SA Winter Mountaineering Essentials

So you’re planning a mountaineering trip in the Hex, Swartberg or the top of the Drakensberg in July? The chances are good that you don’t have all the gear needed for such an expedition in your closet. So you’re going to have to go shopping. You most likely have an idea of the gear you should be purchasing but the question is what do I really need to buy? And what could I get away without? What is the essential gear for high mountain winter adventures?

Click Here for a South African Winter Mountaineering Essentials Packing List PDF

winter hiking essentials for south africaApparel:

When purchasing apparel for alpine adventures it’s important to avoid Cotton. Due to its propensity to hold water & cool the wearer down, cotton is considered a deadly fabric. For more on the subject read  Why Does Cotton Kill?

Dressing in layers is highly recommended as it allows you to regulate your body temperature appropriately as conditions change. It’s therefore important to purchase garments that work together to effectively wick, insulate & protect.

The wicking garments are worn next to the skin & their job is to remove moisture that builds up during exercise, transferring it away from the skin before it can cool the body. Synthetic fibres like polypro and natural fibres like Marino excel at this function. Insulating garments should also be worn in layers so that you can take them off when heating up; or add more when it gets colder. Consider a thin 100g fleece topped with a thicker one, or waistcoat fleece. Next, a softshell layer is often useful; or a down or synthetic puffer jacket for colder environments. The final layer – or shell – must provide an effective barrier to water and wind.


    • A sturdy pair of gaiters -Black Diamond Frontpoint Gaiter
    • Breathable waterproof shell – Stromline Stretch Rain Shell or Highline Stretch Rain Shell
    • Waterproof pants – Stormline Stretch Full Zip Rain Pants
    • Warm shell gloves Glissade Gloves to Very warm mitts  Mercury Mitts depending on the expected environment


    • High quality down jacket – Approach Down Hoody
    • Mid-layer Jacket – Factor Hoody
    • Warm hiking pants – Alpine Pants


    • 2x Base Layer shirts – LS Rhythm Tee
    • 2x Baselayer pants – Solution 150 Merino Base Bottom
    • Synthetic balaclava – Dome Balaclava
    • Base layer gloves to be worn under your main gloves to allow you to do “fingery” tasks that require that you remove the main glove Midweight Screentap Fleece Gloves
    • Synthetic beanie – Black Diamond Brand Beanie
    • Wool and Synthetic Socks  

    (Sock choice depends on your preference but my choice configuration is a pair of Injinji liner Socks under a pair of wool socks)

essentials for south African winter hikingFootwear: 

Getting your footwear right can be quite difficult and may require trying a few different brands and sizes. A well-fitting boot will make your adventure a whole lot more enjoyable.

The suitability of boots for various mountaineering activities is rated in B grades. In short, this refers to the amount of support the boot will offer & its crampon compatibility. Read more here  

Unless you are planning to do some ice climbing, B1 boots are suitable for most trips in the high mountains of South Africa in winter. Good options are the Boreal Zanskar, Zamberlan Vioz Plus, and the Scarpa Marmaloda Pro. These boots offer good support, and waterproofness and will take strap-on crampons for the occasional steep slope.

Should you be considering some proper ice climbing, then it will be better to choose a B2 boot that is compatible with semi-automatic (or “step-in”) crampons. B2 hiking boots are quite versatile because they work for both the hike in (flat dirt, rock, and mud) they also work well when the going gets steep. Good options include the Boreal Brenta and Scarpa Ribelle


SA winter hiking essential gear

Winter camping:

There are three essentials:


The mountains in South Africa may not be as high as those in other parts of the world but they are quite capable of dishing out seriously extreme weather. The high ‘Berg is replete with tales of top-end tents being shredded – and when all that stands between you and death by hyperthermia is a shell of nylon & aluminium poles; it is best to ensure that your tent can stand up to the worst.

The key feature of all these tents is a solid structure of interconnected aluminium poles. The more pole crossing the tent has – the stronger it will be. A low profile, a fly with a high hydrostatic head (5000+) and at least one vestibule are also key features. Unless you are prepared to fork out big bucks for a Black Diamond Bibler Series single skin tent, these tents will always be a bit on the heavy side – durability requires some weight.

A good option is the Vango Mirage Pro



A very Warm Sleeping Bag is essential. While new synthetic materials are increasingly capable – there is still no real equivalent to a good down bag in terms of warmth for weight & long term durability. The JR GEAR HELIUM DOWN sleeping bags are an excellent choice. They are available in three fill weights from 550g to 1050g.


It doesn’t matter how warm your sleeping bag is; if you are in direct contact with the cold ground – you will freeze at night. The cheapest option is a simple 10mm EVA foam mat

 E3 GEAR INSULATOR MAT -10MM. However, if you value your sleep, investing in a quality sleeping mat with a high R-Value rating will be money well spent. Consider the JR GEAR PRESIDON. Also, consider the JR GEAR DRY BAG PUMP. Not only does this make it easy to inflate the mat, but it can be used as a dry bag for your down sleeping bag while hiking and as a pillow at night.


Other Equipment:


    • Hiking Pack 75-100L Black Diamond Mission 75L
    • Trekking Poles* Any of the Black Diamond Flick Lock poles will serve you well – but the Pro Series (with Stainless Steel flick lock) will be the most reliable Black Diamond Alpine Cork
    • Headlamp – Black Diamond Storm 400,  Revolt 350 or Icon 700
    • Snow Goggles OR snow glasses (from my experience every mountaineer should have a pair handy)

     Cooking solutions:

    In temperatures below 5 degrees C; most gas stoves start to lose power as the liquid gas in the canister is less inclined to evaporate. This issue becomes more significant as temperatures drop below Zero. As a result, it is prudent to choose a stove that has a built-in regulator to assist performance in these low temperatures.

    Option 1:

    • Regulated Gas Stove Jtboil MightyMo StoveAlpine essentials cooking systems
    • Cooking Kit GSI Pinnacle Soloist (or Duelist)
    • Gas canister stabilizer Jetboil Fuel Can Stabiliser
    • Gas canisters Jetboil JetPower Fuel 230G
    • Heat Shield FireMapel Heat Shield

    Option 2:

    • Jetboil Complete cooking system Jetboil MiniMo cooking system – Carbon
    • Utensils GSI Folding Foon
    • Gas Canisters Jetboil JetPower Fuel 230G

 Winter climbing gear:

In South Africa, most winter climbing occurs on waterfall ice. As opposed to the hard-packed névé that one enjoys in higher altitudes and greater latitudes, waterfall ice is brittle and has the propensity to “dinner plate”. It is often more fragile – and more “wet” to climb. That said good conditions can still yield a very rewarding adventure experience

 The following is a list of suitable kit for SA ice conditions

  • Harness – options:
    •   Beal Snow Guide
    • Black Diamond Technician
  • Helmet – (here a few options)
    • Black Diamond Vapor – Lightest
    • Black Diamond Vision – Best
    • Singing Rock Penta – Light and Cost-effective
    • Black Diamond Half Dome – Heavier but very durable
  • A pair of Half Ropes – Beal Cobra II
  • Slings – Singing Rock Open Sling 150CM, 120CM, 80CM
  • 6x Clipgate Carabiners – Black Diamond Lightwire Carabiner
  • 2x Singing Rock Dyneema 30cm 
  • 4x Carabiners Black Diamond Hotforge Screwgate Carabiner
  •       2x Prusik chords 
  •       Ice Screws – Black Diamond Express Ice Screw
  •       Pitons are also often useful in iced-up cracks Black Diamond Pitons
  •       A slimmed-down rack of Black Diamond Camalots is also key
  • Crampons : Options:
    • Walking: Black Diamond Contact or Singing Rock Fakir
    • Mountaineering: Black Diamond Serac Crampon
    • Ice climbing: Black Diamond Sabretooth Pro or Cyborg
  • Ice Tools: options
    • Walking: Black Diamond Raven or Singing Rock Merlin
    • Mountaineering: Black Diamond Venom Ice Axe – Adze
    • Ice Climbing: Black Diamond Viper – Pair


 Getting out into the mountains can be daunting, I hope that we were able to make your trip slightly less so. So pack your kit, get to the mountains, and have the adventure of a lifetime!

See Our Ultralight Catalogue:

Ultralight hiking Catalogue Alpine essential gear

Written By: Timothy & Simon Larsen

Athlete Interview: Gosia Lipinska

  • How many years have you been climbing and how did you start?

18 years and I started as a skivvy at City Rock, doing things like kids parties. At least that’s the official start – I’ve been climbing trees and rooftops my whole life.


  • Most memorable experience or send?

Standing on top of a very cold and snowy Fitz Roy in Patagonia, doing Switchbitch (31), which was not my style (very bouldery) and doing my first hard send after having kids – Germinator (30).


  • How do you deal with the frustration of not being able to send your projects?

Channel the frustration into trying harder typically or just hanging out with buddies to have a laugh, relax and get back into a positive frame of mind.


  • What is the first piece of climbing advice, knowing all you do now, that you would give to yourself if you had just started climbing?

Don’t worry about not sending everything immediately, life is long and the mountains will always be there.


  • What is your favorite or most used piece of The Edge ZA gear?

My BD shoes and harness – the absolute essentials which I love to bits.


  • Any gnarly epics?

Oh, too many. The hardest being abseiling off the Fitz Roy – full day of absolute concentration after 3 days of almost total sleep deprivation. It was surreal and torturous beyond belief. The second hardest, epicing with kids in the middle of the night because of a variety of kiddy things (teething, etc). Big walls are good prep for kids, perhaps even mandatory.


  • What motivates you to keep climbing?

The absolute love of the movement of it and the great feeling of doing something that seemed completely out of reach. And the wonderful connections with other like-minded people.


  • Plans for 2021 and the future?

Climb when I can and be a great parent! Send a few more projects.

Athlete Interview: David Naude

  • How many years have you been climbing and how did you start?

I’ve been climbing for around 9 years now. I started getting into climbing when I was a little kid on a camping trip in Kromrivier. But eventually lost interest and got into a variety of other sports. In 2013 I did a fun competition at the mountain club and went to nationals that same year. The rest is history!


  • Most memorable experience or send?

Speed of Sound (8B+) FOR SURE! I spent so many sessions on this boulder in 2019. From my first session believing that there was absolutely no chance of me sending that year to grabbing the top jug! Man what a feeling!


  • How do you deal with the frustration of not being able to send your projects?

Poorly! I definitely deal with the failure of not sending slightly different to most people it seems. I do get really frustrated, and it happens a lot… hitting, kicking, shouting, crying and hair pulling have all been part of the equation at some stage or another. But I always remember that I keep coming back and putting myself in the same situation time after time. So, I guess some part of me likes it!


  • What is the first piece of climbing advice, knowing all you do now, that you would give to yourself if you had just started climbing?

Climb all the time, think about climbing, watch climbing videos, go on climbing trips, just climb! Be patient with your goals. Climbing doesn’t often make sense. It could be the hottest day, your skin could be feeling the worst it’s ever been, and then you send. No logic, no reasoning, it just happens. So just keep trying and the right time will come!


  • What is your favorite or most used piece of The Edge ZA gear?

I can tell you with almost 100% certainty that I would be in a wheelchair 10 times over without a Black Diamond Mondo crash pad underneath me when I’m bouldering!


