Your epic

Tell us about the most epic or adventurous moment that you and your climbing partners have experienced - scary, dangerous, accidents or close calls that happened out climbing or in the mountains.
Post Reply
User avatar
climbcityrock
Posts: 58
Joined: Tue May 27, 2014 8:59 am
Real Name: CityROCK Indoor Climbing Gym

Your epic

Post by climbcityrock » Wed Nov 06, 2019 2:03 pm

Don't forget to post your epic tale on this topic to win with Edelrid. Have you had a close call or been seriously injured? How could Edelrid products have made you safer? You could win some epic Edelrid products.

Click here for full details
- Exciting Edelrid prizes are up for grabs including the signature Tommy Caldwell Pro Dry 9.6mm 70 metre rope!

Rockray143
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed May 16, 2018 7:21 pm
Real Name: Raymond

Re: Your epic

Post by Rockray143 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 7:34 am

If only I had the Tommy Caldwell Pro Dry 9.6mm. I recently moved to the lowveld (in my opinion one of the better places to stay in South Africa if you are a climber) and have been climbing for more than 10 years. In working my way through one of the local Crag’s tick lists I came across a route a route which has proven to pose a thorough challenge, might I add that the route is supposedly graded well below my climbing capabilities.

The route starts up an open book rather thin crack line which follows through a small overhang and into some easier terrain. It then goes on to some face climbing that gradually increases towards the end of the route being just over vertical. At this stage of the climb you have lost all forms of communication with your belayer as the crag is right next to a river.

Now I have been on this route more than a hand full of times, every time getting kicked off at the top two bolts away from the chains. On this specific day once again two bolts away from the chains I finally managed to link up the moves getting ready to clip the last bolt before the chains. I clipped the quick draw to the hanger now started to pull up rope to clip, because of the amount of drag created by my old thick rope I was forced to default into a very bad habit of pulling up rope putting it in my mouth and getting ready to pull up some more rope “I wish I had the Tommy Caldwell Pro Dry 9.6mm”.

Here comes the terror as my last move to pull that last little bit of rope to clip I fell my feet start to slip which ended up in me hanging of only my right hand with the rope still thoroughly lodged between my teeth. There was obviously no returning from this point and a reasonable response would have been to let go of the rope but for some reason that was the last thing on my mind. I lost my grip on the right and I started dropping with a whole lot slack and the rope still thoroughly lodged between my teeth. Giving a scream at this point would have made things a lot better but unfortunately not what happened. After dropping a few meters the rope pulled tight and ripped out one of my top front teeth.

After the dust settled I discovered that by some magical way my tooth was still inside my mouth perfectly lying on my tongue and not where it should be. Keep in mind that my belayer is still very much n the dark with what is happening here. I fished out the tooth put it in my pocket and went on to go and give the crux another go this time finally getting past it to the chains. I still have not managed to free climb the route but this will certainly be a who lot easier if I have the Tommy Caldwell Pro Dry 9.6mm
Last edited by Rockray143 on Thu Nov 07, 2019 9:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

dannypinkas
Posts: 165
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:53 pm
Real Name: Danny Pinkas

Re: Your epic

Post by dannypinkas » Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:43 am

I enjoyed reading your epic, Raymond. I think you forgot to mention that the new gap between your teeth measures exactly 9.6 mm...

KieranKP
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 11:12 am
Real Name: Kieran richards

Re: Your epic

Post by KieranKP » Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:49 pm

Brokeback Broberg

A short story of our epic on the big blue hill that is Blouberg.

The psyche was high as we left Jozi at noon with an awesome crew of keen climbers, the goal was to have an epic weekend of climbing on Blouberg. Little did we know it was not the type of epic that we were intening on. We had a smooth drive into Limpopo and down into the Glade to park at Frans kraal at about 7pm. Confident that there were at least 3 of us who could navigate to the cave successfully, we set off into the darkness keen on the adventures that awaited for the weekend.

 About 40 minutes into the hike, just after the donga section of the trail, we stopped to strip some layers and pound down some water. We noticed pretty quickly that something was missing, in fact two somethings were missing, an Ale and an Allister. Somewhere down in the forrest they had decided to take a "photo" of something interesting. Once they acquired their interesting photograph, which i have never actually seen, they lookup up only to notice that the rest of us had vanished into the thick dark bush. 

If you have ever been to Blouberg you will know that the cattle paths leading you up the mountain are about as hard to follow as it is to convince a climber to go cycling. Ale and Allister attempted to navigate these paths hoping to turn a corner and find the rest of us waiting with pancakes and milkshake. Unfortunately for them this was not the case! After about an hour of waiting and many failed phone calls and shared locations, we finally heard our two lost soldiers hustling their way through the thicket. By this stage the rest of us were well keen to get a move on, and they didn’t receive much of a greeting before we promptly shot back off up the hill, this time making sure they were in the middle of the group. Unfortunately we did not have an Edilrid signature Tommy Caldwell Pro Dry 9.6mm 70 metre rope with us, it would have been great for daisy chaining us all together and keeping the straglers in line;)

After a long and tiring walk we finally saw the familiar sight of the luxurious cave that was to be our home for the next two nights, so we thought. We promptly unraveled out mats and sleeping bags, sorted some gear, scoffed some chow, spoke some sh&% and hit the sack. A rude awakening saw us all up and psyching each-other up at 4am. After quick cup of coffee and some instant oats we set off into the dark to grab some water and head off to the ramp. Water was quite the controversial topic that morning, with plenty of banter slung at us for carrying 9l for our party of 3. We were hauling a bag and it was hot so the extra water made sense at the time. Why not?

