Cute and plump does not equal tame but some Table Mountain visitors cannot imagine that these lazy sun-worshippers aren’t like domestic cats!
I was warned in advance that we’re doing Double Direct and this time there wouldn’t be someone to clean up after me. This five star climb has a ‘roller-coaster-hype’ vibe because of the sound effects one gets from the onlooking tourists in the cable car that is just a stone’s throw away.
The abseil point is very exposed and someone always ties me in before I scramble down. We passed a colourful pair of climbers in pink, with neon new ropes on the ledge below Magnetic wall.
My heart was beating so hard I think Anton could hear it because he kept his distance. The leader needs a calm encouraging team because although there’s life and death risk and responsibility for all, the leader carries an extra dose! Anton made sure I ended up on the ledge directly below the beginning of the first pitch, so there was no need for traversing before the start. He started climbing the roof before I could even begin my usual pre-climb rumbling. I watched his beta very carefully remembering my previous experience of that, ‘I want to go home’ roof.
While belaying my breathing started getting faster and I had to get creative about how to bring back my mojo. You know things have reached desperate levels when you start humming ‘The Eye of the Tiger’!
I was relieved when I reached what looked like a comfortable slab-like seat because Anton had recovered well on it… but after a quick glance I wondered if I was on the wrong slab because it was more like a fax machine! I squeezed the bottom half of my body in there so tightly, there was no room for daylight between the crag and the slab. I was looking at the path to the horn, as if I was about to do ‘Africa lunch’ (in theory this roof only qualifies as a grade 19 snack) when an angel descended from above and said ‘Are you having a moment, should I keep quiet?’
Thank God for angels in pink that can abseil! I begged her to stay nearby while I tried to gather the courage to move again. After asking for some slack, down-climbing back to the slab after my first hesitant attempt, my next attempt was better. I faffed around with a cam because for some reason I felt that having a tidy harness was more important than saving my arms. I almost went passed the horn without unslinging it but fortunately my new-found celestial guardian pointed out my blindspot! My team says that I do better with a ‘rent-a-crowd’… I’m thinking it’s possible to get strong enough to be independent but it reduces stress significantly if I’m not alone.
The second pitch starts with a tricky traverse. We had one rope so Anton placed a fair deal of ‘pro’. An ‘Aaaah’ exclamation from my out-of-sight-leader had me thinking, I need to ‘take tight’. I couldn’t have been more wrong.. next thing I hear, ‘what a lovely day.’
One day I’ll relax enough on these climbs in order to smell the roses too! Magnetic wall always makes me think of my friend Silke who climbs like a cat…. a perfect style for these tiny crimps.
The day ended for me, with Anton encouraging some little girls to live their dreams, as they quizzed him about rock climbing. This was their first time on top of Table Mountain and they had no idea that girls can climb too! My team was about to do their next climb and in Riaan’s case he prefers climbing quadruples…. 2 climbs are just starters!