  • Any gnarly epics?

Nothing that has been my fault! The most unpleasant one was definitely when Guy PJ stepped in a beehive when we were at Paarl a few years back. Ended up running away from swarming bees and soloing the backside of Paarl rock with all our gear to get away and back to the car. This is why I stick to boulders now!


  • What motivates you to keep climbing?

For me, doing the absolute hardest moves my body is capable really intrigues me. I love the idea of being to hold something so inconceivably bad that people laugh! The aesthetics of a climb also definitely motivate me. Being on a big, proud, beautiful line in a beautiful part of the world just makes me happy and draws me to climbing for sure.


  • Plans for 2021 and the future?

For most of 2021 I will mainly be doing a lot of local bouldering, due to the fact that I’m Cape Town bound with varsity. But I am planning to make a trip to Switzerland or Fontainebleau in December/Jan which I am really psyched for! Then for the future, I’m still keeping my eyes on 2024.


Essential Gear for Trad Climbing

Trad climbing essentials

Trad climbing is arguably the most rewarding form of rock climbing. The beauty of trad is the amazing depth and breadth of experience that it offers. You are also not limited to hard grades in order to do something “worthwhile” and there is always an opportunity for new routing or any level of adventure which you choose.

Protection is a necessary inconvenience. Most climbers try to carry the least they need to do the route comfortably. Take too little, too much, or the wrong stuff and eventually you’re guaranteed an epic.

Fifteen draws will get you up most modern bolt-protected routes anywhere in the world. That’s the beauty of these routes – interaction with equipment is minimized. It’s not such an easy formula for routes where natural features provide the only protection opportunities.

Trad Climbing is Not Simple:

Awareness of all the rock’s intricacies, not just the parts with chalk on them, becomes of supreme importance. Different cliffs and rock types provide various opportunities for protection in type, quality, and frequency of placements, so the “ideal rack” will differ from crag to crag. The rack you put together for splitter cracks at Indian Creek will be very different from the selection you use on Lion’s Head granite. That said, there is a fairly standard selection that is core to most racks outlined below. It is also worth mentioning that most experienced climbers will work with their partners to select the best rack for the day’s challenges by selecting gear from both of their racks. This will allow you to carry duplicates of certain sizes as need be.

For most routes, you’ll get a good idea of what gear to take either from the guide, beta from friends, and looking at it yourself. The time when you will really depend on making the best possible guess is for that multi-pitch route about which you know practically nothing. For these occasions, the list below provides a good template for the essential gear for trad climbing from which to start.

Your own judgment and actions rule your life. Add to, remove from or ignore this list as you see fit!

Click Here For a List of Trad Climbing Essentials

Cams, Hexes, and Nuts:key cams for beginning trad climbing

This is the category that scares most climbers due to the expense of cams. However, it’s comforting to recognise that a good set of cams can give decades of service; and once you have a set; your climbing options become almost infinite. There is literally more than a lifetime of climbing in South Africa alone – let alone all the amazing climbing in other parts of the world too.


So Cams are expensive, but for good reason. The aluminum has to be incredibly light, really durable and the design has to work 100% of the time.

That said – one can build up a useful rack in manageable bites, and it’s even easier if you co-operate with your climbing partner by both buying complementary parts. I suggest you buy your cams in two phases:

  • Step #1 : 1x (0.5, 0.75, 1, 2, 3) Black Diamond C4
  • Step #2 : 1 x (0.2, 0.3, 0.4) Black Diamond Z4 + 1 x 4 C4


While there are definitely placements for which hexes are ideal; other placements often require that you use both hands to get it seated. For this reason, most experienced trad climbers prefer to use a cam that will fit the same crack & are easier & quicker to place. That said; if budget is the issue – a set of hexes will give you a lot of options & get you climbing while you slowly work on your rack of cams. Hexes are lightweight camming device supplements and cheaper than cams to abandon if necessary.


(Often called nuts) can be purchased in sets. I would recommend starting out with a basic set and then you can add onto the set with individual nuts.

  • Set (size: 4-13)Trad Climbing gear essentials


Slings and Quickdraws:

If you sport climb already you can use your nylon quickdraws although you may want to add some longer ones to your rack. The main differences between lead quickdraws and trad quickdraws are size and weight, trad quickdraws are smaller and lighter.

These recommended wire gate carabiners and runners are ideal for combining into alpine draws (basically light, long quickdraws)

  • 10 – 14 Quickdraws
    • It is also helpful to have a mix of length; suggest 4-6 x 12cm, 4-6 x 16, or 17cm. Two longer units (25 or 30cm) can also be very helpful.
  • 2 sets of Wiregate carabiners colour coded to cams
  • 2x 60cm open slings + 1 Wiregate Carabiner per sling
  • 2x 120cm open slings + 1 Wiregate Carabiner per sling
  • 2 prussic loops – 5mm or 6mm chord



There are two main methods of leading on trad – two thin half ropes – or one single.

Single Rope:

While using a single has the advantage of owning only one rope for both sport & trad climbing; it has a couple of disadvantages:

  • Most trad routes wind around looking for the breakthrough difficult terrain. For this reason, as you place gear, you need to be conscious of not creating too many corners for your rope to turn – otherwise, the accumulated friction will stop you in your tracks. In order to ensure a smooth flow on a single rope – you need to make good use of long slings to allow the rope to “cut the corners”. This can often result in feeling exposed to potentially longer falls.
  • When abseiling off a route; one has to fold this rope in half – which limits the distance you can descend and increases the number of abseils you have to set up (potentially in awkward places)

Two Thin Ropes: (Half Ropes)

In order to address the above issues, the norm for most trad climbers is to use two thinner ropes which allow you to:

  • Run two ropes in parallel while climbing a weaving route around obstacles. The ropes travel as straighter line & friction is minimised
  • When descending; you can tie the two ropes together and descend for the full length

There are three additional advantages of this system:

  • It allows you to climb efficiently as a party of three (one second on each rope; often climbing simultaneously)
  • While buying trad ropes is an extra expense; you only use one set of ropes while climbing – so your sport rope will last a lot longer if it is only used when climbing sport.
  • Should you be unfortunate enough to have an accident during which a rope is cut/damaged – having two ropes will give you more options for self-rescue.

When I started climbing, the standard trad ropes were 45m x 9mm. However as gear has improved and climbing standards have risen, there has been a tendency towards longer pitches – often linking pitches together. Jacobs Ladder on Table Mountain is a good example. Originally opened as a four-pitch route, it is commonly climbed in 2 pitches now. Due to this trend, combined with improvements in rope technology – trad ropes have got thinner and longer. The standard is now 60m – 70m ropes of 8 to 8.5mm. So we consider half ropes to be part of the recommended gear for trad climbing.

After many decades of trad climbing my favourite ropes are:


Other:key gear for trad climbing

  • Belay device
  • Belay Carabiner
  • 4x Screw gate Carabiners
  • Nut tool
  • Harness
  • Chalk Bag
  • Helmet – on trad routes, this is not an optional extra!

Click Here For a List of Trad Climbing Essentials

Rock Shoes:

The choice of rock shoes is very personal and will vary according to fit and last as well as the characteristics of the route to be climbed. Some folk want the same performance as they get from their sport shoes while others want a more comfortable, supportive fit. It’s worth considering the following:

  • For long, moderate to easy routes, a board-lasted shoe will provide more support and will allow solid edging support even with a more relaxed & comfortable fit.
  • For climbing harder routes, a softer, more sensitive shoe may be required. Should this be the case; it’s a good idea to have velcro closure so that you can take them off/ put them on easily allowing you to remove them after every pitch.


Trad climbing does ask more of a pack – both in volume & features. The ideal size is around 45L which will allow you to stash a rope + rack + water + harness + rock shoes + helmet (and in my case a flask for coffee). Ad this all together & the weight adds up – so the pack itself should be fairly light. That said it needs to be tough and streamlined in order to cope with the scrambles & bush-bashing that is often involved.

If you are considering climbing with a pack – then you need it to be tough, very compact & streamlined with quick, easy access. The Black Diamond Rock Blitz has been designed specifically for this purpose


For Detailed Descriptions and Overviews of Our Climbing Products See the 2020 Catalogue:

Climbing Catalogue 2020


-Simon Larsen & Timothy Larsen

Athlete Interview: Michael van der Ham

How many years have you been climbing and how did you start?

I have been climbing for about 13 years now. Actually I got into climbing kind of by chance when I was invited to a climbing and abseiling course by a friend in high school. I thought it might be interesting so I gave it a try. On the course I got super wigged and I was pretty terrible but really enjoyed it. Later I found out that there was a climbing club at my school and that’s how I joined.

Most memorable experience or send?

A few memorable sends a long the way. One of the more recent ones was a send of Pendragon. I looked at it for close on 8 years but never tried it. One day in 2019 I eventually got some courage to try it. After a few goes I pieced the beta together and then sent. It was a cool reminder that sometimes things aren’t as scary as they are in your head.

How do you deal with the frustration of not being able to send your projects?

Usually if I stuff up the beta or drop a send, I get pretty annoyed at myself. But I find that is usually pretty easy to shrug off and get back to focusing on enjoying where I am and what I’m doing. I haven’t really found a cure yet for the inner dread of whether or not I will be good enough to send the life time projects. Recently I started training with James Barnes and having a good coach that helps you stay focused and motivated has helped.

What is the first piece of climbing advice, knowing all you do now, that you would give to yourself if you had just started climbing?

Don’t doubt your ability to do hard routes.

What is your favorite or most used piece of The Edge ZA gear?

Definitely the GSI Microlite Flasks. They are a game changer for keeping your drinks hot or cold. Plus, you can get a sneaky gin and tonic sundowner if you plan right 😉

Any gnarly epics?

Thankfully not too many epics. I’ve had a few when I was younger with dehydration and getting caught out on scorcher days in Durban. The most wigged I’ve ever been was when I was abseiling off The Way of the Warrior project. Just before I started abseiling, my partner said “just make sure you don’t place your rope over any sharp edges”. I was like that seems fair and it was fine, until I got over the edge, I then realized that there were only sharp edges. A bit later after abseiling over a roof I realized that I needed to swing across the face several times to get down to the next stance. I proceeded take some massive swing across the face and slowly made my way down to the next stance. The only thought going through my head at the time was of the sharp edge that I placed my rope on a few minutes’ prior. When I got down, I couldn’t open my right hand because I was gripping the bottom rope so tightly. In retrospect it was a great experience.

What motivates you to keep climbing?

I find it really enjoyable how things go from feeling impossible and then slowly figuring out how everything fits together until you eventually send.

Plans for 2021 and the future?

My goal for the year is to do 10 x 8A boulders or harder this year. So I’m going to keep training and working towards that.

Athlete Interview: Andrew Court

Andy Court

How many years have you been climbing and how did you start?

I have been climbing for 14 years. I started climbing in junior school with a school climbing club.


Most memorable experience or send?

There are so many. Locally – The Bobby Woods Challenge: 35 hours on the move, over 40km of off trail hiking, trad/simul climbing over 1000m of rock.

Internationally – A 24h mission up the 600m Storpilaren in Norway’s Arctic Circle.  The mission involved a “death slab” pitch, overhanging crux crack climbing, sketchy descent gully’s and a 10 hour walk off.


