June – August 2019


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SA Mountain Editorial – Issue 69
Why do we climb?

We have all been asked one time or another, ‘Why do you climb?’ And of course, there is no short or indeed simple answer to that brief four-word question. We climb for many different and personal reasons, which I’m not going to try and analyse in this short editorial, but besides the physical act of climbing beautiful moves on flawless rock, there are two major factors that play probably the biggest part in making climbing so special and unique to us – the part that enriches our soul and makes us feel so alive.
One is the stunningly beautiful places we find ourselves in time after time. There is no substitute for the visual feast that we are bombarded with every time we take to the hills. The wide open spaces, the precipitous, craggy walls, painting an ever-changing canvas wherever we cast our eyes. The valleys, the rivers . . . it just goes on. Even when the weather is abysmal, it is still beautiful, in a harsh sort of way – crashing waterfalls, raging torrents. And of course, the million shades of blue as the sun sinks behind distant peaks, casting its dying refracted rays across an orange sky. Nothing else comes close.
The second one is the people you share these experiences with. I’ve always believed that your climbing partner is the single most important factor in the whole enrichment process of climbing.
First comes the talking and planning before you even set foot on the hill. Then the approach walk and the discussions about the routes you are about to do. The old obligatory cup of tea at the base of the route. More discussions about the route, the moves, the gear, who’s going to lead what. And you both share the same trepidation, the angst and the palpable energy which is brought on by that piece of rock hanging above your heads. A piece of rock that means absolutely nothing to 99.999999% of the people on earth, but has such meaning and significance to you.
Then comes the euphoria of the climbing, as you both share your excited opinions about the pitches you have just climbed, while sitting on small exposed stances. And of course the elation, joy and wonderful sense of accomplishment at the end of the route – pumping mitts, hugging, and so on, while your cheeks refuse to let that huge smile escape from your face.
Then back at the camp site, or at the pub. Cold beer in hand, talking excitedly about that unforgettable day on the hill. Going through all the moves again, fingernails still encrusted with chalk, endorphins still thick in the bloodstream. It is indeed a feeling that is impossible to fully explain.
My mate and I (as mates do) were comparing this feeling to having an orgasm. While I am not going to divulge which we thought was best, we were under no illusions as to which lasts longer.
So when next someone asks you ‘Why do you climb?’ . . .

Be safe in the hills



The Western Cape – 50 Selected Routes
A Personal Journey
By Hilton Davies

Dave Cheesmond
A South African Climbing Legend
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Sizzling Sends: Mass Extinction (33)
Sent Nearly 30 Years After Bolting
By Gustav Janse Van Rensburg

Climbing And Pregnancy
The Benefits Of Climbing And Physical Exercise While Pregnant
By Gosia Lipinska

The Return Of The Rally
Boven Rock Rally 2019
By Gustav Janse Van Rensburg


Raw Exposure

Gear Reviews

Book Review



Back Page Story
The Positive Effects Of Climbing
By Terence Livingston

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