something which needed to be changed :)

  • Having a true Melbournian Alpine Club encompassing all mountain activities
  • Providing a great insurance under the umbrella of the Austrian Alpine Club
  • Bringing adventurers together with local trips and events

The Alpenverein Melbourne is an all-ages, all-inclusive club which does a baby-hike in Plenty Gorge as well as expeditions to high altitude peaks. Now while you can do the baby-hike on short notice, you can't do the same for major peaks in the Himalayas, Alaska or the Andes. The club is committed to provide a pathway for mountaineers to grow and achieve their long-term goal.

Diving into the mountaineering world can be a bit daunting and especially since Australia is lacking the big mountains and glaciers although we do have some great training grounds. There's plenty of knowledge across the member so joining the club gives you an opportunity to tap into that.

Anna, Emil & Philipp

Find out more at


AVM - Alpenverein Melbourne - Alpine Club Melbourne

AAC (UK) - Austrian Alpine Club (UK)
AVS - Alpenverein Südtirol - South Tyrolean Alpine Club
CAA - Club Arc Alpine
DAV - Deutscher Alpenverein - German Alpine Club
FFCAM - Fédération française des clubs alpins et de montagne - French Federation of Alpine and Mountain Clubs
OeAV - Österreichischer Alpenverein - Austrian Alpine Club
SAC - Swiss Alpine Club


Here are the updated FAQs about the Alpenverein Melbourne (AVM) from the previous blog-post. Please drop the club a line if you can't find the answer you're looking for:
  • Does the insurance cover trips here in Australia? 
    Yes. Absolutely. It's actually worldwide. You'll find more general information here. There's also a specific article which looks at insurances from an Australian point of view.
  • Is the insurance any different to the one of other sections of the Austrian Alpine Club (OeAV)?
    No - all sections and groups of the OeAV have the very same insurance. Insurance-wise it doesn't matter if you're a member of the AAC (UK), the Section Vienna or the Alpenverein Melbourne. 
  • Does the insurance include other leisure activities?
    Yes. All leisure activities in general are included. However there are some exclusions like paragliding, high altitude mountaineering (above 6000m) or arctic expeditions. 
  • Does the insurance cover backcountry, side country, off-piste, ski-touring or other out-of bonds adventures?
    Yes. All of them.
  • Why wasn't the AVM initiated as part of the German (DAV), French (FFCAM) or South Tyrolean (AVS) Alpine Club or any other alpine club?  
  • Simple: The Insurance of the Austrian Alpine Club (OeAV) is better for Australian based activities
  • Why is it Melbourne and not the Australian Alpine Club? 
    The Australian Alpine Club already exists but has a strong focus on snow sports. Mountaineering and Alpine Adventures aren't something the AAC does. On the other hand the names Alpine Club Melbourne or Alpenverein Melbourne have not been used prior to the AVM.
  • How does the AVM fit into the Victorian Club Landscape?
    The club has the mandate to establish and maintain relationships with similar or the same goals. While building our membership base we're also facilitation cross-club events and create new partnerships
  • Can I join without becoming an OeAV member?
    No. The Alpenverein Melbourne is a local group of the Alpenverein Österreich - Sektion Innsbruck. If you join the AVM you're joining the OeAV.
  • Can I join if I'm already member of another OeAV section?
    Unfortunately not. You'll need to switch to the Section Innsbruck in order to become a member of the AVM.
  • Is the Alpenverein Melbourne incorporated in Australia?Yes - we are registered with Consumer Affairs Victoria. The registration number is A0107950D. The ABN is 93 853 885 730
  • How is the Alpenverein Melbourne be structured?
    It's not much different from any other club you know. There are club rules, a committee and there are club events.
  • What is the structure within the OeAV?
    The OeAV is made out of 197 independent member-clubs - so-called sections. One of them is the Section Innsbruck. The AVM is a local group within Section Innsbruck. See the diagram below.
  • Why Innsbruck - why not any other section?
    This is the biggest section within the OeAV and we thought it might be hard getting this off the ground with smaller sections. We got and we still get a lot of support from Innsbruck so we think we made the right choice.
  • Why do we use the German "Alpenverein" instead of "Alpine Club"?
    We're simply sticking with the Corporate Design Manual of the club. Even the pommies with their British Section couldn't escape that. Besides we do have some German native speakers as members.
  • What do we do about the language barrier when we need to communicate with Austria?
    The current AVM Secretary is a German and the English of the guys in Austria is also pretty good.
  • How much does the Membership cost?
    The prices for 2020 are:
    Individual € 78
    Family € 132*
    Senior € 64
    *Children are free if all parents (single or couple) are members of the same sections and the children are insured too. 
  • For which time-frame do I sign up?
    In general you're singing up for the calendar year however there's a spring special every year. If you join after the 1st September, you'll get the remaining year for free and just pay for next year.
  • Are there any local club trips?
    Absolutely. They are listed on the club's website.
  • Where can I sign up?Right here - Registration Form - click on the link and on the upper right is the Union Jack to change the form to English.