We started scrambling down the ramp and after not too long i took a wrong turn around a boulder, with Dylan hot on my heels i quickly made a prompt U turn when we realised we were on the edge of the cliff scrambling down into the abyss. Some cuss words were mumbled and we quickly found our way onto the correct route down the ramp. The ramp always feels longer than you remember, and by the time we got to the base of the cliff we had all worked up a pretty decent sweat. We split up into our 3 teams of three being: 
* Allister, Evan and Dylan
* Chris OD, Zakk and Chris C
* Ale, Wes and I
After promptly dropping the kids off at the pool we all set off on our separate routes. The goal for our party was to climb "Hey Jude”. Pitch one was a breeze. Pitch 2 and Pitch 3 proved quite a bit slower, as we had a few gumby issues with the haul bag and realised that maybe we should have taken less water and snacks! This thing was freaking heavy and it didn’t help that these pitches were mostly blocky and slightly on angle, it was hooking on everything. Hauling was going to be an exhausting task. When we reached the grassy ledge, we realised that we were behind schedule and decided to make the tactical (read wuss out) decision to switch routes. We decided to follow "Moon Shadow" which I had done a while back. After the trek across the grassy ledge we reached the base of the corner where our alternate route continued. A quick ching chong cha and Wes took the lead. 

I gave Wes the beta and off he went, route finding became quite a mission up there and after a few attempts at finding the right route Wes asked to be lowered to the stance. I quickly racked up and followed where he had climbed quickly realising that i had given the poor oak very very bad beta! I completely forgot about the first small roof, so where i told him to traverse left after the roof, he did so perfectly, except it was at the wrong roof, i quickly understood why he asked to be lowered! My bad Wes! I found my way to the stance and got my partners and the pig up there ASAP. After some apologies and laughs Ale was up to lead the next pitch. 

Ale missioned up through the next pitch and after some route finding and rope snafus he made it to the stance and called safe. Wes and I got ready and told ale to start hauling, the bag moved about 5mm every 10 seconds, i knew something was up. I decided to follow the climb ahead of Wes to sort the tag line out and help Ale haul. I made my way up the climb trying to position the tag line as plumb as possible. At about 3/4 of the way up the pitch i experienced something fascinating. At this point you reach a ledge where there is a left facing corner, the route goes up here. However the left face is formed by a pillar, therefore there is a right facing corner on the other side of the pillar. I climbed the left hand corner (the correct route) which only had one piece of gear about a meter up, i was impressed as the climbing is spicy for the grade. Close to the top of the corner i noticed the second rope was going around the pillar and pulling me sideways. I fought and fought but could not get the rope loose. I asked ale to lower me and made my way around to the other corner where i was astonished to find another piece about halfway up. Ale somehow climbed both corners, or half of each, or one and then the other because it looked good too. I removed the gear and continued up the second corner. After reaching the stance, Ale and I managed to haul the bag up and belay Wes up to join us, there was a lot of trickery involved and thus we lost even more time. The hustle was on.  

We marched up the next pitch and reached the bivy cave where we had a quick snack and some water. Wes lead the next pitch, which is one of the coolest pitches of climbing i have done. It has an awesome setting, and the climbing is diverse and exciting. Wes lead it like a boss and reached the next ledge in good time, I followed and helped haul while Wes belayed Ale up. At this stage there were 3 pitches above us, all of an easy grade. I had followed them once before but all in the dark so i could not recall where they went. We had to consult the good old RD to figure out where the route went and once we had an idea we were ready to make our way to the summit. Wes was psyched from the previous pitch and was keen to lead again, he racked up and set off. 

After traversing up and down and putting in a good amount of effort trying to figure out where the route went, Wes admitted defeat and got lowered to the ledge. His feet hit the ledge just in time for sunset. I knew this pitch was tricky to route find and sparsely protected, this made me anxious to try and decipher it in the last bit of light that we had. I quickly racked up and put on my headlight in preparation for the darkness. Ale stepped up, whipped out his Edilrid Mega Jul, told me everything was going to be just fine and put me on belay. With my mind slightly more at ease, i set off onto the chicken heads to try and find my way to the ledge above. 

The last few bits of light disappeared in a flash and before we knew it we were in total darkness, no moon in sight. "Traverse right until the climbing gets easier, then straight up to the ledge above" i mumbled this rather vague description to my self as i tried again and again to find the “easier” climbing. After a long while searching i got frustrated and decided that i was just being a wimp and i needed to man up and just get the damn ledge already. I found what i thought was a possible way up, placed some gear behind a block and made my way upwards were not too far up i found one more placement, a very crap placement for a small cam. I continued upwards, the climbing thinned out and started getting uncomfortably difficult. After a while I eventually reached a point where i could not climb any further, there were no holds, the feet were tiny and I knew I couldn’t continue upwards without facing the consequences of a bad fall. The first thought that crossed my mind was “sh&% can I down climb this last section?!?”. In my frantic state i looked down to the last piece of gear i had placed. The sight of my little cam about 7 or so meters below me did not help my state of mind one bit. 

I called to Ale and Wes, told them I was attempting to down climb and that they should be ready incase I did take a fall. Mega Jul in hand Ale assured me he was up for the task, I on the other hand was not too keen on all of this, a fall would surely have ended in a visit to the hospital with all the ledges and on-angle rock below me. The Mega Jul that Ale was wielding gave me hope. One move at a time I reversed the sequences inching towards my last piece. It felt like an eternity, I was pumped out of my mind and all I wanted was to get off that damn rock. I eventually made it down to my last piece, removed it and continued down to the block. Reaching the block was a massive sigh of relief! I put a piece of cord around the block with a biner, clipped my rope and called take. Pulling myself towards myself I did the long traverse in reverse and made my way back to the ledge where I was greeted not so happily by Ale and Wes, we all knew what we were in for!

