Easter Bouldering Festival – An Eagle’s Viewpoint by Adele Mc Cann
As I swooped across my boulder scattered mountain side, I spotted specks of colour dotting the landscape. What on earth could this be, I thought. The specks were moving over, under and up the rocks like ants. Sometimes they shouted and fell onto soft flat mats at the base of the boulders. I flew down and perched on one of the largest boulders.
‘This is the coca cola boulder,’ said an enthusiastic stout ant who appeared to know the place well, ‘And over there are some of the routes of the comp’. There goes the neighborhood, I supposed.
Throughout the day I watched the goings on and noticed that some of the climbing ants appeared to be more successful than others. Two brothers and also a crested haired ant were doing very well. What must have surely been the smallest ant of them all was also succeeding more than the other smaller ants.
A tall ant with a bok beard looked as if he was an authority. ‘This comp has a very simple format,’ I heard him say,’ After you have sent the problems, you just need to tick the relevant box on the card that I handed out. That’s it – no halfway, onsight or bonus points. There are 15 routes, the easiest being about 6 a + and the hardest being 7c+. The entry level for this comp has been set as 6c for most of the smaller ants and 7b for most of the larger ants. That means that the 6a + is actually part of the warm up.’
Just before sun set there was some urgent scurrying around, as some ants still had to do some of the boulders. As the light began to fade, the colourful ants traipsed back down the mountain side following small piles of rocks, laughing and talking, while carrying the square soft shells on their backs.
The next day, despite a threat of rain, the ants reappeared, this time ‘to open problems’. Bok beard was kept busy hiding Easter gifts amongst the boulders and later presented two of the most successful ants extra square soft shells.
Later that day it rained and all the white powder, that the ants had been using while they had been climbing, was washed off the rocks. In fact there were very few signs that they had even been there at all, only the small piles of rocks remained.
Rachelle de Charmoy (7 prob done, 5 gr6, 1 7A and 1 7C)
Jeanne Bouyat (6 prob done 5 gr6, 1 7A)
Clara Grant (5 prob done 5 gr 6)
Zoe Duby (4 prob done, 4 gr 6)
Marijus Smigelskis (15 prob done 3 7C/+, 3 7b/+, 4 7A/+ 6 gr 6))
- Edvinas Smigelskis (14 prob done all but one 7B)
- Jimbo Smith (14 prob done, all but one 7C+)
- Mathieu Schneuwly (12 prob done with the first person doing the 7C+)
- Robbie Fraser (12 prob done)
- Ian Rogers (10 done with one 7B)
- Clifford Hakimi (10 prob done)
- Gunner Mertz (9 prob done)
- Keith Forbes (7 prob done)
- Sean Harris (took just a few good lines)
- Justin Lawson (took just a few good lines)
- Craig Bruton (took just a few good lines)
- Men Kieth Forbes with the Jaffle Iron 6A+ -
- Women Zoe Duby with Nevermind the Buzzcocks 6A -
There were also consolation prizes for the most torn pants, worst hands and others. WE also hid lots of Easter gifts in the boulders on the Sunday. Some of them are still there as a pleasant surprise for somebody in future trips.
The prizes won were huge. Close on R15 000 total value. Huge thanks must go to to CityROCK, Mountain Mail Order, Black Diamond and Boreal for their unbelievable generosity.
Support those who support our sport.
First Place Men and Women Difficulty:
- Zip Jetboil
- Coffee plunger attachment for jetboil
- Gas for jetboil
- GSI folding spatula
- GSI folding salad server
- Evolve bore hair brush
- Metolius brush
- Evolve Chalk (200g)
- Metolius climbing tape X2 rolls
- Black diamond vest
- plus a promised Mad Rock boulder pad, will let you know when it arrives.
First Place Men and Women Opening feast: Metolius Boulder pad
Heaps of chalk, key rings, bouldering brushes, water bottles, posters, T Shirts, and lots more.
The event was a great success, and the climbers enjoyed themselves tremendously. The new area which is now open is near Ceres, about 2h drive away from Cape Town. The area has been named Gydo Pass and is within the Witzenberg mountains, and the comp was in the Sidetrack Hill, Coke Bottle area. The coke bottle is a huge boulder there which has a very PG meaning behind the name. Climbers are returning this weekend to the area again and Marijus and Ed may be already back there working a wild looking 8A or harder they found up on the top of the hill.
Here are some of the comments from the climbers:
“Shall we try Coke [7B uberclassic bulge]? Or something harder? Perhaps some crack or something?” “Robbie says speed is absolutely key.” “Ian got really high but then came down hard“… “No girl has done it yet; gonna need some real heroine”. “What a superb line!”. And so on. An excursion with little bags of white powder and an oversupply of lame puns, you could easily be forgiven for mistaking the nature of this fun-filled weekend away. Neil’s idea was to find a top-notch outdoor boulder area and to hold a climbing comp and problem-opening festival over two days. As luck would have it, Guy and Michael had developed a secret world-class bouldering area. Better than Rocklands, a shorter drive, and hotter showers in the campsite… What more could you possibly ask for? A huge thank you goes to Guy, Michael, Neil, and all others who made the event possible!
We were very impressed with this year’s Easter bouldering competition – having been a bit sceptical about how amazing this new area was going to be, we were happily surprised by the quality and quantity of rock. The campsite was awesome, set amidst a pine forest with a nice big swimming dam. The comp on Saturday was well organised, with 15 high quality problems ranging from 6a-ish to 7c+. Sunday was also great fun – being given the opportunity to explore a new area and open up new lines, while at the same time searching for elusive easter prizes hidden amongst the boulders. Thankfully the weather gods played nice, blessing us with perfect crisp conditions, good temps for sending okes. Overall an awesome weekend, and we look forward to the next one!
Rachelle de Charmoy
The Easter Bouldering Festival was a brilliant revival of what the old outdoor NBL finals used to be. It was a fantastic day of bouldering on some spectacular lines. The format of the comp day limited us to 15 existing problems, and for me that was plenty given the quality and difficulty of the selection. Having missed the opening day I will certainly be back soon enough to grab a FA or two in this awesome new area.
Camping was at Petervale campsite, just outside of Ceres. The campsite is in a pine forest and is very comfortable with great facilities. From the campsite you need to drive a few km to get to the bouldering area, which is on the property of another farmer. If and when climber want to go climb there, then please contact Guy Holwill first as he is in contact with the farmer who owns the land. We really do not want to loose access, so please do not go without permission, and once there treat it as you would your own land.
After prize giving there was a general discussion on how to improve the event. The idea is to move the event to a new province each year to promote bouldering in that area. Conclusions which we came to were as follows:
- Introduce an intermediate category with 10 additional easier climbs.
- Have the opening feast in a more clearly defined area with everybody meeting up at a set point afterwards with a group tour of the problems.
- Have something on in the evening, perhaps a talk or fun event.
We plan to do the Mpumalanga Bouldering Festival 2014 on the long weekend of 26, 27 and 28 April in this awesome new secret venue about 2 and a half hours drive from Johannesburg.