Trying to explain how different my sister and I are is like trying to compare apples with huskies. I wasn’t surprised when Russel turned to me this weekend and asked “how are you two related?” Yes, we might share a striking resemblance and have had a number of awkward situations when her boyfriends would mistaken my voice for hers on the phone but that’s where the similarities end. My sister’s idea of an adventure is the end of season shoe SALE at Gateway. So I was pleasantly surprised when she organised a weekend away at one of my favourite places in the Eastern Cape. This getaway was to mark her 40th birthday. She managed to gather a rather eclectic group of 19 people to join her on this escapade, most of which would be cycling with her on a 45km ride from the Wild Coast casino on the first day.
At the beginning of the week I was a bit depro. October was fast looking like a month where I wouldn’t get out much due to commitments to family and friends. And the spring rains have definitely started.
Roger, as always, was optimistic. “This is why we have Thursdays”. Looking at the weather report it seemed like Thursday was possibly the worst day of this week to venture outdoors. But it wasn’t going to stop us. I had one day this week I was going to get out and I was going to milk it. We knew that the overhanging crags could handle a bit of light rain. It was the humidity you had to worry about. Fortunately, both Roger and I have plenty to keep us busy regardless of the weather.
So we packed bolting gear on top of our climbing gear and met at the parking lot at 8:30 am. I dropped Roger off with the bags, parked the car and jogged back. When we got to the crag we quickly set about gluing some bolts that we had chopped and moved last week. I felt enormously satisfied by this “stream-lining” of the crag. The chains of my one route made for a far more fun, less daunting ending (because that’s how we party). And one of the bolts on another of my lines was now just that much nicer to clip. Onwards. We moved to the end of the crag where Roger wanted to bolt his new line and I found this below The Holodeck (rope bag put there just for perspective on how ha-yuge this thing was):
There were no marks to the body to denote that it was attacked. So my guess is this cane rat (?) bailed off the side of the crag unexpectedly. Who knows. But he was a big bugger and I’m glad I didn’t run into him in his more lively state where he could sink those incisors into me.
My climbing was a bit retarded this day. It felt like there was a disconnect between my brain and my muscles. My aim was off on the big moves. My beta was all over the place and my footwork wasn’t coming naturally. But still, I got a good number of burns out and while the heavens opened out I tested Roger’s new line. It was the soonest we had ever climbed on newly glued in bolts. Usually we come back on an entirely different day once we’ve glued. I could hear Roger getting more and more nervous as I climbed up and first weighted the bolts, then took falls on them and eventually lowered off on them. Well, the manufacturers weren’t lying about the 2 hr setting time so no hardware went flying out unceremoniously. Thereby obeying Rule #1.
And off we trundled back to the car in the pouring rain. Now in my opinion, gear that allows me to play outside in the rain is an extreme win. Especially in summer in Durban. And that makes this jacket my new most beloved piece of gear.
Not only is it a stunning colour but when I unzipped it I discovered that it had kept me as dry as my boyfriend’s sense of humour. Incredible.
I don’t know what it is about climbing weddings that feel extra special to me. I guess when you spend as much time around people as climbers do around each other and have shared in some extreme adventures it forms a different kind of bond. And when you get to share in a special day when one of your community is practically glowing with joy, well, that’s an occasion worth giving up a weekend and driving across the country for.
At the end of the evening I was sitting on the couch with my beloved and grinning. We were watching the climbing boys prancing around the dance floor, their enjoyment obvious. I realised how safe and loved I felt amongst this group. I knew that through all the years and all the events we’d shared, we would never let one of our own come to any harm or stand alone.