That moment when you’re sitting on Bosun’s chair, halfway up ‘Touch and Go’ on Table Mountain…. There’s an endless view of sea and beaches, minutely tiny because you’re that high up, infinitely panoramic because you’re THAT exposed. It was too much for me to take in, it felt like I was aware of everything I love, for the first time in my life… taking it all in simultaneously and accepting that I would need to resort to glimpses, in order to survive the assault. I found myself looking away and praying our lead would shout ‘Off belay’, so that I could finish the climb and escape for recovery.
Jacob’s Ladder (grade 16) is a 5 star climb on one of the seven wonders of the world! First we abseiled down 2 pitches from the cable car station. I seconded. On the 2nd pitch Anton did most of the cleaning, as I was already getting tired! As a beginner one tends to over grip and rely too much on arms, so even on this relatively easy climb, my arms were taking strain. I also found that taking in all the new tradding and multi pitch details for the first time, was mentally exhausting for me. I was grateful that Anton was close by, basically telling me where to put my feet!
Then we abseiled down to ‘Touch and Go’ (grade 17), past the world famous Magnetic Wall. Let’s just say I learnt a thing or two about the importance of having a Prussic knot, long slings, listening to one’s leader’s instructions and most of all, observing the length of the remaining rope before deciding to abseil past a ledge!
Louis lead and I brought up the rear. I fell, while trying to navigate the first overhang. Practically frozen and worried about how I’d ever complete this climb, I looked up, wild eyed at Anton. Who calmly told me just to do it again and who, I swear, would have pulled me up if I hadn’t managed to, myself. Knowing I’m with a team that will support me through hardship makes me more courageous.
Anton lead the last pitch and I had the pleasure of untangling two 60m ropes while perched on Bosun’s chair; wondering if I’d ever resolve the birds’ nest so that we could get home! Louis was doing a tiring hanging belay and had to be 100% focussed on Anton’s progress. We accidentally ignored our leader’s instruction to ascend to the left of the block and instead we did a small grade 19 section. Tiny shells and pebbles were all we could use. I begged him not to take an alternate route, so that I wouldn’t have to finish this climb on my own. At this stage of our progress on Cableway crag, I was almost too tired to think and didn’t trust myself on my own. After untangling his rope from a stubborn little tree, a minor delay which at that stage of my fatigue, felt like forever. I finally made it to the ledge, extremely grateful for my team and to be alive!
I left Table Mountain with very mixed feelings. I wasn’t sure I could ever do something like that again but at the same time I was now completely aware of the life force that is within me that makes it possible for me to keep going when everything is falling apart. Deep down I know that I need to step into my heart space despite the heavy lifting that it requires me to do!