How do you deal with the frustration of not being able to send your projects?

It’s very seldom my fault for not sending so I don’t get frustrated. Typically the conditions are poor, my partners were not encouraging enough, the stars were not aligned, it was a high gravity day or my vegan smoothie didn’t give me adequate power in the morning.


What is the first piece of climbing advice, knowing all you do now, that you would give to yourself if you had just started climbing?

Surround yourself with stronger climbers and believe that you can climb anything!


What is your favorite or most used piece of The Edge ZA gear?

Most used is probably my Solution Guide harness. It’s awesome, really comfy and can take a massive rack of gear. Favorite must be my .4 ultra light cam. It is super sexy and weighs the same as a pair of delicate lingerie.


Any gnarly epics?

Lots. After topping Ruby Super Nova at sunset I lead the team down the 550m overhanging Slanghoek wall. We rapped the wall in the dark, onsight, making anchors as we want. At the base we got to enjoy a 3.5 hour bundu bash down the steep kloof with all our gear for 2 days on the wall.


What motivates you to keep climbing?

The feeling of progression, visiting new places, making great friendships and pushing myself in hard situations.


Plans for 2021 and the future?

Develop power by bouldering more, enjoy the new climbing destinations I find myself close to in the North of the country. Do some big missions, Spitzkoppe, Blouberg, Drakensberg.

Get to know Erin Sterkenburg

Erin Sterkenberg

How many years have you been climbing and how did you start?
I started climbing in 2017 so this will be my fifth year. I started climbing because it is a sport offered by my school and I joined the climbing club in Grade 8.

Most memorable experience or send?
Definitely when I sent Stonehaven, at Umgeni. It was my first 8a and I had been trying it on and off for a year. When I sent, all the moves felt smooth and the climbing just flowed.

How do you deal with the frustration of not being able to send your projects?
I try not to place too much pressure on myself, and if I do find myself getting frustrated I make sure I remind myself that I climb because I love this sport so much.
Sometimes a little bit of ranting about the project helps too.

What is the first piece of climbing advice, knowing all you do now, that you would give to yourself if you had just started climbing?
Hmm, maybe just to absorb as much advice from other climbers from the start, as there is so much to learn about the sport.

What is your favorite or most used piece of The Edge ZA gear?
Probably my BD chalk bag. If I ever feel nervous or a little scared on a climb I just chalk up.

Any gnarly epics?
Not yet, but hopefully one day.

What motivates you to keep climbing?
The sport itself, and the climbing community. I just love the feeling of climbing and I love going to the gym or crag and being surrounded by other people who love the sport as much as I do.

Plans for 2021 and the future?
Lots and lots of training, leading up to the Olympics. I also really want to plan a big road trip and visit all of the amazing crags our country has to offer.

See also:

Getting to Know an Olympic athlete Erin Sterkenburg

Athlete Interview: Georgi Dorward

Black Diamond Athlete Georgi Dorward

How many years have you been climbing and how did you start? 

I have been climbing for about 8 years now. I got into climbing through school, a guy by the name
of Ross Suter introduced me to the local crags in Cape Town and it just grew from there.

Most memorable experience or send? 

One of the most memorable experiences for me is joining a traveling climbing school on the other side of the world for my last year of high school. The people I have met and the places I have visited has been a dream come true and I am extremely lucky and privileged to travel to these incredible destinations. Overall it’s been an experience filled with crazy and exiting memories that I will take with me for the rest of my life!

How do you deal with the frustration of not being able to send your projects? 

It is frustrating for sure and sometimes so much so I struggle to stay motivated, but remembering that the rock isn’t going anywhere is a good way to think about it. You can always come back and try again it’s just hard to walk away.

What is the first piece of climbing advice, knowing all you do now, that you would give to yourself if you had just started climbing?

I would remind my self I am climbing for me and no one else. That having tough a tough day and experiencing that feeling of failure is all part of the process.

What is your favourite or most used piece of The Edge ZA gear?

Definitely my Black Diamond solution harness, Beal rope and BD draws!

Any gnarly epics?

There have definitely been a few, some less significant than others but one that comes to mind first was my crazy adventure up Tafelberg a few
years back, to go and do some trad climbing. It was my first time trading and we stared on the pillar box that stands alone in a saddle over looking some amazing
views. It was getting dark and was super cold but we had to finish up. Standing on top of such a magnificent piece of stone was an incredible feeling. After an
exhausting day of hiking up and climbing we slept that night in a cave up there. Was definitely quite the adventure!

What motivates you to keep climbing?

There are many aspects that go into climbing and they are what make this sport so exiting to me. It really calls for the ability to problem solve and make mental shifts when things get challenging. It’s you against the rock and although you can get competitive with others, inevitably it comes down to you. Basically this sport challenges you both physically and mentally and that’s something that makes it impossible to get tired of. Another aspect that is infectious is the amazing community within this sport.

Plans for 2021 and the future?

My plan for the rest of 2021 is to finish strong at the climbing academy here in Vegas. I then plan to come home and do some local
missions to rocklands etc all while I finish college applications. I’m not too sure what my future plans are but I hope there will be a lot of outdoor missions and the odd fun comp like Rock Masters and gravity bowl.


Athlete Interview: Garrreth Bird

Gareth Bird - climbing slanghoek

How many years have you been climbing and how did you start?

Holey Moley, over 35 years! As a kid I saw a James Bond movie that featured a climbing scene and it piqued my interest enough to join an outdoor club at school. From there it was a couple of sketchy outings with a few friends until we rounded out our skills. Most memorable experience or send? I have been blessed with a good few! Perhaps my first 8a? Perhaps returning to camp after an out-of-my-comfort-zone solo of an alpine peak in the Russian Caucasus? Perhaps topping out our new 18 pitch route on Slanghoek Amphitheatre after it’s opening ascent?


How do you deal with the frustration of not being able to send your projects?

I try to take a more zen approach. The climbing is the awesome part, and it soothes my soul; hard climbing is great, but it is not the be-all and end-all of existence. Besides, most people gravitate towards a style that suits them, so maybe the route is just a bit harder for you than for others?!


What is the first piece of climbing advice, knowing all you do now, that you would give to yourself if you had just started climbing?

The higher grades are not as far away from you as they seem right now!


What is your favourite or most used piece of The Edge ZA gear?

My superlight BD biners save so much weight on every move of every outing. They are the gifts that keep on giving.


Any gnarly epics?

I try to be prepared enough to avoid most epics, but bad or missing beta has sometimes seen me wandering mountainsides in the dark after 24hrs on the go wondering if the night will ever end and reveal the way down!


What motivates you to keep climbing?

Its a beautiful game, going toe-to-toe with a natural force in magnificent places, often among epic people. It delivers a life of constant adventure. What’s not to love?


Plans for 2021 and the future?

Near term, I hope to visit some of the climbing areas in our country I haven’t got to so far, like in the Eastern Cape. I would also like to give a bit of attention to hard sport climbing. A bit further forward, I am still angling for an alpine trip somewhere…I haven’t made it to Patagonia….yet!

Climbing Shoes – Julia Wakeling

Which Shoes?
Our climbing shoes are the magical tools allowing us to stand on impossibly small things and dance up rock. But how to get the right ones?

The caveat with my opinion is that I’m primarily a trad climber, preferring long days of many pitches. (i.e. I’m not a roof-climbing boulder).

I have however, climbed on a LOT of different types of rock around the world from slippery limestone, to those little Boven and Blouberg edges, the polished granite of Yosemite, the devilishly rough granite in Patagonia and Spitzkoppe, and the physics-defying slabs of Gritstone amongst them. And I’ve done pretty much all this climbing in the same style of shoe. Something comfortable. Over the years this has been the Saltic Vampir’s, Boreal Diabolo’s and more recently the Black Diamond Momentum’s.

(If you’re a roof-climbing boulderer, you might like your shoes tight. So tight in fact that you need to use a plastic bag as a shoehorn to get them on. I’ve tried that. It didn’t work for me. I remember years ago sending my project at the time (Lotter’s Desire at Boven) after discarding my tiny shoes for something more comfortable.)

But, I haven’t climbed above grade 28 (yet), so perhaps my beta isn’t that founded?

How to fit your shoes in the shop?
Sometimes tricky. Not on a hot day or when you’ve been standing a long time as your feet would have swelled. They should be cosy tight, but not excruciating. They’re likely to stretch a bit, but not that much. And different shoes stretch different amounts.

I’m not that into being sore when “breaking in” a new pair of shoes. Wincing or crying from pain is NOT right! People’s feet are different shapes, and brands and models are different. I say go for comfort and get a shape that feels right for you.

Something different for a change
Recently I’ve tried some more aggressive shoes for the first time with their pointy toes – the Boreal Lynx. They took a lot more wearing in than I’m used to and I’m still desperate to get them off after a single pitch sport route. Taking them on a multi-pitch trad route almost led to tears. They are however amazing for standing on the teeeeenie tiny edges.

My preference is still to go with the old favourites – a less aggressive, more comfortable option. The Black Diamond Momentums are reasonably new to me, but super comfortable and they have been working well, right out the box. Looking forward to all the adventures in them!

Monkey Mama Report 2

By – Gosia Lipinska

It’s 7am and I’m rocking a restless, feverish and crying 1-year old. It’s been a long night in our cabin at Kromrivier in the Cederberg and we’ve made it to morning. It’s storming outside – cold and windy and it’s time to leave. To wind back a few days, our awesome family camping and climbing trip changed tone quite suddenly when our son Benjamin unexpectedly and badly burnt his hand on a cadac stove. The next day he developed a high fever and big storm pulled in, chasing us out of the campsite and into a chalet. It had all gone very wrong, the kind of wrong that will leave other parents sympathetic or relieved that it’s not them and your friends without children screaming for the hills.

Benji just after he burnt his hand

These things happen, but so do crazy mountain epics, where you lose your way, go off-route, the weather pulls in, it gets dark. Life is full of twists and turns and it’s not all plain-sailing. But where there are trips leaving you with your tail between your legs (cursing that you’ll never go camping again), there are trips made of pure gold, where the stars align, and the gods smile. Where each pitch rolls into the next as you glide over the rock, swapping leads and flowing with the challenges that come your way.

Enjoying a break at Truitjieskraal

And family holidays with small people are just the same, made richer by their unique and often hilarious contributions to the social fabric. Like the time when Benji, watching the 6-year olds jump from a rock into a pool, decided to try it himself by bum sliding down the rock with squeals of absolute delight. When he ran around shouting Mama and Dada at the top of his voice and then gave you the biggest hug as you came down from a route. When he pointed out parts of the natural world that you had never noticed or never had time/interest to.

On top of Devils Peak

 Both difficult and magical experiences knit together to form the tapestry of our memories. We shouldn’t shy away from either, because they are our greatest teachers. The difficult times mould and shape our characters, while the good times remind us that life can be light and creative. And a climbing life with the smalls is just another beautiful variation to the way we can be in the world – not better nor worse than pursuing a pure climbing dream, but a different shade of colour.

