Easter Bouldering Festival Report

Gydo Pass Easter Bouldering Festival 2013

Guy on Last Chance Salon 7B Photo Michael Janata

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.’

Gydo Pass Easter Bouldering Festival 2013

Marijus sending The Athiest 7C+ Photo Michael Janata

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.

Gydo Pass Easter Bouldering Festival 2013

Jeanne on General Awesomeness 7A+ Photo Michael Janata

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.

Final results:


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)

Gydo Pass Easter Bouldering Festival 2013

Lady winners


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)
Gydo Pass Easter Bouldering Festival 2013

Men winners

Best route:

  • 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.

Easter Boulder Comp sponsors 2013

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

Other Prizes

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:

Keith Forbes 

“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!

Gydo Pass Easter Bouldering Festival 2013

Keith trying sprite 7A Photo Michael Janata

Zoe Duby

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!

Gydo Pass Easter Bouldering Festival 2013

General view of the area

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.

Gydo Pass Easter Bouldering Festival 2013

Rachelle working Twelve Monkeys 7B Photo Michael Janata

new area Mpumalanga Bouldering Festival 2014

New area Mpumalanga Bouldering Festival 2014


Next Year

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.

31 Responses to Easter Bouldering Festival Report

  1. Jurie Apr 3, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

    This event marks a low point for me,in stark contradiction to all the highlights as pointed out in the article above. If this trend serves as a proxy for the developmental trajectory for all current and future undisclosed areas, then the future appears bleak,boring,self-defeating,insipid and quite frankly f#cked! A “big-up” to Neil Margetts(who posssibly knows very little of what I am on about),Guy and Micheal(whom both know exactly what I am on about) for your contribution in staging this event and in doing so destroying the very essence of something that was pure,sustainably so, and greatly so due to the lack of a notion that a horde of scurrying competing(only if you climb 7b or could manage an “awesome” FA) ants(extending the analogy as used in the article) would/could in any way improve what was already in place. Some say that sharing is caring, but here it seems only in as far as caring about ones own significance in the context of a small,discordant and ostensible community. I am truly dissapointed and utterly disgusted.

  2. Robbie Apr 3, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    The Easter Bouldering comp was probably the best organised and most fun comp I’ve ever been to. Big thanks to Neil and everyone involved in the organising. Please don’t become discouraged by self centred and self righteous comments like the one above.

    Looking forward to next year’s event!

  3. Justin Lawson Apr 4, 2013 at 7:19 am #

    With regards to Jurie’s comment I have posted in Guys’s comment from the initial article which advertised the event:

    Hi everyone

    Here’s the deal and why I choose to publish this area.

    This area is on private land. The landowner has been extremely cool and given us unrestricted access to his land. I explained bouldering to him and the impact it would have on the vegetation (ie very significant impact in the small area around the base of boulders, plus some paths). He was cool with that and his biggest concern was fires. The same is true for the landowner of the adjacent property where some of the boulders are situated. I even discussed the number of climbers that might go there if we publicized the area. He was totally cool. However, it is worth noting that many of boulders have rock bases making the impact considerably less. I even discussed the number of climbers that might go there if we publicized the area. He was also ok with that.

    So access is sorted (provided people have the decency to ask permission).

    A big part of me would be very happy to keep this secret and carry on opening problems for the rest of life (there is that much). The problem is that the foreigners in Rocklands were asking about the place in July this year. I don’t know who told them, but the cat is out the bag and people are going to start going there. And one thing is certain – some people will not have the decency to ask for permission to climb there, even if they knew who the landowner is (which is not obvious). By publishing the area we can tell people the very simple rules of going there.

    I also figured that having this event in March, would give the locals a few months to climb some of the future classics before the foreigners arrive in July/August…


    Guy Holwill

    There is also a discussion on the matter here: http://www.climbing.co.za/2013/03/easter-bouldering-festival/#comment-87631
    Here: http://www.climbing.co.za/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=9737

    From me: Thanks to Guy and Michael for developing the area and sharing it with us, and to Neil for all his hard work and organisation, and to the sponsors for prizes…

    Was a fun day out, beautiful area, looking forward to going there again!