Simplified Structure of the OeAV

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Suspended (Voting) Tensions

The Vertical Life Mag (VL) has published a spot-on account of the things which happened at the recent Victorian Climbing Club (VCC) AGM. However the AGM isn't over yet and has only been adjourned but we'll get to that later. VL opens their article with this statement:

Did the Australian Climbing Association Victoria (ACAV) succeed in taking control of the Victorian Climbing Club (VCC) at last night’s AGM? 
Yes, and no.
Yes because if you look up the term "branch stacking" that was a textbook example of what happened and No because if you see this as an armed assault, that obviously didn't happen. Yes because ACAV affiliated members took the majority of the committee and No because half of the officers don't have an ACAV affiliation. 

Packed to the rafters - 2019 AGM Part I

As VL pointed out, there were over 100 members in the room & online, therefore you can't say a minority wrestled their way in ... or can you?  It's a substantial amount of members who wanted the committee to be replaced - there's no doubt about that. However also a substantial amount of members (over 30) only signed up with the club in September - one of them is now on the committee. The bottom-line is that everything happened within the rules - whether you like it or not - and the result needs to be accepted.
Now let's have a look at the committee and other functions. The new committee looks like this:

2019 changes of the VCC committee

Although some of the members tagged as "ACAV" have resigned from that club, they are still in some way affiliated. E.g. James McIntosh was on the how-to-vote-card which was handed out that night although he isn't an ACAV member anymore. The non-committee function are simply appointments by the committee and can also be done by committee members themselves.

The club is now in what I'd describe a post Brexit referendum situation. You voted on the future of the organisation however it wasn't a landslide win. In fact it was really close which means almost half of the membership base didn't vote for the current president and other members of the committee.

It's now in the hands of the new committee to demonstrate via actions that they can unite the membership base, gain the trust of those who didn't vote for them, keep the social part of the club alive and make progress regarding climbing access. Personally I hope I'm wrong regarding the intentions of the new committee members but only time will tell.

What's Next?

The AGM has only been adjourned since it got late. There are two more resolutions to decide on: "Should the club affiliate with the ACAV?" and "Should we raise the membership fees?". The first one is the interesting one. There are four options:

  • No affiliation
  • Supporting partner
  • Affiliate club membership
    (VCC pays $500, reduced ACAV memberships available)
  • Automatic dual membership
    (VCC pays $10 for every new VCC member signing up/renewing)
The option with the most votes gets across the line however Kevin Lindorff already said, he'll call a Special General Meeting (SGM) if the votes of the last three options combined make up more than 50%. The date of Part 2 of the AGM will most likely be announced in the upcoming Argus together with a new proxy-vote form for the two remaining resolutions. Given the results so far I'm expecting some sort of affiliation - with or without an SGM. 

Cheers 🍻