The three of us standing on that ledge weighed up our options and decided that abbing back to the base in the dark, in the state we were in after a long day, was a terrible idea. We had to stay the night on the wall. We decided to ab back down the last pitch to the bivy cave and spend the night there. Egos blown and bodies sore we made the ab off the block down to the cave, left our ropes up so we could top out the next morning and prepared for a long cold night! If you have ever climbed past the bivy cave and had a look inside you will know that its nothing close to comfortable, its wide enough for two people to fit next to each other on their backs and once you have wiggled your way inside, the roof is about 20cm from your face. Unfortunately we were a party of three, which meant we had to really squeeze in and could only lie on our sides. OG spoon style!! The sun was long gone, the wind was howling and we were beat, we crawled in, assumed our positions and tried to get comfortable.

Lying on your side on hard rock is nothing short of miserable, we managed to lie on one side for about an hour before we could bare it no more. In order for us to turn over we had to do a synchronised roll, it really was quite comical! At least we could laugh about it a little before the misery set back it. That period before we had to roll got shorter and shorter through the night, all trying to hold off until we could not handle it anymore, someone would always call for a roll and the other two were always happy to oblige. As you can imagine, we got pretty damn good at this, it was a work of art in the early hours of the morning. To make our night even worse, there was a freezing cold wind that blew constantly throughout the night, we were shivering continuously. The one space blanket we had over us periodically got blown to the bottom of the cave by our feet, convinced it was making a difference we always made a plan to get it back up to out necks. Due to the height of the cave, this was quite a task as you could not sit up to get it, one arm was always trapped under your side and there was not enough space to bring your knees up so your feet were no use either. Another task that would either bring immense frustration of historical laughter. That night proved to be a roller coaster of emotions.

Ale: “How long do you think it will be until the sun comes up?”
Wes & I: “Cant be long now, we’ve been in here for ages!”
Me: “Let me check quick… Sorry guys its only 1AM…”
Silence…
The lowest point of the entire epic was learning that at our wits end, we were only halfway through the night! We continued to roll and shiver for the next few hours. When the light started hitting the walls of the cave we made our way out to the ledge like reptiles after hibernation, waiting on the cold rock for the sun to soothe our broken bodies. When the sun rose and hit that little ledge it was heaven. It was a beautiful sight waking up in a cave in the middle of the sky to the rising sun, a moment I won’t soon forget!

We had some breakfast, half a handful of peanuts each, had some water and made our way up the ropes to try and navigate the pitch in the light. Reaching the ledge above, we soon realised how tired and unhappy we really were. Since Wes and I had each attempted the pitch the night before, Ale was up next. He racked up and headed off to navigate the chicken head maze. Cheering him on Wes and I were happy to spend some time baking in the sun. After a long time and a truly generous effort trying to navigate the pitch, Ale too admitted defeat and made his way back to the ledge. We knew that there was a long day ahead of us no matter which vertical plane we chose to travel, the rest of the crew were at the cave waiting for us, the plan was supposed to be to walk back to the cars in the early morning and make it back to Jozi before sunset. Trying the pitch again would mean wasting more time, and we had two more pitches left after that before we topped out. Bail was the option we chose and it wasn’t one we were very pleased about! Three short easy pitches from the top and we had to bail!

We began the long bail down to the ramp, slinging boulders and chicken heads as we went. Three tiring 50 odd meter abs and we made it to the grassy ledge without having to leave any gear behind and without getting our ropes stuck. We traversed the grassy ledge to the ab route where there were two more abs to the ramp. We reached the ramp at about 1 and we chugged down a bunch of water, saving some for the slog up the ramp. Thank goodness we decided to take all that water with us! The day was hot as hell and we were wrecked when we hit the ramp! We split the gear between us and got ready for the slog. The ramp feels like a long walk on the way down but in the middle of the day in the sun after a cold uncomfortable sleepless night on Blouberg it was pure torture. It just kept coming at us, false summit after false summit. We eventually turned a corner and heard could hear voices, our spirits picked up and we hit overdrive. We saw Allister, Dylan and Chris C appear through the bushes yielding snacks and water like beardless skinny Santas in the wrong month of the year. They took our gear as we scoffed some snacks and we made the mission back to the cave.

We at long last reached the shady cave, were we knew we could not spend a long time before having to walk back down to out cars. We packed out bags, said our goodbyes to the cave where we should have slept the night before and started the long walk back to the car. The steep slog down took its toll on all of us, but waypoint after waypoint we made our way down to the Glade and the sand road that lead to our cars. That sand road was the end of us, it felt like our cars were around the corner but we just kept walking and walking with no end in sight. After what felt like hours we finally caught sight of the kraal where our cars were parked. Reaching the cars we collapsed into piles of uselessness next to them, taking a minute to recover before taking our bags off. Knowing we had a long drive home we tossed our bags in the boots and set off onto the sand roads.

For me the journey home consisted of mostly sleep. It was a rather quiet drive home and no one was really in the mood for talking. We stopped once for some food which I gobbled down in an instant. I was woken up when we hit the mother land, not far now to the rest of the cars that were parked in the City Rock parking lot,. Allister had made special arrangements on the way home for us to get in and get our cars. We finally arrived at City Rock, it was midnight, morals were low, Carte Blanche was over and we were already into Monday. We got in our separate cars and headed home to our soft cushy beds where we could not sleep for long before waking up for work.

If you ever want to make lifetime friends, please go ahead and follow the steps above, I can accrue you that spooning in a cave 300m off the floor is bound to bring you closer whether you like it or not. That night in the cave was miserable in the moment but after the fact it is a moment that I will never forget and something I am grateful to have experienced. Thanks to Wes and Ale for an epic adventure, for keeping the spirits high even when everything went pear shaped and for staying safe!! The Blue Hill strikes again! 


