Three Capestorm Ambassadors, Andy Court, Nik Martin and Jon Adams, recently spent the day on Table Mountain climbing on Africa Ledge. Nik tells us about their day out and describes the thrill of reaching the top of Table Mountain.
I met Andy at the start my engineering degree at UCT – some four years ago. We were in class together every day but it was only halfway through that year, 2015, that we linked up for a first adventure – a scramble up Table Mountain on a route called Dark Gorge. Little did I know how my friendship with Andy would open whole new realm of adventure.
My childhood understanding of the word “adventure” was slowly being transformed into one which involved ropes, bridges, shipwrecks, cliffs, waterfalls and towering trees. Adventure ideas were, and still are, often sparked after a beer or two and the latest involved Andy taking two noobs climbing on a “scary but easy” traditional climbing route on Table Mountain. A noob, by the way, is a person who is new to climbing. Jon technically does not fall into this category, but I certainly do.
Learning the basics
At the beginning of this month, the 2nd of August, we found ourselves clinging to the side of Table Mountain with sweaty palms; trying to block out the 100 meter+ drop below.The day started before the sun greeted the top of Table Mountain. Andy was blasting a tape (genuinely, a tape) from the well-aged speakers of “The Roach” – his ‘97 Ford Lazer.
After a quick coffee, a bite to eat and a couple of smiles from the foreigners heading up India Venster, we arrived at Africa Ledge. Andy gave us a quick run through on the equipment and taught us a couple of climbing techniques – my favourite being the “hand jam”. We then jumped into our harnesses, hid our bags behind some rocks and headed to the bottom of the first pitch.
Trusting the master
The route, which is trivial to any experienced climber, is known as Africa Crag – a three pitch grade 12 climb which offers some of the best exposure on Table Mountain. Jon had done a fair amount of climbing before this and so he was given the task of belaying Andy. As Andy climbed, he carefully placed nuts and cams into selected cracks and once he reached the top each pitch he used multiple pieces of gear to build a secure anchor. Within the first few moves of pitch 1 Jon put the anchor to the test – taking a decent fall and coming to a stop just before the ground below.
Guidebook: The Ledge Table Mountain by Leonhard Rust
After climbing from Africa Ledge to Upper Africa Ledge, the route traverses on what Andy calls a “nose”. This part of the route provided some epic exposure. The drop below us was massive (as I type this my palms sweat just thinking about it).
Reaching Andy at the top of the second pitch placed us at the “tip” of the nose - on tiny and rather tilted edge. Whilst I assumed the full prone position, trying to make as much contact with the rock as possible, Jon bravely leaned back, over the ledge, to belay Andy up the final pitch. As scary as it was, over the years, Jon and I have come to trust Andy’s “knot tying” and felt more comfortable as we ascended the final pitch.
Soaking up the climb
Reaching the top of the Table Mountain was incredible! I felt a mix of euphoria and exhaustion as the adrenalin still pulsed through my body. Andy’s tennis biscuits provided the much-needed refuel before we repelled three times to return to Africa Ledge. After about eight hours of thrills, we shared some beers and began the return journey to the “The Roach” – soaking up the afterglows of a day we will not forget any time soon.