Tag Archives: doubledirect

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!

Touch and Go – ‘What you most fear is what you most need to do’

When you feel like you don’t know whether you are coming or going you probably just need to touch and go!

Double Direct’s starting roof lived up to it’s reputation. Riaan dared me to climb last and stop looking for attention but I shamelessly went in the middle and benefited from being taught about the bucket for a left hand before reaching for that horn above that ‘toilet seat-like’ slab of crag that one needs to jam one’s self into.

You’ve got to love this roof [Photo: Riaan]
Anton had done the acrobatics quite effortlessly on lead… and could probably have managed it in the dark. Riaan did the hard straight-up ‘Quake’ route.

Real trad territory [Photo: Anton]
Next up, was that Touch and Go traverse under the overhang. With a seemingly effortless match of high hands and pull up – Riaan started and aimed for that far right foot pebble which would get him to the rail. With feet smearing along the cavity and one arm dealing with pro, he swung under the roof to the corner. I watched with hyper-focus as his foot felt for that low heel hook around the corner, all while Anton was ensuring no rope crossing etc.

I was following OK until I removed the cam that was protecting my and Anton’s ropes on separate quickdraws. As if it wasn’t hard enough to support my weight on that rail; the cam also decided that it was the perfect time for me to do a dance with it. As I wrestled with the sneaky cam that was wrapping itself around me and my rope; I was also reprimanding myself for removing Anton’s pro and racking my brain to find a way to redeem myself as a team member.

Anton selflessly and firmly mentioned the only logical action that was possible, given that I’d already expended my last drop of strength – ‘forget about the pro and secure yourself first’! Disappointment in self can be more disabling than fear. On the mountain you must be present at all times and accepting one’s mistakes, is step one to deciding what next to do. Correcting an error immediately is not always the best way to be a team player. It should be safety first given immediate risks and then think about the future imaginary ones.

Genuine test [Photo: Anton]
I made it to the corner with Anton reminding me to lower my heel hook just in time. I was relieved that I could clip Anton into a directional at that point! When I looked up for something to assist my ascent – everything looked terribly smooth. I was starting to shake with exertion. Riaan helpfully called ‘leave the cleaning to Anton and go for 1 ‘o clock’… which was all I needed to find the position of a useful jug but my stressed-brain was thinking – where the hell is 1 o’ clock!

Who you gonna call… [Photo: Anton]
I took and then it wasn’t far to get to the anchors, panting like a steam train.

Now I understand what Tony Lourens’ book is referring to when it says ‘This is a genuine test for tradsters who want to take the next step.’ I felt like it had required a giant leap and I was just following.

Anton leading [Photo: Riaan]
Next up was ‘Farewell to Arms’ because according to Riaan it was the fastest way up. I was mesmorised by this awe-inspiring crag that was framed by two overhangs… thinking, this is trad territory at its finest!

I held my breath for Riaan’s lead of this pitch and my parched throat helped me keep my concerns to myself. I watched as Riaan used the slopey, little side-pulls and wide feet. He pointed out the high crimp one must reach up to before the rail. Next, he moved right, like a ninja by cupping his left fingers, so that a slippery looking handle became the jam that allowed him to hoist himself up from a layback smear.

Farewell to Arms at its best [Photo: Anton]

He used body parts to describe what we should look out for on the parts of the route that were invisible to us. My fingers lasted for a fraction of a second on that side pull. I gave the rest of the route one look and decided that a rope climb would be a sensible way to ensure I had something left for the final traverse over the roof.

Anton supported me and Riaan had to ‘take’ while I left him in the dark about my course of action.

I promised myself, I’d train overhangs, laybacks and jams and communicate better next time. Anton managed to maneuver through those two overhangs efficiently and without a hitch.

Finally, I realised the end was near. I saw a luminous yellow rope, speckled with black and wedged in a rail. I remember thinking that nobody would put pro there. Just before I reacted to the thought that it might be a snake, I spotted a leg! The long skinny gecko was more frightened than me. I was the trespasser.

Grateful [Photo: Anton]
It was boiling because of the berg wind, I was fantasizing about water after my challenging climb. The loud whirring sound of the wind through the cables made me so thankful we’d been protected from it around the corner.

My sense of humour returned as I sipped from the strategically placed water bottle, it was a perfect day and I suddenly had nothing to complain about!

It feels possible to accept how far one still needs to go when you’re able to appreciate just how far you have come!

Note: Title quote from Mosswood Hollow by Robert Moss

Magnetic Ideas

‘Difficulties can be overcome. It’s the imaginary ones that are the problem.’

 

Bypassing the Double Direct route doesn’t avoid the necessity to mantel. My climbing partners did it very stylishly and in record breaking time because there were others waiting for the route. They smeared and matched on the horn, without a grunt or even heavy breathing. I managed to overheat before I even got there, while cleaning on the traverse. As I cursed my stifling wind breaker, I managed to get my heel up to my ear in order to avoid (what would have been) a much easier smear and as a result, I ended up perpendicular to the crag. After all that unnecessary exertion, I practically pulled my jacket off with my teeth before I even reached a comfortable spot!