SNORT
Posts: 1216
Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2006 8:53 am
Real Name: Charles Edelstein
Location: Cape Town

Re: Your epic

Post by SNORT » Sun Nov 10, 2019 11:37 am

About 10 years ago we had a guest convalescing in our home. I had operated on his ankle that was fractured. His leg was in a plaster cast, and he could barely waddle around on crutches. Nick was booted from his very own bed and bed room and had to sleep on the floor for what seemed like an eternity till the guest could get his shit together and walk around and look after himself. My family kowtowed to his every beck and call. It was lock-down in our home. It felt like we were under siege.

Little did my kids know that the reason this guest was lording over us, wined and dined and feted in every other way, was because he had decked while climbing at (the old) CityROCK. His belayer did not use and Edelrid Jul because they did not exist then and a high fall factor, a slithery rope, a standard tube device and possibly some distraction resulted in him being dropped.

We are all still traumatized to this day!

He, the guest on the other hand cannot remember which ankle was broken.

Since then I was introduced to the Jul a marvellous device that could have saved me all this fret, bother, angst and therapy sessions. After getting used to it I feel confident that when Willem belays me and I pull off a large flake that knocks him out, the Jul will still prevent me hitting the deck as happened yesterday. (The flake did not actually hit him.)

Willem on the other hand. is much heavier than me and has jerked and yanked me around umpteen times in leader falls and it is always a challenge to hang on to the rope when you are smashed into the rock. But fear ye not. Edelrid came out with the Ohm and the combination of the two now makes for a double friction system that would surely have spared me all the trauma inflicted by that very demanding guest and all the leader falls of heavy people that I have had the plight of belaying.

The two together are rad and more or less idiot proof for belaying indoors and outdoors.

Now it just remains to reveal the “guest”. And the “belayer”.

User avatar
AgentSmith
Posts: 27
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2013 6:12 pm
Real Name: Shaun Smith
Location: Randburg

Climbing Incident.

Post by AgentSmith » Sun Nov 10, 2019 11:55 am

Undoubtedly we should have also gone for the Tommy Caldwell Pro DRY 9.6mm 70 metre rope, not only would we have been down well before sunset, but we also would have saved the MCSA Rescue team the drive from Pietermaritzburg. Our ropes were 10mm and as soon as they got wet in the thunderstorm they expanded and seized when we tried to pull them through, preventing us from descending.

Link to story with pictures:

https://adventureagent.wordpress.com/20 ... 019-03-21/
https://www.climbing.co.za/forum/viewto ... 903#p79903




To the climbing community

We wanted to share our experience with the hope of others learning from our ordeal, as well as soliciting constructive advice and beta from those more experienced, so that this situation can perhaps be prevented in similar conditions.

3 of us, Stephan Coetzer, Mercia Malan and Shaun Smith traveled to Swinburne on Wednesday evening to climb ‘Long Bolt to Freedom’ an 8-pitch multi-pitch route on Rensberg’s Kop. We were hoping to climb in 2-person teams with friends but unfortunately, we were the three that could take the Friday off. We decided to climb with three people on two ropes. Mercia in the middle tied to both ends of the ropes while Stephan and I swapped on lead.

We prepared for an ascent on the public holiday – Thursday the 21st of March 2019. We rehearsed in the gym the week before to make sure that we were all on the same page in terms of setting up anchors at the stance. We also made sure that we had all of the correct gear needed for this climb – Radios, 2 x quads, slings, plenty of quickdraws, ATC’s, 2 prussiks each, headlamps, extra carabiners and bail-out biners. We also had two gri-gri’s that always come in handy and we feel more comfortable climbing with, in case something happens to the belayer.

We were staying at the Riverview Country Inn and on the day, we woke up at 06h15 to check the weather. It was overcast and misty. We decided to get ready and drive to Appin in case the weather cleared. It did and we could see blue skies on the way. We arrived at the base of the mountain, kitted up and started climbing at 08h45, a little later than anticipated but well within our window we had planned for. Our maximum turnaround time was 16h00 to allow for at least two hours for three 50+ metre descents.

We estimated that the first couple of pitches would take roughly an hour each knowing that 3 people would take longer than 2. Stephan wanted to have a go at the crux on pitch 3 so we worked out that he would do the first pitch, set up a stance and wait for Mercia to climb on top rope. I would then follow behind and go straight into leading on 2 so that I could set up the stance for them. Stephan could then rest and lead on 3. In an effort to save time, we set up a few slings on quickdraws in case Mercia needed to aid if stuck. We knew that we didn’t have a lot of time to work problems. Stephan attempted 3 but decided to let me lead it so that I could set them both up for top rope. I had climbed this route before. I also set up a few slings so that we could get through it quickly. Mercia attempted it and really struggled, so swapped with Stephan who climbed up to the stance with me at the end of the pitch.

We had two Zartek ZA748 radios on us so that the persons on lead and rear could easily communicate. Stephan had at this stage given the radio to Mercia who would be last on the pitch. I was getting concerned with the time as we were taking a little over an hour with the pitches. Once Stephan joined me we both agreed and started working out possible scenarios that we had planned for, in case one of us couldn’t continue. Mercia radioed in and claimed to be stuck at the beginning of the crux. We couldn’t see what was happening so relied on what she was telling us. We tried to hoist as soon as she made some ground but she was spending all of her energy to get through the problem. She decided that she wasn’t going to get it done so asked if we could lower her to the stance at the pocket again. It was a difficult call for her but definitely the right one and proved to be even more so when we ran into trouble later on.

Stephan traverse sailed back down to where she was. They secured themselves to the quad and then used their 70-metre rope for an abseil from the top of 2. Stephan then bundled the rope, slung it and climbed back up to meet me. We tied into both and I lead up to the top of 4 with two ropes. I had spent a significant amount of time at this stance so was eager to climb, and Stephan needed some time to rest after climbing the crux twice. Once we were both there we moved onto the grass ledge to set up for the next 3 pitches that were shorter. We were climbing reasonably fast to make up the time.

