Ravishing Rocklands

Rocklands is quite a unique place. People from all over the world travel here to climb the featured boulders of the Cederberg. There is a certain purity connected to the rock and a dash of untouched nature, which makes it ideal for the outdoor enthusiast. As a rock climber, most of the days are spent bouldering or resting, while the evenings are filled with stories and a lot of chilling at campfires.

Long exposure photo of the campfire in “Klein Pretoria” at De Pakhuys in Rocklands.

Bouldering is a form of rock climbing where one climbs without a rope or harness, with the added safety of fall breaking mattresses at the bottom of the boulder in case one were to fall, aka boulder pads. This is usually done on rocks which aren’t too high. The routes going up the boulder are referred to as problems, due to the fact that there is usually a certain way of doing them and one has to solve the problem by finding the way.

Pinch of Herbs boulder at Roadside.

Usually once one has found the solution, there is a sequence of moves you have to undergo to be able to solve or “send” the problem and in essence, reach the top. This sequence usually involves a lot of committing moves, which as a millennial, I’m not used to. But I have to start somewhere right? It took me about two weeks before I started to get into the groove of committing to certain holds on the boulder problems. One of my favourite problems which I sent, is called Roof on Fire. It involves a lot of commitment and believing in oneself.

Roof on Fire boulder at Road Crew.

After that I played around on some more boulders which were pretty cool. This helped to get the commitment momentum going and the positive mindset. As part of the momentum I had, I was able to send an old project of mine, called Sunset Traverse (7a). I believe the difference was when Tiffany helped me realise that it is not about sending harder routes. Yes the harder routes are way cooler, but it’s about enjoying the route every time instead of putting pressure on oneself to send the whole time. She took a really cool photo of me on the route, check her out on instagram.

I met a guy called Luke over one of the weekends and he dropped the following line while we were chilling at the campfire, which I think is a rad:

“Live until it kills you” — Luke Bax

It made me think a lot. As part of finding my muchness I realised a key thing that drives me — learning new things. There are still a lot of things I have to learn in my life, one of which is bolting new sport climbing routes. This is where one uses a harness and a rope and unlike bouldering, is pretty high off the ground. I had much needed master/apprenticeship agreement with Alex Bester. He would teach me the way of bolting new lines and then he can have the honour of the first ascent and giving the route a name. He dubbed it Sonsteker (26) and it’s a true masterpiece.

The Master and the Apprentice.

After bolting the line, I kept coming across heart shapes the whole time. The first of which, was a uniquely heart shaped leaf in tree. At first I thought it was just random and didn’t mean anything.

Heart shaped leaf at the foot of Sonsteker.

Later on, I came accross a heart shaped boulder, aptly called “el corazon” which is spanish for “the heart”. This is a world famous route and people travel really far to come do this problem. It was opened by Daniel Woods and is rated at 8b — one of the most difficult routes in South Africa.

Throughout the day I kept seeing more hearts, I even had heart shaped biltong! I realised it was not a fluke. I knew that this is where my heart belonged, here, in the mountains. This is where I will discover my heart, thaw it, find my muchness and start becoming the man that God wants me to be.