Saturday, 27 August 2011

DK in the Rocklands - by Dan Knight

Well the last 6 weeks of my life have been spent in South Africa. Of course this means the rocklands, but also the other amazing places that really shoudn't be missed if you plan a trip to South Africa. I mean climbing at the rocklands is out of this world, but not visiting other parts is definitely missing out. So at the start of July I arrived in Cape Town with my fiancée Laura and stayed with my Dad & South African family (who happens to live directly below topside - the area that will no doubt be huge after this summer & Paul Robinsons development). After soaking up some real South African hospitality and being treated so so amazingly, it was off to the rocklands in our rad old skool golf hire car.

Muizenberg and view of topside from near my Dads place

The Rocklands - Crazy place!

So the rocklands..well the place hardily needs any introduction. It is world class, it is amazing, there is so much rock, it is HOT, days blend into each other and life seems really simple here. After spending the last year of my life doing a PGCE (to become a teacher), it was difficult to just stop and realise that there is no rush here. The climbing is as good as the videos make it look - steep, fun and powerful. The hikes are amazing and no matter how the climbing day turns out, the hike out always stop you in your tracks and reminds you that you are in Southern Africa. This trip for me was about getting stuck into something that I really wanted to do - sometimes on a trip it is nice to roll around and try to climb tons of stuff, but for me, after not being able to do a long trip for a few years i wanted to push myself - see if the training had worked. Firstly though i did some classic probs from 7C+ to 8A+ and then got involved in my chosen project - 'Mooiste Meise'. A Fred Nicole masterpiece from 2003, which was 8B+, but now seems to be settling around the 8B/+ mark. This problem is fickle, completely sloppy, technical, steep, involved and damn hard (for me anyways). After encountering all sorts of problems - heat, heat, heat, skin and feeling defeated, i got my game together and after numerous days on it i finally pulled it off. To say i was happy is an understatement.

'Mooiste Meise' (8B/+)

The longer I spent in the Rocklands, the longer I wanted to stay - generally on trips, i get to the point were i'm looking forward to the uk return with re-newed enthusiasm...this time however, I could happily stay. One of the most amazing parts of the trip was doing on an overnight safari - if you go to Africa you MUST do this. It is amazing, cheap, total luxury and being in Africa it seems rude to not do a safari (plus it was a nice break from bouldering, bouldering, bouldering). Aside from world class climbing, amazing food and incredible weather, the people are what make this country so amazing. Everyone is so friendly, sociable and chilled out.

Big Ballin' at the safari


Anyways, after freeing myself from my project I took the time to climb tons of other problems. The final two weeks were amazing and i managed a bunch of 8A+s, 8As and 7C+s with my favourite being 'The Amphitheatre' (8A/+) and 'Au bord de l'eau' (8A). My better half also had an awesome climbing trip – the Rocklands does not disappoint at any level. Laura was able to climb tons and build up a really strong base level of problems. This allowed her to really progress and on the final day of the trip after a brutal storm and five days on her project managed to climb her first 7A! The final week was spent chilling back in Muizenberg with my South African family, sight seeing and soaking up the local scene - it was awesome and once again made me want to stay. We also surfed and I quickly realised that I need to stick to climbing...

'Naartjie' (6B+)

'Au Bord de L'eau' (8A)

The Rocklands was more then i could have hoped for. Not only is it a world class climbing area, but it an area that is in a country that has so much character, unreal scenery and hospitality that i have not found in many other places! Now I’m back in the uk and after 2 months on rock, remembering how to climb after training too much i declared that I would not climb indoors anymore...I woke up today, it was pouring down and went to the wall...good ol’England! Going back to the gym made me realise how weak I had become. Oh well, I’m sure there will be plenty of rainy days to get back in gym shape! I have chosen a few of my favourite pics to show but have got plenty more on my blog (plus rants and videos), which i’ll post a link too once they are all on. Now it’s time to get back to Yorkshire, hook up with my friends and get out climbing. Outta.

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