Hiking up Dark Gorge

Bryony McCormick

“From a personal point of view, trail running has taught me so much about myself. From how far my body can go before it gives out, how strong my mind is to how beautiful this country is and what I can overcome if I really try. It’s empowered me, made me feel stronger, made me feel alive. Discovering like-minded women to trail run with has motivated me to push harder, explore wider and laugh louder.

I want so much to create a platform for other women to experience what I have, to experience the real-life, positive change that comes when you take up trail running. From being healthier, fitter, happier and mentally stronger to the the pure joy that 100% acceptance feels like when you find your tribe.” – Bryony McCormick 

How did you get into running?

I’ve run my whole life if some form or another, be it track, cross country, road or trail. My folks were runners and part of the local running club, which I’m pretty sure was more of a social club back then, and I spent my youth hanging off the back of bakkies, pouring coke into little cups for the club’s weekend long runs, or skottling from the sidelines of Comrades… I grew up surrounded by sugarcane, so my Dad and I were trail running long before it was a thing, but I guess I’ve taken it a bit more seriously in the last seven years since moving to Cape Town. Typically a creature of the ocean, I have found the cooler waters of the Cape slightly less inviting than those of Durban’s Indian bath tub ocean, so have had to switch up my playground.

Why Running – what is your obsession with the trails?

My real obsession is the outdoors and nature. Running trail is the most simple, raw and primal way to connect to that.

Favourite piece of gear?

My new headband. I’m committing to bringing headbands back. So far the uptake has been slow, but it’s early days. Regarding gear, it’s taken me seven years to find a pair of shoes that work with my ridiculous, ballet-ruined feet. I ran my last pair into the ground and shed a tear when it was time to retire them. And then obviously a good running pack is key for going the distance. I run in Salomon Sense Ride’s and use a Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra pack.

Why did you start Chicks who trail?

Running trail has really taught me about myself, my abilities, my strengths, my weaknesses, my relationships, my country… the list goes on. I’ve seen places and met people through trail that have fundamentally changed the way I approach life. I’ve been given such a beautiful perspective by simply spending time in mountains, and I guess there just came a point where I really needed to expose people to that and share it. I have also seen first hand the power of putting a lot of women together, the dynamics, the force and the energy, and knew that making it a women’s only community would only end up in great things. It’s been an utterly humbling experience, and I am inspired weekly by the women who rock up and run. They really are the essence of Chicks who Trail, I’m merely an admin on a Whatsapp group that tells them where to meet 😉

Your Chicks Who Trail motto is Trails, Truckers and Beer – can you tell us what that is about?

Trails, Truckers, Pizza and Beer was too long, haha. From the start I wanted to be clear about the group’s intentions, and make sure that it was a group any women felt like they could join without feeling intimidated. Trail running is majorly intimidating to people that haven’t tried it, so communicating that our group isn’t all about PB’s and that we don’t take ourselves too seriously was critical.

What inspires you?

Shit, most things do. I’m inspired by the outdoors and nature, that’s for sure. I can draw inspiration out of just about anything outdoors. I’m inspired by people who are brave. I’m inspired by people who give to charity without posting it on social media. I’m inspired by people who are kind to animals. I’m inspired by people who work tirelessly to initiate positive change, you know the ones that don’t make a bit deal about it, but just get on with it and do it. I’m inspired by my family, friends and partner. I’m very inspired by food, mostly when I am running and don’t feel like it. Then I think of the post run meal and I’m more inspired.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I read a great quote by Dave Grohl where he basically said guilty pleasures are a crock of shit. He was like, if you dig something, own it, and dig it with everything you’ve got! So on that note, and in the spirit of guilty pleasures, mine is Bold and the Beautiful – yup, SABC3, 17:30, weekdays. If I happen to be home at that time, which is seldom, I kick back with a glass of vino and catch up on the lives of the Forresters. The writing of that show is so bad it’s good. Kelly Lang is a legend. The one dude just blew up his own son in a demolition and he survived. It’s beautiful.  

What are your hobbies outside of your sport?

I am starting the journey of becoming a yoga teacher, which is very exciting, I did my training last year. I’ve been a veggie for about 15 years now, but have more recently been dabbling with way more plant-based stuff, so have really gotten into experimenting in the kitchen with cooking that kind of stuff. I love to read and am a very amateur gardener -still in the phase where I kill most things I plant but am very enthusiastic.

How do you think your friends would describe you?

Someone that can fall asleep in under 3 seconds in an Uber after three glasses of wine.

Any advice for the girls out there who want to start Trail Running?

Join our beginner’s group – they’re flipped legends and will get you on the trails safely! Not in Cape Town, find a safe trail and just do it. If you’re super new, why not start with some lukka hikes, get used to trails, mountains, etc.

For more info check out Chicks Who Trail

Engineered for the send

HOW TO ENTER the Black Diamond Rock Shoe Competition: #EngineeredForTheSend

To stand a chance of winning an awesome pair of Black Diamond Focus Climbing Shoes, this is what you need to do:

  1. Sign up for our newsletter
  2. Like our Facebook page @theEdge_ZA for updates on the competition,  other exciting outdoor gear and new launches.
  3. Follow us on Instagram @theEdge_ZA for updates on the competition, other exciting outdoor gear and new launches.


A pair of the new Black Diamond Men’s or Women’s FOCUS Climbing Shoes to the value of R2895.



Competition ends 7th October 2018 at 12pm. No late entries will be accepted.

Winners will be announced on Wednesday, 9rd October 2018.



Winner will be chosen randomly.

The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Winners will be contacted by Social Media – please keep an eye out on The Edge ZA And ClimbZA.

If the winner cannot be contacted within 7 days, the promoter reserves the right to select a new winner.

The competition runs from 1 September until 7 October 2018.

The laws of the Republic of South Africa govern this competition. Promoter reserves the right to cancel or alter any aspect of the competition at any time at its sole discretion without liability. Under no circumstances will Promoter and its successors, employees, officers, suppliers, contractors, agents, consultants, directors and shareholders be liable for all and any losses, claims, proceedings, actions, damages, (direct, consequential or otherwise), liability, demands, expenses, legal costs (on an attorney and own client basis), medical costs or other costs howsoever arising out of, based upon, or in connection with (directly or indirectly) the competition, to the maximum extent permitted by law.

Black Diamond Tradathon 2018

Tradathon 2018

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1537900140523{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Registration is closed

Trad climbing is arguably the most rewarding form of rock climbing. The beauty of trad is the amazing depth and breadth of experience that it offers.  You are also not limited to hard grades in order to do something “worthwhile” and there is always opportunity for new routing or any level of adventure which you choose.

And yet, trad does not have a large following. This is due, in part, to the cost of the additional gear, but probably more due to the perceived risk that is involved and the lack of opportunities for adequate coaching for beginners. Before the arrival of sport climbing, all climbers did an “apprenticeship” during which they learned the ropes under the practiced eye of a more experienced climber. Bolting has made climbing much more accessible and caused the climbing community to grow at a much faster rate than this traditional apprenticeship model can cope with. As a result trad often remains inaccessible.

For this purpose the Tradathon was envisaged – to gather climbers of all levels to share their skills, to learn from each other and to enjoy a day on the crag. September 2018 sees the 6th Annual Tradathon – hosted this year at Waterval Boven ! Yes, we know that ‘Boven is a world class sport venue – but those in the know also assure us that much trad. development has been occurring in the past several years – on impeccable ‘Boven sandstone/quartzite!

Our hope is that this will be the biggest tradathon yet – drawing not only the die-hard tradders; but also all the sport climbers from around the country. This is a great opportunity for sport climbers to come along the tradathon for a day – and go clip bolts for the rest of the weekend. It’s also an opportunity to learn some of the basics of trad which will then be helpful in discovering more climbing – how to set up anchors when bolting a new line, how to use trad to explore new territories or to supplement that line you are working. If nothing else; it’s just a great opportunity to come & hang out with climbers of all persuasions & enjoy some warm rock at the end of winter!

The official Black Diamond Tradathon will be on the Saturday and will wrap up with a Braai and social at Tranquilitas.  There will also be a cash bar and slide show. Sunday is open season to explore more trad, or go and clip some bolts.

Experienced trad climbers: pull in and do some classic routes like the Bartman at Toon Town (opened on trad in 1999 – ever been there?) or explore the newly developed areas; climb with your own partner or find a new climbing partner on the day. Climb at your own grade, or share your favorite route with a beginner.

Competent sport climbers: sign up for the “Intro. to Trad Leading” workshop run by qualified SAMDT instructors or team up with some experienced “tradders” and follow some routes.

Beginner climbers: never climbed before? Sign up for the “Learn the Basics” morning workshop and climb with an experienced person in the afternoon.

Date & Time: 29th September 2018 from 8h30am – late

Registration is free.   ***Please note: Entries close on Monday 24th September 2018.

Evening Steak braai dinner:  R120 per person

Intro to trad. following: This workshop is aimed at novices who have never climbed trad. and would like to learn something about the procedures when following a leader, before embarking on a proper route. It will cover twin rope management, tying on at a stance, gear removal etc. Half day of instruction – gratuity to the instructor R250

Intro. to trad leading: This is a “taster” workshop. There is more information to be covered than a single day’s instruction can cater for so this work shop will focus on safely placing and removing trad. gear while on lead. This workshop is suitable for climbers who already lead competently on sport at grade 18. Full day of instruction – gratuity to the instructor R500

Self rescue workshop: This half day workshop will introduce candidates to the skills of prussicking, escaping from the system and assisted hoists – as well as the use of the new Beal Escaper. Ideal for anyone wanting to build their competencies as a leader. R300

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED: All participants are expected to be self-sufficient bar the workshop participants who must provide the minimum of harness, screw gates, twin rope belay device, helmet, and rock shoes. All participants must provide their own refreshments on the mountain.

PLEASE NOTE: The use of a helmet is compulsory.

Black Diamond Raffle Prize
We are raffling a Black Diamond Trad Rack consisting of Black Diamond C4 Camalots size 0.4 – 2, a Black Diamond Neutrino Rack Pack,  a Black Diamond Stopper Set, a pair of Black Diamond Aspect climbing shoes and a Black Diamond Creek Back Pack – Worth R15 000

The raffle costs R100 per ticket, 150 tickets only; maximum of 10 tickets per one person.

Winning number will be drawn at the Evening Braai. – You do not have to attend the Black Diamond Tradathon to enter the raffle.

There will be numerous spot prizes given out at the braai in the evening for the best dressed couple; the most impressive send of the day; the most encouraging spirit of the day – and anything else that the organizers deem fit !

WAIVER: Some aspects of mountaineering and related activities, including but not limited to technical rock, ice, and snow climbing, are potentially hazardous and dangerous. Any person using our equipment in any manner or participating in this event is personally responsible for learning the proper techniques involved, and assumes all risks and accepts full and complete responsibility for any and all damages and injury of any kind, including death, which may result during this event. Books and catalogues can help, but they are no substitute for personal instruction by a qualified person well versed in all appropriate safety techniques.

Huge thanks to our sponsors:


Chongololo by Clinton Marteningo

I first tried Chongololo once with Andrea in about 2014. The crux moves starts just after the fourth bolt which in itself is a desperate clip. I was sure that I was not strong enough to do the crux the way Andreas was trying it so I decided to rather try a project I bolted in Oorlogskloof that later became the Seamstress (8B+).  In the back of my mind I always wondered if there was a different way of doing the crux moves on Chongololo.

