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Friday, April 27, 2007

A weird and crappy start to the Grampians

Life in the Grampians begins. A three hour brief drive out of Melbourne and the fun begins all over again.

We meet up once again with Ryan, one of our regular climbing partners from Ton Sai in Thailand who is taking a similar trip to ourselves, in the Mt. Staplyton campgrounds. Firstly, and before I completely forget, the dirt tracks here are insane. I've never been on such vehicle-wreckers. A lot of it due to the 10-year drought currently blighting much of Australia but these roads are hardcore. Continuous ripples from numerous 4x4's and their large tyre treads lead to bone-jarring, teeth-chattering events. I want to call them drives, but 'event's is a much bettter word for it. Thankfully the campsite is only about 3 miles along the Road of Ripples, although the fact that we'll have to drive that every day does not appeal to me! the other danger of Australia is of course kangaroos but I'll come to them later.

For some reasons, I'm sluggish getting up the first few days for climbing. Considering I've been so psyched to get out and do some activity, it's strange. Every morning feels like a long climb out of a well that I continuously fall back into for another 10 minutes before eventually dragging myself out of my sleeping bag 40 minutes late. Maybe all my runs and swimming was a bit much in Melbourne?!

We get to the infamous Taipan Wall. It's as impressive as they describe, although slightly messier than I was expecting. No matter, on with climbing. I get my ass kicked. I can put it any other way, but my first day at the Grampians National Park was a mess. Three routes and I'm completely worn out. No-one told me they were basically 20-30metre long boulder problems taken straight out of Fontainbleau in France? Crazy technical climbing with lots of slopers is the name of the game here, and they're killing me. And yet, I'm thoroughly enjoying myself. I love a good challenge :)

Since we're all feeling so unfit, I've declared an aim to climb at least 150 points per day. Each route has a number grading for difficulty, so just add up the total of each route (e.g. 23+23+23=.....you get the idea). My first day? 90. And I'm wrecked. Looks like lots of work required :)
the 2nd day goes better, with some additional routes ticked off. We're all slowly adapting, although Dawid has almost become a full-time photographer – he's not getting back into climbing as much as myself and Sean. We're all buzzing, especially after checking out one of the sports climbing crags the 2nd day for some variation.
Still though, a disappointing end to the day. As we returned along the Road of Ripples folllowing Ryan's car in our own, a wallabe (a smaller-sized Kangaroo) stepped out in front of the car. He took a full hit from our station wagon. I made the long trek to the nearest house to see what is done in this part of the world, but was told if I didn't have a gun, he was to be just left there (one leg was badly broken). As you can guess I wasn't too happy about this, so a pretty sombre discussion took place on how to proceed. Thankfully, none of us were willing to just leave him to be picked on bit by bit, but that led to much unpleasantries about what do since we didn't have a gun (the local neighbour didn't either).... Thankfully, nature took it's course before we had to go any further as while I held the metre-high creature down to try and calm him, I slowly felt his heart beat start to fade. Closing his eyes, I felt him succumb to the injuries, leaving a bit of a dry taste in my mouth, and a not too cheery atmosphere amongst the group. I hate when this sort of thing happens to an animal :(

On a cheerier note, this is our view for sunset most days:



Arapiles off in the distance