Friday, February 20, 2009

More Climbing at Arapiles, Vic

1. Alex and Max from queensland in their Van
2. The morning view from the campground
3. myself climbing one of the "organ pipes"
4. The rock of Arapiles rising from the plain
5. climbing
6. Roos at nearby Halls gap, Grampians.
(click on a photo for a large image)

After the horrible heatwave, and the terrible fires, I drove to Arapiles and climbed for about a week. the day after I arrived, Alex and his brother turned up in their Van ! these are the guys who got me climbing "trad" seriously in the glasshouse mnts in queensland. On their way to Tasmania. Climbed with them, and on other days with up to 3 different climbing partners... who were alone at the camp. Including a local guide called "Mookie", and a Canadian dude.

With an American from Seattle and the Canadian, did a 100m climb up a big pillar. Quite a bit of exposure to the emptiness up on the last pitches... still getting used to placing trad gear quickly.
Then drove to Shepparton and found picking work in a day, at Turnbull property. camping out with other backpacking fruit-pickers.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Halls gap, Grampians, Vic

1: View towards "The pinnacle"
2: Myself at pinnacle parking
3 onwards (not my photos). Viewpoints around Grampians, fun at Mc Kenzie Falls.

Quick roundup of last few weeks since Falls Creek 1700m:

Bright -> look for fruit pick around, half-heartedly, … realise Shepparton is better bet.
Go to Shepparton … bloody hot ! no shade in campsite, stinky marsh… aghhh
Drive around properties, ask if work. Meet other pickers – friendly.
They give me info … meet 2 quebecois pickers who were at Lennies’ last year.
Owner real nice guy, but says pears not quite ready yet. Best to come back Monday 3 feb. So I decide to shoof of, away from heat, 20$ campground.. to Arapiles. On the way, I decide to go to Halls gap instead. Wow – great slanting slabs of rock, wild-west style. Little ponds of water, wildflowers… quite alpine atmosphere. Peaks at 700m ,1000m .

I Go up “elephant’s hide” on foot – a slab of rock 400m or so at 20-30 degrees slope.
Also Run up to pinnacle from halls gap – uphill about 6km.

Then drive to Arapiles – there for 2 days … but heatwave !!! in vic ! 44 degrees !
So back to Halls gap, decide to check into a backpackers – for some coolth , free wireless internet and some company. Travelling in Van can get a lonely if one isn’t meeting people from time to time.

A group of Dutch backpackers comes in, and for a few days I am offered wine, play cards with them and have good fun. The Dutch are probably the most gregarious people I know. I cross country run mornings / evenings when it’s not too hot, and wait for the heatwave to go. Catch up on my emails etc.
Sleep in the van and get a 5$ reduction … to $20 . Also talk with a French couple from the same Paris suburb as myself, and Run with Arnie from Germany. The hostel has a big flat screen TV where one can watch videos. I watch the amazing Tennis final Federer versus Nadal.

Ring Shepparton and find out pear season hasn’t started yet. It’s either feast or famine regarding employement in this field, so best to wait a bit.
I talk with Arnie about Europe, it’s limitations re too many regulations, feudal minset etc. Also Irak – how it’s working now. His viewpoints are typically European – is terrorism really that much of a threat etc - , but he is intelligent and open to new ideas.
We do a bit of bouldering on rocks nearby.

Fri 6 feb
This morning I go off to climb with Alex from Canada. To a friction slab, 40m of climbing then an abseil. I do it gingerly the first time, few handholds – just small concave rests for the feet, and friction. Then Alex leads, then I repeat the route, going faster and more confidently.
Feels good, in beautiful creek setting. I wax eloquently about mountaineering and a few epics I had in Chamonix, the pleasures of mixed ice and rock climbing as we walk back to the hostel. Makes me realise I need to indulge my passion for mountaineering – by saving and then spending time in NZ.
Sat 7 feb
last few days, I've been cross-country running with Arnie and Alex, in the evening. My thighs are beggining to like a soccer player's thighs - big and round. Will help with the army.
Another scorcher today at 44 degrees... Great to have hostel for company, coolness, wirelless net...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More Falls Ck photos

1: Closeup of the Brumbies (wild horses) I saw.
2: Just back from my 2 day walk, all geared up
3. It's sunny but there is a cold wind...
(Click on a photo to get an larger shot).

Kayak Lake Buffalo

(This happened just after leaving st leonard’s – about 4 Jan)

Explore Lake Buffalo and go up tiny creek.

Felt great to be on the road again ! easy drive up Hume hway. Little traffic, car runs well. A bit vague today. Hot , Hot day ! Melts my brain. But do get maps at info center. Then off to Lake Buffalo (at foot of Mt Buffalo), near Bright. Read thriller, doze. Quite a few waterskiers. Afternoon, inflate Kayak and go out on lake. End up 2.5 hrs of paddling. I go up to mouth of lake and up creek – get smaller and smaller, and I end up walking and pushing the boat. VERY serene – birds flitting, water , rocks… therapy. Felt like a Kid – “exploring”, at one with magical nature.