Pete and I got to Melbourne at noon on Thursday before Easter. I did the four hour drive to Arapiles for perhaps the sixth time or so. What to do this time, with many of the superclassics ticked already? Only four days before we have to go back on Monday night, aaargh. We headed to the Mount like two hungry ants keen on a giant sugar lump. This time we camped at the North Campground, not at The Pines. It turned out to be quiet, but lacking in any atmosphere. The Pines is where the action was, even if the trees seem to be slowly disappearing, with maybe 20% of them converted to stumps now (disease?).
Fridays was going to be the only hot day, with 32C forecast. We headed off to the Marri buttress which is in the shade all day. Megalomanic (14) was a great first route, with one tricky move at start. It was then Pete's turn at Marri (17) - excellent juggy climbing with a fun overhang half way up. I then had a go at a climb I first looked at 15 years ago and scurried away in terror, the much feared Electric Warrior (20). It consists of two cruxes, a grovel at the start and a fingerlock at the end, with easy climbing in between. The fingerlock sorted me out....I blame my knobbly thin fingers but there could be other, more obvious reasons, hmmm. I then almost onsighted Droop Street (21), an intimidating climb, but lobbed off the crux onto a #0 stopper which held fast thank goodness. The thing is a bit run out above the crux methinks. As I arrived at the belay the sky opened and it poured down on the hapless Pete who was trying to second the rig. I drew the evening pool game at the Nati pub.
Saturday was a really varied day and we were all over the place in the vicinity of Yesterday Gully. Agent Orange (15) is an excellent and long face climb behind The Pharos, with loweroffs, we both led it. I was quite surprised by how many routes now have loweroffs, it certainly makes the day more fun than bushbashing. We then did Huey (18) a classic finger crack that we found easy for the grade. On the wall above is Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Gentleman (19), excellent vertical face climbing with plenty of photo opportunities from the ledge opposite. After the entree we moved onto the main course which was In Lemon Butter (22) a supperclassic which Pete gloriously onsighted with superb technique and I then led on his gear. The start looks hard but is equipped with two surprisingly good footholds if you find them. The real crux is two thirds of the way up, on the balancy face, I almost lost my mojo there. After this effort, New Image (20) felt fairly cruisy to onsight. The start is an unprotected boulder problem, where my sessions at The Hangout and Rockface served me well. Two #0.5 Camalots are useful. Rat's Alley (19) then provided some slab climbing fun for Mr Footwork, Pistol Pete. The protection consisted of 7 brass nuts (!!), #1 stopper, the largest C3 camalot and one bolt. Not much bomber gear for 30 metres! In the evening we had dinner with Kate, Neil, Mark the Living Guidebook and Scott at Alan's (who was in Bali) house in Natimuk.
Our Sunday campaign we started on Brolga (100m, 16/16/13), a classic long route at The Watchtower. P1 is slightly run out with only 4pcs of gear in 30 metres. Pete then led P2, which is more sustained but better protected. The double ropes were very useful. This route is not a "no brainer". We then camped up on the ledge above where the next four routes are. Siamese Crack (15) seemed harder than the grade would suggest and was a taste of things to come. I then onsighted Claw (18), an old school hardman hand jamming thing with a squeeze chimney start! If you can't hand jam, walk on by!! Luckily above the crux I could bury a full arm bar for a wheezy rest. This was the most exhausting thing I led. Pete then did Hendrix (19), with a strenuous start through an overlap (crux), then wall with slots above. Long reaches! Again, double ropes came in handy. This allowed us to traverse left from the loweroff and inspect Hard Nipples (22) on a toprope. This route has everything and reminded me of Fun Love and Joy at Wallcliffe. The gear placement at the headwall is not obvious and I was very happy to determine where and what it was. I then successfully led it, placing gear, and so did Pete. Yet again, double ropes were critical. Another meal with friends, this time in the pub. Mmmm, Chicken Arapiles....together with the pint it packed about 10,000 calories. No wonder I gained 4 kilos in 4 days...although that should be scientifically impossible.....
On Monday the weather was looking a bit dodgy so we did not stray far from camp. On the left side of Central Gully we did Beautiful Possibilities (15), an excellent pillar. Jason (16) was quite average, and quite frankly, so was Mind Games (20). Another trad onsight tick though. Pete then started up Squeakeasy (22) but in the first 6 metres it rained on him...twice! After the second time he cracked and downclimbed. This uber-technical trad route requires full attention and ballet-like footwork and the weather just was not playing alongl. We finished with Dirge (17), a superb line with great protection and crux at the top.
Got back to Perth 7 hours before it was time to get up and go to work.....full value gained! Great trip - no flies, no heat. Some photos of here.