Australia 2014

Australia: Climbing Down Under

Winter 2014

Mount Arapiles

Known for being the trad climbing mecca of Australia. With limited experience in “face” trad climbing I was super stoked to test it out. And it was everything it was hyped up to be. Bullet hard quartzite sandstone with loads  of crimps, jugs, and crack features. It was incredibly fun to try to onsight the historical routes in the “mount”.  A few that stood out for me included Sandpiper, Arestes, and a failed attempt on the route Deep Freeze. I backed off with my tail between my legs because the pro was really not confidence inspiring. Later I found out its usually done with preplaced gear…..duh! Being new to Australia and its wildlife, it was really interesting to hang out with the local lizards and kangaroos.

Stumpy lizards that frequently visit in the pines
Stumpy lizards that frequently visit in the pines
Kate and Ru Pines campground hair management
Kate and Ru Pines campground hair management

Grampians National Park

This was the business. A reason for me to climb in Australia. Amazingly beautiful lines that stand out and varied in its climbing style. The Grampians itself spans over a very large area with little pockets of rock that spring out of the hills. Every place is a little bit different and require nearly every technique imaginable to climb. The combination of variety, beautiful scenery, and experiencing nearly 50 kangaroos hopping beside us while driving through the bush made this place standout as the best in my trip.

On the Onsight of Ea Rouge
On the Onsight of Ea Rouge

Immediately I went after the uber classic trad route called Archimedes Principle. I first saw this climb on a video and was amazed by the rock and protection. It turned out to be super long and pumpy as a mostly nut protected route. Went ground up and couldn’t onsight it putting the gear in. But eventually sent after a few red hot tries.

Duncan Brown on Archimedes Principle
Duncan Brown on Archimedes Principle

The other stand out line was Oricono Flow. A Malcom Matheson (HB) classic, a local hero and developer of most of the routes in the state of Victoria. Made a quicker ascent of this one and even got approached by the man HB himself to hear my thoughts about it. All praise, although my opinion was it was pretty burly for 5.12b.

Oricono Flow 5.12b
Oricono Flow 5.12b
Oricono Flow 5.12b
Oricono Flow 5.12b

Blue Mountains

Next on the Australian trifecta destination for climbing was the Blue Mountains (the Bluies). Blackheath the center of the Bluies climbing scene became my home for a month and half. I was lucky enough to couchsurf in a few places compliments of Ellie Meads and Stephen Meng, who I am indebted and can’t wait to show them around in China.

Three Sisters Blue Mountains
Three Sisters Blue Mountains

The Bluies is the epicentre for Australian Sport Climbing. I can describe the climbing in a few words…Crimps and heel hooks. Your skin takes a beating as well as your bouldering strength on the hard routes. With a motivation to see lots of the area, it was hard to commit to a 5.13 project. My focus quickly turned to improving my onsight ability. By the end I was proud to onsight 5.12’s and finished some  routes that took me a few tries in the 5.12+ range.

Bare Essentias 5.12c
Bare Essentias 5.12c
Bare Essentias 5.12c
Bare Essentials 5.12c

The Australian adventure was a lot of fun. Made a few very good friends along the way that have all flavored the spice of life. Notably meeting and climbing with Logan Barber who I am still climbing with in Li Ming China. Also Ryan Doe, Andrew Wilson, and Chris Monaghan, who I hope and wish will come visit for China Adventures.

As a professional climber, guide, Athletic Trainer, rock scrubber and faller, the biggest take home message from my travels in the land down under was an example of rock climbing development. Seeing the process and end experiences gave me loads of ideas for the development of rock climbing. Excited to have brought these examples to Li Ming and China.

© All text, pictures, and media copyright Michael Dobie Do not reproduce in any way without consulting

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