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Mount Arapiles

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Mount Arapiles 


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Location: -36.7573, 141.843 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrator: Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Jan 12, 2007
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Wendy, at a cool belay on the Watchtower Crack as ...

Description 

Mount Arapilies, aka Araps, aka the Mount, aka the Piles... aka The Best Crag in the World. Perhaps it is! ...although it certainly doesn't look like much from the drive in, a rather unimpressive stretch of convoluted cliffline perched out in the middle of the Wimmera Plain - one step removed from the Outback. You won't find the size and scope of Yosemite, nor the striking lines of Indian Creek, but if you take the time to explore it's folds you will find a wealth world-class, fantastic trad climbs of all grades. Arapiles is stacked! There are several thousand climbs all within a 15 minute walk from the campsite. The rock is a very dense quartzite/sandstone, ocher-red in color with streaks of grey lichen. Many face features, baby-bottom slopers, and intermittent cracks make the area highly climbable and generally highly protectable; great face climbing and steep and overhanging terrain are typical. Wires are indespensible here and, in fact, the RP, named for inventor Roland Pauligk, was created specifically for protecting the Mount's small cracks.

The Mount was the real birthplace and heartland of Australian climbing, but it has also seen two significant "tours" by visiting international climbers -- specifically Henry Barber and Wolfgang Gullich. The early and mid sixties saw the first major wave of development of both easier free climbs and some aid routes. In the late sixties many of those aid lines started going free and the early seventies brought in more young talent. In 1975 the 21 year old Henry Barber single-handedly revolutionized climbing at Arapiles by freeing many of the Mount's hardest aid testpieces. His bold style was unmatched and many of his climbs were done barefoot and onsight (in fact, if he was unable to free a route first go, he would retreat and move on -- who knows what he would have accomplished using modern redpoint tactics!). This visit, although initially humbling to Australian climbers, ushered in "The New Wave" which included the likes of Mike Law, Chris Peisker, Greg Child, Glenn Tempest, Kevin Lindorff, and others. Many new hard lines went up, and when the super fit and dedicated Kim Carrigan showed up in the late seventies, the difficulty leapt ahead yet again. The eighties were dominated by Carrigan, Law, the Shepherd siblings and Mark Moorhead, and were punctuated by Wolfgang Gullich's visit in 1985 to put up Punks in the Gym (5.13d), at the time the hardest climb in the world. Since then development has slowed but not stopped; there is still plenty of virigin rock at the Mount and new routes go up each year, but perhaps the best of lines have been done. Although The Inquisition, the last great aid climb of the Mount, remains to be freed by future talent.

The camping scene is excellent -- there are two main campgrounds, the Pines, and the subsidiary Gums. The Pines is named for a growth of fir trees that were planted by early explorers in the area, and although they are gradually dying/being phased out by the park, they do provide a homey feel and a bit of relief from the blazing sun. There are two sources of running water near the camp -- both of which are bore-water and may or may not be safe to drink. Consume at your own risk. A small bathroom is also located nearby. Beware of the fire restrictions which are often in effect during the warmer months. A tarp is an essential item for shade, a hammock for rest days, and a good sized jar of Nutella will make you a lot of friends. Fees, as of 2004, were $3 AUD per night -- unenforced but worth the price. Basically the place feels a lot like a smaller, more quaint and welcoming version of Camp 4.

The nearby town of Natimuk (5-10 minute drive) has a dive of a pub, a fantastic gear shop, a milk bar, and lots of local climbers. The closest real town is Horsham, another 20 minutes past Nati, which has petrol stations, two major groceries, a hospital, a public swimming pool (although there are various swimming holes near the Mount, some within walking distance), banks, stores, restaurants, etc. During my extended stay I would usually make it in to Horsham once a week for supplies (including water).