  4. Paul Apr 4, 2013 at 7:47 am #

    and you’re a complete cock Jurie ! apologies, a proper cock !

  5. wesley Apr 4, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    Jurie.. don’t tell anyone…. there are other secret places where you can go and play with yourself.

  6. Illogic Apr 4, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    PLease just make sure to publish as much of this as quickly as possible. We need this place to become the “next Roclands” as soon as possible! We need Chuck Fryburger with a camera and his team of Euro hero’s to show the world what they have been missing.Then we need to set up a large enough campsite to host all of this and truly place this area on the map… Just think De Pakhuis in all its over- run-tented-squatter-camp glory. Awesome!

    Take whatever you have enjoyed from climbing in this area over the past weekend, and kiss it goodbye… it will all be lost in the not too distant future.

    To the organizers and “founders” of this area: you truly are a bunch of A-grade meat helmets.

  7. NickT Apr 4, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

    Jurie and Illogic….stop and think a bit guys…..have both of you been to this area? Do both of you have vested interests in this area? What grades do most of the international visitors climb and what grades are the available climbs at this new area (from what I have seen and heard there is nothing more than an 8A/8A+ project there and no potential for harder…)….Rocklands is Rocklands and it is always going to be crowded because of media attention and the ease of access. I highly doubt this area is going to become the ‘next rocklands’…it may have the potential to become a new big area for local SA climbers to get to on the weekends and maybe a cool alternative for a long weekend. Its just another spot on our already huge list of world class bouldering.
    Oh, I forgot to mention…it’s on PRIVATE LAND and the access has been kindly arranged and sorted by the event organisers. Its also a bit early to get a bee in your bonnet…so calm down and go do some trad where you can be free and in peace and tranquility on your big wall, or oh…take a walk to topside where you would be extremely lucky to bump into another climber!

  8. Jurie Apr 4, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    Thanks for that NickT.I feel much better having reflected on your insightful comments.It is not too early it is in fact too late,the principle of the matter has been destroyed.

  9. Robbie Apr 4, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    What exactly is your issue with the whole thing?

    From what I can glean from your posts, it seems you just dislike the idea of having to share the area with other climbers?

  10. Derek Marshall Apr 4, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

    Comps & commercialization suck ass.

    Please include me as a complete & proper cock. I’m with Jurie & Illogic.

  11. Paul Apr 4, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

    i agree with you Derek, you are a proper cock !

  12. Jurie Apr 4, 2013 at 9:46 pm #


    As far as I can gather you participated in the event and seem to have enjoyed it to some significant extent.

    By implication you think such events are good,furthermore it would not be a vile thought, for you(applies to all participants) to organise similar events elsewhere.

    Herein lie the roots of my issue.

    The “movie premiere” approach;

    1)Start climbing in an area.
    2)Realisation that the climbing is of high quality.
    3)Develop the area to the extent where you feel confident that the title of “developer” can no longer be stripped from you by any other individual/group of climbers introduced to the area.
    4)Documentation of what has been “established”.
    5)Organising an event showcasing something you “established”,accompanied by tantalising advertising aimed at attracting a very specific participant, one whom lacks autominity.(and in this case under some non-sensical altruistic pretext)
    6)Staging the “event”.
    7)People compete and win shit.
    8)Developers and/or organisers receive praise for their efforts and vision.
    9)Being praised(through whatever gesture, eg. participation is a common form of praise) is a good, though transient, feeling.(and in this case the good feeling is reinforced by feeling exceedingly relevant).
    10) 9 induce a perpetuality driving a self-reinforcing cycle.
    11)1-9 inducing some participants to follow suit driving a new but parallel cycle.
    12)Finally reaching a point where relevance(as viewed by individual/group in context of community) is directly proportional to what you can and do share(although received praise does not and will not be directly proportional to what is being shared).

    Thus to reiterate my inital comments, this event (and many like it) are driven by expected(sic. desired) personal gains, masked by some pretext(in this case some bullsh#t altruistic notion) without any regards to future eventualities other than the immediate kind(9 above) inevitably leading to the influx of mindless “line” consumers,and in this process everything that made the area originally attractive is destroyed and irreversably so.

