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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 5:04 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2006 8:53 am
Posts: 882
Location: Cape Town
Real Name: Charles Edelstein
Charles Edelstein with Richard Halsey, Clinton Martinengo and Marijus Smigelskis continued with the effort of completing the new route left of Wall of White Light at Blouberg. Between Clinton and Marijus they managed to free all the really hard moves but, besides at least two very two demanding 25 pitches and a number of other tricky pitches, there are also two pitches of grade 30 or harder and one of grade 28 or 29. I don’t know when I can get back there but this will likely be one of the hardest routes (if not the hardest route) in SA when done. There are several very necessary bolts on 4 of the pitches but only one short pitch is only bolts as there isn't a single piece of gear on the very blank headwall. Other than that it is still very definitely a trad route requiring a full trad rack with some bold moments here and there requiring competent trad climbing.

Charles first inspected the route with Clinton some 4 years ago by abseiling dwon the wall. Since then progress has been made with Tini Versveld, Tony Dick and Clinton. The first pitch off the ground is desperately difficult and much harder than grade 24 as originally thought by Tini. Marijus took a fall at the crux despite a pre-placed nut which is very hard to place. Only Clinton has managed to onsite the pitch earlier this year. The next pitch is a run-out complicated grade 23 pitch onsited by Clinton. The 4th grade 25 pitch uses the some of Delicate Sound of Thunder's 4th pitch and then tends to the left to the bivvy ledge. The next pitch is desperately hard and is called the Ningenator pitch at grade 30 something. Above this on the headwall are two very hard pitches with Marijus getting all the moves waxed on the one pitch and Clinton the other. Only then does it ease of to grade 21 or so....

Who knows what the onsite grades are and a bottom up free ascent will be a serious challenge for any climber.

At this stage 2 names are suggested. \"Measuring up......\" or \"What it takes\"

Watch this space.

On a different note...

I was emailed a while ago by someone wanting to do a sport route on Blouberg. I don't think Blouberg should be bolted as it will undermine the value of the existing routes and the efforts and expertise of doing the past first ascents. It would be pointless doing a moderate bolted route as this would result in bolts next to easy trad placements and it would cross existing routes; and a sport route of harder than say grade 24 would really exclude all the moderate climbers; and one bolted line would then lead to another.....

The Blouberg experience is unique and I think it must be the most forgiving wall for gear placements anywhere in the world with only a few fixed pieces required on any one route. Just look at the track record of accidents: I heard someone fell and got injured on 8 miles high which is tricky to protect on the pitch off the grass ledge. Other than that there have been no climbing accidents made known to me except Alard lowering Matt with the rope slipping through the belay device which I attribute to sport climbing habits. By and large the climbing is steep and relatively safe.

A bolted line would denigrate the overall experience and it will probably summarily stop any efforts to do new trad routes there and be another nail in the coffin of trad climbing in SA. Trad climbing still seems to be the glue that makes climbers stick to climbing and venture out for greater things. Alard and Mark are good examples. Sport climbing just does not seem to make people stick to the sport nearly as much as trad as it is more a numbers game than anything else in my opinion. I remember less than 1 in 10 sport climb names. There are plenty of bolted routes for the sport rock jocks to climb.

Opinions welcome...


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:07 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 20, 2005 7:03 am
Posts: 166
Location: da Big Red baboon in magalies
I'm happy to abseil after anyone who is willing to bolt a sport route on the north face of blouberg, just so I can chop their bolts and putty up the holes :D


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:55 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2006 8:21 pm
Posts: 354
Awesome job Snort and co! It takes lots of effort to find new ground on that big wall.
A full sport route at Blouberg would be a total waste of time. There are some bolts around protecting blank sections, which i reckon is justified in 400m if the line is worthy. But virtually no sport climber I know would make the effort to drive 5 hours, walk 3hrs (or 8 if they get lost) to climb 10 odd sport pitches when they could head out to Boven instead. Although plenty of sport climbers have made at least one trip to Blouberg to do one of the classic trad routes because they want to do something out of their comfort zone.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 2:03 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:53 pm
Posts: 136
Real Name: Danny Pinkas
As an avid sport climber, who has made the long trip up to the Blue mountain 5 times in 15 years, I totally agree with you, Snort, that Blouberg should remain the preserve of Traditional climbing. There are enough crags around for those of us who are too scared of developing muscles in our legs.
I'm not too sure about your opinion re. trad Vs sport, though. For every Mark there is a Collin, every Alard, a Justin. We all get different kicks from different aspects of the sport and that is o.k. As long as there is enough rock around, there is no need for anyone to spoil the nature of a place by \"forcing\" their preferred discipline of the sport on a crag. I feel the same way about traditional lines on popular sport crags.
Finally, not that it adds to the debate, but I seem to remember someone falling to their death a few years ago while backing off a line. A medical student from Pta, if I remember correctly.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 3:08 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:53 pm
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Real Name: Danny Pinkas
P.s. Forgot to add my voice of admiration. Sounds like a monumental effort. Hope you manage to piece it all together in the near future.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 12:31 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2006 8:53 am
Posts: 882
Location: Cape Town
Real Name: Charles Edelstein
Hi Danny, thanks for the comments. Just to clarify one point is that I doubt I would personally do better than climbing the pitches at grade 25 A0. My creaky bones ain't gonna do those grade 30 pitches without using some silver hand holds.

As for stickiness to climbing. In and around Cape Town in the 10 years that I lived here by far the most routes opened, whether sport or trad, have been done by climbers that started with trad. And we are all getting on now. New routes are rarely openened by new/younger sport climbers. And if they are doing so I don't know of the routes. The young dudes tend to come, peak at grade 30 or so and then go. It's the exceptions like Justin that prove the rule and he has a pretty good sponsorship to incentivise him. We'll see if he sticks in 10 years time when he gets older and weaker (like I am).

Marijus is a boulderer and sport climber but he started with trad and has done a big wall route before. I thought getting him to Blouberg will add some glue to his climbing. I think he loved it.


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