Friday, 23 August 2013

Rocklands 1.2 or 2.0

Two weeks ago I landed back at Melbourne International airport disappointed. I didn't want to come back to Australia just yet. I didn't want to go back to work and the way of the weekend warrior. My disappointment soon faded to proper irritability as I boarded a train, then a bus back to Horsham, in the cold and rain. Oh it's hard to return home from holidays!

James Alexander tapes down for land speed record attempt
Rewind 4 weeks and I was landing in South Africa ready for round two in Rocklands. Driving up the N7 with my accomplice Marissa in a pimped out Golf 3 complete with radio and roof racks, I was hit with a strange sense of familiarity. With Table Mountain behind us, the freeway took us out of Cape Town and past shanty towns on the outskirts of the city, through peak hour hitchhiker hour, into the sprawling plains and mountains that bordered them. It was a recipe for the psyche to bubble over. The closer we got to Clanwilliam, the Pass and the bouldering areas themselves, the more I felt like I had stepped through a time warp. Two years had gone by, a lot had happened, but it felt like it was yesterday. Arriving at camp, I went about putting my tent up in the exact same spot as last trip. This was too much. I had to move it down the hill. My mind was blown. 20 mins later we were at the campground bar and tab opened, my sheet quickly filling with dashes next to Black Label and Savanna Dry. Familiar friendly faces welcomed me and I felt like I’d never left. 

Sassies from Above
Pretty much every climber reading this will know about Rocklands. Awesome sandstone much like what the Grampians has. However Rocklands has in my opinion more freestanding boulders, a higher concentration, flatter and more open landings and more consistent winter weather. The combination is basically a playground for those into this sort of thing. To top it off, the Aussie dollar buys a lot of SA Rand. And when you take off the GST and alcohol taxes, it is a very cheap holiday once you’re there. 

The Good Seed - V8 campus problem :)

Anyway to the boulders….. 

Well the first week was a shocker. After several big parties including a centurion effort at Jimmy Barnes' (SA crusher not the singer) birthday, I was a little tired and needed sleep, this proved allusive with some campground shenanigans leaving most campers, including myself bleary eyed. Pretty funny after the fact, but if I hear that Sunshine Reggae song one more time I’ll do something stupid (thanks Justin). To make it worse my skin fell off and I was literally climbing with every tip taped after only a couple days on. I was forced to take 2 rest days early just to grow skin. Ah well it was already shaping up to be a crazy fun trip even if I literally didn't get up a single problem. 

Tent made half water proof. Pass under clouds in distance
The second and third weeks were awesome and 95% of my top outs were in the 9 or so days of climbing in this period. Unfortunately the weather was up and down. I mean literally high 20's broken up by 3 days of rain, then back up again and then rain. It started to be frustrating not only because we sat around a lot, but the tent I’d borrowed wasn't water proof. So my stuff was pretty wet for a few days at time. That all said, when it wasn't raining the rock was dry. None of this residual dampness to ruin one’s spirit, that can be the case back in Oz. With a few big days, and some night sessions I was hitting some form and loving it.
The Ghost and the Darkness V10
Meeting and climbing with Damien Alexander and Sheila Binegas from Sydney was awesome. Damo in particular had had a very productive trip and had told me he’d only allowed 2 sessions for a problem. If it wasn't done in that time he’d walk away. Having been bogged down on things in the past of trips I decided to give this a go. It meant that I could try hard things but I wouldn't sacrifice the entire trip to a couple of problems. In the end I didn't have to return to too many things, and it was a shit load of fun to consistently do problems, albeit not super high numbers. Just great lines and awesome times.

Caroline V10 - photo Viola Sommer
The final week was a little bit of a write off. We had the Rockstock party which was outrageously fun. This included a spit braai put on by the landowner and the International Airstar World Titles. Two years ago it was won by Cameltosis, a band representing Australia that I was fortunate enough to be a part of. This time round, I was coordinating the bands and was the M.C. for the comp which I wasn't totally prepared for and I can now advise against doing when smashing Rum and Ginger beers. The C-Bomb used in general conversation on the microphone didn't seem to come across well with the Austrian and Swiss German crowd. Anyway at the last minute I put together a strong band and we rocked out to Just a Girl by No Doubt. We totally should have won, being the only group to stick to rules. Yet as the M.C. I found it morally challenging to rev the crowd in our favour for the 'Applaud-o-meter'. Following this frivolity, Elmar Jerg, an absolute legend who a lot of you will know from the Blue Mountains, led us through a night of debauchery very much like the Pied Piper of our childhoods. Needless to say the next few days were very very slow, painful and unproductive.

 Some of the notable ticks: 

Lisa’s Arete
Cannon Fodder with 'Just a Girl' (I'm front and center) - photo S. Bradshaw
Ghost and the Darkness
Poison Dwarf Direct
Stretched and Pressed
The SharkDay of the Jackel – Flash 

Golden Virginia
Shallow Cave
Witness the Sickness 

Awesome Rock Art. The Hunter has a boner haha
In all a bloody awesome time away from everything back in Australia, I met some of the most amazing people, locals, Swiss, Austrians, South Africans, and everywhere in between. Some are absolute crushers and others just punters like me, but all great people who will meet again. This trip has also strengthened my resolve to leave the workforce for a while next winter and do some extended traveling. At the moment I think I’ll be heading to Switzerland and Austria then who knows, but I’m excited about it already. 

Right so, I tried to film some of the things I was doing. It turns out it is difficult to get good footage when the camera is stationary and its usually looking up from the ground. After a few lame attempts, and a few misses of the sends I pretty much gave up and went climbing. The fail clips are probably the best and will feature in a 'Fail Compliation' one day on YouTube. Here is a link though to a little clip I put together. Also a link to photos I took from the previous trip, as this time I just took happy snaps. 

Since being back I've been sick as a dog with flu like symptoms. Could be that I have the syphilis again I’m not sure. It’s also been wet on the days that I haven’t been working. I've been about to get out on rock for one after noon and managed to get up American Pie V10 in the most Baltic conditions I've tried to climb in. I ended up sick in bed for the next two days. That will teach me. Righteo. 

Sorry if that reads like a Postcards segment or something. Lame.

 -         Grosey

No comments:

Post a Comment