“Are you relieved?” everyone kept asking me after the prize giving. At the time it felt like someone asking if your wedding or big birthday celebration was over. Sure, it’s a lot of hard work, but it is for something you want to happen, something that has your heart in it. So it’s not relief you feel when it is over. But now, a day later, after tying up most of the admin and getting the positive feedback and reminsicing over the cool photos everyone is posting, yes, I feel relieved to have nothing urgent to do today. I feel relieved to not smell like dust and not be exhausted. I feel relieved that the constant dread that I might forget something massive is over.
I also already miss the anticipation of my vision for the festival coming to life. But in a way I don’t. I was amazed that all the criteria I wanted the festival to fulfill, it did. How often in life do things work out that well? One of the crystal clear moments in my mind was when I was watching Brian onsight Hyperdiamond, and all around me a crowd gathered to watch the spectacle. Yes, this is what I wanted. Old and new climbers, coming together to celebrate the sport we love so much, sharing in our collective knowledge, skill and passion. Bringing friends together from around the country to enjoy the superb climbing we are blessed with in KZN.
Earlier that day there had been a few other “tick the box” moments. When I had walked into the crag I found the Learn to Sport climb workshop in full swing. Exhilarated new climbers were getting their first taste of rock while experienced climbers stood right next to them, a look of extreme focus dominating their expression while they suited up for the Difficulty comp.
Later on I found a breathless climber stunned by his first taste of trad climbing thanks to the Learn to Trad workshop. As the festival wore on there were many more wow moments as the contestants for the Difficulty Comp ticked off progressively more impressive sends and the general buzz at the crag was one of energy and psyche. One of the real winning moments was when I saw an old friend. The sight of him literally stopped me in my tracks. He had stopped climbing a few years ago due to a combination of factors, not least of which was “lack of psyche” to use his words. He assured me that all he needed to get outdoors again was something like this. And it occured to me, not for the first time that you must “build it and they will come”. People are keen. They thirst for events like this. They want an excuse to get together and have a great time. All it takes is something to bring them all together.
So thank you everyone. To all the sponsors who backed the event and not only made it possible but were keen to see it work. To each and every one of you who told me you had a fantastic time or who were simply beaming with joy. To all the helping hands who jumped in without hesitation. To all the people who traveled far to be here and to those who already booked for next year. Thank you all for being part of this success.