Monday, April 4, 2011

Storming the Bergs

This last week has been quite exceptional. Admittedly, it started on a seriously low point with me slicing my finger wide open with a bread knife and buckets of rain the next day but after that things definitely just kept getting better and better. The cut didn't stop me from climbing or training, it just meant that I had to mummify my finger tip with lots of tape, several times a day.

On Sunday evening last week I received a message from Ansie that Adam was in Pretoria and was keen on going somewhere to climb or boulder. After the epic training session I had just finished I was feeling very skeptical about climbing but after an hour or two of the idea marinading in my mind I couldn't help but suggest we go bouldering at Bobbejaan's Berg. Turn out that this was a really good idea. Adam and I arrived there with Ansie and Mathys to find some interesting formations lower down but nothing really exceptional. However, the further we went the more boulders there were. We warmed up on some interesting traverses and a really cool dyno...

But the real catch of the day would only be found a little further up the mountain. I spotted these two really interesting holds that would make an interesting traverse. We decided to try starting from them and moving inwards. I couldn't quite lift off the ground. So we moved to the left and tried to figure out where the problem would end. We then discovered a small undercling that the left hand could start on if the right started on the original hold. It was still incredibly hard to get off the ground!

Blindside Arete
The original start
The official start
Slapping for the sloper
Catching the sloper

Trying to control the swing
Catching the finish dyno

Adam was strong enough to open the problem on that Monday. He was looking so strong, what an awesome day. We decided to call it Blindside Arete and graded it 7C+. It might be a little on the soft side but both of us agreed that it was harder than anything else we have ever done by far. I came back on Thursday with PW and was able to send it, PW too, and open another line that is arguably harder than Blindside Arete. It is a highball with a crux about 4m up which is a desperate lunge to a sloping crimper! I thought it deserved the name Acrophobia (fear of heights) and I graded it 7C+. It left me screaming like a girl, twice when I couldn't figure out the move the first two times I reached the move and had to take the fall on to a small platform bordering a 5m drop behind us.
Acrophobia 7C+

The future project!!

Not sure of the grade, but definitely in the 8A/B range

So that was my Monday and Thursday. My Tuesday and Saturday were spent at Fernkloof. Tuesday I was there with Adam, Ansie, Illona and James. We had a fun day, particularly Adam who nabbed Faberge second go. I on the other hand was very frustrated about the dripping water coming from the holds on Stormwatch. No matter how hard I tried to dry them and stuff toilet paper in the cracks, I could not hold back the seeping water and I would slip off every time.

Saturday was more of the same, falling off at the second pinch, the finger lock not wanting to work. After 5 attempts (or more) I was tired and frustrated. I was intending to take off the draws from the route but figured I would give it a good effort. Got to the finger lock and clipped effortlessly, then it was the right hand pinch slow and static, I repositioned my left hand in the slot and reached for the second pinch with the left hand. I had it! I moved my feet and then the right hand so I could clip the 4th draw. This was very much a high point! But now I was feeling desperate as could be! I moved my feet and set up for the move into the roof, I hit the hold with my left hand and almost came off but DIDN'T! I moved my feet and placed my knee into the kneebar. I HAD IT! I knew I would not come off higher up like everyone else. My fitness is too good and the kneebar was solid for me. I shook out for about a minute and breezed through to the chains which I clipped and then topped out cheering the whole time!

The sneaky kneebar

This route was such a fight for me, definitely 8b in my books. I've done a lot of 8a+ routes and this is not 8a+. It was opened at 31/8b/5.13d by Roger Nattrass but as the grading changed from Aussie to SA 31 became 32 but this route did not change in grade. It is the first 32 in the country opened in 1990.

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