It must have been sometime in January or February here in this fine city of San Francisco. Ethan Pringle and I were waxing philosophical over a cup of coffee at a Mission locale on one of his rare stints back home. If I recall correctly we were deadlocked in deep debate over whether that totally sicky gnar gnar video that Nalle Hukkataival and Mini-Nalle, who incidentally is actually much larger than regular Nalle, had just put on the internet was enough to warrant a trip to Norway for the summer. Like I said, the discussion was heated and tears were shed, but in the end we agreed that our summer was probably best spent in a place about as far from home as geographically possible – Africa.
Time travel a bit with me into the future, now past, and on June 2nd I met Mr. Pringle in the Cape Town International Airport. Ethan was fresh off a Euro excursion while I was fresh off the classroom couch. A couple Hi-5’s and some luggage dolly races later we were off in our brand spanking new micro-toaster of a Hyundai rental “car”. We spent the next 4 hours driving on the wrong side of the road, getting lost on strange highways and maniacally feeding ourselves French chocolate. Decent start.
Finally we arrived at our new home for the next 2 months – Rocklands, South Africa. Our house was on the Alpha Excelsior Guest Farm – a renovated barn on a ridiculous winery. This might sound a bit rustic, but was actually amazingly comfortable and the farm was home to fellow Americans and Euros alike. The old hen house is now a coffee shop offering some decent coffee, an amazing back porch looking out on the Cederberg Mountains and Becky, the world’s sweetest barista.
The first day climbing we joined fellow Americans Phil Schaal and Marlon Campos for a tour of Roadside. Ethan and I really impressed all of the strangers who’d be forced to spend their time around us by running around like lunatics yelling, “Dude, Africa!” – greasing up all of the perfectly textured sandstone. Roadside, like almost every area in Rocklands, houses a ratio of 10 ultra classic problems to every 1 decent problem. Giddy, I jumped on the first problem I saw, Schwupp (v6), and thus the climbing in Rocklands began. Ethan and I spent the rest of the day sizing up problems that would become projects and, for Ethan at least, later sends.
The ensuing two months were a blur of unbelievable rock climbs stacked one next to the other for as long as you’re content to walk and never ending nights of shit-talking and wine drinking. Ethan came away with a ticklist to rival any coming out of the Rocklands nabbing a proverbial last minute ascent of Sky (V14) the day before our plane left, as well as some 17 or so other problems V12 or harder. I surprised the world (8a.nu) by not topping Ethan’s efforts, but did come away with a handful of climbs that were as or more fun to climb than any I’d done before. Hole in One (V10) will go down as the only boulder problem I have/will ever sent/send before Ethan. Other climbs that will stick around in memory for a while are Crazy Leg (V7), Born Into Struggle (V8) and Mud Puddle (V7) that is a real piece of work if you love yourself some criaamps. I guess the real point of this name and number blabber is to drive home the fact that you don’t have to climb vInsane to enjoy Rocklands. The real beauty of this place, aside from surreal sunsets and wildlife, is the staggering amount of quality bouldering that exists at every level, at every area.
The scene around Rocklands is almost worth the trip alone. Climbers’ buffets, Rock Stock, Robyn fueled dance parties, golf tournies, etc. Ethan and I both left South Africa with a crew of chain-smoking, jibberish speaking international types that will remain friends for years to come. You can tell it’s lasting because we Facebook chat, like, all the time. Talk has already started about next season. For now though, it’s back to the plastic paradises and local haunts of California for a while. Burritolife.