Text by Kath Fourie
The finals of the PETZL Rock & Road Trip Western Cape 2010 took place on Saturday afternoon at Oudtshoorn. After the gruelling semi-finals the day before, many of the finalists were feeling their previous efforts as they walked along the pathway up to the main wall to face the last day of climbing.
The six female finalists of Faye Brouard, Candice Bagley, Illona Pelser, Rachelle de Charmoy, Tessa Little and Heidi Rower were given Hard Play, a 28 that served as one of the men’s semi-final routes the day before. Each climber was given twenty minutes to work the route, after which the finals would take place. Candice was looking very strong in her working session, as were Faye and Tessa who all reached round about the same point in their twenty working minutes. Illona was not far behind, with Rachelle and Heidi spending a bit more time figuring out the lower sections of the route.
While the girls slogged it out on the main wall, the boys were busy in the section of rock that houses the renowned Jimbo Smith route Skinny Legs and All. A little further down the crag, Jason Temple Forbes has a project (Mr Incredible) that he kindly donated specifically for the men to throw themselves at for their final.
Anyway, time duly ticked by and soon the girls were tying in and looking psyched to climb hard. With a couple of decent rests on this mammoth route the redpoint attempts were quite lengthy, and those who milked the rests seemed to have the right idea. In the end it was Faye, Candice and Tessa who reached very similar high points but after deliberation with the judges the order of the top three were decided and announced at the prize giving.
With a storm threatening loudly in the distance and bolts of lightning ripping up the sky the whole crew scuttled off to the men’s route to try and beat the rain. Apparently the rate of scuttle wasn’t that necessary as the storm passed through a distant valley and we were left to focus solely on the climbing. Jason’s route runs up a narrow abyss following a creative and challenging line up into a crack system with powerful bouldery moves at the top. Falling on some of the moves suggests connecting with the cliff face just opposite the route, something that I would rather not be privy to experiencing.
Matt Bush was the first climber on the route, and we sat on the spectator rock with an awesome view peering down on top of Matt’s head as he worked solidly through the bottom moves. Matt pushed on up, doing some fingery hard-core climbing which was exciting to watch. It became obvious that Matt was really going for gold as he rested, focussed and solidly moved through the crux of the route with loud yells to push him through. As he clipped the chains the crowd cheered like mad, as no-one had expected anyone to actually send the route that day.
I have to say that Jason took it in good stead, and although Matt may be the first person to climb it, and excellently at that, it is still 100% Jason’s route. To make an important point here, this route is now CLOSED until Jason makes his FA. It was on loan for this event only – if you want to mess with Jason and his crazy-eyes be my guest, but I am not the kind to visit people in hospital with flowers and get well cards.
With the precedent set the other male finalists got down to the rather daunting business of following Matt. It should be said that 15 year old Guy Patterson-Jones climbed his heart out in this final, and to do as well as he did was actually a victory in itself. At the end of the day though, it was Clinton and Jimbo who battled it out for second and third place with Marijus snapping closely at their heels.
The prize giving was held later that evening with an incredible lamb spit braai (complete with fig jam and homemade bread) and a variety of bottles of red wine. Ant had a long list of ‘thank-you’s’ that went out to many individuals as well as they key sponsors without which this even simply wouldn’t have been possible. PETZL, The Mountain Club of South Africa and First Ascent have been fully supportive of the event from beginning to end and we were proud to be backed by all of them.
Ant made a good point when wrapping up the speeches, and that was about how the Rock & Road concept revolves around relationships. It is about relationships with climbers, with sponsors, with land owners and countless other people that interweave to make something like this work; a competition that feels more like fun than something stressfully testing. Ant added that progress for the sport through new relationships which are built through Rock & Road is more important than the actual winning of it.
But even with that said, there are still people who walk away with some nice prizes! In the women’s division we had:
1. Tessa Little
2. Faye Brouard
3. Candice Bagley
And in the men’s:
1. Matt Bush
2. Clinton Martinengo
3. Jimbo Smith
– RockandRoad_final_overall Scores
The party lasted well into the early hours of the morning – which meant that this reporter had about 1 hour and 23 minutes of sleep before getting into a car to drive 14 hours back to Hilton. So apologies that you had to wait for this update! There is only so much you can actually do within the confines of an Opel Astra in the heat of the Free State, and uploading a blog is not one of them!
There will be plenty more pictures to follow in the next week, so keep checking back for more visual insight into the PETZL Rock & Road Trip Western Cape 2010.
We’d like to send a huge thanks to Kath Fourie for tirelessly following and reporting on the 2010 Rock and Road.
Awesome job Kath !!
And to the event organisers Ant Hall, Julia Wakeling, Gosia Lipinska
And of course the sponsors PETZL, The Mountain Club of South Africa and First Ascent
P.S. Don’t forget to vote for Table Mountain – Click here to Vote !!