Anton traversing beyond the horizon

Anton had visions of me leading Magnetic wall and went to the trouble of setting up all the gear, so that all I needed to do was clip in. There are few ledges with such awe-inspiring views and a Falcon even graced us with its presence.

I followed, imagining what it would be like to lead this route. Well let’s just say that that really blew my mind! Before I’d even given leading a chance, I was over-analysing what it would feel like being in front of the rope while pulling up on these two-finger sized pebbles!

I started worrying about what was next, instead of just paying attention to the rock I was on. By the time I finished I’d already tired out my fingers because of not being very present and conjured up a third rope, imagining that I’d be leading with a back-up top rope! Anton started explaining how things would work if he lowered me: I’d pull myself along the traverse, in reverse using the slings he’d set up for that purpose, so that I could anchor myself on the ledge and belay him down. At that point my brain short-circuited. I realised that there’d be no safety of the top rope and I imagined myself swinging in space on that traverse. I could feel the wind picking up and imagined us having trouble understanding each other in a difficult situation.

Fear definitely gets in the way of listening! It’s not a bad thing to plan for what can go wrong but excelling in only that, is debilitating.

Eventually we settled on us both being lowered from the abseil point. Anton did all the cleaning, while I followed on the face of Magnetic wall… avoiding the traverse completely!

It was a good experience because this time I really had to pay attention to where I was following on this gearless route. I noticed the natural cracks that were the obvious path to lead me home. I found the moves easier, as I’d done them a few moments ago and I was no longer anxious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anton did Quake and it was good to see him pushing himself.

I vowed to play with leading on easy routes in my spare time and practice my new skills: such as lowering a climber; climbing a rope; setting up bomb proof balanced anchors that avoid the potential for shock loading; rope management and getting myself out of the system on belay.

Magnetic Foreboding… ‘you mean there won’t be a top rope? [Photo: Anton]
When you’re given the opportunity to set great goals then you realise where you must grow! Goals have a way of really, showing up one’s limitations, focusing one’s attention on so many more levels and making learning exponential!

Another mind blowing day on the mountain!

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…

The Dream Ledge: too pretty for words

Our climbing partners living 'The Dream'
Living ‘The Dream’: Congratulations Riaan and family!

Aimée and Anton were set on doing something worthy of celebrating the arrival of Ava. Our climbing started with a bang on the Dream Ledge: Double Direct is was! Some of the others on the mountain were also planning eco-friendly athletic-fireworks on Dynamite and Captain Hook!

As I appreciated that roof at the start of Double Direct, I accepted that it was time to face that demon. Now, the word ‘demon’ has two meanings: we all know the torment that one can associate with it but it can also mean ‘skillful performer’. I was being ‘gently nudged’ to transform distress into marvel.

I watched carefully as Anton slid between crag and that slab that allows for pancake-type bodies to squeeze in there. Then with high spiderman-like feet, tiptoeing on corners (that were in my blindspot for my last attempt on this roof), he launched up to grasp that beauty of a horn.

Aimée was with me, so I felt calmer than usual which doesn’t really say much. I climbed carefully over an ominous looking, yet unbeknownst to me, completely harmless, mimic of a ‘bee-on-steroids’ fly (with bulbous eyes and Halloween-like transparent black-tinged wings)!

At the risk of getting pins-and-needles I wheedled myself into that ‘toilet-seat-like’ crack. How refreshing to have the opportunity to survey my options while resting! Finding feet is the difference between suffering and wizardry… a small victory for me.

After feeling a hint of the magician inside
A hint of magic inside

Despite the fact that my empathy / concern for Aimée’s  progress was entirely unnecessary (because she seemed completely at home with the idea of feet at ear-height); this broadened awareness was a good sign of me building teamwork muscles!

Next up was Magnetic Wall… or should I say frozen wall! Anton managed to lead this crag flawlessly, despite icy fingertips and me taking tight at the most uncalled-for moment when he only had two points of contact. Taking tight when slack is needed is dangerous, especially on this ‘hard-to-place-pro’ lead. Belaying is all about being 100% in tune with your climbers’ needs. Anton highlighted the crimp and side-pull mini crack that were the difference between climbing and becoming dry ice on that wall.

Amy and the bus boy
Aimée and the bus boy

Given that we were all tremouring from the cold and there was limited time left for climbing: Anton suggested sunny Arrow Final.

We ended the day with the fastest 60m climb I’ve seen Anton do in one pitch (the maternity ward was calling)! Anton shouted ‘off belay’ and we immediately responded ‘that’s us’! Arrow Final has a way of targetting one’s heart and opening up your spirit… I pictured the great humble adventurers who discovered this route in their big boots. Every climb is different, embrace the unique lessons from the one you’re on!

Celebrating Ava - this mountain has a golden lining [photo: Silke]
Celebrating Ava – this mountain has a golden lining, photo: Silke