It’s already a week since I left South Africa. For convenience and mostly a better ease of movement, I chose not to bring a laptop on the trip. Smartphones are so versatile now that I planned to do the “live” photo processing on mine and write blog posts with it as well. The laptop would have been one more delicate thing to carry – perhaps the most delicate – and I don’t know where I would have fitted it! On the other hand though, a smart phone is not the best tool to write: the screen is narrow, making the text seem long and keeping the flow sometimes proved difficult. As for photos, my current DSLR doesn’t have a Wifi link. Luckily it has two SD card slots which made it possible to copy files to the phone’s micro SD through an adapter. Long story short, it’s a bit of a process, that has deterred me from writing again up to now.
To keep it short, the nine days following my rope access course were packed. One of my objectives was to climb as much as possible so I went indoor climbing twice and outdoors twice also. Each time was a unique opportunity to see the area and interact with new people, find out about the ways they operate and of course, a gain of experience. Getting back into the climbing groove, finding the “pump” sensation again in the forearms, twisting the mind to know what body position to take in order to reach the next hold, saving energy and of course the “fear fitness” to be OK with falling on lead… it was a great time.
One of the highlights was definitely a climbing day on Table Mountain with guide Tristan Firman. We did two multi-pitch sets, one on the West face in the morning to stay away from the sun, and one on the North face in the afternoon. Each consisted of four pitches (meaning we climb until we need to reset the ropes to climb further), with a total of approximately 200m height for the day. It was my first time doing both multi-pitch and trad climbing, meaning there are no bolts in the rock and you have to place removable anchors as you go. Each time we began with big rappels, and the climbing was the highest and best I’ve ever done outdoors. I’m quite jealous of Cape Town climbers now and really look forward to doing more of it.Having the camera clipped behind my back in top-loader bag was also a first. I mostly used a wide-angle lens, only changing to a 35mm when on a secured ledge, and I must say it worked quite well. I would have obviously got more interesting shots if I was above the lead climber, but since I was combining the actual climbing and taking photos, it was a great experience and I shouldn’t complain!
From a photographic point of view a highlight was the RedBull King of the Air kiteboarding contest in Big Bay, were I got full use of my super-telephoto lens. The show was quite amazing and riders daring not only high but intense manoeuvres, a requirement for scoring big in this competition format. The contest had a 2 week waiting period, only launching heats when the wind was over 28 knots! Here are some pictures to illustrate how extreme it got.
Thanks to my hosts I also got the chance to kitesurf in Langebaan, a sheltered lagoon about 90min drive North of town. Having not kited since at least 2008, you can imagine I was slightly anxious in the beginning: narrow beach, crowded spot, beginners taking lessons and advanced riders dodging them all over the place, it was not quite ideal! That said, some 30mins after a clumsy start, I was also dodging beginners, managing a few turns and getting annoyed at people not flying their kites properly!! This stuff is like riding a bicycle when you’ve done it before and I had so much fun.
Meanwhile I hiked Lion’s head again for sunset, forgetting to take my headlight and descending in the dark, I hung out and walked with Leyla, my host’s dog who was quite lazy the rest of the day, went for a short day trip to the Stellenbosch area, I did dip into the cold Southern Atlantic Ocean which feels like a box duly ticked off and of course enjoyed the company of my hosts and friends at various gatherings. They are traveling to South America this year before moving to Holland, so they stopped drinking alcohol and started a strict fitness regimen. All the best to you guys and big thanks for having me at your place.
Thanks to anyone following, hoping that sharing this can be of some use.
Next stop: Sweden.