Rest day activities generally consist of swimming holes, hammocks, eating and socializing, lounging around watching people fall off "Have a Good Flight," and other miscellaneous "can't be bothered" activities. For a fun challenge, try the post game: circumnavigate the entire Pines, hopping from post to post, tree to tree, without touching the ground (there's even an integrated slackline!). If you're (un?)lucky you might get invited to a climber's party or disco in the bustling town of Natimuk. Perhaps a better bet is to take your car, or befriend someone with one, and convince them to go to the nearby, and astonishing, Grampians... or at least for a swim at the Horsham pool. By the way, the pool is a great place for cheap showers as well.

Be careful of leaving food out unattended -- the possums and Kookaburras will find it. There are plenty of mostly harmless kangaroos around, and possibly venemous creatures but I never saw them.

When staying at Arapiles remember that it is a special, special place. Take care to leave it as you found it, if not better.


Getting There 

300 km northwest on the Western Highway from Melbourne brings you to Horsham. Follow the Wimmera Highway for 30 km west out of town, through Natimuk, until reaching an obvious and well-signed turn on the right that leads northward to the Mount.


Climbing Season


43 Total Routes


['4 Stars',20],['3 Stars',17],['2 Stars',5],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',9],['5.7',2],['5.8',2],['5.9',3],['5.10',8],['5.11',13],['5.12',4],['5.13',2],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Mount Arapiles:
Agamemnon   5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a PG13     Trad, 1 pitch, 150'   The Atridae
The Bard   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 5 pitches, 360'   Bard Buttress & The Tiger W...
Muldoon   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13     Trad, 2 pitches, 141'   The Atridae
Brolga   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13     Trad, 3 pitches, 350'   The Watchtower Faces
Watchtower Crack   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 4 pitches, 300'   The Watchtower Faces
Scorpion   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 80'   The Bluffs
Missing Link   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a PG13     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   The Bluffs
Thunder Crack   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   The Bluffs
Kachoong   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 175'   The Northern Group
A Taste of Honey   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   The Northern Group
Auto Da Fe   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R     Trad, 2 pitches, 300'   The Watchtower Faces
Scorpion Corner   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Trad, 80'   The Bluffs
Orestes   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a PG13     Trad, 1 pitch, 60'   The Atridae
Have a Nice Flight   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a PG13     Sport, 90'   The Atridae
Despatched   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a PG13     Trad, 1 pitch, 150'   The Bluffs
Browse More Classics in Mount Arapiles

Featured Route For Mount Arapiles
Stu making the clip after a little runout.

Have a Nice Flight 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a PG13  Australia : Mount Arapiles : The Atridae
Start on the Crimpy It'll Never Fly and half way through the traverse left shoot straight up. Fight your way through a hard crux and hopefully make it to the clip or be ready to get some air time. Recover on a flake and then fight through some hard moves to the anchor....[more]   Browse More Classics in International

Photos of Mount Arapiles Slideshow Add Photo
matty rawlinson on denim
matty rawlinson on denim
The Tree Boulder, weirdest bouldering problem I've ever done, couldn't believe it was in the guidebook.
The Tree Boulder, weirdest bouldering problem I've...
dana ikeda on the Rack
dana ikeda on the Rack
hazel findlay...
hazel findlay...
Scorpion Corner, Arapiles
Scorpion Corner, Arapiles
Hero pose on Pilot Error
Hero pose on Pilot Error
luke on thunder crack
luke on thunder crack
Dave Bingham  Araps
Dave Bingham Araps
hazel findlay on cruel consistency
hazel findlay on cruel consistency
Sunrise in Yellow Gum
Sunrise in Yellow Gum
Rapping off the Watchtower face with field of glowing cannola behind me.
Rapping off the Watchtower face with field of glow...
Overview of Arapiles Crags.  Photo stolen from Mr. Laakman (hope you don't mind!)
BETA PHOTO: Overview of Arapiles Crags. Photo stolen from Mr....
oscar and kala in the pines
oscar and kala in the pines
On the way in.
On the way in.
kangaroos near Arapiles
kangaroos near Arapiles
luke on Christian Crack
luke on Christian Crack
The Bluffs
The Bluffs
The Bluffs
The Bluffs
Watch out, it's a stumpy!
Watch out, it's a stumpy!
The main cliff of Mt Arapiles
The main cliff of Mt Arapiles
Josh Laitila leading Scorpion corner
Josh Laitila leading Scorpion corner
party at the billabong in 115 degree heat
party at the billabong in 115 degree heat
Eastern Rosella, in the Pines, checking out my cereal bowl
Eastern Rosella, in the Pines, checking out my cer...
The Arapiles panorama.
BETA PHOTO: The Arapiles panorama.
oscar flashing india, first lead go...
oscar flashing india, first lead go...
Tree Boulder
Tree Boulder
The pines campground, you'll notice that it is on a slope so you always wake up crowding one side or end of your tent, your preference.
BETA PHOTO: The pines campground, you'll notice that it is on ...
Seconding the Mega-Classic Kachoong (21)  <br />
Seconding the Mega-Classic Kachoong (21)
Araps
Araps
Leading Lemmington (19 in Australian Grades or 5.10a/b in American grades)
Leading Lemmington (19 in Australian Grades or 5.1...
Comments on Mount Arapiles Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Nov 16, 2012
By Devan Johnson
Mar 17, 2007

