I’m always inspired by women who can hold their own on the mountain. I met one who’s also my namesake by middlename. She mentioned that it had been a while since she climbed and that she was feeling butterflies. I’m always relieved when I hear that even experienced climbers can feel like that before an adventure.
I was keen to climb without really knowing what we were heading for. It was a good approach because had I have been aware that we would be scaling a roof and doing memorable traverses in triplicate, I may have struggled with my mindfulness!
It’s one thing to follow when you have mixed feelings but Anton had to lead! The ambivalence, that must’ve come from knowing he had to contend with a prong that moves, was only visible once he’d already passed it and made it through the crux.
I refused to believe that there’d be no place to recover until the open book before the traverse. It’s a slightly overhangy, pumpy face climb that relied on arms throughout.
Next up was a roof that juts out by about a metre. Although I was told it’s a grade 16, the detailed instructions for finding the little knob to pull up on, made me start replaying some of the less soothing REM tracks in my mind.
I was determined not to hesitate while in a horizontal position. This paid off and so did Anton’s timely reminder for me to unclip while speeding past that roof.
Next up was a very long traverse. Riaan joked over the walkie-talkie that if we came off there we’d swing to Constantia… well let’s just say that when I started plotting trajectories my technique improved in a split second.
Anton was having trouble with slack on his rope, it must’ve gotten caught somewhere between him and I because Riaan had it taught as far as I could see! I was imagining Anton having to problem-solve while leaning out to that roof with slack in the system. We’d swapped ropes and fortunately Anton has many years of experience with dealing with surprises like ‘rope in a chicken-head’. Just when I was wondering how I could help (retracing one’s steps to find a wedged rope is not easy, when there are two followers on a reverso), Anton caught up with me.
I was grateful that he could guide me because unlike my fellow male climbers, I missed the class where one learns how to see the ‘so-called’ obvious route lines! I didn’t even see cracks, let alone lines. We went below Bosun’s chair onto ‘Farewell to Arms’. True to its name, that was the limit for my arms! I ungracefully cursed my way to the belay stance; thrilled to have completed the pitch despite having left a fair deal of cleaning up to Anton! Once again, unable to fathom how mortals lead this territory.
When a journey becomes challenging, having the ability to forge ahead, alone, depending purely on one’s own strength and self belief, is rare! Besides extensive training and life experience what is it that helps build mental stamina to remain calm and secure, under pressure?
By the time we reached Magnetic wall I was happy but wasted and begged Anton to pass me, after yet another traverse. All I had to do was follow his moves and we all made it safely to our destination.
The fact that my climbing buddies still had an appetite for Roulette, tells you a thing or two about their fitness. I, on the other hand got tired flaking the abseil rope and was super impressed that I could reach the cable car queue in a semi-dignified state.
What a day and what a magical mountain! Triple Indirect… there is nothing lukewarm about it – attractive or repulsive… either way, every part of it generates a passionate response!