So, here we are back at Mount Arapiles after two weeks hiking and kayaking with our Canadian friends. It was wonderful to see friends from home again, but also a busy time for Doug and I. Our friends are great cycle tourers, but now, as they creep past 65 years of age, that focused activity seems to be taking a bit of a toll. By good luck and good management, neither Doug nor I have obsessively done only one sport and have thus avoided the over-use injuries that seem to plaque so many endurance athletes. Kayaking and climbing are good counterpoints to hiking, and, of course, if we have access to a gym, weight training is best of all.
R and M peddle off again
I noticed myself getting a little stiffer over the last two weeks when I did not have time to do my usual thrice weekly body weight exercises. People in the tribe (the paleo/whole foods/functional training tribe) are always banging on about how weight training is better than stretching for maintaining mobility and it seems they could be right.
First climbing day back at Arapiles today and it was Doug's pick. He had settled on climbing the two star, three pitch Phoenix to Flinders Lane on Tiger Wall, then walking left to climb Ivan (Ivan the terrible), and finally finishing up the three star Blockbuster on Bluff Major. I felt totally out of sync with climbing today and only led one pitch all day, which was hardly a pitch at all. Doug did a stellar job jumping straight back in with both feet. In my defence, I can only say I am likely a bit more fatigued than Doug as I continue my habit of walking two hours a day which Doug does not.
The first pitch of Phoenix goes up a steep, intermittently smooth corner and felt tricky even for an Arapiles grade 11. The difficulty gradually eases over the next two pitches and the final pitch, which I led, was hardly a pitch at all, mostly a traverse with a short easy wall at the end. The one star route Ivan must be named after some brutish Russian thug as it is a short, steep, slippery, awkward, half off-width curving crack with thuggish opening moves. The remainder of the route is only minimally less beefy. Finally, Blockbuster is a lovely clean curving crack up a clean steep wall and is worth the three stars.
Doug starts up pitch two of Phoenix
We descended via a rappel off the back of Bluff Major and then a scramble down towards Alis where we met a party of two Aussies who kindly offered us the use of their double ropes to rappel the last 40 metres to the ground instead of slithering down the chained Alis (which did look somewhat unpleasant). As usual in Australia, everything was justly slightly off. The young lads had a hugely tangled rope that took a half hour to unravel as they insisted on butterflying it double instead of single (always tangles ropes), and the ropes were joined with a figure 8 follow through backed up with an overhand. A method which hasn't been used for 20 years in Canada as the knot is large and prone to jamming. They were the second party we saw today using dog-bones (aka quick draws or sport draws) as runners which must result in horrendous rope drag at Arapiles where the routes wander and the protection is frequently off to the side, or tucked way back under roofs. Just another half-f**ked kind of Australian thing.