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Opening up a new crag with Andy Court - Air Karate

Opening up a new crag with Andy Court - Air Karate

  • 28 September 2018
  • |
  • Capestorm

Ambassador Andy Court recently just opened up his first route called Air Karate.  Andy tells us about the adventure below.

I have been rock climbing for close to 13 years. In that time I have focused mainly on improving my skill level and climbing at different already established areas. Putting up new routes is a big part of climbing, with each generation trying to establish harder and bolder climbs than the previous generation. Thus I was really excited when Leo Le Roux informed me about a new crag he was developing near Picketberg and asked if I'd like to join him out there.

Establishing the route

Leo is a very strong climber and has done many of the hard classic big walls around the Cape and further afield. The trip sounded like a lekker opportunity to climb with some strong climbers and establish a route of my own. When we arrived at the new crag there were many enticing potential lines to be climbed. We split into teams and rappelled down the wall from the top to inspect the potential lines.

Leo pointed out a beautiful finger crack going up a slightly overhung face and offered me the opportunity to clean it and have the first go. I spent an hour hanging on a static rope, cleaning loose rocks and dirt off the climb and seeing what the moves would be like. After the others had tried some of the other cool lines there I got on the line and headed up the first half which was an easy corner. Then came the committing step onto the face with the crack. I placed a piece of gear under a flake but the flake sounded quite hollow and if it broke during a fall I'd probably hit the ledge below.

Opening a new cragline

Photo: Leo Le Roux 

After a bit of discussion we decided to place a bolt and I hauled up the drill and placed a expansion bolt in the rock. I clipped the bolt and committed to the crux of the route. Unfortunately I read the moves wrong and fell, losing the opportunity to climb the line first go - a coveted goal for climbers. Needless to say I was glad to have fallen on the solid bolt and not the sceptical flake. The rest of the climb was epic, with pumpy moves including some solid finger locks up the crack. The gear was good, but small, prompting a strong desire to hang onto the cliff.

Opening a new cragline

Photo: Leo Le Roux 

Enjoying the climb

The next day we explored some of the other lines and put in more top anchor bolts. I was really keen to jump back on my line and climb it before we left. Just before we had to pack up I got back on the climb. Knowing the moves now allowed me to get through the dynamic lower crux and hang on through the crack and get to the top. I was super psyched to climb this line and named it Air Karate. It's about 30 m long, grade 23, with one bolt at the crux and top lower off anchors. Now I have opened my first route, I'm super excited to open more, at the same crag and further afield. Thanks to Leo and the rest of the team for the opportunity.

climbing with Andy Court

Photo: Leo Le Roux