Arapiles – day 6
It had been decided that I should lead Triumphant up a multi pitch, while Speedy and D ran off to enact their higher-grade adventures. To be honest, I normally avoid leading. If Speedy and D are Tiggers, bounding their way joyously from exploit to exploit, I am the Piglet of lead climbing. Slow, cautious, and occasionally terrified. I have previously retreated from a grade 9 lead at Bushrangers Bluff (though Arapiles grades are notoriously flexible in their interpretation and allocation of difficulty ratings).
One can only elude one’s fate for so long. I decided on Introductory Route, the first climb established at Arapiles, back in the dark ages when ropes were made of natural fibers, and protection consisted of praying really hard. Ask Speedy, he was around then!
When we got there, unfortunately, a large university group was winding its way up the cliffs. With a three person team on Introductory Route, I decided a change of plans was in order. We trekked around the base of the outcrop of cliff to Tiptoe Ridge. It was a surprisingly low-stress lead. I know, it is only a grade 5 (think challenging stepladder), but I was a bit nervous about leading a long multi pitch. It went smoothly. I spaced out my placements to reduce rope drag, and soon found myself topping out on the iconic pinnacle on pitch 2. Triumphant came up, retrieving my gear as she went. I enjoyed the opportunity to eavesdrop on the lead two of the three-person team on Introductory Route, who were belaying just past me (the cliff becomes a bottleneck at this point, where several climbs intersect and follow the same final pitches). It was nice to listen in on – they were talking about sports, and how climbing isn’t a “man’s sport” or a “woman’s sport”, it’s simply climbing. The conversation meandered very positively in this vein, drilling down into predispositions and experience etc. It probably says more about me (and how much time I spend online seeing how foul people can be) than it does about them, but I was surprised and pleased. They are way more woke than I was at their age.
They very nicely let us go ahead of their three person team – their lead climber was uncertain of the next pitch, and was happy to score some beta. So I moved well up that, pleased with my placements and general demeanor, until I topped out. Fantastique.
Afternoon: D and I struggled up Phoenix in the wind. Left behind a #6 nut, which harrowed my soul to do, but the little illegitimate was stuck fair and square. The cliffs giveth, and the cliffs taketh away.
Triumphant and Speedy ascended The Eighth.