Africa Arete Approved Version

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Hilton
Posts: 321
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 9:23 pm

Africa Arete Approved Version

Post by Hilton »

Africa Arête on Table Mountain is an amazing route. It offers 60m of hard climbing on good rock and it is an incredibly aesthetic line.

The route was opened by Tinie Versfeld and Dave Birkett in 1998. In recent times it has changed quite a lot, mostly for the worse.
Last year a young climber coming up second was indelicate on a big delicate flake. This year Willem le Roux and the famous creaking flake at the start of P2 both separated from the mountain. Other minor adjustments also occurred.

The route has been in need of revitalizing to restore it to its former glory and Tinie and I have been on this mission. We set a great chain anchor at the top of the route and cleared a lekker ledge there. And another chain a level above to enable a rappel in after cable-carring up. We wire-brushed the arête to the right of the little finishing gully to make a nicer finish. And we levered off the terminally compromised, big delicate flake on P2.
The absence of the Creaking Flake created a problem. This created a boulder problem where gear is difficult to place and the fall is bad. There was also a problem higher up where the Delicate Flake had been.

We worked out a hard and tenuous way to climb the upper problem and also worked out a piece of gear. A no.2 Rock Superlight could just go in, but it is difficult to place while hanging very tenuously high above last gear. So we left the wire as a fixed piece and climbed it with the piece in situ. Willem and Guy Paterson-Jones both made subsequent leads of the pitch with the fixed wire in place.

After some time we decided to remove the wire. This makes the route quite a bit harder and more serious, but very beautiful. And we rejigged the start of P2 so that it no longer goes up the right of the arete but rather goes up the front, the same as Dynamite. And then it goes right to join the arete whereas previously it was the opposite. Really important to know – when you rejoin the arête downclimb for a metre and place a grey BD 0.4. It’s difficult and tiring to place but could save you a 12m Factor 2 fall.

Where the Delicate Flake had been, you can place that Superlight about 8cm above the little hand-sized roof created by the break. It is hard to get into position to see where to place the piece but you will want it. This zone stopped Willem for 20 minutes on his onsight of it. And same for Guy. And that’s with the wire in situ. It's always an option to rappel the route and check it out on the way down. If you do this, you must take the rack and place gear to stay in, otherwise you end up far out in space as the route overhangs a lot.

Tinie placed the crucial piton on P1 when he opened the route. It has caught a lot of people over the years. It takes some hard and tenuous climbing to get to it quite high above last gear, and it is at the start of the crux moves.

Last week we removed the piton. Some people will be mortified but two things: you can place two tiny cams in that area; and secondly, if this makes you unhappy you will be pleased that you retreated and didn’t do the top pitch.

Yesterday we sent the new Africa Arête Approved Version. I led P1, and although I was shaking like a leaf where the piton used to be, I placed a couple of micro cams that I trusted and sent without problem. Tinie led P2 and although he said he was ‘f…ing scared’ when he was where the Delicate Flake used to be, he managed to get the Superlight in, and he sent without problem.

Africa Arete is more majestic than ever. It is quite a lot harder and quite a lot more serious and stunningly pure and aesthetic. Two 30m pitches of solid and committing grade 25 climbing.

It really is world-class and it is right here on our doorstep. And if Tinie and I can do it, anyone can do it.
Hilton Davies (and Tinie Versfeld without having had sight of this)
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