Although the climbing community often likes to consider itself a world apart, the development of the sport has always been heavily influenced by the wider social zeitgeist. Echoes of the prevailing attitudes and beliefs of any given era can be observed in the styles and practices of climbers, from the hyper-nationalism of early Himalayan expeditions to the anti-establishment overtones present in the Golden Age of Yosemite climbing.
Historians have since called the 1970’s a “pivot of change”, and this held true in the climbing community also. Whilst Hot Henry Barber was redefining the sport during his landmark tour Down Under, still other upheavals were afoot. It was a decade that saw increasing political, economic and personal liberty for women and ended with the election of the first female British Prime Minister, the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher.
In climbing, as in society, women were making their presence felt in no uncertain terms. An undisclosed point in the mid-70’s (nobody seems to remember exactly when, probably because of all the drugs) marked the first female ascent of Eurydice, which was also the first female ascent of any Grade 18 in Australia. This came roughly at a time when 23 was the highest grade in the land, courtesy of the aforementioned Mr Barber. Eurydice, therefore, was still considered well ‘ard, and that a woman should climb it was thought of as a virtual impossibility.
But the plucky pairing of Ann Pauligk and Julie Tulloch did exactly that, despite the incredulous gaffaws the followed them all the way from The Pines to Bard Buttress. Pauligk recalled the event as such:
“At the campsite, we were about to head off when a group of top young male climbers asked what we were going to climb, and Julie responded, “Eurydice.” They all just started to laugh. After a few attempts of Julie trying to get up the first pitch, I decided to give it a go. I managed to get up on my first attempt, we then swung leads to the top. From then on, no one laughed.”
Pauligk went on to claim many other notable ascents at Arapiles, a key figure in a female climbing revolution at the crag that included the likes of Louise Shepherd, Tara Sutherland and Mayan Smith-Gobat who regularly crossed the ditch to sample the delightful rock of the “West Island”. It would have seemed a ridiculous notion in the 70’s, but these days the ratio of genders in climbing is roughly equal, a change owed in part to the efforts of lady climbers of the Pauligk/Tulloch ilk.
Eurydice was originally put up in 1965 by a party of three consisting of Bob Bull, Peter Jackson and Ted Batty. It has been regarded as a classic ever since, and still blows the wind up fresh young tradsters more than half a century later. It packs a surprising amount of variety into its 70m length, with hard crack moves and a committing mantle in the feisty first pitch, and some steep moves off the belay of the second, leading into a mellower finish.
You’ll need to use almost everything in your bag of tricks for this one, and it’s generally regarded as a pretty stiff customer at the grade… but it’s a time-honoured Arapiles testpiece, so would you expect anything less?
Route information for Eurydice can be found in Arapiles Selected Climbs by Simon Mentz and Glenn Tempest.
50 Classic Climbs of Australia
#1 – Logan’s Ridge, Mt Barney – Grade 3 – 1000m
#2 – Punks in the Gym, Mt Arapiles – Grade 32 – 35m
#3 – The Bard, Mt Arapiles – Grade 12 – 120m
#4 – Sunburnt Buttress, Mt Tibrogargan – Grade 19 – 185m
#5 – Infinity, Frog Buttress – Grade 19 – 40m
#6 – Cornerstone Rib, Warrumbungles – Grade 14 – 190m
#7 – Muldoon, Mt Arapiles – Grade 13 – 42m
#8 – Pole Dancer, Cape Raoul – Grade 22 – 55m
#9 – Blade Ridge, Federation Peak – Grade 17 – 420m
#10 – The Janicepts, Blue Mountains – Grade 21 – 27m
#11 – Ozymandias, Mt Buffalo – Grade 28 or M4 – 280m
#12 – Tiptoe Ridge, Mt Arapiles – Grade 5 – 120m
#13 – Groove Train, Grampians – Grade 33 – 45m
#14 – Devil’s Dihedral, Frog Buttress – Grade 20 – 45m
#15 – Eurydice, Mt Arapiles – Grade 18 – 70m