Reluctant climber

Once upon a sunny Sunday Heather and I decided to go to Silvermine for a little hike, as we are wont to do quite often.  My friend Gaetan, the expert rock climber, suggested we should include some abseiling. I’d been bragging about my abseiling activities in Silvermine so Heather was game.

A disclaimer at this point is necessary: I did advise Heather that we would have to walk around the mountain back to the car because the only other way out is to rock-climb up and out and we are not rock climbers. Everyone was in agreement. Everyone.

Heather abseiled down, all good. When it came to my turn I did a cold-feet chicken-shit wussie-faced job. Nothing, none of Gaetan’s inducing could get me to step backwards into the void. Heather waited patiently below, enjoying the view, as Gaetan tried to sweet-talk me over a cliff. No way. Eventually he gave up, hopped down to join Heather and that’s when the fun really began.

He convinced her that walking around was boring (only for wussies) and she should climb up. I positioned myself, changed the camera batteries and waited. It’s amazing how even when you’ve known someone for decades they can still surprise you.

It took hours and hours, I lost count. Two kind strangers gave advice from below, Heather used some of the rudest words ever heard, Gaetan gave patient encouragement from above, Heather shared more obscure words, I took a gazillion photos of the sky, the birds, the scenery, some other climbers, more scenery, and many aspects of the long climb to freedom. I was nervous.

She made it to the half-way point and collapsed on the ledge (you can see the ledge below) in a very unladylike fashion, told us to eff off while she enjoyed the view and drank some water. The ascent continued. This part took about an hour to just get going because there were no visible/novice footholds and her arms and legs were packing in by now.

By rock climbing standards it’s not a difficult climb but for someone who had previously only done a level-7 climb this was a masterful feat. I would have freaked out and bawled and panicked (as I did on the level-7 climb). But she did it and even managed to laugh her way out of the top section which involved climbing through a sort of hole in the rocks.

Then we had to get out of Silvermine – with minutes to spare before the gates shut. But that’s another story.

Her arms were so sore and stiff, it took Heather several days before she could change gears without wanting to cry.

R-e-s-p-e-c-t !!

About Francoise Armour

I run a small touring company (Tours du Cap) at the bottom of Africa, to show visitors the beauty and vibrant culture of the country I have lived in since my parents brought me here from France as a child. I enjoy taking photos and wish I had learnt to do it properly. I enjoy writing but don't do enough of it. I enjoy walking in the mountains that surround me and I marvel over the views and the flowers and the amazing rock formations. I have a small, cute, clever, black dog of indeterminable breed, named Vida, who reminds me regularly that walking and getting out is not only for when tourists want it.

2 responses to “Reluctant climber

  1. Pauline de Wey

    Good on you Heather!!!

  2. laura

    Seriously!! If I were Heather I would’ve killed you dead once I got down. Not in a million years could I do that! Kudos, Heather!

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Disclaimer

A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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