Playground in the Sky


An Iridium satellite strutting its stuff.

Today’s astronomy session shall be straight to the to the point, much like a bayonet, but hopefully less painful. I recently heard about Iridium satellites from the knowledgeable Dr Steyn.  Now, said sky voyagers are no doubt fascinating from an engineering point of view, but when stretched out under a wilderness night’s sky, it’s all about the visual effect.  These particular orbiteers have several highly reflective aluminium panels (like mirrors bru) that  in certain orientations can bounce sunlight down to a spot on Earth where it is night.  So, if you are temporally lucky, in the right place, as the satellite cruises the speckled canvas: BAM! It gives off a bright flash.


Douw milking a rest, the udder is out of hidden, out of respect to our bovine brethren.

Such are the days of our lives, but the soap opera cheese is optional.  Let’s examine the last month or so.  A large chunk is just gumf.  In fact, you don’t even remember it do you?  Commuting to work, grocery shopping, checking email, flipping the bad news section in the paper: pedestrian regularity sliding dimly through the vacuum.  Was this shower better than yesterday?  Rice or pasta for starch?  I am sure I have been pestered by more hawkers at this intersection this year…


Upward and outward: A muerte!

So what was awesome? Wild parties, high adventure, epic trips, finding love, giving everything.   These are the flashes we live for. Go on, what memories bring a silly grin to your face and make you wanna yell “Hell yeah!” like a rockstar?

An autographical example, for my pleasure.

Some star cycles ago, the skinny guy and the astronomer spied a line at Tabhomi*. The business pitch looked improbable and intimidating: straddling the spectrum between “too hard” and “impossible”. Or so we thought. I have eventually learnt from Mr Möhle to investigate despite unlikeliness. And sometimes there are perfect holds just where you need them…


Preparing to fight…
Pic: Douw Steyn

[At this point, the author could insert copious climbing lingo describing in excruciating detail the exact moves, wingers, key beta, gear placements and exposure of the route. Oh, and a rude description of a jug so damn sweet you need 3 hands to fondle it properly. But really, it would be much better to go find it all out yourself. ]


Heading for the sky.
Pic: Douw Steyn

Last day: body broken, muscles a collection of synonyms for pap and ineffectual. Much like the Monday after a dirty weekend at Betty’s Bargain Brothel, or so I hear. However my psyche was through the roof. Much like it would be for an expectant hillbilly before an excursion to Elizabeth’s aforementioned service establishment.  Somehow the power of motivation broke the weight of fatigue and I joined my psyche on the other side of the roof.

Perched on the headwall, I speculate it were the druggie equivalent of tantric tripping on multiple drugs (while at Betty’s, for good measure).

“Hell yeah!”


Douw about to top out on the FA of Iridium Flash.

Would it be true to say we opened one of the best pitches at possibly the greatest climbing spot in the our galaxy? Well, it certainly felt like it for me that day, and from an experiential perspective that really is all that matters. Absolutes are irrelevant in this context. Right there, right then, it was off the chart awesome: BAM!

So I guess the next trick is to get your personal satellite to flash as often as possible, in all aspects of life, so it resembles a disco ball pulsating and flaring through the cosmos…



Looking for a wild ride? Iridium Flash (26) on THE Main Wall.


Locals defending their turf, and rightly so.

P.S. Thanks to Douw for a frikken rad trip!

P.S.S. Two weeks later I found another pitch that felt just as good :). The party continues…

* Tabhomi: trad mecca of the known universe. Aka Tafelberg.




Richard is sponsored by La Sportiva, Wild Country, DMM and Roca ropes.



4 Responses to Playground in the Sky

  1. Hector Mar 4, 2013 at 6:31 am #

    Squeaks, when are you going to start writing full time? Despite being broken this morning from an amazing weekend’s climbing, reading this makes me want to get straight back in the car to go do it all again.

  2. Craig Mar 4, 2013 at 7:44 am #

    Frikken AWESOME Squeaks! Love your work! 😀

  3. jimbo Mar 7, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    nice one

  4. Dark Horse Mar 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Squeaks you really are a fantastic writer! I love you stories 🙂

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