New citizen data suggests Parks Victoria has closed just over 38 per cent of all climbing routes at the mountain and in the Grampians National Park since February 2019.
It comes as Traditional Owners say climbing could be allowed again at areas of Mount Arapiles where items of cultural heritage have been rediscovered.
On Thursday, Parks and registered Aboriginal party Barengi Gadjin Land Council announced a stone tool quarry and other cultural heritage had been uncovered during assessments at six known rock art sites in Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park and Red Rock Bushland reserve near Nurrabiel.
This prompted it to close public access to several areas, including boulder and the rockface known as Tiger Wall.
At the time, Parks Victoria said the closures would stay for at least six months while surveys to understand and document the cultural heritage took place.
The data on the climbs affected has been collated from website thecrag.com by Neil Monteith, a NSW-based climber who has written a guide book on Grampians rock climbing.
His data shows the closures announced on Thursday affect 378 climbing routes, of just under 12 per cent of all routes at Mount Arapiles. In the Grampians, he estimates 4179, or 48 per cent, of the routes are now off-limits.
"Parks Victoria has supplied maps with big areas (known as Special Protection Areas) in red where you can't climb, but they have never listed the climbing areas," Mr Monteith said. "I've just transposed the geo-located climbs over the red areas."
Mr Monteith said he created the spreadsheet to reflect the situation.
"If Parks closes one more climbing crag, it will have closed more than half of all climbing in the Grampians in two years," he said.
"They key point is the areas that have been shut are the popular places, three quarters of the places people ever went to. At the moment, they are shutting places that they can get to easily or where they know cultural heritage is. At Arapiles they haven't started looking at places they don't know about yet, so the concern is there will be more closures in areas they haven't surveyed yet."
Mr Monteith moved his family from the Grampians to Blackheath in New South Wales, another climbing destination, before Parks began more strictly enforcing the existing restrictions on the Grampians.
Information on Parks Victoria's website states "more than 60 per cent of the national park is outside of Special Protection Areas". The SPAs are meant to protect Aboriginal Rock Art, which the Grampians is a statewide hotspot for.
The Gariwerd Wimmera Reconciliation Network, a group of people working to establish positive and lasting relationships with the region's Indigenous residents, shared on social media a message from BGLC on Sunday.
"Naturally, the closure under the Set-Aside mechanism of such a large area will be cause for concern for many climbers," the message read, "and the underlying message we would like to convey is that we intend to undertake the assessments as quickly as possible with the view to potentially reintroducing climbing in locations that don't conflict with site protection".
The Mail-Times has contacted BGLC for further comment.
Responding to questions from the Mail-Times, Parks Victoria's regional director Jason Borg said: "We continue to support sustainable recreation where it is not at odds with natural and cultural values or legislative requirements."
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