A Brand New World

Change is hard. I’m usually pretty good at adapting to changes but sometimes I can be a bit resistant. When the change required quitting my job and moving from South Africa to Austria, I expected it to be challenging. I also knew that it would be an adventure that I would never regret.

I landed in Austria on the 13th of March and I have been adapting quite well. It was great to be able to keep on working for my old company in South Africa as a contractor, very helpful in relieving the stress of not having a job. It gave me plenty of time to acclimate to the new country, while giving me the flexibility to have fun at the same time.

The language has been a bit challenging at times but I’m definitely learning and enjoying speaking German, granted I speak mainly English at home. At the crags and while I’m travelling, it’s often a mix of the two languages but I’m feeling like I can at least express myself well enough to get by.

My Travels in Europe

So far, so good. The people here are brilliant and the countries surrounding me are beautiful. Claudia and I have been climbing in Arco, Germany and Austria. We have been to Vienna for a walk around the parliament buildings and gardens, which are beautiful! I even managed to catch concert in München!

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Claudia having a little fun in Vienna

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Parkway Drive performing in München

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Catching up on rest in Verona

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A short hike ended up a 11km, 5 hour 1600 vertical meter journey. What an amazing day out with Claudia!

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It’s important to relax

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Catching a tan at the Taugl, a nearby river

Photo shoots with Claudia

I had the pleasure of assisting Claudia on some photo jobs this year. I helped build a training area in the barn for La Sportiva’s summer clothing. Was fantastic to meet Stefano Gisolfi and Sylvio Reffo, along with their two lovely ladies! Matteo Pavana was also on the shoot to make a training film for La Sportiva.

 

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Matteo, Stefano, Sara, Sylvio and Fransesca chilling on our couch. Photo by Claudia Ziegler

One such job took us to Gröden for a shoot with Leki where I even got to be in a few of the pictures. It really caught me off guard when I saw the photos on the wall at the Outdoor Trade Show in Friedrichshafen!

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Sunrise in the mountains… Big hike in the dark to start off the day

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Relaxing in the sunset

New Sponsors

One of the most important events that I’ve attended so far was the Outdoor Trade Show. It was there that I met with DMM and La Sportiva, which brings me to some great news. I have been offered a sponsorship deal for equipment from DMM and a clothing / shoe deal with La Sportiva for 2018. I am beyond excited to be able to continue to work with the two brands from Austria after having parted ways upon leaving South Africa.

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La Sportiva shared a great selection of clothing with me. Photo by Claudia Ziegler

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I’m so happy to be able to work with these two brands.

 

Training and Climbing

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love to train! I have been keeping very fit since I’ve been here. Running, climbing, hangboarding, the works and I’m in pretty much the best shape of my life. I feel strong, I feel fit and I am healthy.

 

It’s been a godsend that I have a hangboard in my bedroom, though I have not had to use it that much this summer. Why hangboard when you can climb till 9:30 at night?

 

Arco has some fantastic climbing! That’s for sure. Admittedly, the ice cream is to die for!! Every day we were there we had to have ice cream!! and sometimes pizza too.

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The Koloseum at Maltatal! So much fun!

Without a doubt, my favourite area so far is the Barmstein. I have spent more time there than anywhere else, and for good reason! The routes are long and sustained, making them so much fun because it is really easy to progress on them.

I climbed the Elefant Trio (as I like to call them): an 8a+, 8b and 8b+. All are 45m long and completely amazing climbing! Here are two pics from Stenofant (8b) that Claudia took on a sunrise shoot.

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The author on Stenofant (8b) Photo by Claudia Ziegler

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Spot the climber… Sunrise at the Barmstein Photo by Claudia Ziegler

After I climbed Elefantenspatziergang (8b+) Claudia and I went back for a second photo shoot. What came out of it was really quite special. Thank you La Sportiva for the clothing for the shoot!

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Setting off in the dark

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Focused on the slopers

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Keeping the core

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Power through the crimps

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Hold the cut

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Take a deep breath

 

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Living the Life…

I’ve been living in a tent for the last 3 weeks in Camping Siurana. The journey up to this point has been a very interesting one. Before the trip began I was in Cape Town with Yvette for a week.

It was really special to be at two of my really good friends’ weddings so close together. I felt very privileged to be able to spend the time with Yvette and witness two unforgettable occasions!

