Sent Nearly 30 Years After Bolting
by Gustav Janse van Rensburg
Most climbers I know enjoy abseiling from multi-pitch routes about as much as kissing their Afrikaans girlfriend’s aunt on the mouth at a family braai. But you do it for the sake of the send. One of the multi-pitches that I have done numerous times close to Harrismith in the Free State has such a defining moment. The topo says grade 20, but on Take it Easy you have to pull over steep ground that becomes easier out rightwards over a looming abyss. Then comes the abseil over the overhanging cliff edge.
I still remember, back in 1994, having to pinch all sorts of body parts tightly, even after checking every safety aspect, before launching down that abseil. Once you have sunk into the airy silence and have caught your breath, the beautiful Red Wall reveals itself, and the experience becomes somewhat meditative as you slide past a kaleidoscope of bolts and crimps. You may try to imagine yourself doing just one move on this 30-metre mass of overhanging sandstone. But something will always prevent the average strong climber even considering a top rope session – there are no jugs!