After I opened the Seamstress I spent a lot of time working abroad and when I did get to climb I only bouldered. A slow stagnation in my climbing ability had begun. It felt the harder I tried the less I achieved and the more frustrated I got. It was a perpetual motion and I started to not enjoy myself which defies the whole point bouldering and climbing in general.

So in September last year I decided to change it up a bit. I fished out my rope and decided to go sport climbing again. I thought I needed a goal to build up to and I decided to get back on Chongololo. I soon found a different and more realistic way of doing the crux move.

In November I partially tore my MLC doing a drop knee while trying Life Enhancement Project at the hole. It did nothing to enhance my life as I had to wear a knee brace for the whole of December and a lot of physio afterwards.

By late January I was able to do the moves on Chongololo without any pain in my knee so I decided to start working it Chris Sharma style – get fit and train on the route – despite it being the hottest time of year in Montagu. I made day trips once a week, mostly on Sundays.

It took a bit longer then I though to stick the crux moves from the ground up. It involves a big slap with your left hand for a bad sloper while holding a bad pinch with your right hand. As soon as I started to do this move regularly from the ground I started to make good progress. This however was halted when a tick mark for my foot somehow got moved a centimeter to the left. I was suddenly finding the big jump move almost impossible. After a number of frustrating day trips I finally figured out the micro beta last Saturday and moved the tick mark to the correct spot and then red-pointed Chongololo on my second try of the day on Sunday.

The breakdown of the route in my opinion is easy climbing till you end up matched on a horrible crimp rail where you do a hard clip of the forth bolt. You then do a six hand move, hard 7C, boulder problem that ends with a big jump to a semi good rest (the opening three moves of this section are the hardest moves of the route). Then there is a crimpy 7A boulder problem past two bolts where one joins the top easy but pumpy climbing of My route down by the river.


Chomgolol was opened by Cody Roth in 2013 it was an open project that was bolted by M Bush

GODZone 2018 – Toughest yet

Former Springbok Stefan Terblanche may not be flying down the touchline but is moving steadily through the challenging GODZone course with the help of experienced teammates of Team Merrell. It’s the world’s largest expedition race and – with the event directors admitted to wanting to take the sport of Adventure Racing back to its hardcore roots – the toughest in years. So tough that sometime during Day One, 5 times world champion Nathan Fa’ave reckoned only 8 of the 92 teams would complete the course.

Teams navigate themselves, non-stop, around an unmarked course roughly 550km through the remote wilderness of Fiordland, south New Zealand. Carrying everything they need for legs lasting up to 3 days, they need to find checkpoints placed in dense forest, atop mountains, or along rivers, using packrafts to get across large expanses of lakes or down whitewater rapids. And when they finish one leg, they immediately start on another, traveling through day and night on mountain bikes, on foot or on their boats. The fastest team is expected to finish in 5 days with the course open for 10.

GODZone has always had the respect of the multisport racing community but it shot into the general public’s eye when retired All Black legend and national hero, Richie McCaw joined a team to compete in 2016 and finished 20th, a very respectable position for a novice racer. This year he’s back prodding the front end with Team PwC and heading for a Top 5.
Much was made of the ‘rivalry’ between the two rugby champions before the race but for each of them, and their teams, the focus is on getting through as best they can. Only at the end of the race will they be able to catch up and compare notes on the event that they both fought through.

“Yup, we can do this” nodded Stefan after finishing the first trek and packraft leg in 23rd place after 27 hours. “Its been tough. Its going to get tougher but we’re in good hands.” He said, indicating captain Graham Bird, a veteran of 21 expedition races and fellow teammates Grant Ross and Jane Swarbreck. “There’s no halftime, we’re constantly on the go. If we’re not moving we’re sleeping. That’s what it comes down to.”

Thank goodness for the biltong that fellow South Africans, now living in New Zealand, arranged for the team as it was impossible to bring into the country.

Follow the race progress via an interactive live tracking site on also displaying spectacular images and footage and the Merrell Adventure Addicts FB page. Merrell is expected to finish sometime on Thursday 8th March.

Thanks to the team sponsors Merrell as well as Black Diamond, Island Tribe, Ocean Eyewear, Extreme Lights, ButtaNutt Spreads, Racefood, Giant, Fluid Kayaks, BackCountry Cuisine and Nuun.

Robert Le Brun – the 1040km RUN!

Robbie had the following to say after this incredible feat – running for our elephants:

‘I don’t know how to sum this all up, I will try however.

This was it, how it all ended, atop the Zuurberg Mountains on Saturday at 19:30 with a tiny crowd & pretty much only your closest & dearest with you. To say it was special is a huge understatement!

Finishing my first 100miler, completing 29.5hrs straight on our feet, running for conservation, raising over 30k, finishing with Roy right next to me & Coenie just behind us (we spent basically the entire 160kms together), finishing 1040kms from Cape Town to this finish line, the culmination of 22 days straight of waking up & relentlessly just putting one foot in front of the other – be it cold, hot, wet, dry, tired, over it, sore – no matter, I kept moving & arrived here at my last step – the proudest moment of my life. Hands down.

Thank you to so many people for making this dream of mine come true. Where do I start, where do I end – The list is absolutely endless (more to come in the next few posts). The support has been out of this world! Thank you everyone!!!

Back to life as we know it to scheme the next journey & the next avenue where I can try make some difference – for life as I know it will never be the same.

My donations page hasn’t closed… please feel free to share, donate or just spread the love!
Only half way to being able to afford a collar, so it mustn’t stop here…’

Click here:

From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU! ❤️

Roberts Sponsors:
Addo Elephant Trail Run
Salomon Sa
SA Sport & Cargo – Thule distributor in SA
Back Country Cuisine South Africa
The Edge

“Tougher than taking on the All Blacks!” Stefan Terblanche



“Tougher than taking on the All Blacks!” Stefan Terblanche admitted at the end of a long weekend training with the Merrell squad in Knysna for the 2018 GODZone event in New Zealand.

The former Springbok has competed hard at the highest level of rugby…for 80 minutes at a time. His first expedition race next month could see him and his team battling it out for 10 000 minutes, with no half time for ad breaks.

Expedition Adventure Racing is the ultimate sport of sports where teams of four athletes race together unsupported through the wilderness, non-stop for days on end; mountain biking, trail running and paddling to checkpoints marked on a map over distances of around 500km. As much as they must be physically fit, the navigation skills, strategies and mental fortitude of the team are what make the strongest competitors.

The New Zealand GODZone Pure event is considered one of the toughest endurance races in the world and this year’s edition from 1-10 March is set in spectacular Fiordland, down at 45⁰ South, with a landscape dominated by the steep snow-capped Southern Alps and deep fiords carved by glaciers.  The average rainfall can be 8000mm per year and most of the lakes are considered inaccessible with no roads or tracks. The winning team is predicted to finish in 6 days with the course open for 10.

“Stefan is fiercely competitive and a perfectionist. It was inspiring to watch him over the weekend, completely out of his element but persevering with an indominable intensity.” Says captain Graham Bird, himself a former top canoeist and veteran of 21 expedition length races. “He’s a powerhouse and will only get stronger. That’s almost frightening!” The rest of the team is made up with experienced racers Grant Ross and Jane Swarbreck.

Team Merrell is consistently rated amongst the top ten in the world and a regular on the podium at international and local events. They have an army of armchair adventurers who follow their multi-day races avidly via the online live tracking system which shows teams moving as dots on a map, complemented by incredible footage and photography. The dots get encouraged and shouted at and redirected onto a better route from thousands of screens and it’s not uncommon for supporters to admit getting even less sleep then their favourite team during a week-long race.

This year’s event has come with sage advice from the Race Director. “Mentally you need to prepare yourself for something epic; be patient, expect it to be tough going at times and plan for a couple of things in particular – the weather and looking after yourself.”

The team is supported as always by their main sponsor Merrell, as well as Black Diamond, Island Tribe, Ocean Eyewear, Extreme Lights, ButtaNutt Spreads, Racefood, Giant, Fluid Kayaks, BackCountry Cuisine and Nuun.

Team Website:

Team FB: Merrell Adventure Addicts

Event Website:

Live tracking site will be announced just before the race.

Please credit all photographs: LizaMay Images

DSC 0079 Stefan Terblanche

IMG 1305 Capt Graham Bird and Stefan Terblanche lead the squad up a hill during the training weekend

IMG 1417 Stefan getting to grips with what all needs to be packed for an adventure race

IMG 1478 Graham Bird feeding during transition

IMG 1502 Grant Ross practising his navigation skills

IMG 1586 Merrell squad members – L-R Hanno Smit, Stefan Terblanche, Tracey Campbell, Graham Bird, Grant Ross

IMG 1613 Grant Ross loaded up for a night trekking through the forest with a 2 man inflatable pack raft on his back for paddling on a river. Teams must be completely self-sufficient during a race.

IMG 1624 Tracey Campbell, Grant Ross, Stefan Terblanche and Graham Bird train during a rainy weekend – good preparation for the very wet region of Fiordland, average rainfall 8000mm!

Monkey Mama Report 1.1

My little boy is now 6 months old and growing like a trooper. Parenting so far has been a full-on but wonderfully rewarding experience. The initial 4 weeks were an oxytocin bathed bliss. After that as the natural drugs started to wane and the full impact of the sleep deprivation set in things got a bit wobbly for a moment. And then the little people start to smile just at that point – it’s a very good design.

Part of having a positive and rewarding parenting experience has been getting back into exercise. It’s a different journey for everyone but as a first time parent it’s an all consuming experience and you’re much better and happier if you allow some time for yourself and the things that make you tick. Many parents come up to breath several weeks or months after the birth of their little one wondering who they are. Finding ways to merge your old life with your new one is the key to retaining a sense of self and therefore ultimately being a better parent. Happy mom, happy baby.

I was fortunate that I had an uncomplicated birth experience so I was back on my feet relatively quickly. Our bodies are incredible in the way they grow a child and allow for birth. Within about two weeks  I was able to return to the gym and I started some gentle climbing. And little Benjamin came along with granny or my husband Duncan. He was from the beginning fascinated by movement in the sky, later by the shapes and colors and also lulled by the buzz of people and music. And I was so happy to enjoy the climbing rhythm. And on the days I left Benjamin at home I wasn’t away for long – initially an hour, then hour and a half a week. Eventually we fell into a routine where I would be out between 4-6pm on a Tuesday, while my mom cashed in on granny time. I would return with a spring in my step – so excited to see my little boy. With the endorphin happiness came a natural responsiveness to my child’s needs.

And while I’ve always gained so much from being far away up on a cliff face somewhere, parenting has brought me down to earth. Quite literally – I went and got myself the Beal Triple Air bouldering pad (very handy for packing into a car boot where space is at a premium with all the stuff you need to take for the small person). And so I got into bouldering. We did a trip out to Rocklands and I’ve spent some time up at Redhill. It’s lovely to be out with the little man in the fresh air and score some climbing moves in between.

And everything is different with the little man around. I want to be the best person I can. I make sure I’m not late. I’m way more efficient than I’ve ever been. And when I climb I have him in mind. Sharing the experience of the outdoors takes on a completely different flavour. One that’s full to the brim with a different kind of possibility.

