Arrival at Arapiles
Posted by sibylle in Uncategorized (Tuesday March 31, 2009 at 7:03 pm)

On Sunday, we explored Melbourne, visited the Melbourne Zoo (more on this when I can download photos), and went to the train station to buy a ticket. We  took the tram to the train station early Monday, a train to Ballarat where we switched to a bus, and rode the bus to the small farm town of Horsham.

Keith Lockwood (Noddy), a friend of my climbing partner Dave Goldstein, works in Horsham and lives in Natimuk, an even smaller town (500 - 700 inhabitants) abut 10 km from the Arapiles State Park. Noddy kindly  lent us Dave’s water bottles, his stove plus pots and pans, and drove us to the Arapiles.

After we  erected our tent, laid out the sleeping mats and bags, I admired our home for the next month. An enormous pine tree shaded the tent and dining area - a flat log propped on two rocks, sufficient for cooking and eating. The relatively level ground was pleasantly sandy and quite dry. After cooking our first meal, we jumped into our bags, exhausted.

I awoke early to to the chorus or numerous warbling birds. Just before sunrise, hundreds of different birds sang, cawed, hooted, and warbled to greet the new day. I wish I had audio recording to replicate the morning symphony. I’ve never before camped anywhere with such an abundance of bird song.


I got up quietly to not wake Tristan and explored the campground and surroundings. As I walked toward the toilets, a kangaroo jumped out from the bush and ran across the trail. Several more kangaroos grazed at a water seep near the toilets. I sat quietly, to see how close they’d come, taking pictures of kangaroos eating, kangaroos jumping, kangaroos grooming. I had hoped to see kangaroos in Australia, but never guessed that they would be so abundant. Apparently, the locals consider them a bit of a menace, much like those of us who live in deer territory in the United States view deer as a nuisance. The kangaroo, like deer, jump in front of cars, causing a great deal of damage to both. And local hunters shoot kangaroo, so that kangaroo steaks are abundant on local menus and grocery store shelves.

 On our first day in the Arapiles, we hiked up the Central gully to the top of the mountain and visited both view sites. Below us, the flat farms stretched to the horizon in all directions. I could see why early man  thought the earth was flat -  sere, dried grass and brown fields stretched to the horizon in all directions, and I could  see the curve of the earth (looking like a round plate, not a ball).

Living in the mountains, I’d never before viewed the earth lying flat below me and seen the curved horizon quite so prominent. When I’m able to download photos, I’ll post pictures.



We’re finally in Australia!
Posted by sibylle in Uncategorized (Friday March 20, 2009 at 6:24 pm)

After nearly 20 hours of travel, we reached Melbourne, Australia on Saturday the 14th in the morning. We had no specific plans as to our next step: if wide awake and feeling up to an encounter with traffic going the wrong way down the road, I  had thought of renting a car and driving to Arapiles.

But a night with very little sleep left me groggy and much too confused to attempt to drive on the left side of the road, so we opted instead to stay in Melbourne for a night and then attempt further travel. This left me unprepared for the immigration officer’s question, “Where are you staying tonight?”

I explained that I’d optimistically hoped to drive to Araplies, but given up this notion as a consequence of sleep deprivation.

“So you’ve got nowhere to stay tonight?” the office continued. Well, this didn’t sound promising, as it made me seem like a homelss vagabond  and possibly an immigration liablility. I explained that I had friends in Natimuk, and had brought tent, camping gear, and all necessities to camp in the Grampians and Arapiles State Park.

This appeared to convince them, and they let us enter Australia. Our next step was to figure out whre we would stay tonight. I’d thought of staying at one of the cheap hostels or hotels in our Lonely Planet guidebook. When I asked at the information booth about bus transport and hotels, she looked surprised.

“You’ve got nowehre to stay tonight?”, she asked. “You won’t find anything in Mebourne. The airshow’s on and Grand Prix week is coming up. All lodging in Melbourne is booked.

