Thursday, 13 September 2007

Jane and Al went Ice Climbing in South Africa for their summer holidays. The high plateau of the Drakensburgs leaks water down hanging valleys and gullies on its South Side during the southern winter so they went along to the MCSA annual ice meet and explored the areas biggest and best known venue, Giant's Castle. After a back breaking 1500m climb up to over 3000m with winter climbing and camping kit the spent their first day in the Lotheni Couloir (like most of the routes you ab/scramble in and climb back out again). The ice was thick but bullet hard, the route went at hard Scottish IV. That night they spent 7 hours sitting up against their tent poles in a gale and in the morning several of the locals were equally bleary eyed. Also local guide Gavin was taken very ill and the guys had to assist in a very windy stretcher carry to a place the helicopter could land (Gavin was later found to be suffering from Meningitis and Encephalytis!). The remainder of the day was spent diging in the tent against the gales. Next day they descended Makaza (the Zulu word for cold) and climbed back out in about 5 pitches of Scottish V before abing back down and doing a harder variation finish. From there they also went to the White Umfolozi River for some Trad rock and Waterval Boven to clip bolts.

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