words by BILL TUCKER
pic by ANDY WOOD
You know it’s gonna be exciting when going back to repeat a route you opened 17 years ago. With butterflies in our stomachs, Lizanne and I organised an overnight for our 10-year-old, sorted the gear and packs after a romantic dinner for two, and set our alarms for 5 am.
We did the familiar steep hike in cool conditions up to the split in the path beneath the SW Wall. Our destination was the far left side of the front faces of Wolfberg. Past After the Goldrush, and just left of the big gully splitting that side of the hill. Our goal for the day was to repeat a four-pitch route of mostly grade 18 crack climbing that we put up in 2003 called Crack of Icarus.
All our friends had been raving about it; some had even done it twice! The way I understand it, Tony Lourens did it a couple years ago (it’s in his Wolfberg Cracks guidebook) and told people it was a must do. I mean, four pitches at that grade, ledge to ledge, no hanging belays. Top out at the top of the descent gully, with an easy scramble down to a single 25-metre abseil straight back to your approach shoes and packs. What could be more fun? So we had to do it, to see what all the fuss was about; to relive our pre-child and pre-gut glory.
We were just about to start climbing when two storied and experienced climbers showed up to do the same route: Marianne Schwankhart and Andy Wood. We offered to let them go first since we knew they would climb faster than us, but they insisted we go first. We put up the route. We knew where to go. Little did they know . . .
Up went Lizanne – a staunch fist crack in the corner, layback to toe holds on either side, stem, a jug or two on the face, for 30 metres or so. ‘Should I stop at this ledge?’ she called down.
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