The 2017 Skyrunner® Series

Live Climb Repeat

The only way to get more comfortable in the extremes of nature is to grab every opportunity to get out there. It does not really matter what you are doing, as long as you are getting out into nature and being exposed to the elements. It is a life style of continuously being in the mountains and experiencing its beauty.

This brings us to the sport of trail running. What better way to experience the mountains than running up and down them? With the classic alpinist approach of going light and fast you are able to see so much without needing to carry a lot of gear which slows you down.

The 2017 Skyrunner Series consisted of five races with each athlete’s best three finishing positions contributing to their overall points standing. I participated in four of the five races (event info listed below) and loved every lung-busting, quad-burning and heart-racing minute of it.

25 March: Drakensberg Northern Trail (Skymarathon®) (Oliviershoek Pass, KZN) – 40km, vert gain 2 100m (

6 May: Ingeli Skymarathon® (Kokstad/Harding, KZN) – 42km, vert gain 1 500m ( )

12 August: Clemengold Wolkberg Trail Run (Skymarathon®) (Haenertsburg, Limpopo) – 34km, vert gain 1 900m (email (the Skymarathon takes place on Day 2 of the two-day stage race)

26 November: Lesotho Ultra Trail (Ultra Skymarathon®) (Maliba Lodge, Lesotho) – 50km, vert gain 3 400m (

A bit of background on skyrunnning as on the South African Skyrunning Association’s website:

“The term skyrunning was coined by the International Skyrunning Federation some 20 years ago, when Italian mountaineer Marino Giacometti who, with a handful of fellow climbers during the early1990s, pioneered records and races on Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa in the Italian Alps. Skyrunning is defined as mountain running up to or exceeding 2 000m, where the incline exceeds 30% and where the climbing difficulty is not more than 11˚ gradient.”

For more information about skyrunning visit

Skyrunning criteria

SkyMarathon® must be a minimum distance of 30km and minimum vertical gain of 2 000m (5% tolerance allowed), with a winning time of less than 5 hours.

An Ultra Skymarathon® must exceed that of a SkyMarathon® by more than 5%, with a vertical gain of at least 2 500m.

My experience:

My idea with this running thing was initially just to stay fit for climbing and what better way than to go running in the terrain you will be climbing in later? To be quite honest though I got so much more from this year of running than just a bit of fitness. I learned a few hard lessons on nutrition, planning and about how harsh conditions can  be in the mountains. With quick weather changes, bad choices on my part with nutrition (keeping it a bit too light) and a few injuries along the way; I was schooled properly. I like to believe this year I learned a bit more how to look after myself in the mountains. This was my first year of skyrunning as you could probably guess by this point and the races were quite a shock on my system. It is amazing what the race organizers see as runnable terrain!

The year started with the Drakensberg Northern Trail that caught me completely off guard. The technicality of the terrain covered was insane! We were running up passes that would make any hiker salivate. But I was hooked instantly and went back home with every intention of running all four the remaining races. After a bit more training of course…

The 26th of November was the first time I went to Lesotho just to go to Lesotho. Normally you just end up there as part of a hike; but WOW what a cool country! The Lesotho Ultra Trail (Ultra Skymarathon®) at Maliba Lodge; was the perfect finish to an awesome series. This race had everything! From starting out in the sweltering heat on massive climbs to finishing the day on snow covered mountains when the weather changed suddenly. It was so fun even the race organizer participated (kudos to Adrew Booth as I truly feel this says a lot about your heart for the sport).

I have met some of the coolest people this year, as a skyrunner is a very interesting breed. They are just so welcoming. And show a great sense of comradery.  You will also never hear a skyrunner complain about conditions, getting lost or the race distance not being as stated beforehand. I mean why complain as we all live to climb mountains repeatedly and we all know the mountains can be very unforgiving, but that is why we love to go there! Congratulations to everyone who ran a skyrun this year, you are all legends.

Ivan Van der Tang: Knowing when to take a rest

To be honest I don’t really know exactly when to rest. It’s a fine line, knowing your limits and different circumstances play a big role in making this decision.

Even as a beginner or advanced climber you should know what you’re capable of and what you’re not. Take note on how many attempts you give your project in a day or how may laps you climb at the gym and at what grade you doing it at. You will shortly have a guideline to what you’re capable of.

Let’s start off with training, you can follow a specific programme but record what you do every week so that you can see your progress and know where your limits lie. You should rest between periods of training and before a big climbing trip. If you feel sick or tired you should listen to your body by resting completely or just taking it easy. If you have an old injury make sure you pay attention to it by restructuring your workout and ensure you warm up properly.

Moving onto outdoor climbing, you should plan your outdoor climbing as you would with your indoor climbing. For instance if you decide to start projecting you won’t know the time frame but when you feel like you’re dreading a project, or can’t reach your high point anymore, you should consider taking a rest. Take some time off for as long as you think you need.  Go train harder for the specific moves you’re struggling on or climb fun stuff with no expectations. This will give your mind and body a rest and when you go back you might feel more confident or eager to climb it again.

Another factor that can affect when you should take a rest is climate. At the moment I’ve got a few projects I’m on and they all are climate dependant. I watch the weather forecast and when the temperature is cold enough I try to head out to them. But when it’s too hot I usually do easier routes and just have fun.

I guess what it comes down to, is know what you are capable of. Push your limits but listen to your body. Happy climbing….

Henko Roukema: A winter cycling Adventure!

Since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to go cycling in snow. Living in South Africa that is a rare probability! Recently after a substantial snow dump, I decided it’s better to put the mountaineering gear away and get the trusty old steed out of the garage! Of course a fatbike would have been ideal, but we make use of what we have, so I got my KTM Tazer2 , with a 26 inch wheel setup…

My destination was Matroosberg Private Nature reserve in the heart of the Hexrivier mountain range, from previous endeavors I knew the terrain is rough, rock gardens that will swallow you and your bike! Having taken this in account, I justified it ,what is the worst that can happen? If I fall its only on “soft” snow… and besides, the 1km vertical gain over 7km’s is great training!

The climb up the 4×4 jeeptrack is steep, incredibly so steep that some parts are renowned for cars flipping over! Hike a bike scenario, calves burning, lungs screaming for air! After the initial climb the road levels out and it is a fun and easy cycle to the nek of Groothoekkloof. Due to some pesky 4×4’s the “road” was covered with compressed snow, creating a layer of the most slippery stuff imaginable! By choosing your line carefully, you can still keep your ego intact, luckily!

Cycling on the white stuff is weird, your tires compress the snow and it sounds as if someone is eating a bowl of cereal almost! CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH…

Reaching the top in a complete whiteout, the fun was about to start! The top section is rough, even more so now that all the obstacles were covered by snow. Everything flew by , it took almost 2 hrs to reach the top at 2245m, but it only took a couple of minutes to wind my way down! Better trust your brakes as there are some big drops next to the road…

In all it was a great adventure, not taking things to seriously, laughing it off and pushing myself physically. I don’t know what was more exhausting, the actual climb or comments from 4×4 enthusiasts.

Gear Used: Other than the normal bib and shorts, I covered up with some Capestorm Tights, wore extra warm socks, used my waterproof gloves almost the whole way as the air is nippy and you want to be able to use your brakes… A proper windproof outer shell and buff. One thing, the snow reflects the suns UV rays, so pack your sun cream lotion even if it is cloudy.

Access, Matroosberg is convenient in the sense you can drive there with any care, access is easy(Cost is R50 pp for a day) or you can even overnight on the reserve for an earlier start.

So watch the weather, and next time go try something different!

Stuart McConnachie – Man about trails

  • Its seems like you have the dream job, making your passion your livelihood, globetrotting and running in the mountains, can you tell us more about it and how it came to be?

I’m lucky indeed, I have managed to follow my passion for trail running. But I’ve done my fair share of crap jobs I guess so when the opportunity knocked I was ready. UTCT has been the big driver, being involved has allowed me to travel with a work angle and connect with like minded people across the world.

  • How long have you been running for?

I’ve been a runner my whole life, I was lucky I guess. Genetics played their part but my Dad and my Uncles all ran so I was around it from a young age. I guess being around events and being active were just normal. We hiked, fished and did our fair share of adventuring growing up so the outdoors was always where I wanted to be.

  • It’s safe to say that the mountains give us so much, what’s your take on giving back? What do you do? What organizations do you work with? How can we get involved?

We are working hard with Table Mountain National Park and The Mountain Club of South Africa to allow the trail community to be more engaged and hands on within the park. We are still working on those relationships but we will keep you informed as to how things evolve. We are hoping one day to be able to lead group hacks (alien vegetation removal) with the Tuesday Trails crew to really contribute to the mountains future.

  • So the Batrun entries are now open – what can we expect of the most epic night run on the Cape Town calendar?  

It’s safe to say it’ll be a journey, the weather will be crap, the wind will howl but that’s Batrun. It’s really a Cape Classic and kicks off the years trail calendar.  Enter here.

  • Also please tell us about your weapons of choice? What always goes with you on the trail and the gear you just can’t be without?

I’m never without a Black Diamond headlamp, even if I’m heading for a day mission it’s in the pack. You never know when things are too good to head home early or in a worst case scenario you have to spend a night out there. A lamp is light and I’ve personally never regretted packing one. Lately I’ve become very attached to my Black Diamond Z- poles, for long missions they are amazing, quick & easy to pack away and super light.

Home Baked Bikes

The moment you take your first pedal stroke you realize this is it, the start of a real adventure. From here every hill takes you further away from your car and life as it was yesterday. Now it’s just you, your best friend, two much loved bicycles and the Cederberg mountains!

Everything about this adventure was home baked. From route planning around our handmade dining room table, the delicious dinners home cooked specially for the two of us to the two beautiful custom hand built carbon frames we chose to journey with.

We started on Fri the 14th April at 14:00 after a friendly send off from Becky and James at Alpha Excelsior Farm at the bottom of the Pakhuys Pass, we made our way up the pass and turned off onto the donkey track to Heuningvlei at the top of the pass.

We traveled though the boulder fields of Rocklands for 12km till we made it to Heuningvlei, our stop for the night.

Here we were welcomed by a couple of youngsters who acted as our tour guides and introduced us to our host for the evening, Madelyn. She was eager to please and with a big smile on her face, told us to head to the backpackers lodge where we would find our room key in the door marked Room No 1.   As we headed off she shouted after us “what time would you like to have your dinner served?”.

Little did we know at the time that our dinner would be 10min late but with good reason. Madelyn must have spent the better part of the day cooking for us…it would have taken 4 people to carry the mountain of farm style cuisine about to be set out for us!

The next morning we had a bit of a sleep-in and allowed the stress of the weeks running up to our micro adventure to wash off our tired hearts as we eased into the slower pace of our surroundings. To our right the imposing Krakadouw peaks of the Cederberg rose up and ahead: the road we were about to travel, our only mission for the day. One pedal stroke at a time. The headwind freshly greeted our warm cheeks as we started the day with a steep climb out of Heuningvlei. Sometime during the morning, rolling past the many fields of Rooibos bushes on this undulating sandy track you look across to your partner and realize that there is no better place to be. A Blissful morning of riding, stopping, having a snack, sharing a laugh and continuing down the road to see what lies around the next corner, what beauty the Cederberg has to offer.


