The day ended with an ice cold Appletiser from Anton’s new found friends who were very relieved that he’d recovered their expensive anchor gear that had spent the night just above Bosun’s chair! Damian deserted it when they got caught in the dark and made the responsible decision to call it a day. What a coincidence for him to be passing just as Anton spotted the abandoned pro and could retrieve it for them. Little did we know that our friend on Arrow Final overheard the entire rescue dialogue!
We started very early because it was that or wait for a late cable car. We passed a group of sunrise hikers on India Venster and the guide pointed Anton out, saying: ‘He’s an example of a purist… one of the few who will walk the whole way up for a climb’. If you have ever felt the weight of a lead climber’s backpack; you will understand why the ones who choose to walk – are a breed entirely on their own! Apparently, we didn’t race up but by the time we got there, I was feeling as if my workout was complete!
The trail runners were out in full force and so were the flowers on a magnificently welcoming Fountain ledge.
I’m not sure what the other wonders of the world smell like and I may be vaguely biased but Table Mountain has a spicy perfume that must give it a competitive edge.
Double Direct was the route for testing my new Ocun shoes because you know how much I love that roof! In fact if I’d been given the option to bring along my old pair as a back-up, I would never’ve baptised the new ones. In my musings about whether the shoes were OK, I completely forgot to find feet before trying to pull up on that horn. Half way through my macho, legless effort… I’m calling ‘Take, please!’
As I reached the pleasant part of the pitch, a pair of foreign climbers were looking up Touch and Go and asking where Arrow Final is. Anton pointed them in the right direction… after which they decided that he was so informed he must be ‘the guide book Tony.’
I made the cardinal sin of clipping in on the ledge instead of tying in. Fortunately climbing involves forced buddy checking of everything (you also have to buddy check yourself)… Anton picked it up immediately, this was a hard lesson to learn and not something to be repeated! When you’re making yourself safe you must tie a clove hitch and anchor yourself! I’d have to forgo pudding to ensure that lesson sinks in for life.
Next up was a long traverse to Bosun’s chair. This was a good pre-Cedarberg ‘learn-to-embrace-traverses’ exercise. The start of that traverse requires smearing because it’s quite sketchy and is also undercut. I watched carefully as Anton did the splits twice and ended up matching on a pebble that he chalked up nicely for me. Fortunately there’s a great rail for hands. Doing it on lead cannot be fun and somehow Anton made time to tie-in and do a photo-shoot.
I was relieved once I made it around the arréte and was a bit further from the shrieking cable-car passengers.
As I reached Bosun’s chair I felt a great wave of relief. I remembered the first time I sat on it, wanting to flee the exposure. Adversity certainly allows for growth! Things that seemed impossible before have become enjoyable thanks to dedicated support and the discipline to progress through hardship.
Fortunately it wasn’t windy because despite the calm, the rope managed to get stuck on one of the chicken heads. Anton had to down-climb to untangle it! The scary part was that the stuck rope actually limited my ability to provide slack on belay! I belayed the last pitch, carefully observing the freed coils of rope below me and preventing the chance of a similar emergency. It had been a lesson in staying calm when things appear desperate.
There’s always a solution as long as you remember to breathe. There were a number of other learnings, that day: turning while you abseil makes it hard to pull the rope down later and you need to feed the correct rope through while rappelling, in order to walk a knot over the edge.
The last pitch was Sagittarius… very appropriate for November. A plump red ladybug showed me the joy of climbing with a wing suit! I was wondering about the different traits of the black ‘semi-armour-plated’ lizard versus the sun gazing brown gecko with its lichen-coloured head. Each with its unique strengths and both entitled to this ‘survival of the fittest’ eco-system. Will there be so many of them around, eyeballing my grandchildren, one day? As I left the tourist-happy mountain I wondered how I can influence that…