Sunday, 25 October 2015

Upping The Ante

Peer Pressure  Pushes Our Buttons

With the arrival of Deidre and James we have found ourselves inevitably increasing our efforts on the climbing front. (Those young folks sure are good for motivating us old codgers!) It's been great having them around as they've raised the energy level significantly. We actually got out on the rock four times in the past week and have started climbing a little harder than what we'd been doing for the previous couple of weeks.

We've tended to go together to a particular area and do some climbs adjacent to one another. The other day we finished up on top of the Left Watchtower Face and took a group photo ...

Still Climbing After All These Years!
Before anyone - including you, Tony! - gets all excited, yes I was wearing a helmet while climbing. It's in my left hand and I've taken it off because it was pretty warm and we are about to head down via a path. No problems.
(Aside time. The shirt I've got on has the logo of the old Canadian Air Force before it was subsumed into the new, amalgamated Canadian Armed Forces.) I got it as a nod to my dear old mom and dad who met in the Canadian Air Force about 65 years ago. So here's to you, Mom and Dad!)

Yesterday was our best day out so far. The four of us headed over to the Pharos area. Di started the two of us off on Oceanoid ... (if you look closely you can spot Di in the top third of the photo wearing her Darth Vader gear. Looking at the photo full size will give much more detail).

Di on Oceanoid
... while Deidre and James climbed the delightful Coming On Chris nearby.

We then swapped routes and I led my first 16 since I ruptured my Achilles tendon and smashed my ankle 10 months ago. It felt pretty good to start dealing with a bit more technicality again. 

From there we went round into the shade at Preludes Wall. Di was inspired to lead the wonderful Rosy Shy, which she did really well. She has now become my official Rope Gun for this trip. We then went over to re-acquaint ourselves with Frankenstein, a fun route and another 16 for me to run up. Deidre and James also did Rosy Shy and two more routes, making their total for the day one more than ours. I'd have been happy to do another pitch but Di reckoned she had had enough excitement for the day; she was probably right.

A Sequential Tasmanian Invasion

The fabled Mount Arapiles - one of our planet's best (if not the best) traditional climbing crags - seems to be a major drawcard for Tasmanians this spring, perhaps more than usual. Just before we arrived a couple of weeks ago a handful of our friends were over here climbing. The Natimuk Lake Cabin Fever Card-playing Brigade, mentioned in the previous post, have come and gone. During that time some other friends - grandparents and their recently minted grandchild, along with the parents of said child - spent a few days camping at the crag before retreating to the comforts of a hotel in Halls Gap. A few days ago on our way back to our little oasis we picked up a hitchhiker leaving the area who also happened to be from Tasmania - albeit via Minnesota. He informed us that there had been another dozen or so Tasmanians camped at the cliff for the past week or so. And yesterday, John Middendorf - also originally from the United States but now calling Tasmania home - wandered past on his way up to the cliff as Di and I were on our way down. I'm tempted to include Dave Gray and his partner Vanessa Wills in my tally of visiting Tasmanians, even though he doesn't currently reside on our fair island. Dave spent many years in Hobart and clearly that is where his heart is, especially with a daughter and grandchild there. He just needs to convert Vanessa to our unique way of life ...

Riding With Snakes

The day before yesterday Di and I did another great ride, which had a little sting in the tail so to speak. We needed to do another sprint training session as we missed out earlier in the week after our big ride last Sunday. We rolled out of the caravan park north along Lake Road towards the junction with Meyers Road and the point where we usually start the high intensity training  component (as inspired by Catalyst) of whatever ride we're doing. The conditions were very pleasant so we decided to continue into Horsham and back into Natimuk along the Wimmera Highway. We were both feeling pretty good by the time we got into town so we decided to have a short break at the café, refill our water bottles extend the pleasure. This is what our ride ended up looking like ...

Another Fine Ride on the Wimmera Plains
About 10 kilometres before we finished a brown snake decided to launch across the road in front of us. I managed to avoid it but Di - who was just behind and to my left - ran straight over it. I looked back over my shoulder to see it tangled up in her rear wheel, going round and round before finally falling free. We both thought it was about a metre long. It must have had some length to it as, Di was whiplashed on her lower back on one of the rotations it made whilst entangled in her wheel. Luckily it didn't get a chance to sink its fangs in! Anyway, after that excitement we realised that we could get 100 kilometres in if we rode past camp for 500 metres or so and then back. It's kinda nice to round things off, don't you think?

More Fun On The Rock

The other day we convinced James and Deidre they should shrug off their sport climbing hair shirts and get on some slabs, namely the Left Watchtower Face. We thought they'd enjoy the classic Creon-Tales of Brave Ulysses and we could take photos of them from a combination of Hot Flap & Siren. That didn't work out quite as well as we'd anticipated but we did get a few worthwhile images of Deidre.

Here is Deidre, feeling a little more at ease after getting a bit of protection in ...

Deidre after the crux on pitch 1
The route the two of them did is a wonderful combination of two pitches with quite different character, with the slab climbing to start giving way to steeper crack climbing. Here's James coming to grips with the crux on pitch 2 ...

James grapples with pitch 2
... and here's an image of Di pulling up to the belay at the top of pitch 2 on Hot Flap ...

The golden rule: climb the clean bits when you're on slabs!
Like many of the easy climbs at Mount Arapiles that have a bit of length to them, you can find yourself in spectacular positions.

Another pitch that James and Deidre hadn't done on that face was Argonauts, a fun little 19 high on the left end, so we set up a top rope and abseiled back to the belay station. Here are a couple of images of James leading that route ...

For me, one of the joys of climbing is being on a ledge enjoying the scenery - especially if it happens to work out that you're there with a friend or two. Tell me if you don't think I'm enjoying myself ...

Later that afternoon back at camp ...

Camping under the Pepper Trees
... we retreated to the annex of our Ultimate and celebrated a great day out in appropriate fashion ...

Say cheese!

Team D'n'D Take a Rest Day

Sadly for James and Deidre - and for us - they had to go back to work, and left early this morning. Di and I had thought that we might have a hike in the Grampians today, but the forecast hot and windy weather put us off. After four quality days of exercise and some pretty solid therapy for my ankle we decided that a cruisy day was in order. My foot could use a rest and Di had a few slightly sore muscles from her exertions yesterday. She had a bit of a nana nap mid morning while I played around with some images on the computer. Later on we went into Natimuk to have another look at an exhibition of bird paintings in the gallery. We had another great chat with the painter and her husband about various birds. Di then arranged to have a bespoke painting done, based on one of the pictures in the gallery.  Next it was on to the café for a cooling iced coffee. Happily for us we ran into our friend Esther, who has invited us to dinner on Tuesday night. Brilliant! We are just relaxing in the camper now out of the heat, plotting our amusements for tomorrow. It's meant to cool off significantly so it should be another good day for exercise. A fair bit of wind means that climbing is a better option than cycling, so we've started to toss over the merits of various options. We will probably do something a little easier and longer just to have a fun day and work out a few of the kinks accumulated over the past few days.

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