    Thus my disgust Robbie.

  13. Robbie Apr 4, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    Okay. So you are unhappy that some people are receiving credit for “finding” or “developing” the area?

    Here is my view. Regardless of what motives were involved, the area is now open for more climbers to enjoy. I think this is a good thing.

    You and Illogic both say the area is effectively destroyed, how so? Is it “destroyed” for you because you liked it better when the public wasn’t able to climb there?

    Also, you consider an influx of new climbers to the area as nothing more than “mindless line consumers”; so I’m interested to know, what sets you apart? Why are you different from other climbers who want to climb at the area?

  14. Jurie Apr 4, 2013 at 10:20 pm #

    Lets risk asking you a question Robbie.

    What is good about the “public” (now only?) being able to climb there?

  15. Robbie Apr 4, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

    Sure. I have no qualms answering questions.

    It’s good because it gives people another area to climb at. Not only do more climbers get to enjoy a great area, but it also takes some of the strain off other areas.

    Now, if you please; I’d still like my questions answered.

  16. Cuan Apr 5, 2013 at 7:37 am #

    Wow…waaaay to much BS going on here. The point is to climb and share what you have found to climb with the community. Plain and simple. If you do that with a little competition, so what? There is so much rock in RSA we’ll never explore it all. And having more convenient spots to climb is great.

  17. Albert Apr 5, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    Robbie, you are missing the point by a long shot brother.

    The issue in question is not whether people are climbing there or not, it is in the manner in which it is being done.

    If I can draw you a parralel here: if this was to happen in the surfing fraternity where a group of individuals have organised a competition at a spot that has been, up untill then, only used and known to by a small fraction of people, there would have been some flared emotions, to say the least. If not a couple of bloodied noses..

  18. Jurie Apr 5, 2013 at 1:29 pm #


    Climb and share and share climbing shared climbs with everyone(i.e. bouldering public per se) – utopian!

    There are an infinite number of possible discrete high quality bouldering areas in South Africa,what, really?

    Climbing should be as convenient as possible?

    Come on.

  19. hermann Apr 5, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    One thing we can all agree on, is that we have ALL benefited from the fact that someone/thing told us about a cool place to climb. If Jurie and Illogic wants to keep areas secret that they’ve found, that is their choice. But, if someone finds the same place and wants to share it, it is their choice as well. And by the way, none of this potential areas and land that Jurie and Illogic wants to protect belongs to them. Either it belongs to EVERYONE (public/government owned) or belongs to private people who can decide what to do with it.
    Of course publishing areas, making videos etc will increase the negative impact on that environment, but it is possible in many instances to manage this. However, you don’t get something for nothing. Rocklands have seen its share of deterioration in some areas, but I think it is worth it given how much and how many people have gained from experiencing the area. Then there’s also the financial injection small towns like Clanwilliam have gained and how this has directly influenced the people in the area with donations and programs to local schools for instance.
    This whole debate is based on the same type of differences between conservative environmentalists and big business. Somewhere in between lies the answer. Luckily as climbing areas go, this will mostly take care of itself. How, well the Topside issue raised above is one. It boils down to laziness. Topside has been published for ages and its not overrun because it is so spread out and have generally long walk ins. Same with Kleinmond etc etc. Not all areas will get trashed, because they have different levels of appeal and ease of access.

    In the end, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

  20. Cuan Apr 5, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    Jip. I see you can copy and waste. What is your point?
    You’re welcome to stay away and we’ll go climb there if that’s what you would prefer? Go find somewhere else. There are many yes. More areas still un-developed/discovered than you could fully explore in a lifetime.
    Why SHOULDN’t climbing be convenient? Does that detract from the experience if you have excellent quality convenient climbing? Do you not share areas with friends/etc which you’ve found? Why not? Sounds selfish.

  21. Robbie Apr 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    @Albert: If the issue is not that other people are climbing there, then you should have no problem with the area being published.

