Saturday, 2 August 2014

Waterval Boven Adventure Weekend (Part 2)

What a crazy week!  I've been meaning to bring you this post all week but life got in the way!

A few days ago, I brought you part 1 of my 'Cure to Cabin Fever' weekend, a spur-of-the-moment trip to beautiful Waterval Boven that I took with my good friend Frans from There was way too much adventure to pack into one post, so, here is the day 2 post as promised!

There are few things in life more perfect than a good cup of coffee early on an idyllic morning, and Sunday did not disappoint! After an early start and a cup (or three!) of Joe, we headed out to the crags.

Waterval Boven boasts over 500 climbing routes with something for all levels of climbers.We decided to head out to 'The Creche', an aptly named beginner route perfect for a newbie like me! First of all, the views are amazing! Nothing can prepare you for the awe you feel looking down at the Elands River valley from the top of the crags!

Seriously, the photos (thanks to my little camera and lack of photography skills!) do not even begin to do this amazing place justice! 

As I mentioned in my last post, Frans is an avid rock-climber, and so has all his own gear and safety equipment. He is experienced and  safety-conscious and knows his way around these crags. He hooked up an abseil rig for us in The Creche, and gave me a full safety briefing before I descended. I have abseiled before (many, many years ago), but it was always an assisted abseil (connected to a belayer who controls your descent for safety). The rig that Frans set up for us on that wonderful winter's day, was totally different though! I would be doing an unassisted abseil, which basically means you, a rope, a harness, and only your own strength and skills to get yourself safely to the bottom! No pressure, right? 

View from the top!

Wrong! Lots of pressure! I was a nervous wreck! My mind was spinning a thousand miles a minute about my feeble upper body strength and how I'll never make it to the bottom in one piece! Talk about mind over matter! But none-the-less, down I went. Inch by inch, little by little, fully reliant on my own body to get me to the bottom. Half way down, my arms started shaking, my legs started trembling, my mind started wandering, and I felt myself start to slip...
Down we go!

I quickly remembered my safety briefing from Frans, and held onto the rope with all the strength I could muster! Precariously clinging to a rock face on what feels like the edge of the world, with only me and myself to stop a plummet to the ground, I came to a very important epiphany...

When all is said and done, the only person you can fully rely on in life, is yourself. If you don't believe that you are strong enough, or clever enough, or capable enough, or beautiful enough to tackle the situation at hand, then who will believe it? If you don't see yourself as perfect, forget about your hangups and insecurities, and feel confident if your abilities and your worth, then you have nothing. If you can't see yourself as capable enough to live your own life, then you are defeating the purpose of life. 

My brainwave over, my strength renewed, I soldiered on, and a few minutes later, was shouting my victory cry to the whole valley! A short while later, Frans joined me on the ground, and I could swear he was still giggling at my victory dance! I was still beaming from ear to ear, and ready for the next challenge he had planned...

That was, until I heard what the next challenge was! Apparently, if you can climb down it, then you can climb up it too, and so, I started on my first rock climb! Climbing up was definitely tougher than abseiling down. There is no fixed route, you are attached to a rope and a belayer at the bottom for support, but other than that, it's just you and a mountain. Picking my way inch by inch up the steep rock face, Frans shouting encouragement from below, I realised that self-reliance comes in many different forms. Some of the foot and hand holds I needed to use were only a centimetre or two wide, and I would never have thought that such a tiny strip of rock was enough to support my weight and get me up to the next ledge. I'll be the first to admit that I nearly gave up, more than once. I was afraid to put my life into my own hands, afraid to take the leap of faith that would be needed to rest my weight fully on the next foothold, afraid of the consequences of 'failing'. After a long pause, I realised that I had no guarantee that it wouldn't hold, no guarantee that I would not be able to make it to the next ledge, non guarantee that I would fail. All I had, was the knowledge that I am capable and strong, and that if things did go wrong, I was connected to a safety system that would not fail me.

And so, I did it. I pushed up with my right leg, reached and grabbed with my left hand, and slowly but surely, I made it to the top. I had conquered what I thought as unconquerable, I had quelled my fears and learnt to trust in myself and my instincts, and the mountains and crags echoed my shouts of triumph! 

Back on solid ground after abseiling back down, clouds were building and the wind was picking up. We decided that two life-changing epiphanies were enough for one day, and set out on a hike to get us to the top of the crags near the vehicle. Birds and butterflies and unbelievable sights made the hike seem to fly by, and in no time at all we were enjoying lunch in the shade of a tiny waterfall.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and so also my unbelievable weekend. Sunday afternoon was spent travelling back home, quietly contemplating the experience I had just had, and determined to take the lessons learnt to heart and apply them to my everyday life.

I would like to thank the original Monkey Man, because without him this weekend would never have taken place. As I mentioned before, Frans has his own equipment which made this whole weekend easier on planning and budgets, but commercial climbs and abseils are available through out the region. If you ever find yourself with a case of cabin fever, take to the roads and experience all that life has to offer! You might learn some amazing lessons along the way!


  1. Awesome! Hope you are keen to do it again some time.
    By the way, just before your followers freak out - you felt that you were completely on your own on the abseil (and you were), but there was a prussik on the dead side of the rope that would have stopped you if you let go completely. Worst case you would have been hanging for a bit while I set up a rescue system. You were 100% safe all the way!

    1. I am definitely keen to try it again! Honestly, the last thing I was thinking about was the prussik, but I knew I was in very capable hands with you there! Thank you once again for an amazing weekend!