SA Mountain 84 | March – May 2023

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Read the editorial and check out the contents of the latest issue.

With up-to-date news coverage, training articles, gear reviews, celebrity profiles, technical tips covering a wide variety of subjects, event reports, big glossy pics and enthralling articles.


Climbing with Legends

The world is full of climbing legends. Some are big names from the golden years, like Reinhold Messner, Walter Bonatti, Jim Bridwell and such like. And others are more modern, present day athletes, like Adam Ondra and Alex Honnold, etc. They were and are all brilliant climbers and/or mountaineers and have done a monumental amount to further the sport of climbing as we know it.
South Africa has its own legends, the greatest of all, as I’m sure most of you will agree, is probably Andy de Klerk (AdK), but of course, there are many others, like George Londt, George Travers Jackson, Mike Mamacos, Mike Scott and Paul Fatti, to name a few.
I have always felt that it is a great privilege to meet a legendary climber and maybe spend some time with them. Maybe just a hand shake, or better still get an interview, or best of all, to get out on the hill and share a rope on a classic route, and let the conversation go in the direction of least resistance.
I’ve shaken the hand of Messner, spent a great weekend with Jerry Moffatt in Arco, interviewed legends like Manolo, Riccardo Cassin, Barbara Zangerl, Patxi Usobiaga, and others. Patxi even kindly offered for me to go climbing with him and his mates one day in Arco. I politely declined!
But some of the most memorable days I’ve had in the hills is when I have managed to get out there and climb with some of my childhood heroes.
Fourteen (or so) years ago the famous British climber and mountaineer, Doug Scott came to Cape Town.
I knew that this was the only opportunity I would ever have of meeting the great man. After his address at the MCSA dinner, I pushed aside the butterflies and went up to him, introduced myself, and promptly asked him if he had any climbing arrangements while he was here in Cape Town. I was amazed and surprised (and quite honestly perplexed) when he said he hadn’t. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I spent a few incredible days climbing with Doug (just him and me), in the Cederberg and also on Table Mountain. We chatted about his young days climbing with Don Whillans, Joe Brown, Chris Bonington and others. It was like a fantasy. An experience indelibly stamped on my mind forever.
Then just recently, I was having a telephonic conversation with Paul Fatti, and found out that he was coming to Montagu for a few days. Although I had met Paul before, I had never really spent time with him and we had never climbed together. Paul, who lives in Jo’burg, is one of South Africa’s greatest climbing legends, having done many hard first ascents around the country in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s and also some very important ascents around the world, most notably the first ascent of the East Face of the Central Tower of Paine, the biggest wall in the world climbed at that stage. And the first SA ascent of the immense north face of the Troll wall in Norway, amongst many others.
Anyway, he was coming to Montagu, and it was probably the only chance I’d ever get to climb with him. So arrangements were made, and 6 am on a Sunday morning found us walking up the approach path to the foot of the looming north face of Cogman’s Buttress, on our way to do Magical Mystery Tour.
What a surreal situation, here I was, high up a 200-metre wall with Paul Fatti (on his 79th birthday) on the other end of my rope. Again, what an experience. Chatting away about the golden era of climbing in SA, the first ascent of Oscillation on the Spout, some of his experiences on the big walls around the world and other moments in his long climbing career. Then, after sliding down our ropes to the bottom of the wall, that wonderful and obligatory cup of tea. Another memorable day that I will file in the annals of my mind. Another day climbing with legends.

Be safe in the hills


Confessions of a Dirtbag
by Tristan vd Merwe

Classic Climbs: Amphitheatre Wall & Suspension Face
Two of the best easy multi-pitch routes in the country
by Tony Lourens

Kandertal – A Swiss Bouldering Paradise
by Niky Ceria


Raw Exposure

Gear Reviews

Book Reviews


The Blue Streak
by Terence Livingston

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