We eventually made the summit at 15h30 took a bit of time to celebrate, take a few photos and sign the geocache log. We heard quite a bit of thunder in the distance and also saw some dark clouds on the other side of the mountain when we were at the top. The weather was perfect until then with occasional clouds but mostly sunny skies. Some mist came in from around the mountain when we were on 6/7 but it didn’t look like anything we needed to be overly concerned about.

While Stephan was signing the log, I started joining the ropes to thread through the chains. We used a fisherman’s knot as well as an overhand on either side to err on the side of caution, as always (I noticed that the MCSA S&R only use a fisherman’s knot). The clouds pulled in extremely quickly and visibility was reduced considerably. I would estimate that it was about 15h50 when the rain started. There was crashing thunder and lightning all around. We put things into fast forward at this stage as the lightning was deafening and lighting up the sky close to us. I was first to set up for a repel and once we had knotted the ends of the ropes and thrown them down, I attached the prussic to a carabiner on my leg, threaded the ropes through my ATC and began abseiling. I don’t think that I have ever repelled that fast before, by the time I was on the ledge I was soaking. I took out my poncho and tried to put it on in a hurry. Stephan was also trying as fast as possible to set up so that he could get off the summit. While I was on repel he was making himself as small as possible, in an attempt to not be the highest point in the Free State for lightning to strike. There was nowhere to take shelter. We also had so much equipment attached to us that a strike close enough would have been the end of us both.

Stephan got down to me and we detached so that we could pull the rope through. We both made sure that we knew which rope to pull at the summit and began pulling Stephan’s 70m. It was soaking at this stage and was stuck, properly so. We thought that somehow the knot had snagged a rock and sent a couple of waves up to try to detach it. It wasn’t budging. We also unsuccessfully pulled the ropes from both sides of the ledge to try different angles. By this stage, Stephan’s fingers were bleeding, presumably from bashing against a few rocks. We gave it some time and then attached 4 prussiks to the rope so that we could have better leverage with pulling it. That was over 170kg of force trying to manoeuvre it. No luck whatsoever. We were literally hanging on it.

Thank goodness I had my phone on me and we notified Mercia on the ground explaining our situation. It was getting dark quite quickly and we were both soaking wet. We tried the rope a few more times and made the call to get a hold of MCSA Search and Rescue to let them know about our situation. We put the call in to MCSA KZN as well as to MCSA JHB – I spoke to Mick and he was also able to assist with coordinating. Our primary concern at this moment was the proximity of the lightning strikes all around us. It was so loud but thankfully I could still communicate with Stephan via the radio. Turns out that they are water resistant. I knew that we had to conserve battery power for communication, so I disabled most of my phone’s functions. We also knew that a helicopter rescue would be out of the question as the visibility from fog and weather made it impossible getting close to the mountain without serious risk.

Gavin Raubenheimer – The MCSA KZN Search and Rescue convener also called a few times to find out what the situation was, and we explained in detail what the problem was and what we were trying to do. We knew that we had prussiks and that we could try to get up to the summit using this method. He also suggested that we try. Stephan gave it a bash and after making little to no progress of ascent after a good few steps, we realised that it wasn’t possible for us in those conditions. The dynamic rope was wet, we were both freezing cold, exhausted and a little disoriented from all of the elements acting against us. To use prussiks on a vertical ascent of 50 metres just wasn’t possible. By this time, the MCSA S&R team had already been dispatched and I believe most were on the way from Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

Feedback from Mercia during this time: Shout-out to the MCSA search and rescue! I was on the ground with limited view of the mountain due to mist and rain. I phoned S&R about 30min after Shaun made the original call to follow up on the situation. They immediately knew what I was talking about and gave me info, which I could relay to the guys on the mountain. After my call, the S&R kept me in the loop of what was happening, and I acted as middle (wo)man between them and the guys on the mountain (who were trying to save phone battery). Thanks to the rescue squad for keeping me in the loop, allowing me to send messages to the guys which helped with their panic levels - and to not do something risky!

There was approximately 20m of rope on the ledge, so we decided that I would lead as far as I could up Pitches 5-6 but realised that we wouldn’t have enough rope for Stephan to belay from the ledge. We were hoping to see where the rope was snagged but it was definitely somewhere near the summit, so we would have had to climb past the final scramble. We wasted a bit of time here as I came back down to the ledge instead of Stephan tying in to the end of the rope and climbing top-rope up to me. At this point neither of us were thinking clearly and making decisions were more difficult from that point on. The adverse effects of being cold and physically/mentally exhausted had set in. We had been on the mountain for close to 12 hours already.

We decided to repeat the exercise and redo pitches 5-8 to get to the summit to see what was going on. I lead 5, Stephan 6 and then I climbed 7 and 8 to the scramble. Stephan had tied the end of the stuck rope to himself so that we could still reach it and flake it once we had freed the snag. The weather was still bad, and we were both still soaking wet. It was incredibly difficult to climb with wet pants and the wet slippery rock didn’t help either.

Once we reached the summit again, we were in a rush to try and free the rope. On the way up the scramble I caught a glimpse of the joint where we knotted the two ropes. It was suspended in the air so the chances of that being the problem were minimal. We had an issue with Stephan’s headlamp as well as one of the radios so communication and visibility was a huge challenge. The noise from the thunder and rain drowned out our voices and we could barely hear each other if we were more than 15 metres apart.

Once we had untied the joining, we began to flake both ropes to repeat the process. The snagged rope that Stephan had attached to had caught on something on the way up and we both tried freeing it by sending a few waves and slack downwards. Not even throwing the other end down so that we could pull a single line up worked. It wasn’t our day with that rope and we had run out of options. If we had set up a belay on a single line from a safe stance we could have seen what was going on with that rope. There was a high probability that the rope was caught past the ledge and overhang so getting back up could have been a problem. That coupled with one light and one radio between the two of us and with lightning all around, we ditched the rope, it was too risky to stay up there for any longer. We decided to simul climb with one rope back down to the ledge at the end of pitch 7 on the other side of the mountain. Finding the bolts to add protection was difficult with the light that we had and there was only 1 bolt half way down the scramble.

