In July 2013, Sasha DiGiulian traveled to South Africa to climb existing routes and establish new lines, including Miss-Behaving (5.14a, below). Here's a photo essay summing up her trip (click the photos to enlarge):
Guidebook: There’s no comprehensive guide to the country, but climbing.co.za is a great resource.
Get There: Fly to Johannesburg or Cape Town and rent a car.
Gear: The sport climbing is truly amazing, but you can find world-class trad routes and bouldering, too. Pick your poison!
Season: The U.S. winter is their summer and vice versa. Head down during the States’ hottest months for crisp temps in South Africa.
I onsighted this 7c+/5.13a in Montagu, two hours east of Cape Town. This area is characterized by steep lines and powerful movement with a lot of potential for more development. On my last go of our last climbing day in Africa, I nabbed the first ascent of the “Pipedream Project,” calling it Miss-Behaving (5.14a)—the cherry on top of an amazing trip.
South Africa was love at first sight! The country is exotic and free, and we fully experienced this wild country by going beyond the climbing to explore the towns, go on safari, and see beautiful landscapes.
Climbing in South Africa has a unique and intense history, and Jack of All Trades (8a/5.13b) is a key point on that timeline because it was the first 8a ever done by a South African woman. Tessa Little made the first ascent of this 140-foot crimp-line in the late 1990s. It wasn’t until 2011 that a South African woman climbed 8a+/5.13c with Faye Brouard’s ascent of Mango Tango in Umgeni Valley. I was excited to get the second female ascent on this route and to tick several other first female ascents during my trip.
Climbing on the solid sandstone of Waterval Boven was very technical and sequence-oriented with long moves, which can be challenging at my height. When flashing—and getting the first female ascent of—The Beast (5.13c), I used this feet-first technique through the roof section in order to avoid a really long reach. It worked!
On our third day in Waterval Boven, I did my very first first ascent: Rolihlahla. Formerly called the “Overlord Project,” this line was an open project bolted in 2008 by Andrew Pedley. The climb involves techy moves, small edges, and even a crack. The entire experience was new and super exciting for me—from the early stages of getting chalk on the blank face to realizing that the moves were possible to sequences finally coming together like puzzle pieces fitting.
The lax rules that basically disregarded safety led us to adopt the phrase “This is Africa.” #TIA