We cycled into Suurrug where we met Oom Louis who had many stories to share. He also gave us some good trail advice – an alternative track to the Biedouw valley. This section of the ride was more technical but also completely sheltered from the wind, an absolute joy!

Once we joined the main road again we stopped and had lunch, ash bread with cheese and ham made by Madelyn in Heuningvlei that morning. With happy tummies we set off down the final descent of the day right to the bottom of the Biedouw valley where the Lubbe’s awaited us with a cup of rooibos tea and some home baked rusks. We had arrived at Mertenhof, our home for night number two on our little adventure.

Mertenhof is a beautiful working farm with holiday accommodation that has been in the Lubbe family for 7 generations. That afternoon Barend, the farmer’s youngest, gave us a tour of the local caves in which bushman paintings can be seen.   We stayed in the family home which is over 100 years old and slept in a grand four poster bed. We got to experience country hospitality at its best, Mariette prepared us a hearty meal of Mutton, potatoes, rice, beetroot, spinach, curried pickled peaches and souskleitjies with custard for dessert.  We spent the rest of the evening reading and dreaming up our future adventures and making plans to ride our bikes more often. Sunday morning we woke up with breakfast prepared, again a real feast with fruit salad, freshly squeezed juice, an omelette and of course some homemade bread.


And so we started a slow climb out the Biedouw valley and up Hoek Se Berg pass! As the name implies, it had many corners, was very steep and had some false summits, but man what a sense of achievement it was to get to the top!


From here we cycled alongside Bushman’s Kloof, a Private nature reserve, and we had the most amazing encounter with herd of Zebra who ran with us as we cycled down the road and who waited for us to catch up if we took too long! Day number three was in every way the perfect day, moderate temperatures, a tail wind, beautiful views and hearts overflowing with gratitude.

We may even have gotten a little over excited as we hit the tar road on what we thought would be an easy home stretch…we stopped for a pizza and a beer at the Travelers Rest. And like all good beers it turned into a couple which in turn made the last climb home many hours later slightly harder than expected 😉

But all’s well that ends well. We finished off our micro adventure at Alpha Excelsior guest farm where we spent the night sampling some of James’s wine made in the winery right there on the farm. So cheers to little micro adventures!


What she rode: Black Composites custom hand built Carbon 650B Dual Sus

What he rode: Black Composites custom hand built Carbon 29er Hardtail

The gear we took along: each of us carried a 25 liter backpack containing a change of clothes for off the bike and a change of riding clothes, water proof outer shells, thermal warm layers, a couple of buffs (she took slippers), travel towel (although towels were provided at the overnight stops), emergency thermal blanket, map (Slingsby), compass (to look cool), headlamps, basic first aid kit, tea and coffee and a small Jetboil gas stove for a cuppa joe. We also took a supply of riding snacks. Don’t forget all your usual bike repair goodies and an extra tube is a good idea.

We packed the heavier items like stove and food into 1 dry bag that was simply strapped onto the handle bars. Pack your repair kit into a saddle bag. If space is an issue, a top tube bag is handy for snacks and camera. We also packed everything into dry bags and zip locks in case of rain.

Day 1 (20km’s):

Start at Alpha Excelsior farm, 8 km’s of tar with a steep climb ( Pakhuys pass) into 12 km’s of 4×4 track to Heuningvlei (enquire with Cape Nature for permits) which started as smooth sand track but had some very rocky sections with a couple of short steep climbs and descents further on. Overnight at Heuningvlei.

Day2 (24km’s):

Short climb out of Heuningvlei followed by rolling dirt road with some soft sandy sections. Turn left before hitting the main Wupperthal road and descend into Suurrug village where you can join a 4×4 track (under Mertenhof management) and follow the valley down. We cut across after a few km’s and rejoined the main Wupperthal gravel road which is fairly smooth and wide all the way down to Mertenhof.

Day 3 (29 km’s):

Fairly big climb out of Biedouw valley up the Hoek Se Berg pass followed by a rolling section of gentle ups and downs. You will rejoin the tar road at the Englishman’s Grave with one more big climb after an ice cold beer stop at Traveler’s Rest before arriving back at Alpha Excelsior Farm.


Black Diamond Athlete: Ivan Van Der Tang – The Weekend Warrior Workout

The Weekend warrior workout


So a bit more than a year ago I was in a climbing accident well not really an accident I just over strained my shoulder on a route doing a move and ended up with a torn bicep tendon, labium cartilage tears and 3 bone chips the size of your pinkie nail inside my shoulder socket.

And then going through 8 months of no climbing…. 6 weeks of doing nothing, 4 months of physio appointments that will leave you begging not to go back to where they stretch out your tendon to help it heal and to retain normal movement again. And then 2 and a half months of a bio work outs where Thera bands are tougher than I thought.

But in all this time I couldn’t stop thinking of climbing and how to get back to it. I must have read just about every single training program out there and drew drafts of so many programs to get me back to climbing again. But as a weekend warrior with a full time job during the week and weekends my time to train is very limited.

And then a few weeks back I found something that was extremely similar to what I’ve just always been doing but with more structure. The program is very flexible and basic. Tuesday is power and Thursday power endurance. I don’t really train endurance but when I feel the need to I gain it really quickly with about 2 weeks of solid endurance training.

So the exercises in my program are made out of what I have available to use to train on. I copied and pasted exercises that other athletes were using and I added a bit of antagonistic exercises to it to help strengthen my shoulders to prevent an injury again.







Morning (takes me 30mins to complete)

Abs – 100s

Bear crawls 2 x forward & 2 x backwards

Thera band work out

Gym   (takes me 1,5hours to complete)

Thera band warmup

Boulder 30 min (no real purpose, more for the social of it)

Campus board – medium rungs 5 x up (every second rung)

–  Small rungs 5 x up (every rung)

Finger board (7 sec on, 3 sec off) (3 sets per grip)

  • 4 finger crimps (medium & small)
  • 3 finger crimp (medium & small)
  • 2 finger pocket (index, middle & middle, ring)

Weights (optional depending on weekend send)

  • Biceps 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Triceps 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Chest 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Lats 3 sets of 10 reps







Abs 100s

Bear crawls 2 x forward & 2 x backwards

Thera band workout

Gym (takes me 1 hour to complete)

Thera band warmup

Boulder 30min (no real purpose, more for the social of it)

Campus board

  • big rungs (up, down, up) 5 sets
  • medium rungs (up, down) 5 sets

Circuit board – 25 moves (5 – 10 sets, trying to get to 10 sets more consistently)

10 x 10 pyramid push up & pull up




Saturday & Sunday

Outdoor climbing


Abs 100s is an abdominal workout I got from a gymnastic friend. It consists of small and fast movements like flutters and each flutter counts as one and with 8 different movements it all adds up to 800 movements.

  • Start lying on your back with your hands on your legs and chin on your chest and touch your knees 100 times.
  • Still on your back, chin on your chest, hands by your sides or just slightly under your bum lift your feet up and down about 30cm for 100 counts.
  • Turnover on your stomach arms out straight in front of you and lift your feet up and down about 30cm for 100 counts.
  • Still on your stomach bring your arms out next to you at shoulder height bent at 90 degrees and lift your chest off the ground and back down for 100 counts.
  • Turn on to your side place your bottom arm out in front of you for balance and your top arm lying on your side, touch your knee with your top arm for 100 counts.
  • Same position but raise your feet up and down about 30cm for 100 counts.
  • Turn over onto your other side and repeat number 5.
  • Same position and repeat number 6.

If you can’t complete an exercise scale the numbers of reps or seconds down to suit you and build it up from there. The numbers in the program are what I’m on at the moment and as weeks go by I adjust them to make it harder.

Try each exercise beforehand and log the numbers your capable of and then do them all together the next week. Give it 2 weeks before increasing your numbers and warm up properly before you start.

Merrell saddle up for The Cowboy State

Tickets booked, it’s off to the Cowboy State of Wyoming for South African team Merrell Adventure Addicts as they head to the United States in August for the2017 Adventure Racing World Championships.

Along with compatriots Team Cyanosis – who earned their place at the competition with a strong win in the Paraguay Expedition Race – they get to explore the home of the Rocky Mountains and the least populous state in the country; a good combination for what should be an exciting expedition race.

Complementing veterans of the AR scene Graham Bird and Hanno Smit – aka Tweet and Smelly, Grant “Freddo” Ross will hope to step up onto the podium at his first world championship event, having already raced with the team to top three finishes in Swaziland, South Africa, Australia and Patagonia.

Long time Merrell athlete, Tracey Campbell nee Almirall joins the Addicts with her ever present  huge smile and fierce competitiveness. She was initiated into the sport by jovial and well-loved Team Castle Lite, and following their recent Expedition Africa is back out training hard, eager to compete overseas amongst all the top teams.

Coming together from the Western and Eastern Cape, the four will meet in June and July to train together over long distances as the rules dictate any newcomer needs to hear all of Hanno’s jokes at least three times before an actual race.

In line with the Addicts’ approach to demystifying the sport, their training camps will be an open affair, as interested athletes are invited to share some or all of the routes. With the popularity of the Merrell Mentored initiative – where the old school racers have taken on complete newbies and  guided them successfully through actual expedition races – it is clear that there is much interest and scope for development of the extensive talent we have in this country.

Some racers are happy to portray themselves as superhuman when the public admires their achievements but the Addicts prefer to convince people that it’s just a matter of hardening your head. “Of course you have to put the hours in to practising and training, and some will be faster and more technically skilled than others, but the ability to persevere will lead everybody to their own accomplishment.”

For information on the upcoming training venues keep an eye on the website and Adventure Addicts Facebook page.

With the continuing support and shared vision of Merrell, the Addicts will continue to be driven by the “DO WHAT”S NATURAL.” philosophy of Merrell. Other team sponsors include Black Diamond head torches, My PVM, Giant Bicycles, Sram, Ocean Eyewear, Squirtlube, Island Tribe Sun Protection, Llama Bar, Buttanutt tree nut spreads.


Team Information –      

Are you looking for a new headlamp but are confused which is the right light for you?

Are you looking for a new headlamp but are confused which is the right light for you?

Here’s a list of the key factors you should consider when choosing a headlamp:

  • What is it going to cost you, to run the light?

Battery life is the duration of usable light per set of batteries. These days, most manufactures are able to produce high output lights. However there are very few who can provide high output AND give you a long burn time from each set of batteries. The outputs of many lights in the market have a very steep output curve – they are bright for  only a short period before dimming to low levels.

Example:  the table below shows 3 lights that are on the market and lists the stats provided on the packaging. While all 3 units have similar lumen outputs, the last 3 columns show how dramatically different are the costs incurred when running each of the lights. While the Spot will use about 18 batteries for 100 hours of burn time – one of the others uses 150 batteries!

Not only will that hit the user in the pocket – but it has a massively greater impact on the environment!

Hint: compare the burn times of different lights before buying and work out the batteries consumed per 100 hours of light.

  • How bright does the light really have to be?

In general – the brighter the light, the more you will pay; so you need to decide what you will be using the light for. No point buying a very powerful light if you are only going to braai, read or walk around the camp site. Running and hiking at night will require a stronger output while bike riding and mountaineering / rescue activities will demand the best output you can find.