After a great deal of time, we eventually got back down to the grassy ledge at 20h30. It was quite a relief. I mentioned that we were making a few simple mistakes due to exhaustion and cold, such as failing to make ourselves safe at one point, incorrectly configuring a gri-gri, forgetting equipment and also forgetting to remove our safety slings before repelling. We also confused ourselves with the rope management the second time we summitted and we had to verbalise what we were trying to do. We decided to double and triple check ourselves as we descended between pitches. We didn’t want to be making any serious and detrimental errors at this point.

We were exhausted and not thinking straight and it was time to buckle down, find what minimal shelter we could, take stock and try to get warm. For a brief moment we saw a few stars sitting on the ledge but then the skies closed in and the rain started again. We moved up the base of the mountain and found a spot next to a boulder where we had partial shelter. We were both super uncomfortable. Drenched, thirsty, cold and hungry. Luckily we had a few snacks to keep us going. Some whiskey in a flask we bought up to celebrate the summit, also cheered us up a bit.

Thanks goodness Mercia was on the ground relaying information back and forth. We sent her a voice note that we were okay and tried to sound cheerful. I also heard from Gavin via text (To save battery) that they had assembled but wouldn’t climb if it was raining due to safety precautions. It wasn’t at that moment, but a few minutes afterwards it started coming back down again. We worried that help would not get to us until dawn. He also wanted updates on our condition.

Minutes felt like hours and Stephan and I kept on hearing and seeing things. At one stage I was positive that I heard voices, only to realise that I had pocket dialled someone that had tried to cold-call me earlier. Shame, they must have only heard swearing when I realised where it was coming from. We were huddled pretty close together to conserve heat and in any normal situation, it would have been considered too much man-love for a rock climb. It felt like Brokeback but only because our asses and backs were so sore and stiff from sitting on rocks under this small recess. We tried sitting on a few slings to make it more comfortable, but it didn’t help much. I was shaking like a leaf and my pants and drimac were still very wet. To this day I will never understand why they call it a ‘dri’ anything. Stephan told me that it was actually warmer taking off the wet climbing shoes and I did, it was.

We got up a few times to check on the imaginary light we were seeing, our minds were playing some serious tricks on us. We were also trying different channels on our radios to see if we could pick up the Search and Rescue frequencies, to no avail. Earlier Gavin had asked if we could see any change of light with him shining his brights and there was just no chance. The fog was thick.

Mercia and Gavin had given us updates when the team were close to the crux (23h26), we were feeling a little more optimistic at this stage, knowing that there were guys coming up. Eventually, at about 00h30 we could see some residual light breaking through the fog and we knew someone was close on pitch 4. We gathered our stuff and scrambled down to meet whomever it was at the chains after pitch 4.

We met Nigel first followed closely by Gavin. They told us the most difficult part wasn’t so much the crux but rather getting past the wet rock on 4. We were so happy to see them. I was shaking so badly that I managed to drop my ATC down the mountain after taking it off my harness for the repel. Luckily Stephan had a spare as my mind was in no condition to remember how to knot a munter-hitch.

Nigel and Gavin set up the two lines for a repel down to 3. We were both eager to get down so descending was a pleasure compared to the previous few hours we had spent up there. I met Carl at the pocket at the end of pitch 3. He had climbed up using two jumars so that he could set up another two ropes for the final descent. It was pitch black so worrying about the height above ground wasn’t as bad as I tied in for the final repel. I got down to the ground first and met John who was ready to address any medical conditions and hypothermia. He had made some tea and I went straight to my backpack, which was left at the start of the climb, covered in a rain cover, to get my other duck-down top. These are also pretty useless in the rain so it didn’t help with warming me up.

Stephan got down to the bottom a few minutes after me and I heard Gavin on the radio asking his team to watch him closely, as he was saying a few things that weren’t making sense. I think we were both suffering from hypothermia by the time we hit the ground. Thankfully we didn’t make any serious mistakes that would have compromised our safety. We were both down at 01h45 having spent 17 hours on the mountain. We waited for everyone to get back down to the bottom, gathered the gear and walked down towards a path where we met Mercia, obviously elated. She had gone back to our accommodation to fetch us warm clothes as well as blankets. We were so happy to see her too.

It turns out that Gavin was the first climber to open this route and we were incredibly grateful that all four of them were highly competent search & rescue climbers who knew what they were doing. I think it was Carl who told me that Gavin had also experienced a similar problem in the past.

We can only conclude that the issue must have been at the chains. Both chains looked a little rusty and there was a newer biner attached to one of the anchors. We threaded the rope through the one chain and through the newer biner. The one contact point could have been higher than the other which caused the swollen rope to seize at the point of contact. Feedback on various groups indicates that this was an uncommon yet likely cause of our problems. I would like to attach a picture of these chains and carabiner/anchor for future reference if anyone can forward one to me please?

Stephan and I would like to thank the following people:

- Gavin, Carl, John and Nigel from MCSA KZN Search & Rescue and Peak High for taking the call, dropping everything on the afternoon of a public holiday and coming to the aid of fellow climbers. A great bunch of lads who we will forever be indebted to. We will do our best to pay it forward.

- Mercia Malan who coordinated efforts from the ground that included communications with climbers who may have been in the area, helicopter rescue contacts, MCSA JHB & KZN and rescue personnel.