    “I liked it better when it was just us climbing/surfing here” does not qualify as a rational reason not to publish an area.

    @Jurie: You’ve done an admirable job of avoiding the question thus far, so I’ll ask it again. What sets you apart the “mindless line consumers” i.e. other climbers?

  22. Jurie Apr 5, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    Hermann, yes everything can be reduced to a set of inevitable fundamentals, thus rendering any discussion or argument irrelevant.This does not achieve anything proper. Bouldering areas need not follow the generic trend of discovered(1)-developed(2)-published(3)-visited(4), skipping 3 induces a trend of 1-2-4 which can result in parallel cycles[(1-2-3);(1-2-3)etc], the generic trend results in a once off sequential series for 1-2 with 3-4 forming an interchangeable self reinforcing cycle.I believe in the parallel sequence,this is achievable.

    Cuan, you seem to know very little when it comes to exploring,finding and managing new bouldering areas. I think you should conveniently p#ss off.

    Robbie,read everything that I have written,masticate this information properly,compare this to your own views and position and voila!

  23. NickT Apr 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

    Another question for Jurie…who are you? have you ever been to these areas? Do really have a serious vested interest in this ‘new’ area? Or are you simply voicing your opinions on the forum?

  24. Jurie Apr 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm #


    What do mean when you ask, “who are you?”.
    I have been to the Witzenberg.
    My concerns are about principles applied here, not only specific to this area.
    What you gained by this event, I lost, nothing more and nothing less.
    I am voicing my opinion, on this forum, is this not obvious?

  25. Leon du Toit Apr 5, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    There is obviously nothing illegitimate or morally wrong about this competition, competitions in general or publishing bouldering guides to areas. Especially when there is informed consent from land owners, whether public or private.

    Similarly, there is nothing wrong with other forms of sharing than via competition and publication. To claim that competitions and publications are the only legitimate and sincere forms of sharing would be ridiculous to say the least. To claim the opposite would be also be nonsense.

    It is not a matter of right and wrong. It’s about _style_.

    And style is important. Some people have one style of doing things, while another person’s style may be radically different, whether it is climbing, surfing, creating art or even doing business.

    All over the world you find some groups of climbers who are more interested in competitions and publishing stuff and other groups who are not into that kind of thing. This case is no different. People should not be surprised that there are different views on this, as if that was not allowed…

    Personally, competitions the publication of bouldering guides are not my thing. But by saying that I do not imply that other people are wrong to enjoy it. And I most certainly don’t exclude anyone from anything, least of all those people with whom I share what I do in the way that I want to.

    My 2 Kroner cents.

  26. Jurie Apr 5, 2013 at 6:46 pm #


    Sober and solid analysis.I cannot agree more.

  27. Cuan Apr 5, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    Thanks Jurie,

    Just make sure to let me know whenever you’re missioning anywhere so I know to avoid it while you’re there. I don’t want to step in all the sh1t coming out your mouth 😉

  28. hermann Apr 5, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    Jurie, I think you will help your case by explaining things more clearly without using academic styled phrases. Actually, I’m not sure what you’re on about half the time. Is it damage to boulder areas that bothers you, or just the way other people go about climbing in new areas? If its the latter, then your opinion has been noted, everybody sees it and that’s the end of that. Obviously your opinion is not going to stop anybody from going about it their way and vice versa.

    Again like I said, if YOU find an area, keep it to yourself, but I probably won’t – at least after having my way alone with some of the rocks for an openly selfish FA 😉

  29. Jurie Apr 5, 2013 at 8:07 pm #


    I struggle to condense my thoughts, please refer to Leon’s post above, this is what I was trying to get across.


    Noted.I might be going somewhere this weekend,your call if you want to go there.

  30. Sean Apr 6, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    Looks awesome! Thanks Guy and Mike for all the hard work to develop an awesome new area and negotiating access. There are plenty areas in the world where access is an issue and I hope that boulderers respect the privilege of being able to spend a couple hours outside of the rat race enjoying what nature has to offer.

  31. Sean Apr 6, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    Jurie have you taken your meds recently?

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