To be sure, Arapilies is a classic area with great climbing, camping and access.
You're bound to have a great time.
But people need to take it easy with the "best crag in the world" slogan. "Best crag in Victoria" is probably a more apt description.

By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
May 10, 2007

Wait till you get a load of my "World's Greatest Grandson" T-shirt! You'll really flip your lid!

By Leo Hski
Jun 6, 2007

Simply the best destination I ever visited (twice).

By Jim Donini
Jun 7, 2007

I don't think that Arapiles is anywhere close to being the "best crag in the world." I would give it a B. The rock is often quite polished and it's multi-pitch the way the Gunks is. That is, really short pitches. Also, if you go in Sept./Oct. be prepared to wear a face net during the day because of really pesky flies. My thoughts are shared by prominent British climbers Rab Carrington and Martin Boysen who visited the area with me last September. It's definitely worth a visit but you might get more joy in the Grampions.
Jim D.

By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
Jun 11, 2007

Before I went to Araps, I met quite a few folks who warned me not to go there for one reason or another. I can't speak to your experience, but after probing, all of the people who warned me off revealed various grade-related complaints. One guy didn't like it cause the cracks weren't "splitter-enough" for him (he was from Moab).

I went anyway and, although it took some getting used to, I eventually loved the place (although I did get worked on a few "classics" too). Araps probably offers the greatest diversity of climbing for a single crag in the world. There are pages of 4-star multipitch trad routes 5.4 and below (like the Gunks), but it also hosts the world's first 5.14 sport climb, and everything in between. Its hard to imagine how someone could NOT love this place, but I suspect the old-school grading has something to do with it, just as some people don't like Eldo, the Valley, Smith, JTree, or the Gunks.

True the quartzite rock has a smooth finish. It requires an adjustment if you're not used to climbing on a variety of rock types (like basalt, limestone, marble, glacier polished granite). I personally never found any of the holds to be polished to an extent that it negatively affected a route's quality. However, I can see how the smooth finish would pose a problem if you're overly-reliant on using Cams for pro, or if your footwork isn't the greatest.

I know what you mean about the short pitches! One trick I used to mitigate that problem was to run two or more pitches together by skipping recommended belay points. Another trick I used was to "free solo" (climbing w/o a rope).

I don't recall any bug problems, but I visited in late Oct/early Nov and bathed regularly. I definately got spanked on a few days, and subsequently got a bit down on the place for a few hours, but then I would solo a 500 foot, 4-star 5.3 on amazing stone, watch an awe-inspiring sunset from the summit, and walk through a pack of kangaroos on the way back to camp. Hard to stay bummed for long in a place like that!

