words by Kai Fitchen
pic by Andy Court
Clipping bolts can become a rather addictive hobby. Before I knew it, I hadn’t placed a piece of pro in months and I’d scold myself for always finding some excuse to go sport climbing instead. Trad climbing, sadly, had become this guilty voice in the back of my mind that I had pushed to the side. The same voice that tells you not to go on Facebook, knowing that very soon you would have lost several hours of your life to some animal video.
Over time, the Cederberg, for me, stopped being the venue of Wolfberg and Tafelberg, slowly transitioning into the tendon-torturing chamber that is Rocklands. Dynos and compression moves became the aim of the game, while wild and airy positions high above the ground were less enticing. Saying that, trad and country climbing have not been a particularly easy sport for me to love. More times than not I’ve been temporarily paralysed with fear while I tugged at over-cammed pieces, and nervously pondered the usefulness of the nut I had just placed.
Andy [Court] messaged me on a Monday in August last year. Andy is one of the few millennials who has eagerly picked up the traditional adventure-climbing baton and started running with it. He has his foot in every discipline of climbing, but trad seems to be his muse. I could sense his excitement by the torrent of emojis and exclamation marks that accompanied his messages. He’d given King Kong an attempt a couple weeks before, but the wet and windy conditions had forced him to abort the mission. Andy’s psyche was contagious, and I agreed to accompany him on what would become one of the most inspiring bits of climbing I’d ever done, and something that would reignite a long-lost fervour for big lines.
I didn’t know much about Krakadouw, my ignorance was so strong that I didn’t even realise that it was that dark, fantastical wall that glared over Clanwilliam every time I drove to Rocklands! I had heard about King Kong, however. It was accompanied by Jeremy Samson’s solo of the route a few decades ago, something that made the place even more abstract in my mind. In hindsight, it was embarrassing how naïve I was, oblivious to the stature and history the area held. I must admit that in my mind it was that place to climb while the fire-ravaged slopes of Wolfberg and Tafelberg remained out of action.