Justin: So we heard that you have been pulling down hard of late with a second ascent of Double Jeopardy?
Yeah, a couple of weeks ago I climbed Double Jeopardy (30) on Table Mountain. Dave Birkett (who opened the route in 2000) was in town around the time that Joe Möhle and I were working the route and happened to ask us to list our ‘5 best rock climbs’. We all agreed that Double Jeopardy is a good contender for the top of that list. It’s spectacular. It climbs the steep wall left of Captain Hook on impeccable Table Mountain sandstone. Hidden from the ground on the blank looking wall are plenty of edges and underclings, which make for pretty sustained climbing with some wild moves high above good gear.
It’s kind of run-out but feels safe because the gear is bomber and given the steepness of the rock, you are unlikely to hit anything. I spent a couple of sessions top roping the route with Joe Möhle who helped me work out the moves and gear placements. I was a bit tired and shaky on my first lead attempt and I took a pretty big fall just after the crux onto a really shallow alien cam.
I was pretty psyched; firstly because I got higher than I expected and secondly because the alien below the crux held the fall. I could barely contain my excitement because I knew after a day or two of rest I could do the route next go. Every time I thought about the moves I got butterflies in my stomach. As it turned out, it would be 3 weeks before I eventually made it back to Table Mountain and carefully racked up the gear that I needed. I was too excited to warm up properly and convinced myself that the first half of the route would do that job.
Every once in a while, you can tell by pulling on the first few holds that you are going to have a strong day.
Heading up Double Jeopardy that morning I was having one of those days. Calm. Clear. Strong.
Loving the climbing. I pulled through the crux exactly as I’d rehearsed it. I tried to suppress my excitement for a likely redpoint because I knew there was plenty of hard climbing still to come. I started fiddling with the tricky nut placement from a pumpy undercling after the crux. Balls! The wire on the nut was too thick to fit in the crack and I was starting to pump out and panic. Eventually I abandoned the fight with the nut and tried to shake out and calm down, acutely aware of the run out that I was about to face.
I regained focus and immediately started flowing through the moves, blocking out the big fall potential. A few hard pulls saw me reaching the next rail and I clipped some good gear. Twelve meters of pumpy climbing later and I topped out onto the easy headwall with Camps Bay sparkling in the distance below me. Rad!
As far as I am aware, Double Jeopardy hadn’t been repeated which is remarkable considering its quality. I think it gained a fearsome reputation because it looks terrifying and was opened by a man who thinks its normal for climbers to bounce on the ground every once in a while. It actually climbs a lot easier than it looks and is pretty safe.
Hopefully it will see plenty more ascents soon.
Justin: Any other routes of note that you have sent lately?
As for other routes, I went back to Table Mountain a week later and climbed Jeopardy (29), which Jeremy Samson opened in 1998. It branches off Double Jeopardy about half way up and packs in some tricky moves after the split.
I think I underestimated the difficultly of the moves but managed to shake and tremble my way up it, getting much more scared than the previous week. I also climbed Joe Mohle’s route Life Enhancement Program (31) at the Hole,which has a very un-sport climbing feel to it.
The route was made famous by the film of Joe trad climbing it and it has a collection of fingerlocks and handjams, which are right up Joe’s alley. The bit after the first roof where you swing your toes into the rail half a meter above your hands is terrifying because if you botch it you’ll swing headfirst into the wall below. I even wore a helmet.
In other news – Sean Maasch, Jason Temple-Forbes and I recently spent a week in Oudtshoorn. It was a bit hot for hard climbing so we put our efforts into re bolting some of the classic lines using nice shiny glue-in ARF anchors. Paws, Streetfighter, Goonie Goo Goo, Phalic Mechanic and Up for Grabs were re-bolted.
Related Article: Interview with Jimbo Smith
All photos by of Jonathan Joseph of Outward Ventures