Aha. That’s why immigration wondered where we would stay. The very helpful information booth lady offered to call a few of the hotels and hostels in my Lonely Planet guide, and also called one she knew of. As she had predicted, all were full.

At this point, I asked about the ‘Caravan Park’ - a campground in Melbourne for tents and campers. They had room, and I promptly booked a space. A quick taxi ride in pouring rain took us to a quiet, green, grassy Caravan Park complete with swimming pool (which we never used) , clean showers and welcome sleep.

Park Guell, Gaudi museum again
Posted by sibylle in Spain, Europe (Saturday March 14, 2009 at 9:54 am)

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Guell museum

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Roof detail

Park Guell Gaudi museum
Posted by sibylle in Spain, Europe (Friday March 13, 2009 at 9:31 am)

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Detail of roof, Gaudi museum

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Detail of museum roof

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Detail of roof

Gaudi, Park guell and mosaics
Posted by sibylle in Spain, Europe (Thursday March 12, 2009 at 9:02 am)

On our last day in spain, we toured Park Guell and many Gaudi’s sculptures and the Gaudi museum.

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Mosaic on ceiling in Park Guell

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Gaudi museum in Park Guell

Park Guell lizard
Posted by sibylle in Uncategorized, Spain, Europe (Wednesday March 11, 2009 at 8:43 am)

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Lizard at entrance to the park

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Sculpture in Park Guell

More Gaudi Park Guell mosaics
Posted by sibylle in Uncategorized, Spain, Europe (Tuesday March 10, 2009 at 8:08 am)

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Gaudi mosaics on bench with bridge in back

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Detail of bench mosaics

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Another detail of bench mosaic

How many ropes?!
Posted by sibylle in women, Yosemite (Monday March 9, 2009 at 9:01 am)

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Bev Johnson on top of El Cap after we climbed the Triple Direct

HOW many ropes are up there? It looks like about six - I thought we only took three!

But wait - Dan tried to lower some food and water to us at our last bivvy - six pitches from the top; and in the middle of nowhere without a hammock.

But someone asked me about which ropes to take climbing. My answer: it depends.

Usually, I take one lead line to Europe. I took a 60m line the first few trips, but then we encountered too many 32m to 35m climbs, so I bought a 70m lead line which works well for European sport climbs and as an added benefit, also works well at Indian Creek, Utah, which has a number of 120-foot crack lines. With a 70m rope, you can toprope these climbs with one line.

I’m reluctantly taking two ropes to Australia; mostly because of the extra baggage charges I’ll have to pay. Climbers told me that several good climbs in the Arapiles require two ropes to descend – two 50m rappels. So we’re taking one 60m lead line and a 6mm tag line, to save weight. I also use the 60 m lead plus 60m tag line combination on climbs with a long approach – we’ll take this in to climbs in the Sierra.

I take it in to desert towers with a long approach, but sometimes I prefer two 8.8 mm double ropes, in case one of the ropes gets damaged on a sharp edge. The towers sometimes have such high winds, which can wrap a rope around distant flakes, that I like to take the beefiest ropes possible.
I also like the double rope combination in the mountains if I think there’s danger of the rope getting damaged. It’s a trade-off between more weight and added security, or less weight and less backup.

All together I own the following ropes:
70 m lead line
60 m lead line
8.8 mm 55 m double ropes (older)
60 m, 6 mm tag line

I replace one or the other of the above ropes annually, so that none are too ancient …  and it takes a few years to acquire them all.

Gaudi’s Park Guell
Posted by sibylle in Uncategorized, Spain, Europe (Sunday March 8, 2009 at 6:01 pm)

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Mosaics on bench in Park Guell


Mosaic detail with rainspout hole

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Backside of bench; water goes out through wolf heads

Gaudi and Park Guell, Barcelona
Posted by sibylle in Spain, Europe (Thursday March 5, 2009 at 4:22 pm)

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Bench at Park Guell
The bench above looks out over Park Guell, with the Gaudi Museum directly behind the bench.

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