Skip boring narrative and jump straight to pictures...

[All grades and stars from Arapiles Selected Climbs by Mentz/Tempest]

I had a week at the start of October (2003) with Gill and Matt Ryan down at Arapiles. Apart from drinking copious quantities of red wine, port and muscat, we also managed to fit in a bit of climbing. The weather was pretty intermittent, and we had some rain pretty much every day. It didn't stop us from climbing at all, although it probably affected our choice of routes. The weather highlight for me was probably the rain pissing down as I lead only my second pitch of trad, the top pitch of Eskimo Nell (10***). It also hailed on Matt on the same pitch!

The others had arrived Saturday afternoon and done some climbing already. I arrived after a long couple of days driving by myself from Sydney, and we headed straight to the crag. On the Sunday we went up to Charity Buttress and did a few short routes - I can't remember the details - Charity (8*), Hope (9*), Zorro (12) and maybe one other come to mind. The afternoon was spent bouldering by the time we had a late lunch (the story of the week!). Monday we headed for Arachnus (9***) early and were lucky to get on it first. Matt led the first couple of pitches and Gill the last. On Tuesday we wanted to do Siren (9***), but were beaten to it. We did The Eighth (9**) next door instead and abseiled back down Ali. In the afternoon we headed for Bushrangers Bluff and practiced some gear placement, as well as Trooper Two (13*).

The next morning we joined up with Ingrid and Matt, and went to Mitre Rock, while their respective climbing partners did Watchtower Crack. I led my first trad climb, Exodus (6**), and did a couple of other short routes. Gill led something a bit hairy around the other side with only a rack of cams! In the afternoon, we went down the road to Declaration Crag, and did Marmot's Mall (15*) and Little Thor (20**) on top rope, although Matt was the only one not to dog his way up Little Thor.

Thursday the weather was looking pretty awful, so we did Eskimo Nell (10***) as it was quite protected. We each led a pitch, as the weather alternated between sunshine to rain, finally leading to hail as Matt climbed the last pitch.

Friday we moved around a bit, going from Coming on Chris (16*) on Uncle Charlie, to Bushrangers Bluff, where I led Tullah's Tease (6) and did the amusingly named Rubbery Under Arms (15). Finally we headed back to Fang Buttress and Matt led us up Mantis (14*).

We were leaving around midday Saturday, but still found time to do Kamikaze (16*) and finally XI (18**), which was one of the best that we did.

We camped by the banks of the Ovens River on the way back, and after a stop at the Rutherglen wineries, got back to Sydney late on Sunday night.

12440.jpg (62814 bytes)

Matt belaying on the first pitch of Arachnus (9), Mitre Rock in the background

12441.jpg (56666 bytes)

Canola fields in flower

12442.jpg (66149 bytes)

Gill near the top of the first pitch of Arachnus (9)

12444.jpg (75296 bytes)

Gill, nearing the top of the second pitch of Arachnus (9)

12446.jpg (73824 bytes)

Gill, nearing the top of the second pitch of Arachnus (9)

12447.jpg (65018 bytes)

An abseiler drops past the belay cave at the top of the second pitch of Arachnus (9)

12486.jpg (45901 bytes)

The Watchtower, home of Arachnus, from Uncle Charlie. The exit involves crossing the little chasm that you can see to get on to the main part of the wall.

12451.jpg (52523 bytes)

Matt heading up the first pitch of The Eighth (9)

12455.jpg (94292 bytes)

A Stumpy Tail Lizard, one of numerous fauna around Araps. Plenty of other lizards, wallabies, roos, various birds and a snake we also saw

12457.jpg (52706 bytes)

Gill, leading the second pitch of The Eighth (9)

12463.jpg (63319 bytes)

Gill abseiling down Ali's

12465.jpg (42214 bytes)

Matt leading the first pitch of Eskimo Nell (10)

12467.jpg (51815 bytes)

Matt, Gill and me on top of Mt Arapiles after climbing Eskimo Nell

12471.jpg (54830 bytes)

Matt leading Coming on Chris (16)

12477.jpg (39520 bytes)

Matt leading Coming on Chris (16)

12483.jpg (64641 bytes)

Gill climbing Coming on Chris (16)

12494.jpg (51330 bytes)

Tom just past the crux of Mantis (14)

12510.jpg (13107 bytes)

Moonrise from the bottom of Fang Buttress

12511.jpg (78447 bytes)

Gill coming through the crus of Kamikaze (16)

12518.jpg (76017 bytes)

Tom just past the crux of Kamikaze (16)

12468a.jpg (73773 bytes)

The OrganPipes from The Pines campground

12528.jpg (23296 bytes)

Looking back at Mt Arapiles on the way to Natimuk

12534.jpg (77675 bytes)

Tom, Gill, Ingrid, Matt, Ari, amongst the red gums on the banks of the Ovens River