Travels in Oz

Now for the stupid trip report...

We're back from climbing in Australia. For those of you that didn't know, Ade and I went to Oz for a few days of Summit work. After the work, we were joined by Martin and the three of us climbed together for a few days, at which point Ade went back to the UK leaving Martin and I to finish off the trip.

We went to Mt. Arapiles in southern Victoria (about 4 hours driving from Melbourne). Calling Arapiles a "mountain" is a misuse of the term, as it is nothing more than a 2 mile long choss pile that rises from the flats in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, when you get up close, this choss pile is one of the best crags on the planet. It has nearly 3000 routes, most of which are multi-pitch and all are naturally protected. The guidebook says that Arapiles is "home of the sinker nut" and they're not kidding. We did entire climbs without placing cams. The area has a lot in common with the Gunks -- the rock has a similar feel and friction qualities; the moderate routes are clean, steep and spectacular; the harder routes are scary to protect but seem to come together in the end; nearly everything overhangs to some degree.

It has been said that it is also the area of sandbags (I read this in Climbing just prior to leaving). However, I found that it simply depends on the how you translate the stupid [Oz] grades to real [US] grades. Shift the chart down a notch and it's spot on.

We camped at the Pines campground, which is right at the base of the crag. The camping is on par with JTree -- really beautiful and clean with lots of wildlife (roos, lizards, exotic birds, etc.), except this campground has water. The first few days were spent on easy routes (grade 9-19, or up to about 5.10a), as we had three people to contend with. After Ade left, it proceeded to rain for two days, but we got some climbing in here and there between showers. Once the sun came back, we went out in force, culminating in THE route at Arapiles -- Kachoong -- a 20' roof climbed straight on using a giant "hand rail" flake. It was graded 21 (about 5.10d/5.11a), but has a 5.13 pump/fear factor. We both climbed it no falls, but just barely. In fact, Martin didn't fall the entire trip...first time for everything.

Unrelated tidbit #1: I never really determined if toilet flushes in the opposite direction. In Oz, they have these ridiculous violent flushing mechanisms that spray water up, then suck it down so fast there isn't any circular motion at all. They also have a "half flush", although I can't figure why somebody would want to do that.

Unrelated tidbit #2: In Oz, you drive on the wrong side of the road. What's up with that? Martin nearly killed us.