Tag Archives: cablewaywall

Bosun’s crucible delivers white gold

Showing the way through the roof [Photo: Zane]

Anton made his way through the Double Direct roof as if it was a jungle gym… starting the day with an immediate crux that is certain to leave you warmed up and inspiring Julie to do the same!

As I clung onto the undercling (as if my life depended on it alone) and prepared for the high foot above the roof… Julie gently reminded me that inevitably, I’d have to move my arms up too.

Kate’s Touch and Go [Photo: Anton]

Kate was keen to be training again. Incredible that there were two thirds female climbers on this wall! The women who were there with me, all had this sovereign clarity that announces itself without introductions.

Survived the ‘warm-up’ [Photo: Anton]

What bliss to pull up onto that ledge and know that the roof was behind me… little did I know that I would spend ages unsuccessfully trying to dislodge a cam from Magnetic Wall. That too was surmountable for Anton… after having lead Magnetic, without so much as a ‘watch me’; Anton patiently and without resentment returned on top-rope to clean up what I could not!

Unfortunately as Anton made his way up a very sketchy Quake the toprope got caught on a few too many horns, one of which was out of sight.  Eventually, Anton had to climb past in order to unhook from above! My heart was in my mouth calculating the drop and not being able to visualise the trajectory of the swing.

Brian was on Farewell to Arms and showed what is possible with determination and perserverance. What a styling ascent of that roof designed for leaders with unwavering belief in self!

Brian on Farewell to Arms [Photo: Anton]

Next up was Margo and her peaceful way of dancing through what could’ve been a curse-a-minute climb!

Margo in her element [Photo: Anton]

It was a happy reunion when Margo topped out!

Magical Moment [Photo: Anton]

Would I make it through another climb? Claire was leading the whole of Jacob’s, determined to achieve this beautiful goal she had set for herself. She was also blessed with Hugh in the wings, a patient and extremely observant climber, who does not miss a beat! So, I was needed for the second climb.

Mercifully, Cable Way crag was most convenient and yet I found that traverse difficult to hang onto with straight arms! Anton had sailed along, jamming and relying on good legs… while I was determined to squeeze the rock and stay as close as possible to solidity.

Turning out towards the exposed view from Bosun’s chair was inevitable and my emotions went full circle… recovering as I sat still and focussed enough to spot a white feather catching an updraft. Next, I heard the familiar clink of Anton’s cams above the roof and the Swifts cutting through air like they wanted to rip up my fear.

Anton had coiled the rope over chicken heads, like only a master rope manager could and I simply had to work from right to left… beautiful predictability with a turquoise view of beaches; rivalled only by Seychelles (because of its warm welcome).

Alchemy approaching [Photo: Anton]

The monster crocodile rock formation to the right of the crag, dwarfed Lion’s Head. Our rope-code comms (due to limited audio because of the cavity within which I was perched) was foolproof and I knew exactly what was being signalled. ‘Climbing’ I called and everything started to flow… even the chimney was possible without beta, despite the fact that I did it the hard way and not by stemming the way Anton had.

Mindset is everything; as well as reminding one’s self that you are safe – instead of continuously anticipating all sorts of unlikely and imaginary pain.

Can you be consistently persistent and rest, when necessary, instead of quit? Can you focus on the next step that you know you can and must take?

The day ended with unexpected and hugely appreciated clarity… once again Bosun’s chair highlights what really matters!

Who you gonna call – Cableway Heroics

Anton says ‘Of course you know how to handle the paperwork!”

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.

Fountain Ledge Beauty
Fountain Ledge Beauty

Tri-eye flora

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.’

You've got to love Cape Town!
You’ve got to love Cape Town! [photo: Anton]

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.

Belaying from a Rocky Lazy Boy [Photo: Anton
Belaying from a Rocky Lazy Boy [Photo: Anton]

I was relieved once I made it around the arréte and was a bit further from the shrieking cable-car passengers.

Wow, these new shoes work
Wow, these new shoes work

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 joy of tossing limiting assumptions
The joy of feeling personal horizons expand

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…

A beacon signalling the dream

Dream material
Dream material

There was a fire raging in the MacClear’s beacon area at the highest point on Table Mountain! The Fire Chief asked us whether we’d give his men a hand. I assumed that he was looking for new recruits! Fortunately he was merely preparing us to applaud when his brave men, who’d been fighting throughout the night, walked past. How does one train to be able to perform on demand when you’re sleep deprived? What kind of person is selfless enough to volunteer for that dangerous and hard job of curtailing the fire damage caused by arson or careless actions by others?

These men bring their A-game whenever they’re called upon to do so. I’d like to be capable of that too and today looked like the ideal time to test it, as we were headed for a 5-star classic that was not on ‘The Dream Ledge’ by accident! Until now, ‘Farewell to Arms’ was not something I imagined that I’d try, in any realm other than my imagination.

Anton assured me that I’d done the first pitch before and then they disappeared to do Double Direct. Riaan’s unwavering faith in my abilities made me feel better about attempting this. After following on the splits-inducing traverse, I reached the 2nd pitch which had been explained to me in great detail. I asked Riaan to repeat the beta about three times; as if, somehow memorising the theory would help me get an ‘A’. Riaan humoured me because warnings about what to look out for, can make a huge difference when you’re doing something above your comfort level. Composure and focus when you’re in the territory, is something you can only get from yourself though.

Riaan... how to do the roof on one's first attempt!
Riaan… how to do the roof on one’s first attempt!

The roof section was awesome! I say this now. At the time, I started off with my centre of gravity too far to the left, to be able to capitalise on the gaston to the right. Anton helped me with some timely advice, despite the fact that he was leading his own challenge towards Magnetic Wall. Third time lucky… I made it up! I will admit that the limit-pushing resulted in some language unbecoming to a lady and some bossy requests for Anton to stay opposite me at all times.

Roof puzzle
Roof puzzle

Fortunately our climbing party don’t take orders from me and ignore all insults that aren’t premeditated! Anton moved on and I was given the opportunity to think imaginatively.

The ‘Touch and Go’ stance is one of the most awe-inspiring ledges… the clouds rolling in, made it fairy tale material! While I allowed the blood vessels in my arms to recover their composure, Riaan explained the beta that would get me over the next two overhangs. How he lead the last pitch, without losing two fingers in the twisted lock; giving up or at least cursing, I have no idea! While watching this athletic feat; I came to the conclusion that silent climbing is not a sign of comfort. It is the reward for practicing so hard that one develops a deep conviction that one has what it takes to finish what one’s started! Mettle and fortitude are earned and the result of mental presence and a history of not giving up before you’ve tried.

The last pitch certainly tested my edges. After three attempts at the final crux, I made a decision to save my arms and climb the rope. This is progress because I managed to do it alone for the first time and realised that there are many options available to one, when you reach an obstacle. The bad part was that although I communicated what I was doing, I forgot to put the walkie-talkie on… so I left my team in the dark while I faffed around with prussiks and slings!

After 75m of hard climbing, I felt ecstatic. I was very appreciative of my team who had all the patience in the world with me. I was celebrating the beginnings of a faith in my ability to solve problems, without buckling under pressure.

I passed on the final climb for the day, ‘The Dream’ because I had reached mine!