Monday, July 18, 2011

Rocklands, South Africa

The summer has been an exceptional one; three weeks in Italy with my girlfriend, and five weeks in South Africa bouldering with some of my favorite climbing partners. It is nice being able to go on vacations sometimes that don’t revolve around climbing, so my time in Italy was very cherished. My girlfriend and I arrived in Venice on June 14th and from there made our way around the country with stops in Rome, Naples, Capri, Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Genova and Verona. We were able to do all of the tourist stuff and really get a feel for the country. After my time was up in Italy it was time to head to South Africa for my longest bouldering trip of my career in Rocklands.

            I had a bit of fear and hesitation leaving Italy and heading for South Africa because I had taken three full weeks off of climbing and I was constantly filing my fingers to due away with the pealing skin. So after three weeks of this my skin was very fragile. Once my full day trip from Italy to Qatar to Cape Town was complete I meet up with my good friend Brian Antheunisse and we started the three-hour drive to Rocklands.

            The drive was a very interesting one from the start. Most rental cars outside of the U.S. are manuals, and neither one of us really knew how to drive a manual. I had driven one a few times and thought that might be sufficient. Turns out it was JUST enough! After about 15 failed attempts to get the car moving forward, Brian realized that I was trying to start the car in third gear. After a quick shift to first we were off and running. Not only was I already a little but flustered from trying to learn how to drive a manual and pay attention to the foreign roads, I also had to remember to stay on the left side of the road which was a new encounter for me. But once I was reminded a few times to stay left by my co-pilot we were good to go. The rest of the drive went rather smoothly and we made it to Rocklands without any other problems. 

            If you ever watch climbing movies and wonder if these places are really real, and if these areas really look like this, well much to our shocking surprise, this place is real! It really is everything you’d imagine it to be; beautiful, perfect climbing, and an impressive international climbing scene. It is very unreal to think that every boulder you get on in an area could be better than the next, but that is exactly what you get here. Just about every time you pull off the ground you better prepare yourself to be amazed. Once the climbing started my fears about my fingers were quickly brought to the table. The first day of climbing went much better than I expected it to go. We took it nice and slow climbing in the Roadcrew area ticking off easier classics throughout the day.  Towards the end of the day we decided to try a bit harder and we got on Royksopp (V11-8A). I was a little bit hesitant to get on this climb because of the small two finger pockets it contained, but after a few feeble attempts I was able to figure out the beta and fall off of the last move a few times before calling it a day.  Brian had a bit of trouble sticking what was a big jump and swing for him, but after trying the move a hand full of times (and never sticking it but coming very close) he was able to send the whole problem.

            Since there are some many areas here we decided that we can’t go to any area twice until we have seen most of them. For the second day we headed to an area called 8 Day Rain. Thus far this is probably my favorite climbing area, but due to the heat that has been coming through it has been too warm to climb there. I am very intrigued by a number of climbs at this area including; Derailed {V12-8A+ (with the kneebar!)} Golden Virginia (V11-8A), and The Big Short (V11-8A).

            With my fingers bruised and bloody it was time for a rest day. We headed into “town,” which doesn’t consist of a whole lot, but it supplies you with the basics. Once the excursion to town was complete we headed to a few different climbing areas to check out some of the problems that we wanted to do, as well as get a feel for the areas. 

            Since my first rest day it has been more of the same for me; getting extremely close on boulder problems, but not quite sending them. My fingers have been a bit of an issue on this trip so for, but the initial cuts are almost healed. I am starting to feel stronger and stronger and almost back to my normal climbing ability. While my trip has included many heartaches so far by falling painfully close on quite a few boulders, I have been able to complete a few including; Pendragon (V11-8A), Solar Power (V11-8A), a flash of Black Mango Chutney (V10-7C+) and Macho King (V10-7C+), Paula Abdul (V10-7C+), Ron Ron et Caramel (V10-7C+), and a few other flashes in the (V8-7B/+ to V9-7C) range.

Hopefully within the next few weeks I will be able to get back to some unfinished business, such as; Black Shadow (V12-8A+), Shosholoza (V12-8A+), Oral Office (V12-8A+), Golden Virginia (V11-8A), Royksopp (V11-8A), Nutsa (V11-8A), and many others that I look forward to getting on.

During the last week in a half I have also be able to witness so hard sending by fellow room-mates Ethan Pringle, who sent The Power of One (V13-8B), and will hopefully send Sky (V14-8B+). Mike Feinberg was able to put down Mooiste Meisie (V13-8B). Brian is having the bouldering trip of his life, and in nine climbing days he has managed to do 20 climbs V10-7C+ and harder!

            The first week and a half of my trip has been absolutely amazing. Even though I would like to be climbing a little bit better, I can feel it coming on and I think that I will be there quickly. I have countless unfinished projects so far that I look forward to going back and completing, and numerous projects that I can wait to go and try. With just less than a month of climbing, IT IS TIME TO GET TO WORK!!!

1 comment:

  1. Good job Scott - Glad you are having a great time and accomplishing your goals - good luck on the rest and come home safe - Jerry & Bonnie