Rocklands Debrief…

I can’t quite believe that it’s taken me this long to write this post (or that the trip has been over for quite this long), but here, finally are some photos from our trip to Rocklands. It’s been all go since we’ve been back! I’ve been working like crazy which is really good, and in the down time from “actual work” I’ve been slaving away over a hot Adobe Premiere Pro file, working on a couple of different projects (one being the film of this trip, which is now finished, but there’ll be more on that another time…)

The trip to South Africa was fantastic. Simple as that. The whole thing was a bit of unknown quantity and a proper adventure. The flight was long, and relatively comfortable (for a long haul economy) and we were all in pretty good spirits when we arrived (mixed in with a large dose of jet-lagged-and-sleep-deprived-dilirium). I didn’t really know what to expect from Cape Town, but I was still quite surprised by what greeted us. The vast townships which lined the highway into the city were vast, dense and sprawling and definitely not what I was expecting to see. They were a real juxtaposition to the built up down town area, and large houses on the dotted the road up to the base of Table Mountain. We got our gear dropped off in the apartment we were staying in and headed straight out to get food and explore the city. Despite being reasonably central, and the apartment being really nice, the area was a little rough around the edges, but with plenty to look at. There’s definitely money there, but it’s not necessarily spread around that evenly…

We had four days in Cape Town to take in the sights before we were due to head up country, and we certainly packed a lot in! We walked up Table Mountain, visited Robben Island and the prison where Nelson Mandela and many other political prisoners were held during Apartheid, went Whale watching in Hermanus, did some bouldering and wine tasting in Paarl (about 45 minutes drive east of Cape Town) and of course, saw a lot of Penguins.

After this intensive four days, we felt like we’d seen a lot of Cape Town and the surrounding area to get a pretty good feel for the place. More importantly though, the call of Rocklands was getting too strong to bear, and we were itching to get out on the rock! We swapped hire cars from our tiny little run around to something (marginally) bigger, and with some visibility impairing creativity we managed to get all our gear in! And so began our trip up country. The drive from Cape Town to Clanwilliam is around three and a half hours, and we were making really good progress for about the first two and half hours. Then the roadworks started! We seemed to be pretty unlucky with them too; often grinding to a halt for ten or twenty minutes at a time while a slow stream of cars filtered through from the other direction. It was agonising! The only saving grace during this stretch of the journey was that the weather had been slowly improving the further we travelled from the Cape Town coastline. The changeability and dense cloud cover of Table Bay was giving way to unbroken expanses of blue sky and sunshine, which lifted my spirits no end! The thought of arriving at Rocklands and not being able to climb due to rain was a worry I was desperately trying to suppress. Luckily, it was not an issue as we finally arrived at De Pakhuys (our home for the next week and a half) in the early afternoon, the¬†conditions were perfect. We threw our stuff into our little apartment; freed shoes and chalk bags from whichever suitcase pocket they’d been relegated to during our time in Cape Town and headed straight out. Our first stop was the ‘Fields of Joy’ area, which is one of the closest to where we were staying, and situated on the vast stretch of land owned by De Pakhuys. We arrived at the bottom of the crag, and with the exception of a hasitly retreating Cobra(?!) we were the only people around. We hacked our way up the path and spent an incredible couple of hours running around, looking at problems and getting very excited. Eventually we settled down and actually got a few ascents under our belts, and looked forward to the ten or so days of amazing climbing we still had ahead of us!

We covered a lot of ground on the trip, and chose our areas well (not that you can go far wrong in Rocklands!) hitting Roadside, Roadcrew, Fields of Joy, all the Plateaus, Arch Valley, Riverside and Kliphaus Campground to name a few, and each area was full of great and interesting problems. Scott Noy’s guidebook was indispensable and with the exception of The Sassies, we found everything we were looking for thanks to it! ¬†I’m not going to give you a day-by-day, blow-by-blow account of the rest of the trip, much as I would like to, as it would take forever, but instead I’ll let the photos tell (some of) the story…

If you made it this far: thanks a lot and well done! As you can see both the landscape and climbing were incredible. I can’t stress this enough!

A few technical things: all the photos here were taken with a Canon EOS 7D and a Canon EF 18-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens, both of which were very kindly lent to me by my partner in video crime, Ben. Although I shot a lot of stills while in South Africa, I was mainly capturing hours and hours worth of video footage, which I have recently finished editing and will post more about that soon. If you liked what you saw here, I reckon you’ll enjoy it! Stay tuned.


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