- MCSA support staff in Johannesburg for assisting with team mobilisation

- ‘Lead or Die’ and ‘Real Lazy Asses’ climbing crews for offering assistance
Gerald Camp, Pete Janschek, Carlo Antonelli and Adam for retrieving some of our gear off the mountain and bringing it back to Joeys


Blue Skies and safe climbs

Shaun Smith
MCSA

User avatar
climbcityrock
Posts: 58
Joined: Tue May 27, 2014 8:59 am
Real Name: CityROCK Indoor Climbing Gym

Re: Your epic

Post by climbcityrock » Mon Nov 11, 2019 10:44 am

These stories have us on our toes! Keep them coming! :-D

crazyflyinggecko
Posts: 34
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2011 10:11 pm
Real Name: Candice

Re: Your epic

Post by crazyflyinggecko » Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:18 pm

15 year old me was learning the ins and outs of climbing. My climbing coach – a loving and genuinely awesome individual, a guidance counsellor at the school I climbed at, went out of his way to get us kids out to the crag, going above and beyond what he needed to.

The only trick was, Myles was around 105kg, an ex-rugby player turned climber who loved nothing more than to challenge himself in the vertical. This individual had an infectious enthusiasm that 15-year old me (all 45kg of teenager) loved, admired and fed off of. So, ever keen, we didn’t let the lack of other interested parties deter us. What we needed was something solid to anchor me to.

When I wasn't playing rope gun (which was a fair amount of the time), we often searched the base of the crag for routes that had suitable anchors. The crag we frequented had many trees at the base, and we’d attach a sling to the tree and connected me to the anchor before my coach led the route. The trick was that every time my coach took a fall, I’d be launched into the air and then would be caught, quite forcefully by the anchor – being tugged forcibly in more than one direction.

Had we had an Edelrid Ohm, our situation would have been different. Things would have been much more fun and considerably less likely to result in whiplash and ankle injuries for either party. The number of routes we could have attempted would have increased too! Not a single epic per se, but a common scenario that could have been much safer with Edelrid.

wildx
Posts: 26
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 1:00 pm
Real Name: Bernie Theron

Re: Your epic

Post by wildx » Tue Nov 12, 2019 11:40 am

Guts, no glory

A cold and crusty morning in the valley of misshaped valleys or as the road signs would speculate “Montagu”. A clear need ran through my soul. A need to climb, and a need to climb out of this suffocating tent of mine. My feet were wet, my neck stiff and my need for a coffee all-consuming… If only I had an MSR Elixir tent I thought. I slowly climbed out of my shelter into my worn through shoes. I made a mental note to add new shoes to my endless list of things to buy. I would add them just under Lucky Star Pilchards and more important than the self-help book called “Unf*ck Yourself - Get out of your head and into your life”.

In the outdoor kitchen, I realised my partner forgot her stove… I needed coffee! If only I had MSR stove I could have liberated some gas from the neighbours truck and made myself a stellar coffee. Alas, I would need to get psyched for my day of obsessive falling some other way…
We packed our gear and were off for an adventure in a pretty Bad-ass-Kloof. The day was hot, too hot for my liking but how could we have known? I didn’t have data to check the forecast. We warmed up on some spectacularly boring routes in the kloof staying well hidden in the shady parts.

Next up on the list of climbs was a lekker 24. I racked up tied into my soon to be demoted rope and hit the wall running. My psyche was high, my pump minimal I was giving it a good onsight attempt. It felt like a flowy day of climbing. Unluckily for me, the crux came next. I was 2 bolts from the chains with about 20 meters of space below me. This is were dought came in… Firstly I remembered a well-rehearsed fact of life: I sucked at climbing. Secondly, my belayer is using a classic ATC and from this vantage point, I couldn’t be sure if she was even awake. The combination of these two facts (probably only one) caused me to fly through the air like some gumby.

Luckily for me, she had the mental fortitude to stay calm and caught me (impressive as she didn't even use an Elderid Mega Jule). Sadly for my mental health, my ropes (mevrou Beal) guts got ripped out. There I was hanging by the brutally white core of my rope high above the ground. I thought to myself “shit, I seriously need to buy that self-help book!”. My partner was of little help as she was highly preoccupied with not letting go of the rope and struggling to understand my Afrikaans accent. Luckily for me, I was able to swing into a lower bolt clip myself in with a biner tied a butterfly knot over the exposed guts and got lowered slowly back to ground. If only I had a high-quality Edelrid rope my days could have been less dramatic!

This was but a small epic, but a rope that gets messed up by normal use is a rather tragic experience.

Be safe guys and girls!
Remember skimp on food, not gear!

( True story, with a dramatized tone and intro)

- Bernie

Brussel
Posts: 272
Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2006 1:52 pm

Re: Your epic

Post by Brussel » Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:43 pm

It was a beautiful afternoon on Lion's head. Our arms buzzed after several fun pitches of climbing and we were heading down for the day.

A thick mist was slowly settling in and the cool damp air quieted any noise from the city below. It was quiet, at least until my partner's screams of "take, take, take" arced across the face following a few meters behind his falling body that disappeared below the edge I was sitting on.

We had been traversing the vegetated Ledge across the peak towards the rap anchor as we had done dozens of times before, roped together but with no gear.

Call it a gut feeling. Premonition. Experience. Or maybe dumb luck, who will know. Something told me to put a piece in to protect the little scramble below a pillar on the Ledge. The previous day's rain had dampened the soil holding a block of rock and it had dislodged sending my partner plummeting off into the misty depths below me. And that piece, placed almost as an afterthought, was all that came between us and a long fall to the main ledge below.

The rope pulled taut and the connection to the single #0.5 cam anchor snapped tight. My brain was desperately working out how far my partner had fallen and recalling just what the face below looked like. It must have been at least ten meters down a ledgy face and my heart sank as I realized he may well be injured by the horribly traversing fall.

I screamed down and after a few agonizing seconds he responded with a winded and shaky "I'm OK". He quickly climbed back up to the Ledge, fuled by the pumping adrenalin with nothing but a small scrape on his elbow to show for the mishap. We quietly continued across the ledge and then abbed down to our bags deeply aware of how closely we had cheated death.

