September – October 2020


SAM-74

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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.

SA Mountain Editorial – Issue 74

We all have to die one day, this much is obvious, and it is always a sad occasion, no matter the age or the circumstances. But it is even more sad and difficult to accept when someone close to you, or a person who is well known to you passes unexpectedly, or indeed, even in their prime.
The world of climbing and mountaineering is no stranger to tragic and untimely deaths. In fact, it is fraught with them, and with social media reducing the size of the world to a thimble, where everything is immediate and widely publicised, we get to hear of just about every climbing accident (fatal or otherwise), which can often make us think more deeply of our mortality.
But of course, many more climbers make it to old age than don’t, and die later of natural causes, but it still leaves a void in our lives, particularly if they are very close to us.
And then there are the legends of the climbing world. The climbers who have made a difference to the game, ones who have pushed the boundaries – the wonderful and colourful characters we have read about over the years in books, magazines and on social media. When one of these legends cross the endless glacier, I always feel a great sadness and a deep sense of loss. Not necessarily for me personally, but for the greater climbing community. It evokes a wave of nostalgia and memories of great tales of a pioneer who once was. A person who left a legacy of incredible mountain adventure and exploits – beautiful alpine routes and classic rock climbs.
There are many of these climbing legends on our planet and also quite a few right here in South Africa. This little country of ours, amidst all its struggles and ups and down, has produced some very fine climbers and mountaineers, some still alive, but of course many who have crossed over. To start naming them would transform this editorial into book, but earlier this year the South African climbing community lost one of the most talented and bold climbers that this country has ever produced. A climber who was responsible for a great deal of brilliant Cape classic rock climbs from the golden era during the ’60s and ’70s. Of course, this legendary climber is Keith Fletcher, an iconic and charismatic man, who pioneered numerous routes, many of which are still considered test pieces today. A climber who many aspired to emulate on the rock. His style was smooth and graceful, making difficult moves appear effortless.
I only met Keith once, many decades ago, but he left a deep and lasting impression on me, and a memory I will cherish forever. Another legend leaves us, but his legacy will remain forever.

Read Keith’s obituary on page 42.

Be safe in the hills

Tony

Features

A Balkan Odyssey
By Teodor Iliev

Chemotherapy
Seeking Healing In The Blue Mountains Of Australia
By Dave Barnes

Verstepunt Pinnacles
In The Tankwa Karoo And A First Ascent That Nearly Ended Badly
By Hilton Davies

Mount Sidley, Antarctica
The Remotest Peak On Earth And The Quest For The 7-2-7 Challenge
By Staff Writer

In Memory of
Keith Fletcher
Jonathan Levy
Chris Walker

Regulars

Raw Exposure

Gear & Book Reviews

Classifieds

Back Page Story
The Mystery Of Fraser’s Variation And Its Comrades
By Tony Lourens

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