ROCKLANDS: Nalle Hukkataival visits South Africa's famed boulders
I woke up when the plane wheels hit the tarmac. The flight captain announced over the intercom: "Welcome to Cape Town, the most beautiful city in the world" After picking up my rental car I hit the chaotic morning traffic. Driving on the wrong side of the road definitely made things interesting, along with the fact that the only driving directions that I had was a text message from my friend. About three hours later I was happy to find myself in a small town called Clanwilliam, the last place to get food and gas before driving to the Cederberg Mountains, home to the famed boulders of the Rocklands.
After a short stop I was back on the road. The road started to climb up the mountainside, soon changing from asphalt to a questionable gravel road. Then my jaw dropped to the floor. Beautiful yellow and orange sandstone boulders spread alongside both sides of the road, as far as the eye can see. I had seen pictures of Rocklands and I knew the place was huge, but still there was no way to be prepared for all this. My brain was overloading. I just wanted to go run around like crazy, but I stayed strong and kept on driving. I found my way to the place we were renting and, exhausted from the long travel, fell asleep on the couch right away. Later that day my friends, who had arrived there a couple of weeks before me, showed me around the closest area. Right away I knew I was somewhere really special.
During the next weeks I climbed more than I think I ever have. The rock quality there is incredible and the crazy features on the rock make climbing really interesting and fun. With so much amazing bouldering around, we barely took any rest days and when we did, we spent them hiking around for hours looking for new areas. Each day was something new. Everything was perfect: the climbing was amazing, the landscape beautiful, the food good and the sun shining.
Then came the rain. We didn't mind it at first. It seemed like a good opportunity to finally take a much needed rest day without missing out on any climbing. But the rain didn't stop. It just kept on pouring down. Soon enough the water destroyed the only road leading out. We were trapped in our small house. I got sick. A high fever kept me in bed for about a week. I got better on the last rainy day. Luckily we had a lot of food that lasted trough the rain. The road was fixed and we got our car towed through a big stream of water blocking our way. We were free again!
After the rain everything was quickly back to the way it was before: my skin was constantly gone, my muscles were tired. I was really happy. Day after day we left the boulders no earlier than when the light started to fade. The majestic sunsets made the walk back to the cars just amazing. After climbing it was time for some African Braai meat and cold beer.
During my six weeks in Rocklands I managed to repeat most of the existing problems and add some great new problems to the area. I climbed as much as I possibly could. By the end of the trip I felt like a truck had hit me. My body needed rest badly, but I knew it wasn't going to happen while there were still so many great problems to be climbed. It was time to move on, go somewhere else. Still, I was very down the day I had to leave. I can't wait to get back to the best bouldering place in the world, to search and develop new areas and problems.