The idea of going to Rockland’s this summer had been batted about for over a year, after eventually booking our flights in April I allowed myself to start getting excited. You don’t have to be a climber to look at the landscape of Rockland’s and be left speechless, but it does add to the excitement! The amount of rock there really is incredible; orange sandstone boulders and cliff faces as far as the eye can see.

A big group of us were staying in a large farmhouse at Travellers Rest; you could walk to the closest climbing area from our house and the furthest area was 20 minutes drive. The walk-ins however tended to be a bit more of a slog, on average between 20-40 minutes; it did mean that you were thoroughly warm by the time you got to the boulders and feeling ‘fit as fiddle’ by the time we left Africa.

Above: 'Tomorrow I Will Be Gone' is Outcrop Films' debut feature length, no nonsense bouldering film featuring a group of strong British boulderers in Rocklands, South Africa. Featuring Micky Page, David Mason, Mina Leslie-Wujastyk, Sam Whittaker, Lucinda Whittaker, Scott Gibson, Andy Banks, Richard Sharpe, Nick Brown and Grant Bateman'

The area itself is quite sparsely populated but during the summer months is taken over by boulderers and botanists. The locals definitely seem to prefer the boulderers!!

We arrived on July 5th and were immediately greeted by 30° heat, unfortunately this stayed for the majority of the month. Great for rest day tanning sessions that were needed far too often after the destruction of skin on hot, sweaty rock! With August came a little more rain and some colder temperatures that allowed for an increase in dispatching.

Photo: Nick Brown

The climbing style in Rockland’s is quite gymnastic; it tends to be big moves between fairly good holds requiring lots of power, tension and compression. In theory this should have suited my climbing style quite well but perhaps I was a little under prepared in terms of training and maybe a little over confident. Needless to say the first few weeks were not a success...added to this heat and big holes in my skin, I was not a happy bunny!! I decided to just stick to doing as much climbing as possible and if weather and strength allowed try some harder things nearer the end of the trip.

This seemed to work and I started to enjoy the climbing much more; my confidence improved, bringing with it some good ticks. I never really went back to trying the harder things; I was enjoying doing as much as I could far too much. I had also decided that I definitely wanted to return in better shape for the harder climbs like Sky and Amandala.

Photo: Nick Brown

It’s funny how mental climbing is; as soon as things start going well you get on a role and everything is perfect but with failure comes the cycle of misery and however much you flog yourself nothing seems to come of it. I suppose that is what really makes the difference between the best and the rest as they say; yes genetics and strength, technique and fitness help but at the end of the day it’s all in the mind.

I had an amazing time in Africa and learnt a lot that will hopefully aid me in the future. I remembered that I love climbing as much and as often as I can when I visit a new area. Near the end of the trip I climbed for a few hours each day for 7 or 8 days in a row and felt better by the end of it than ever. I also learnt that not completing a hard problem can also be rewarding, the process of enjoying the climbing every time you go is as important as the actual send. The last and probably the most important thing in terms of pushing my personal climbing is that I don’t think I have ever put enough time into one climb, therefore I think I am capable of climbing much harder than I have ever climbed before and this feels very liberating. You read about people putting 10, 12, 20 or 100 days into a project, I have never put more than 5 or 6 and even they will have involved very short sessions or ones in awful conditions. Fingers crossed I can build up the mental strength and afford the petrol to put the time into something that is really hard for me!!!

I have digressed from Rockland’s; the place is amazing- beautiful scenery, great climbing and you can do it all in shorts and t-shirts which is always a bonus. June and August appear to be better months than July (a shame it’s in the middle of them) but we could just have been unlucky. It would be too much to describe individual problems and the feeling about climbing them so below is a list of what I managed to get to the top of.

Photo: Nick Brown

The one thing I will describe is the feeling of not climbing the Vice. I hate the idea of having an antithesis in climbing and describing a problem as such but if that exists then the Vice is my antithesis. A power endurance problem based around compression with a million different options for beta, definitely not something I thrive at but it is one of the best climbs I have ever seen and getting shut down on it was fun! After the first session I had done the moves and thought I had my beta figured out, this changed on the second and third session, eventually settling with the most basic and powerful beta shown to me on my fourth session by Joey Kinder. So the previous sessions wasted and with time running out I managed two more sessions on it, coming dangerously close 5 times the day before we had to leave. One more session and it would have been mine. All the thoughts of... if I hadn’t wasted sessions trying duff beta or why didn’t I try it earlier passed through my mind but in reality I loved every minute of it and yes a story book ending would have been nice but it wasn’t to be. This boulder really did teach me that I can climb much harder than I ever have; I didn’t do it but I am not sure why as it didn’t feel hard, I could jump back on straight after falling off and finish it easily. Next time and there definitely will be a next time....

  • Tea with Elmarie 8a+
  • Shosholoza 8a+
  • In Between Dreams 8a+
  • Black Shadow 8a+
  • Royksopp 8a
  • The hatchling 8a
  • Green Mamba 8a
  • Out of Balance 8a (flash)
  • Salam 8a
  • Black Velvet 8a
  • Leap of Faith 8a
  • Panama 8a
  • Barracuda 8a
  • The Amphitheatre 8a
  • Au Bord de l’eau 8a
  • Macho King 7c+ (flash)
  • No late tenders 7c+
  • Pinotage 7c+ (flash)
  • Splash of Red 7c+
  • Hole in One 7c+
  • Black Mango Chutney 7c+ (flash)
  • The shark 7c+
  • Stretched and Pressed 7c+
  • Ron, Ron et Caramel 7c+
  • Red Piano 7c
  • Kingdom in the Sky 7c (flash)
  • Last Day in Paradise 7c (flash)
  • Tomorrow I’ll be Gone 7c
  • Little Wing 7c
  • Jaws 7c
  • Time Out 7c
  • Sproing 7c
  • Winnie 7c (flash)
  • Caroline 7c

Above: A preview of the new Rocklands bouldering film, 'Tomorrow I will be Gone'.

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