Monday, 29 September 2014


I have just returned from an amazing 6 week trip in South Africa! It was the first time back to South Africa since 2001, way before I had got into any sort of climbing.

We headed out mid July and arrived in a smoky Johannesburg after a quick change over in Cairo. After a long wait for the other team member to arrive Jose, we got in our Fiat Punto and headed off east into the night. Thankfully the drive was fairly straightforward along the main highway as it got dark very quickly. There were few nervous moments when we pulled off the main road in the town of Waterval Boven and couldn’t find the dirt road up to the camp. After a while driving around in the pitch black we stopped and asked for some directions and was pointed in the right way. The tarmac road quickly changed to dirt as we then realised why everyone drives 4x4 pick-ups in Africa! After a rather bumpy 7km up the hill side we arrived at the Tranquilitas Adventure Farm where we would camp for the next 2 weeks. We pitched our tents and quickly fell asleep. 

The next day we awoke to this amazing campite, perched on top of the escarpment overlooking the cliffs. It was truly spectacular and we couldn’t quite believe our eyes! We were greeted by a great Africaans farmer called Alwyn who managed the whole site. He was happy that we were staying and in no time at all we were in his bakkie (africaans for pick-up truck) getting a ride around the site as he showed us all the different cliffs. It was a brilliant start and a true African welcome.

Sam topping out on an awesome 7b+

Rest day fun at Boven

After seeing some of the crags that were just below the campground, we couldn’t get our bags packed quick enough and headed straight down to the cliff. We were greeted with some of the best climbing I've ever experienced. Bullet hard orange sandstone rising above the hillside for a good 30m. It was seriously impressive!

Chilling out by the fire

Lotters desire 7b+....Simply Incredible!

We then got into a great routine of 2 or 3 days on, one day off. Mixing it up between the God No sector and the Superbowl, two of the steepest and most impressive sectors in Boven. We basically threw ourselves at as many routes possible and climbed some of the most inspiring lines I’ve ever done. It was a sheer pleasure to be climbing such quality routes in the wilds of Africa with just a few other local climbers. Rest days were spent in the Kruger National park and mountain biking round the hillsides. Nights were spent sitting round a huge fire with a braai, eating large amounts of bourawors. It was perhaps the best 2 weeks climbing of my life!

I climbed so many awesome routes I could list them all but here were a few big hightlights :-) 

Godzilla 8b, Vorpal Sword 8b, The Beast 8a+ (flash), Welcome to Ovamboland 8a+, Hypertension 8a (flash), Jack of All trades 8a, Snap Dragon 7c+ (os) Lotters Dersire 7b+ (os), Monster 7c+ (flash), Tokolosie 8a (os), The Bovenator 7c (flash) felt like 8c!, Condor 7b+ (os), Rude Bushman 7a, Jose crushed the incredible Rolihlahla 8b on the last day. Awesome effort from the whole team. 
It was also brilliant to hang out with some of the local climbers who have put in so much effort bolting and sending the routes such as Andrew Pedley, Brian Weever (B-dog!), Gustav, Dirk, Flex. 
Also Alwyn, Philip and David at the campsite who were brilliant and kept us company.

It does not get much better than this!

First day psyche....shot down!!

After our time in Boven we then drove back to Johannesburg and caught a flight south to Cape Town. On arrival it felt like we had just flown into another country, as it was pouring down outside!!! The first rain we had seen all trip. A complete change from the extremely dry, arid environment up north.

After picking up a rather dodgy looking hire car we then drove a couple of hours north to a small seaside town of Yersfontain where we stayed a night on route to the bouldering mecca Rocklands in the Cedarburg Mountains. This is the place that every climber knows of, where the name represents the area so well. Boulders as far as the eye can see!
Rocklands Love!

Sam Bouldering?

We then spent the next 10 days exploring the endless amounts of boulders dotted around this beautiful region. From small ones to huge house-sized boulders, we climbed and climbed!! Rest days were spent in Lamberts bay and the hot baths. 
Yet another beautiful day in Rocklands

Success after Pinotage sit and Splash of Red.

Here is my list of boulders from the 10 days - 

A Tea With Elmarie 8A+
Royksopp 8A
Pendragon 8A
Herbie 8A
Wittness The Sickness 8A
Barracuda 8A
No late Benders 8A
Black Velvet 8A
Stalker on The Horizon 8A
Ron Ron et caramel 7C+
Splash of Red 7C+
Pinotage sit 7C+
Macho King 7C+
No late Tenders 7C+
Hole in One 7C+
Caroline 7C+
White Mazda Clan 7C+
Weich Ei 7C+ (flash)
Throw Yourself Away 7C+
Beserker 7C+
Poison dwarf Direct 7C+
Une Rime Stupide 7C+
Team Time 7C (flash)
Ceder Spine 7C (flash)
Jaws 7C (flash)
An Amal Rof 7C (flash)
The Rhino 7B+ (flash)
Un Petiti hueco dans Rocklands 7B+ (flash)
Minki 7B (flash)
Springbok 7A+ (flash)
John Denver 7A (flash)
Sunset Traverse 7A (flash)

The Rhino 7b+
Pendragon 8A

Our final leg of the journey was spent in Montagu, a brilliant climbing area 2 hours east of Cape Town. A beautiful, quite spot cut through a steep gorge with rock walls on both sides. It's one of the main climbing areas in the country and a real mecca for the sport climber. We only spent three days there, climbing as many routes as possible to finish on a real high after such a successful trip. 
Montagu highlights;
Cool like that 7c+, Monkey Wedding 7c+ (os), First Starter 7c+ (os), My route by the River 8a+, Catholic School Girls Rule 8a, Point Break 8a (os)

Happy after two days at Montagu!
Dirty days!

The last few days were spent whale watching, wine tasting and eating large quantities on the harbour seafront in Cape town. It was also brilliant to meet up with an old friend and a bit of a legend in South African climbing Ed February. Shared a lot of great stories.  
It was one the best climbing trips I’ve ever been on and really opened our eyes to the amazing quality of the climbing in South Africa. We also had the privilege of meeting some of the most friendly and psyched people I’ve ever come across. A real joy to be around.

Team of Wine drinking monsters!
Letting loose!

After what felt like a very long journey home, we arrived back in London and headed straight to Exeter for the first ever Deep Water Soloing competition. At first I wasn't totally convinced but after watching the qualifiers the psyche just started to build and I was getting super pumped for the following day. After climbing ok on the 3 semifinal routes/ (boulders ;-) ) I was so psyched and luckily made it into the final. For the first time ever I came out of isolation and jumped onto a boat to view the route? wtf? AMAZING! Great experience! There was a massive crowd and the route traversed the whole length of the wall. Im not totally sure but I think I finished in 4th place? maybe 5th! Whatever, It was one of the best competitions I have ever competed in ;-)! 


As soon as the competition had finished we jumped in the van and headed south to Anstey's Cove for some real Deep Water Soloing. This area was unreal with plenty of amazing lines dotted around the point. Over the 2 days we ticked of 'Once a Dogger 7b+, Blue Planet 7b+ and Arapiles Oh Arapiles 7A+ (also caught 10 Mackerel). Then it was time to head Home finally! Back to the Peak District. Training - Coaching - thinking of next trip!?

Once a Dogger 7b+
Blue Planet 7b+

This coming weekend is the BLCC's in Sheffield. Lezz GO!

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