Sunday, June 2, 2019

Arapiles climbing mecca in Australia 2019

Now I'm working in the grampians, I can get to Arapiles in 1.5 hrs.  
So I spent 3 weekends there.  2 weekends with a Brasilian Friend, and did some routes I have been eying for years but never got the confidence to do...
They are after all, "trad"  routes : Traditional climbing, where you need to place all your protection while you climb, and every rope length, at belay stops.  This means you need to carry "nuts" which jam into veritcal cracks,  and "cams"  which spring load open in crack vertical or horizontal .  

So I needed to buy a few extra of these, as well as renew some of my old nylon straps which were getting pretty old.  This and a good climbing partner (Fred)  helped me get up.  And I found I had less fall anxiety than in previous years.  A lot of climbing is not physical ,but mental.  Something you could do easily off a gym mat becomes scary when you are several stories of the ground.  So you need self talk, and breaking things down into small bites. 

we did two 100m  routes, grade 9  :   "Arachnes"  and "The Eighth"
About 3 hours climbing + descent time, with 4 belays approx.  
It also helps that I have a very smooth , light and tough rope: the Beal opera superdry, 60m.   I climb with 2 strands to reduce rope drag . And these can be tied together for abseils to make a 60m  abseil.  This a good rope for multi-pitch rock, and also Ice climbing and mountaineering.   At 48g/m  the lightest on the market. 

we climbed mid may,  cool breezes and sunshine - perfect weather. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Kosciuszko Dreaming

Van Nat park Campsite at Island Bend, 1300m

Guthega Trig Base camp

Sunset from base camp Guthega Trig.

Click on the pic above to get a slideshow.

Big screen by clicking bottom right square.
Spent the winter season of 2018 in kosciuszko NP,  3 hrs south of Canberra. 
with High plateaus and ridges at 2000m altitude,  It has a large area of easy backcountry skiing/ Nordic skiing.  

Worked for a month or so In Perisher ski resort, one of the biggest in Aus along with Thredbo,  driving the shuttle buses between 2 areas in the resort.  Plenty of blizzard driving and very busy road on weekends, with cars parked on both sides of the road. 

One icy weekend on snow camping in July (minus 10 at night) , with crusty icy snow which required skins at all times.  
Then For a few weeks in September, when the snow was softer and temps more reasonable.  Culminated in 5 days snow camping at 1900m,  just below Guthega trig point, opposite Guthega resort (part of Perisher).  Which gave me many options for day touring along the 15km ridge line or  to Mt Tate etc .

Also managed to get some solo Ice bouldering in ...  just went out at night with crampons and ice axes and bouldered up the snow cornices around camp. The snow starts to freeze late afternoon as temps drop. 

This was my longest snow camp, and I was well equipped , with small solar panel to recharge my phone daily, kindle reader on my phone to read books, 4 season tent with tough and simple design (RAB Latok Mountain 2) .  Snow shovel ,  good MSR windburner stove which has a valve that adjusts gas output for altitude , cold etc. Thus giving a full burn at any altitude. 

This was vital to melt snow every day,  usually evening, to make water supplies. And fill my MSR bladder with hot water to use as a hot water bottle in my sleeping bag, then as water supply in the morning. 

I also had a recent addition - a Garmin GPSmap64s ,  which is a waterproof GPS with a screen that shows your position on a map , complete with 40m contours, peaks, roads, even small tracks marked. I turned this on whenever I went on a day trip from the tent, and it tracked my course with a thick pink line.  At any time , I could select "Trackback"  and it would guide me with a thin line showing my actual position, next to the thick one, enabling me to follow back the track I took originally.  Back to base camp. 
I used this for 2 hours or so when I a thick fog rolled in one afternoon and it was hard to see any landmarks.  It can also be used ay night. 

I also carry a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon), for emergencies.  

Friday, January 26, 2018

Grampians NP, Victoria Australia

The Grampians are magical... with lots of wild flowers, a beat short walk to "venus baths" - a series of rock pools, minutes from the campground at Halls Gap.  There are also boulders to do bouldering on here, and I set up a top rope and self belayed up a short section.  Very good quality granite, nice slabs for long multi pitch climbs...  must come back and do "elephants hide" which is a huge slab at 20 to 30 degrees above Venus baths. Gets hot in Summer, but good shade under trees. 

Did 2 weeks here in December 2017 before catching the ferry to Tasmania. 

Testing out hiking gear and such.  Did a 2 day walk, Up to the top of Mt Rosea 1000m (carrying 5l of water up) , then Southward and a last camp above Halls Gap township, overlooking The Granite slab "elephant's hide".

Good views from mt Rosea. The new tent was tested out as there were some strong gusts and a little rain. No condensation issues, despite being single wall.

This is a Rab Latok mountain 2 tent, single layer "Event" fabric - a more breathable version of Gore-Tex.  Designed for alpine and antarctic conditions - high winds, snow...
weighs 1.83 kg,  enough room for 2 sleeping mats. Got it because I like sleeping on mountain tops and saddles, where the views are awesome. And later for winter backcountry skiing and such. 

Easy to pitch in wind as has no fly. Takes a bit of practice as you get into the tent, put the poles inside, arc them and slot them into the corners. I have now added velcro and a mossie net on the front door and rear vent.  

All in all, the Gramps is one of my favourite National Parks.  The knobbly rocks and pools are quite magical. An hour or so North West is mt Arapiles, an isolated mini monolith of rock, world-famous for rock climbing, mainly "trad", or unbolted. Lots of routes, some beginners multi-pitch routes. And a cheap NP campground.  I've climbed there before (see this blog using the search facility). 

The pictures are all low-res as I was testing a new light camera. (click on a photo for larger version). 

Mt Rosea camp. 

 Elephants Hide granite slab and gorge. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Cradle mountain NP 2 day Hike.

Hike Goes left up to Hanson Peak then down from the saddle to a large lake. 

Snow in gulley on East face of Cradle Mnt. 

Magical Lake Just before the Hut. 

The custom mossie net worked well and was essential due to lots of march flies. 
Cooking in the tent with a wooden board for safety under the cooker. 
Looking back at the camp from the plateau
At the plateau, Barn Bluff in the distance South.
Neat Emergency shelter. 

A very nice hike, one of the few overnight options in this part of the park unless you pay up the 200$ for the Overland track.  It goes left of Dove lake, then down to the Scott Kilvert memorial hut.  I camped on the lake just before the hut. 

The lake just before the main lake was magical, with dragonflies gliding, Cradle mountain behind, with some snow in a small gully (see above). It had snowed 6 weeks before (mid december) about a foot of snow... 

The heat was intense on non-cloud days - a very burning tasmanian sun. And quite a few March flies around lakes...  a mossie net for the tent a must - fortunately I had just spent a few days customising the tent with velcro and a mossie net. 
I retreated into the tent under shade to get out of the sun for the middle of the day.  

Day 2, hiked up 300m to the Plateau where the overland track is, behind Cradle mtn. Then back North to Kitchen hut and down the steep track with waist high chains from Marion's lookout to the lake. Back to camp via the free shuttle.

Hitched out that afternoon and got a lift with an American-Australian, right back to Launceston. We also Bouldered together in Cataract Gorge, a few minutes from Launceston CBD. 

Hitck-Hiking is very easy in Tasmania. And the distances are small.