 

I worked out of the Cape Town office during the week but thanks to the long days was able to get in some bouldering up in Echo Valley.

 

I got back to Joburg after the time in the Cape feeling a bit stressed. Things weren’t quite where I needed them to be before going off for a month. With some sort of a miracle, I managed to fix everything that needed to be fixed before saying good bye to Yvette and starting the journey to Spain.

Grivin and I flew to Abu Dhabi, where we had one of the longest layovers in history. This was my fault, but I couldn’t do anything about it. 19 hours in the airport really was unpleasant. By the time we finally arrived in Barcelona, I’d been up from Thursday morning till Saturday afternoon. I was starting to fall asleep on the drive and I was driving.

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Hmmm, I’m in the airport and this is all I can think about!

It really was a full on epic to arrive but we are finally here. We found the ultimate campsite and poached as many chairs as we could find so that we could be awesome. Besides, no one else was here.

Grivin and I started our climbing bright and early on the Sunday morning, neither of us were capable of climbing on the day we arrived. We started off climbing some easy stuff, up to 7a+. Then we got to check out this awesome sunset!

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It was fun to be able to onsight a whole bunch of new stuff. I quickly found my rhythm and was onsighting 7b+ and 7c in no time at all. There have been a bunch of close calls on 7c+ onsights but nothing just yet.

I have met a bunch of cool guys in Spain, one of which is an 18 year old Scotsman on a gap year. Callum, is onsighting 8a and 8a+ on the pocketed rock at Montsant and is quite a beast.

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Expert belay skills coming through

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He was there when Grivin gave us the fright of a lifetime. I think he took a few years off my life when he reached up to that first draw and came tumbling down to the ledge and then rolled off it. I thought he was simply dead, but then he started screaming violently. By the time Callum and I reached him, I feared the worst. He was laying in a very contorted position with his arms and legs twisted behind his back. I rushed off to get my phone and call for a rescue. He had just fallen 12m and done a backflip off the ledge in the process, the madness!!!

 

Some of the locals came around and were amazing in the assist. The Catalonia Fire Department came in a blazing and very dexterously dealt with Grivin, who was now sitting upright and joking with us. He was carried out in a basket and rushed to the hospital for x-rays. 

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After a ride in the ambulance and a scintillating time at the St Joan Hospital in Reus, I drove Grivin back to the campsite where we drank beer and celebrated life with no major injuries for the Grasshopper, now known only as FIRST DRAW. The legend of first draw has spread far and everyone now thinks of the young blond guy before removing their draw from anything they climb. The legend even reached South Africa where people are now saying, “Don’t do a Grivin, be careful at that first draw.” I’m just glad he’s ok. The only thing that is still bothering him is his heel, but it’s ok, we’ve got an Ausie to help with that!

20151231_132151Enter Les McNicol, a very cool climber who’s spent the last two years working in the UK. Never have my sides been so sore from the hysterics in the campsite. He’s the stuff that legends are made of, and he brings the psych with him! Talented photographer and all-around good guy. Fantastic to keep the psych high on a trip like this. 12486103_10153847575416613_4843680125270005195_o

It’s been fantastic to be based in one area, we have spent a few days in Montsant as well and I find it very challenging. A sea of pockets on 60m walls on which one can drown in waves of pump before sinking on to your ropes, screaming. I tried to onsight an 8a and 8a+ there and found myself way out of my element. The technical 50m 7c on the other hand was right up my alley and Les was there with the lens to capture the moment and the sunset.

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Kamaleon (7c) — 50m of technical pockets and slab at sunset

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Falconetti (8a+) – Burly!

This brings us to the New Year, it was strange indeed for us foreigners — not a single bar or restaurant opened till after midnight. Fortunately for us Camping Siurana was open and leading the way for the celebration. At midnight we ate 12 grapes and shared in sparkling wine to toast in 2016. I started to feel absolutely rotten that night, I think I caught the plague from our Ausie friend! Fortunately, the beer and huge shot of warm tequila killed the plague and brought me back from the brink!

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This is how we prepared for the new year!

I met a few awesome people at the party! Great contacts that I really hope to host in South Africa someday! Got to love Facebook! Well, now I’m about to wrap up my post and go try one of Toni’s new projects with him — So much for resting. Psych is just too high to handle the down time.