Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Organ Pipes, The Plaque Area, Mitre Rock and Bushranger Bluff, Arapiles, Australia

From the summits of the mountains in The Grampians one can see another mountain in the horizon rising out of the flat farmlands, which is Mount Arapiles. Arapiles is one of the most amazing places I have ever climbed. It sports around 3000 climbs that are almost all within 5-15 min walk from the road. Although most of the best routes are multi-pitch and were thus not suitable for us with a baby, the area had plenty of single-pitch high-quality routes for the week we were in the area. Like The Grampians it is mainly a trad climbing area - small wires or RP's are a must - in particular on the harder routes.

Arapiles is made of hard sandstone like The Grampians but was more broken and in some places more quartz-like. In my opinion, the rock quality at Arapiles was thus not quite as good as The Grampians, but don't get me wrong - it is still fantastic!

We ended up climbing in four areas with baby Sofie: The Organ Pipes, The Plaque Area, Mitre Rock and Bushranger Bluff. Below is a selection of pictures from some of the routes we climbed:

Mount Arapiles, sporting 3000 climbing routes, is quite impressive as it shoots directly out of the flat Victorian farmlands.

The Organ Pipes:
The Organ Pipes is a popular beginners area due to a variety of easy routes and its very close proximity to The Pines campground. Note the climber on the middle and top of Piccolo (Australian grade 11, French 4) on the "pipe" in the middle of the picture.

Hans at the crux bulge of Piccolo (Australian grade 11, French 4).

Elvira top-roping the first of two overhanging cruxes of D Minor (Australian grade 14, French 5). The route is the major crack seen on the left-hand pinnacle two pictures above. The route has three stars in the guidebook but I found it too unsustained to deserve that.

Elvira at the tricky traverse crux of Crescendo (Australian grade 17, French 5+/6a).

All these routes were 35 meters long, so I just managed to set up a top-rope for Elvira on all three routes with our 70 meter rope! In this way one of us were always at the bottom of the climb with baby Sofie.

The Plaque Area:
The Plaque Area is so close to the road that you can almost belay from the car! It was thus ideal with a baby. The routes are quite short (10-15 meters), but were on excellent rock and thus worthwhile. A wallaby was also checking out the area!

Hans leading Minimus (Australian grade 14, French 5).

Elvira following on Maximus (Australian grade 17, French 5+/6a) - the best route we climbed in the Plaque Area.

Hans leading Age of Reason (Australian grade 18, French 6a) - a novelty as the Plaque (giving name to the area) is part of the climb! The crux is to get from the plaque back onto the rock - a long and hard move!

Mitre Rock:

Mitre Rock and Mitre Lake (a salt lake) seen from Mount Arapiles. It is a small outcrop which, however, contains a number of good routes - many of which are single pitch and thus suitable to climb bringing a baby.

Elvira below the Exodus Area where we climbed two excellent routes: Salem (the flake above Elvira) and Morgul Khan (following the right side of the red rock left of Elvira).

Hans leading Salem (Australian grade 18, French 6a). As the guidebook says ""Impeccable climbing up an exquisite line"!

Hans leading Morgul Khan (Australian grade 18, French 6a). A good line but not as exquisite as Salem.

Bushranger Bluff:

Bushranger Bluff is a small crag at the summit plateau of Mount Arapiles. The main wall is in the shade most of the day, and we thus took refuge up there on a very warm day. The climbing is very easy in this area, and thus a popular beginners crag as we quickly realized when we were met by a swarm of top-ropes and a climbing school! Nevertheless, we had a great and relatively cool day at the crag.

Hans leading Sexless Sue (Australian grade 13, French 4+) which had a great overhang with big holds at the top.

Elvira following The Ghost of Melville (Australian grade 13, French 5/5+) - the hardest route in the area!