Rocklands

When we started planning our trip to Rocklands I promised myself it would just be a holiday. I don’t think I’ve been on a climbing trip without turning it into work since 2010. But then lots of cool opportunities arose and in the end I definitely did more work than climbing. But I just can’t resist – it’s fun to share your experience of a place and I it would have been crazy not to film with Mina out there. So I ended up working towards 4 separate videos and gunning to climb my first V8 all in a little over 3 weeks. Hmm…

As well as spraying about Rocklands, this post marks our first ever episode with Epic TV, which is one of two short films about yup, you guessed it, Rocklands! This one features some of the best 6cs (and a 6b+) in the area because I don’t think they get enough attention, as well as a bit of info should you be thinking of heading there too.

Getting to know the landscape.

Getting to know the landscape.

At Roadcrew.

At Roadcrew.

Making decent videos takes a lot of time and effort, much like achieving a hard climbing goal. This made for some stress and inner questioning – am I a climber or a filmmaker? Am I more willing to let the climbing slip on this escapade, or the filming? I prepared myself not to climb V8 and cracked on with the camera work.

Al on Roof on Fire, 6c.

Al on Roof on Fire, 6c.

Sunset on The Pass.

Sunset on The Pass.

Choosing tomorrow's climbs.

Choosing tomorrow’s climbs.

But the stress didn’t stop after I made that decision. I wasn’t prepared for how hard it is to film in Rocklands – the sun is so powerful it sucks the colour out of the landscape, and the bright areas are so bright and the shadowy areas so dark… I missed shooting in nice, evenly-lit forests like Squamish and Magic Wood. Long story short, after crying over a shabby timelapse, I got a grip and tried to get the hang of it.

An evening at Riverside.

An evening at Riverside.

Psyche.

Psyche.

Flowers

Cody on John Denver, 7a.

Cody on John Denver, 7a.

Although I’d given up on climbing, I climbed when I could and confirmed how bad I am at roofs. I also picked two projects, one of which I gave up on because it was so harsh on my skin, but also because Al introduced me to another, prettier project called Zanzibar. Looking at it from the ground, I felt like I could climb it. And during my second session, I did. Ha! V8 in the bag and a team send (thanks to my beta of course…)

Working out Zanzibar. Photo Cody Cox.

Working out Zanzibar. Photo Cody Cox.

Look closely, that is some bad skin.

Look closely, that is some bad skin.

My V8 satisfaction was pretty short lived though. Maybe it was the chat of Zanzibar being soft, or the fact that it hadn’t taken quite as much of a fight to get up as I imagined 7b would. I’ve been thinking about the differences between bouldering and big walling for a while now, and think I may have come across one – maybe the glow of success is equal to the time and effort put into something. It took a solid week to do my first big wall and I still feel really proud of that. It took around ten attempts to climb my first 7b and I’m definitely psyched to have done it, but I was thinking about the next one almost immediately. Either way, it was a relief to achieve the goal I’d set myself because I’m stubborn and would have felt let down if I hadn’t done it.

Jackie on Mary's Roof, 6b.

Jackie on Mary’s Roof, 6b.

After that, my climbing attention really turned to Al and his quest. So over to you Al! (is this lame?)

Al: It’s been a long time coming. I remember watching Progression for the first time and from there I wanted to go to Rocklands a lot. It looked unbelievable, oceans of rock and sunshine in an amazing setting and well, finishing uni seemed as good a time as any to head over to Africa. And it was everything I hoped it would be.

Blaine is about to hand jam.

Blaine is about to hand jam.

I put a lot of effort into getting ready for this trip, probably the most I have ever put into preparing for a trip before – almost a solid year of training. I built a campus board, bought a weight vest and invested in some whey, and luckily was able to squeeze a lot of training around finishing my degree, so I felt pretty ready. I had a tick-list as long as my arm and thus the pressure was on. I began working my way around some of the classics in Rocklands but at the back of my mind I knew I wanted to climb something hard. I have to admit it – something I see a lot of climbers deny – I was chasing grades. I know, how shallow! Well let me explain – I don’t work as hard as I do in order to maintain a certain level and climb easier problems. When it came to Rocklands, I wanted to work hard, I was looking for a challenge and it came in the form of Mooiste Meise.

Al's big proj.

Video still of Al’s big proj.

This Fred Nicole boulder is perfect, one of the coolest I have ever come across. Just enough holds and all the feet are perfect, it’s really 3D in that all the moves are very physical and it’s a feature that begs to be climbed. The crux is a hard foot placement, but I could do the boulder in two halves pretty quickly, so I knew it was just a matter of time. I fell off lots and even fell off the last move once, but eventually it came together. I tried the boulder with a ┬ábunch of different people on various occasions, but it was watching David Mason climb the thing that made it possible for me – up untill that point I had a bit of a mental block, but watching him cruise up it suddenly made it seem possible!

Mooiste2

Working Mooiste was a really cool experience, and right up there with some of the best I’ve had in climbing. But I have to go backwards here. Putting so much effort into this one problem meant I missed out on a lot of other problems in Rocklands. I feel like I barley scratched the surface, so I can’t wait to return!

Jen’s editing the big send for our second episode with Epic TV, watch this space!