Lumens gives a good indication how much light is provided at the source of the LED. However that does not determine how effectively the light is captured & used. The quality and design of the lens is very important in determining how far the light will shine. Equally, while a well-focused lens may require a relatively small amount of light to achieve a good beam, the tight beam that results may not suit your purpose.

Many running lights are designed to give a broad wash of light, but will not throw the beam that far.

Hint : consider what the light is designed for, compare the Lumens AND the beam throw.

  • What battery configuration will suit you best?

If your primary use of your light is for running after work, the USB rechargeable configurations will probably suit you best as you can use it over and over without having to go and buy batteries. This is also the more eco-friendly option. If however, you like to take the occasional trip into the mountains where there is no access to re-charge power; you may want to buy a unit like the Black Diamond Revolt which can operate on re-chargables or regular batteries. Yet again – your requirements may be brighter output & more flexibility – so you may choose to opt for a regular battery configuration & carry spare batteries with you

  • What brightness configurations do you need?

Do you want flexibility; or do you prefer to just choose one option and stick with it? Lights generally come in two primary options: 2 or 3 brightness settings (low, medium, and high) or dimming as required providing the user complete control for the brightness intensity that you require. The Black Diamond PowerTap option give a bit of both – you can use the dimming function to set the output suitable for your activity; but if you happen to need immediate extra light, you can tap the side of the light to pump it up to 100%; then tap it again to restore it to the previous setting.

  • Button lockout function – prevents the headlamp accidently switch on whilst storing the headlamp and run the batteries flat
  • Water/dust proof – how water proof is the headlamp:

IPX4 – splash proof including driving rain

IPX7 – waterproof, submersible down to 1m for 30minutes

IPX8 – waterproof for multiple submersions to 1m plus for 30 minute.

(Water could enter the battery compartment but will not affect the performance of the headlamp, however, ensure that the battery compartment is dried correctly before storing, if not, water can cause battery leakage which could damage your headlamp and is a user error not warrantee issue.)

IP67 – dust resistant and waterproof to the same standard as IPX7

Black Diamond continuously redesigns and improves their already market leading headlamps, and the current range is no exception.

Black Diamond’s new updated models for 2017:

  • The Icon is for the person who requires the ultimate in performance.

2017 increases the lumen output to an impressive 500 Lumens. It includes Black Diamond’s unique PowerTap technology providing total control – from your predetermined brightness to 100% output with a simple tap on the headlamp housing, tap again to return to your predetermined brightness again. It offers green, blue and red LED’s to maximise your night vision. The unit includes a power extension cable that provides the flexibility of detaching the battery pack to store the battery inside you jacket to increase battery performance in cold climate or placing your battery pack in your pack/hydration pack to reduce weight from the head strap. IP67 dust and waterproofness. Powered by 4AA batteries. A rechargeable battery pack is an optional extra.

  • The Storm – a high performance headlamp ideally suited for high altitude, cold and foul weather conditions.

The Storm offers a blinding 350 lumen output, including PowerTap technology. Red, green and blue LED’s for improved night vision/map reading etc. The internal heat sink increases the performance in low temperature conditions and a clever lock secures the battery compartment from any moisture allowing the 4 AAA batteries to provide excellent run time and IP67 dust and waterproofness.

  • The ReVolt is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast that requires rechargeable power and still needs the backup option to insert regular batteries if the expedition extends beyond your charging opportunities.

Convenient USB recharging port eliminates the hassle of removing the lithium batteries before charging. 300 lumens power including diming and PowerTap technology, programmable brightness setting memorises the last brightness setting before you last switched it off, red led night vision.

  • The new Iota was launched in February 2017 for the urban adventure requiring a fast easy to use rechargeable headlamp. It is the smallest lightest rechargeable headlamp Black Diamond has manufactured weighing only 56g. The 150 lumen light is projected in an oval pattern providing great distance without compromising your ability to navigate the immediate obstacles. Includes full dimming and PowerTap functions as well as an emergency strobe if you are stranded in the koppies. The lithium battery will power the Iota for 2 to 40 hours depending on your brightness requirements. Charging is via an easy to use fast charging USB power cable directly into the headlamp, charger included. The Iota can be charged via powerbanks, solar, or plug in vehicle/home power. IPX4 water resistance.

The new Black Diamond headlamp updated products complement the existing high performance Black Diamond headlamps in 2017.

The trusted Spot (200 lumens) is iconic, Cosmo (160 lumens) never say die weekend warrior and the compact reliable Ion (100 lumens) is ideal compact headlamp for emergency backup (inside your chalk bag or jacket pocket)

Click here to view the full Range

Black Diamond Brand Ambassador – Toit Honiball: Ice climbing in France

UIAA Youth Summit Guillestre France

Why is it that the grass is always greener on the other side? Or in this case the ice or “glass” as the French call it is more abundant or something… I think we can all agree that South Africa is a land of plenty, we have some of the best and most scenic landscapes in the world. But one thing we lack is some proper ice. I received the opportunity to go to a UIAA Youth Camp for ice climbing in Guillestre in February 2017. This is a short account of my experience there.

It was a grim day in Toulouse when Ken and I (a climber from Japan) landed at Toulouse airport. As Bibi, our French host, picked us up from the airport I realised there was going to be a slight culture shock during the next few weeks. I would have to learn a few French climbing terms quickly or I was going to struggle big time!

On Sunday 5 February it was time to use those snow chains and we made our way from Toulouse to the gait in Guillestre.  Upon arrival we were allocated to rooms with Ken and me bunking with two of the four Slovenians at the camp. In total there would be 33 – 37 people at the camp at any given time. Everyone has his own goals on a trip like this but the main purpose of the camp was to get the local climbers to a level at which they can become ice climbing instructors; at the end of the camp those with sufficient experience would be receiving their papers.

The psyche was palpable! After sorting out our gear we were briefed on the week’s activities. We would be splitting up into groups each day to go climb at various sites. The sites included Aiguilles, Ceillac, Les Orres, Crevoux and Cervieres. While there each group had a mountain guide joining them, they helped would help us to practice a lot of techniques you felt you were still a bit rusty on. These lessons ranged from making a solid ice belay, being more efficient placing screws to using an abalakov (v-thread).  With large amounts of snow falling in the area however everyone was holding their breath hoping that we will get some proper climbing done.

On Monday and Tuesday we made a good start to the week by going to Aiguilles and Ceillac. Each site was a short drive from the hostel and had a nice and chilled walk-in. Aiguilles is an artificial climbing site where water sprayed from hoses freeze on a 30m cliff creating routes of grades ranging from 3 to 4+ with a few dry tooling routes thrown into the mix.

The Y in Ceillac is the exact opposite to this by being 200m of easy climbing grade 3 to 3+; broken by big ledges to make stances on.  You could choose the left or the right branch which were both similarly beautiful.

Wednesday to Friday we went to Crevoux and twice to Cervieres.

Cervieres is an awesome place to smash your forearms at. You will most probably start feeling the pump on one of the many mixed routes and just finish your arms off on one of the beautiful single pitch routes ranging from 3+ to 5+ in grade. I had to go twice to this spot which is just a multitude of forearm crushing routes situated above a small ski resort. There are so many hard routes I smashed my arms in the first 4 hours the first time. The second time round I was a bit more calculated taking rests between climbs by attempting to chat to local skiers and climbers in my limited French. To be honest this was more a case of pointing and nodding but it still was very cool to joke with them and to get their feel on the routes.

Gosia Lipinska – Climbing in pregnancy

I’ve penned a few thoughts on transitioning from dedicated climber (albeit weekend warrior) for the last14 years to the beginning of motherhood.


For many people the transition into adulthood and family building is a steady progression. You study or work, party hard, break a few hearts, have your heart broken and then meet someone nice, get tired of partying and turn towards houses, jobs and children. For climbers and adventurers meaning making is less likely to be found in choosing curtains and remodelling the kitchen, rather an eternal pursuit of the next adventure. Life-long lessons and relationships are born out of time spent on tiny ledges far above the valley floor, trudging up an interminable scree slope or sharing elation on a successfully climbed route. And this (alongside a neuropsychology passion) has been my life for the last 13 or so years, until I came back from the trad exchange in England last year in May.


And then everything changed – since that time I had two things on my mind – finishing my PhD and sprogging it out. It’s not that climbing had lost its lustre but that I was reaching for a broader set of life experiences.* Climbing is meaningful to me when embedded in a life rich with other learnings.


And now I’m 7 months pregnant and it’s already been a colourful journey. I guess as a trad climber I thought of myself as someone who was ok with uncertainty. Having kids made me realise I just became good at managing the uncertainties in climbing but not necessarily others. Questions like how long will it take to fall pregnant? When is the right time? How will my body change? Will the pregnancy stick in the first 12 weeks? Will we abort if we the tests reveal Down ’s syndrome? All these serious life changing decisions with no manual or right or wrong answers, just the book of life. And pregnancy is just the start of it. After that comes birth and a new life with its own needs, desires and personality. I guess you can never really be prepared, but alongside the uncertainty comes a whole string of warm and fuzzy feelings that come with life-making.


I’ve also been struck with the dearth of popular and scientific information regarding safe climbing and other exercising options. Basically the truth is that no one knows what the range of options is. I’ve consulted the scientific literature extensively and although there are a few studies of mostly running, there is surprisingly little evidence either way. And pregnancy is one of the most political experiences I’ve encountered – opinions float like free radicals – attacking at will. The body is owned and policed by many experts – from medical doctors to propagators of natural birth. It’s really quite a minefield.


So far I’ve found the pregnancy blogs of some of the world’s finest climbers, like Beth Rodden, useful. I’ve also just taken it one step at a time and felt my way into what has felt good. From the beginning I stopped lead climbing – while our ancient ancestors may have quite reasonably had to run while pregnant and evolution probably made sure that running did not reliably result in miscarriage, falling and being caught by climbing ropes seemed beyond the scope of our ancestral legacy. I’ve kept active in the climbing gym – top-roping and doing some exercises. It’s actually been a great experience climbing with no internal pressure to succeed at anything but still being able to engage in the joy of moving.


I’ve also found some of the available information misleading. For example most blogs recommend that you use a full body harness for climbing during pregnancy. However ordinary harnesses pull away from your belly – all the weight is taken by your lower back and legs. There is literally no pressure on the belly. The only other reasonable source of danger would be from turning upside down, where your heavier upper body could pull you out of the harness. But in the controlled environment of the gym on top-rope, this is almost impossible. Perhaps this is related to body shape and how you put on weight, but I haven’t found a need to get a different harness.


Several things have surprised me so far. Top of the list includes how much I’ve enjoyed the experience– I thought I’d feel heavier, more uncomfortable, more put out by the lack/change in exercise routine. I sleep more, work *slightly* less but certainly less frenetically, eat well, socialise lots and take time just to sit and do nothing (which believe me is quite unusual). And I really look forward to sharing the mountains, outdoor places and climbing with the sprog. Maybe he or she will hate it and have other interests and passions, but I’m game either way. Sounds like a big adventure.

*I’m not suggesting that having children is a ‘natural’ process that everyone should go through – that somehow your life will lack meaning if you don’t go down this road – I hate this kind of heteronormative nonsense.