Thursday, June 18, 2009


Walking in to the climbing.

I've been home from my trip to South Africa for over a week, and I still have more pictures and stories. We documented the trip pretty well, and our two days of sport climbing at Waterval Boven are no exception. First, I think it's important to understand the town of Waterval Boven to get some sort of grasp on what climbing there is like.

Waterval Boven is a small town situated on the edge of the Escarpment on the banks of the Elands River above the 75m Elands Falls. Hence the name which means "above the waterfall" in Afrikaans. This town is very very very small. You can drive from end to the other (all the while getting funny looks from the locals) in 5 minutes. It is remote. And it is becoming increasingly impoverished. The area was originally established when the railway came there. Since then, the rail has not been traveling through, greatly effecting the local economy. Nestled right in the middle of town is a climber's hostel called Roc N' Rope Adventures. This place was fantastic. And if you ever find yourself in South Africa with a hankering for some sport climbing, definitely check out Roc N' Rope. The accommodations are really quite nice for a hostel, and inexpensive.

There was only one store in town, they had food that was the most unnaturally colored food products I had ever seen!

We played what was, to be most certain, THE MOST intense game of Jenga of all time. Ever.

Miles and I had SO MUCH FUN at Roc N' Rope!

At any rate, the climbing itself lies up on the mountainside from town. The only way to get there is by driving up the worst road known to man past a huge garbage dump where you will see rabid dogs. We drove up this road in a $100,000 Mercedes. Hahahahaha. I'm not kidding. Then you park at some random farm (how anyone lives at the end of this road is beyond me), and walk down into the climbing area. We got hopelessly lost on day one, but finally managed to find the climbing after some bushwhacking.

Little Routecards. How cute!

The cliffs are not very steep, and consist of the most unrealistically orange sandstone I have ever seen anywhere. It really feels like you are climbing at the end of the world by the time you actually rope up and are 60 feet up looking out over the valley. The climbing itself was not very steep, and sort of blocky. Really technical with lots of terrible feet. I found that a majority of the climbs really should have been trad climbs. They would have been very easily protected, and a real blast for placing widgets. Mile Cone: Army of One explained that most things are bolted because the cost of trad gear in South Africa is easily two times what we would pay for it in the States. While the climbing was not exactly my style, I still had an amazing time. I had been itching to get on some rock, and all the climbs were great. Plus the setting and the views were beyond insane. It's important to note that I had basically no concept of the grading system there, which is the same one they use in Australia and New Zealand I believe. So I was basically getting on things that looked fun with little to no regard for grades. This worked for and against me on more than one occasion. All in all, this was an awesome few days of climbing.

Some crazy hard thing. With the first bolt like 20 feet off the ground.

Brooksie on Gravy Train. Quite the view.

The most horrified I have ever been on a rope was on this climb. I wish I had it on video.

Miles Cone: Army of One's triumphant return to rock climbing!

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