By Jim Donini
Jun 11, 2007

Monomaniac,
Could be that the bugs go away by October, they were a real bother when we were there. Be assured that over the last 40 years I have climbed on a lot of different rock types. the problem could be that after 40 years this aging climber needs all the friction he can get. Your right about the quality of the easier routes. I guess my real beef is that there is no "best crag in the world." Those who make such claims are bound to get some heat. Climbing is too varied and subjective to have an absolute term like "best" apply.

By claramie
From: Boulder, CO
Sep 2, 2007

I lived in Melbourne for 9 months and made it out to both Grampians and Araps many times. It's understandable if you don't want to call it the best crag in the world, but it is no doubt World Class. The polished rock is accurate since it's metamorphosed, but not slipprier than Eldo, Devil's Lake or the basalt I've climbed. The rock is super hard and high-quality... RPs were made for this place and they work like a charm. Passive pro is king here.

Both campsites are busy and pretty fun. If you camp at the pines, be prepared to end up at the downhill side of your tent at some point each night. It can get kinda rowdy here so good luck getting to bed early.

No climbing trip to Australia would be complete without coming here. There are so many great routes, that I would spend at least two weeks here and another two in grampians. So much AMAZING rock to climb!

Too bad all the beer sucks in Australia (ok, Coopers excepted)... might as well bring your own Miller Light.

Cheers,

CL

By Cliff M
From: Davis, CA
Jun 10, 2008

I'm considering visiting for a couple weeks in late January/early February.
Good time? miserably hot? could I find partners?

By david goldstein
Jun 10, 2008

The late January / early February period is likely to be quite hot with highs consistently above 100. There is a good chance the flies would be out in force then too. You could get lucky and catch a cool spell, but the odds are against this.

By Enga
From: Natimuk, VIC Australia
Jun 10, 2008

As an Arapiles local, I can say that Jan/Feb is worth a visit if that is the time you have to go. It would be much like visiting Boulder in late July- more chance of hot weather, but not unbearable. This year it was down right autumn-like in Jan/Feb and March was a stinker. No matter the temperature, the joy of Araps is the many different aspects, so you can always find somewhere comfortable. There are some amazingly cool gullies on the hottest days. Ask a local where to go/not go on the hot days. And, believe it or not, you should pack something warm, even in Feb. Campers were wearing down jackets and wool hats evenings and mornings this Feb.

By Josef Goding
From: Brunswick, Victoria
Apr 4, 2009

Some good new on-line info here:
www.climb.org.au/index.php?page_id=10&action=region®ion_i>>>

There is also a fantastic new (print) guide available:
www.osp.com.au/

By Steve Skelton
From: Lyttelton, New Zealand
May 4, 2009

Sherman is wearing a harness under his jeans and is clipped into 'Lord of the Rings' on Henry Bolte Wall. I think it's a grade 28, but it goes in flip flops (thongs).

By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
May 5, 2009

Lord of the Rings is 13d (~31). Not sure if that's what he is on, but I thought it was the same wall as Lord of the Rings, Slinkin, Leopard, etc.

By David Kozak
Oct 10, 2009

I am considering a visit to Arapiles in June or July. Is this a good time to climb here? What can I expect weather wise? thx.

By Cliff M
From: Davis, CA
Oct 12, 2009

I was at Arapiles for 2 weeks in early July 2009. It was cold, and there were some rainy days, but there were also some good days. I felt the worst part was how short the days were - It was very demoralizing to have sun only 7:30-5:00, and spend the rest of the time in the cold dark. Go if its the only time you have to go.
Check www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_079023.shtml for climate averages (july averages the most rainfall, and ~10 rainy days per month)
or post on www.chockstone.org and talk to some locals.
I would also consider Frog Buttress that time of year - the weather/temps were definitely better, and the climbing was awesome (though all primarily single pitches). We were at Frog for a week.

By Jared Peterson
Apr 11, 2012

Hey I am trying to get a trip to Arapiles from Seattle this Oct or Nov. Can anyone tell if this is a good time of the year to go also how to get there from Sydney. Any help I can get would be Awesome thanks!

Jared p.

By Rich C
Nov 16, 2012

Punks in the Gym FFA!!