Fallen Iris – unplugged

This is not the article I was going to post this week.  However, before I could finish that one, something else came along.  A starter if you will…

Last Sunday, myself and visiting climber Anton Gietl fondled some virgin rock at Tafelberg.  The result was Fallen Iris, and indeed it was quite rock-gasmic.  It features spectacular climbing, stupendous stances, ball-tugging exposure and just the right amount of spice (think Durban tourist, not Delhi resident).

Squeaky stalking the skyline

Squeaky stalking the skyline. Photo: Anton Gietl.

Now, this is not some egocentric plug for our route.  On the contrary it is essentially the opposite.  Let me explain.

Fallen Iris is not desperate, hard or dangerous.  Nor is it squeezed in or lurking on the sidelines.  It is consistent grade 17 to 19 up the Main Wall.  It is certainly on par with the very best on the mountain, and was simply off the radar, until now.  Probably overlooked, or improbable looking.
The lesson:  even at one of the premier trad venues in SA, there are still unclimbed moderates of excellent quality waiting to be found.  Which brings me to my point: you don’t need to be uber strong to be a pioneer.  You don’t need to be a rockstar to find great quality lines at your grade.

While we also have hundreds of crags that are yet to be visited by folks with chalk bags, one doesn’t necessarily need to go that far to find something new and inspiring at whatever level suits you.  With a bit of imagination and gutspa there is oodles of vertical exploration to be had, even at existing areas.  We are particularly lucky in SA to have so much climbing potential that pretty much anyone can find some untouched magic.

So, while I am sure you would grin like a stoned Cheshire cat atop our new line, you would probably have even more fun discovering a gem of your own.  

Which begs the question, what are you doing this weekend?

Anton about to embark on the long, airy traverse

Anton about to embark on the long, airy traverse


The Dark Arete with views across the entire wall

The Dark Arete with views across the entire wall


Celebrating the monster pocket on pitch 3.

Celebrating the monster pocket on pitch 3. Photo: Anton Gietl

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






12 Responses to Fallen Iris – unplugged

  1. Gustav Nov 28, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

    19 going on (looking like) 27 ? 😉

    Good job okes.

  2. Mokganjetsi (Willem B) Nov 29, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    freakin A! but damn you for stealing the line us average okes could have opened 😉 can’t wait to go try it…

  3. Justin Lawson Nov 29, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    Nice one Richard 🙂

  4. illona Nov 29, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    Love it! Well done chaps. Never stop exploring and discovering new lines.

  5. jacques Nov 29, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    ek gaan nog eendag n Squeaks tatoo iewers op my lyf kry…. hehehe. well done Squeaks!

  6. Paul Nov 30, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    Studied all those photo’s and CANNOT see how that can be 17 or 19. Looks very smooth and featureless ! But 19 feels like 17 when you’re climbing grade 25 Trad. You sure Squeaks ?

  7. Richard Dec 1, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    Folks, fear not.

    Steep, yes. Exposed, yes. A smidgen committing, yes. Sandbag, no.

    However this raises two generic points, which I will address in general, as this piece is not about one line, but all those waiting to be found.

    1. Things are sometimes easier than they look.
    From the ground, from stances and in photos routes may look intimidating and improbable. However, if you are lucky there a great rails, cracks and edges you can’t see until you are there.
    Which is why I think one should just climb (or abseil) into the unknown, for you won’t know unless you do.

    So Paul, yes, you can’t see the mega ‘edges’ (brick sized) leading to the enormous pocket in the picture, but they ARE there, just out of view 🙂

    2. Consistency within an area.
    If you do something new, make your best guess on grade relative to established routes in the same area, of similar grade that you have climbed recently.

    In our case, on the same trip, we found them comparable (or easier!) than the 19s on Maidens Dare and Oceans of Air. Also, way easier than the 21 on Chain of Voices…

    3. Whatever you do, have fun!

  8. Kai Dec 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    Looks very promising! Unfortunately in Europe it is hard to find new lines like this one. Congrats.

  9. Hector Dec 3, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    Good work okes. We live in FA heaven in SA.

  10. Chris F Dec 4, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    Kai, only in some parts of Europe…

    • Kai Dec 5, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

      Let me know if you have an idea for such a line in the Alps.

  11. Chris F Dec 9, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    I didn’t say the Alps. You said Europe, it’s a big place.

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