Monday, February 14, 2011

From Fernkloof to Waterval Boven!

My week started off on a high note: Valentine's Day. Yvette and I managed to surprise each other with beautiful flowers and really tasty chocolate, I provided the pizza for lunch. We were so happy to have a special occasion together, even if it was just for minutes before she had to get back to studying for her surgery exam.

Falco and I headed out to the barn for some climbing in the evening. Poor guy was feeling quite ill so he bouldered and I ended up doing some routes through the roof. Climbed a 23 and a 25 to warm up, then flashed a really fun 26 through the roof. After that I did some campus boarding:

3-7-11 L Success
3-7-11 R Success

3-7-11 L Success
3-7-11 R Success

3-7-11 L Success
3-7-11 R Success

Jumped on the 29 Paul had set for the men's final comp the other week. Was a really cool line. All the moves were really powerful and big, a few quite gymnastic, especially the cut loose and campus at the lip of the roof on a bread loaf grip! Loose grips can be frustrating though, no matter how strong you're feeling and how little pump is in your arms, nothing will keep you on with a rotating bread loaf. LOL. Will carry an Allen key next time just in case.

Then I moved upstairs to join James and Falco for some bouldering to finish off the evening. We were doing really interesting problems with incredibly long reaches and very dynamic moves from very poor holds. Makes me wish that I were just two inches taller every time I slap for a hold that the two of them can reach effortlessly. 45 minutes later, I was done, very done. Good fun.

Wednesday was a fun day. Drove through to Fernkloof with Illona, James and Ebert. Ebert did Faberge (28) quite quickly while James and Illona worked Stormova (29). The top move on Stormwatch was quite elusive for Illona, most-likely due to her height; it is quite a serious reach. She and James were both looking very strong and they should both be able to crux the line next visit.

Stormwatch managed to keep me occupied. I felt incredible on the warm up while putting in the draws, finding all the footwork on the route really easy and natural. My second attempt saw a link to touch the right hand pinch after the heinous finger slot, which tore all the skin off the top of my left index finger! I got back on and linked to the chains. My third go was a working go on the lower half of the route, for some reason I was just struggling with all the movements so I tried hard to figure out some extra micro-beta. I worked it all out and came down. For my forth go I fell off after I clipped the 3rd draw and almost stuck the pinch. I unclipped the 3rd draw and downclimbed to the starting jug. I then linked it to the chains from there, I was psyched! I was thinking I might be able to get it on my next attempt. I rested for a about 40 minutes while playing some cards with James, Illona and Ebert. I psyched myself up but when it came to the crunch couldn't send. I cleaned the lower half of the route and hopped on Stormova just to finish myself off. Fell off after the traverse and clip on Stormwatch. Was very tired I guess...

Saturday saw me back at fern working on Stormwatch. Two new highpoints but still no sends from either myself, Jacques or Colin. Must have put in 10 attempts on the lower crux. I feel like I am very secure on the first 3 bolts up to the first pinch. I even managed to catch the second, left-hand pinch and move my foot before the wetness of the hold foiled my efforts.

Wednesday the 23rd was the opening night of the NBLs in Pretoria at the Barn. The problems were very fun although one of them eluded me due to my foot continually slipping from the hold. I didn't think that I exerted myself that much but I must have used quite a bit of effort.

Thursday I found myself back at fern. This day was just pure torture. I had no energy and couldn't accomplish anything except refine my kneebar technique. I feel like I'll surely red point the route if I can only make it to the kneebar!

AH!!! A great break from fernkloof was immanent! BOVEN! After the fun drive up to the campsite from town, which left me grinning from ear-to-ear as the car fishtailed all over the show, we set up tents and in no time at all I was fast asleep. The morning was beautiful. After breakfast with Andrew, Dirk and Irene, Kyle joined me for a morning session. I onsighted Sweet Plum (25) placing draws as a warm up for the day and watched as Kyle found himself flash pumped on Rock Chucka Chick, which we agreed collectively is not as good of a route as it is acclaimed to be. Now for the rough stuff! I placed the draws on my project. However, even after 4 attempts I found myself frustrated and fragile. The skin on my finger tips was raw from all the rough crimps after so many days of climbing the big, smooth holds one finds at Fernkloof. Kyle went for an onsight of Sour Grapes (25) and nearly nailed it. There is a tricky roof at the top with almost no feet which finally forced him to succumb to the pump. I was very impressed with the vigor with which he clung to the holds, down-climbing again and again so that he could try to save the onsight!

After Kyle left to visit his nonc-friends in Jozi, Andrew onsighted Sour Grapes and I almost flashed it. Admittedly I fell off through no fault of my own; reaching for the chains I snapped off the foothold which had all my weight on it, leaving me with two scratched knees and a feeling of frustration. Oh well, at least I flew up Legends (25) too as a bit of a cool down.

The evening was brilliant. We sat around the fire, Dewald, Harry, Mads, Dirk, Illona, Andrew, Irene and I had such a great time. Danny and Claire joined us too bringing with them wonderful new topics of debate :D After dinner we joined the rest of the group to celebrate our friend's 30th birthday: Heiko you will be remember in all our hearts. The planting of the Buffalo Thorn tree happened in the morning. The historical linking behind this tree provided us all with a warm feeling in our hearts: the branch of the tree is said to attract the spirit of the dead in the African cultures and is used to transport the spirit to its resting place. It is also said to be immune to lightning which provides us with a deep connection between Heiko and the tree.

The climbing of the day was really fun. Warmed up with a repeat of Dungeons and Dragons (26) and by climbing two thirds of Jack of All Trades (30) so that I could share my beta with Claire. My first burn on my project found my catching the elusive crimp that I had been unable to reach up until now. I felt the send was immanent! Gustav came and set up for photos and I went for my final attempts of the day, but I just did not have the power to make it through. I've never been able to climb this line two days in a row so for me to actually reach a new high point on a second day was an accomplishment on its own... I guess all this training has been paying off!

I absolutely love the peace and tranquility of Boven. There is simply no other place on the planet that is quite like it. Friendly people, amazing climbs and a sense of belonging that forms amongst all the visitors and locals which continually draws us back to my second home. Admittedly, I spent 72 days there last year and so far 16 this year... With another 20 planned for the next two months... Looks like it has the potential to be another home, yet again.

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