So, guy pulls into Lake Natimuk Caravan Park in low slung black utility vehicle with motorbike on the back and, while he sets camouflage tent (!), immediately starts blasting the throbbing beat of some noxious music, spoiling the otherwise peaceful surroundings. It is impossible to give up stereotypes when people keep reinforcing them.
Doug way up there on Piccolo
Doug's pick today and we went to the Organ Pipes, which, according to our guidebook, is one of the busiest areas at Arapiles. We were lucky, I guess. One other party of two older Kiwis (Kiwi's are always tough - another stereotype) showing solid form climbing 18's - who nipped off for morning tea around 11.00 am, and a guided party of three (how come guides here don't use autoblocks and belay two seconds at once?) on Diapason.
Doug topping out on Piccolo
Doug started out the day leading Piccolo**, a very aesthetic route up a narrow "pipe." This was good value even for an Arapiles 11 with some very thin moves at the crux and fiddly, widely spaced gear. After that, we moved over to D Major**, the second pitch is a real corker. I was a bit nervous leading the first pitch (only a 9) after the thin moves on Piccolo, but the climbing was easy, the gear good, and I finished up through the hole under the big boulder. Doug led the money pitch which has tremendous exposure up a steep airy rib.
Doug popping out of the tunnel on pitch one of D Major
After lunch, in the shade (first time for that since we arrived), Doug led Hornpiece***, 13, which takes another aesthetic line up another pipe and has a steep, somewhat intimidating crux at the end. Again, the gear was a bit fiddly and not always consistently available. Doug did a fine job looking solid and working out the moves. There is a rappel descent from Hornpiece (!) which meant we didn't have to carry up shoes or do some exposed downclimb.