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VIC Arapiles (General) (General) (General) [ Arapiles Guide | Arapiles Images ] 

Topic Date User
Araps climbs for beginners 27-Feb-2008 At 9:36:57 PM stuart h
When introducing people, especially kids, to climbing, the challenge is to pick climbs that will provide interest and excitement without being too hard or intimidating. With confident, athletic individuals you can pretty much jump on any of the low-mid teen classics and go from there, but with young kids it is generally better to start more conservatively and ensure they succeed and figure out how everything works before the ground gets frighteningly far away. The various guidebooks for Arapiles are very reliable, the rock is sound, and the access good so it is a great spot to start people off (and the gear is generally solid and straightforward so you can move them on to leading quite rapidly if that is what they, or you, want).

The easy routes on Dec Crag are very popular for this. Despite it being a longer walk, I prefer the sunny side of Bushranger’s Bluff as there are a number of easy, juggy, but quite vertical climbs of about 10metres with a relatively clean base and very quick top to bottom access. The shady side has slightly longer, harder and better climbs, which can provide a good progression. Mitre Rock has routes like Cloaca, Exodus, Parson’s Nose and Penny Dreadful which tend to be longer and more impressive again.

When you move on to multi-pitch routes there are a few things you can look for in picking routes to avoid headaches half-way up. People tend to climb anything with straight up and down face holds pretty naturally but have problems on more technical moves like jamming, laybacking and friction climbing, so try to avoid routes which rely on these (although you are pretty safe on easy araps routes on this count). More important is to look for routes that are fairly straight rather than traverses. Having the rope overhead is reassuring, provides better security and makes it easy to get back on after a fall. Aside from making your life easier if anything goes awry, straight routes are also easier for people to follow because they don’t have to decide on which level they should traverse.

Similarly, look for routes which will have good communication. Try to keep your first few pitches to 30metres or less and aim to set up so that you can see back down the pitch to observe and coach. Try to predict and avoid problems (people always want to climb past runners without unclipping them) and use your voice to keep them focused on key things – breathe, stand on feet, drive with legs etc.

New climbers find hanging belays stressful so pick climbs with reasonable ledges to belay on. Try to use the same system, something simple and clean, to rig the anchors each pitch up the route if possible so that people get use to the system (simple and consistent calls help with this as well) as quickly and easily as possible.

Try to use protection (and chalk) to show climbers which way to go (and any hidden holds). Think about your guests and, as much as possible, arrange the protection with them in mind – try to keep it simple (slings, big nuts, shallow cams) and place it where it can be retrieved from a comfortable stance rather than in a position of stress.

The Organ Pipes are the best intro to multi-pitch climbing as they feature great routes that aren’t too intimidating. After some of those the Atridae, Preludes Wall and the shady side of Mitre offer good, but often more technical 2 pitch routes from 7-15, but should you be keener to go to something longer (which doesn’t have to mean harder – Tiptoe Ridge etc). Arapiles has the best easy (grades 6-16) multi-pitch cragging in the world; keep it in a straight line to start with and just follow the stars.

Have fun and remember to make sure you know how you will get everyone down before you start.

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