An autolocking belays device like a MegaJul is a must for the mountains as it means that when the surprises happen we've got a little bit of a helping hand to keep us safe. I did not have one that day but thankfully a solid hand on the brake rope meant my partner did not fall further than he did.

Even now nearly ten years later the soil and spindly roots of the fynbos on that ledge still hold the imprint of the rock that almost ended our friendship. A small reminder, unnoticed by most, that things don't always end as well as they did and that we should never be complacent in the hills.

User avatar
climbcityrock
Posts: 58
Joined: Tue May 27, 2014 8:59 am
Real Name: CityROCK Indoor Climbing Gym

Re: Your epic

Post by climbcityrock » Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:19 am

A story shared by Gerald Camp. Gerald says he can't log in to the forum right now, so, we're posting on his behalf.

"They say size doesn’t count…

They say size doesn’t count, but length certainly does. Luck is a major factor that sometimes comes into play with us even knowing it. My story goes back to the day when 45m ropes were the standard, and Edelrid was the favourite. An Edelrid 70m rope back then would have certainly swung lady luck into my favour.

A new crag had been discovered: high, clean and steep faces, and lots of excitement. I drove 120K’s to get there as early as possible on a misty morning to claim what looked like the best line. I blasted through the Umkomaas valley, leaning into the curves, keenly aware that each one was a potential launching pad, evidenced by the hulks of cars lying in the bottom of the valley. New route names were flashing through my mind.

I arrived at the crag, bashed through the bush and strung my rope over the prize. Out of site, but just around the corner Brett was also playing the game. We cleaned, ticked and check out gear placements. On a Shunt, I moved up and down scoping the moves and soon we were top-roping the routes. Before long dusk approached.

Aiming to quickly to escape the dark, I scrambled to the top, clipped my device in and began to descend the top rope to retrieve some gear. Around the corner Brett was doing likewise. What happens next is quite predictable. I was there but cannot give a first-hand account. It remains a black spot in my memory. One end of the rope would have slipped through the belay device and out of my hand. Brett heard a loud “thwump” and breaking branches and got no response to his shouts.

Isn’t it absurd that I diced with the devil through the valley and the highway, but was rushed and careless and found wanting doing what should be a safe activity?

I remember virtually nothing in my weeks in hospital and the long months recovering at home. I recall many people at my bedside; the silhouette of Sharn at the window looking out to the sea; my father trying to reassure me while I cursed and fought; telling Roger who came to visit me to fuck-off; being tied to the bed covered by a net to stop my attempted escapes; being rushed down the road in a wheelchair in search of an open pub by my ever-caring friends; sitting on the lawn overlooking the beach drinking a beer with Brett; and lounging in a bath being attended to by beautiful nurses.

It would have been tough times if I was fully aware. A paralysed leg which took months to work again and being unable to form sentences, read or write worried others more than it worried me.

My regrets:
  • not thanking the friends who called the ambulance and who rescued me.
      not fully knowing and ever really thanking those who spent countless hours at my bed side tolerating my outbursts of foul language.
        not sparing the glance needed to look over the edge to see if both ends were on the ground.
          telling my future wife when she came to visit that she was getting fat.
            and finally, not having an Edelrid 70m rope which would have given me that extra slice of luck I needed that day.
          But something good came out of the whole affair:
          A wonderful new path cut through the bracken by the stretcher party and a super cool new route name when I eventually got back to open it: One Crater Later (26).

          Keep on climbing friends."

          Tisat
          Posts: 1
          Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2019 9:11 pm
          Real Name: Céline Gravenor

          Re: Your epic

          Post by Tisat » Wed Nov 13, 2019 3:44 pm

          Climbing on clouds and domes (or trying to).

          If only we had an Edelrid Tommy Caldwell Pro Dry 9.6mm and some fancy modern removable protection... We'd be (safely) scaling all our beautiful mountains. Alas, our holed student wallets and part-time jobs don't allow for such nifty gear.

          Spitzkoppe is a dream destination in the quiet, beautiful, Namibian desert. 5 of us, amateur climbers during our university holiday, head up to the massive granite domes in June. As we drove closer, they glowed red in the orange sunset, like jewels of a treasure we went to find on our adventure. We took a day to scout out the area, stumble over some rocks, trudge in the dessert, gaze up at the domes and find where to begin the main route up to the top of the main dome, Spitzkop. The mountain seemed larger the closer we got to it. The main route entails smearing up the slopes like geckos and crawling through holes between large rounded boulders perched on the mountainside. We squeezed and grunted up a chimney and eventually popped out on the north eastern side, onto a ledge at the start of the actual climb. The last run to the very top is a high exposure granite slab which had us all shuddering. Someone had a lot of guts, up here on the main dome, because the bolts are very far apart and you feel like you're stepping on clouds! (ie nothing) The last pitch goes up a very low inclined crack, until it juts up fully vertical and over an edge. I couldn't see what was coming after the crack, and 20m above my belayer with no gear in between had everyone a bit nervous! If only I had a number 3 cam and a fantastically light Edelrid Pure Slim Wire Quickdraw to safely clip the spectacularly smooth Edelrid Tommy Caldwell Pro Dry 9.6mm between my belayer and me. And if I were to fall on this infamous blind crack, I'd protect my noggin with the snazzy the Edelrid Madillo helmet. To be fair, the wind blew away any concerns and wishful thinking that my belayer and I shouted, so I was on my own. I edged up the crack, still fairly comfortable, but about halfway up I decided 'oh well, good run, but extra gear would be a good companion on this journey'. So we scrambled down the heap of red rock back to camp, still wistfully looking at the hidden summit of the domes behind us.

          Hopefully our future adventures as young rock climbers will be better equipped :wink:

          Post Reply