ROCK climbers will gather at Mt Arapiles and Natimuk next week to celebrate 50 years of climbing on the mountain.
The first roped ascent up the sheer face of Mt Arapiles was on November 16, 1963 by two parties of climbers from Melbourne.
Both parties ascended the cliff, now known as the Pinnacle Face, below the fire lookout tower.
Doug Angus, Peter Jackson and Bob Craddock pioneered the appropriately-named Introductory Route and nearby, Greg Lovejoy and Steve Craddock pioneered the climb which they named Siren.
“Introductory Route and Siren were the first lines climbed, after which the true size and nature of the rock became apparent,’’ Lovejoy said.
Since those early exploratory days, Mt Arapiles has developed into one of the world’s premier climbing destinations.
Celebrations are planned to coincide with the biennial Nati Frinj festival on November 1 to 3.
Events include a photographic exhibition of 50 years of climbing, titled ‘Climbing and Community – Mt Arapiles’, in the NC2 old shire chamber on the Saturday and Sunday, and a display of historic climbing equipment.
A second major event, titled ‘Arapiles 50. A Celebration’, will be presented by Friends of Arapiles, CliffCare, the Victorian Climbing Club and Parks Victoria.
It will be at the Mt Arapiles picnic shelter, comprising static displays, a visual and anecdotal presentation and climbers’ forum on the Monday evening.
On the panel will be several notable climbers from the early years who will explore the past, present and future of climbing.
They include Geoff Schirmer, Michael Stone, Simon Mentz, Peter Jackson and Louise Shepherd.
Climber, artist and art lecturer Bridget Hillebrand will weave her recent PhD research into the forum discussion.
Concurrently, the Victorian Climbing Club will celebrate its 60th anniversary with a dinner in Natimuk Memorial Hall on the Sunday evening.
Organisers said it would be a chance to catch up with club members from the early days.
A visual presentation will include characters and highlights of the past 60 years.
Roped climbing began at Mt Arapiles as a sport 50 years ago, but generations of district residents had already explored and scrambled up the mountain when they were young.
Aborigines had also scaled the mountain to quarry stone and paint artwork on the rock.