Sunday, 31 July 2016

Rocklands Smash Fest

Having spent a long time in one area in Australia, I was pretty excited to be moving to a new spot, Rocklands, for a month long smash fest. And so far it’s been just that. After a 12 hour drive and two long flights we headed off through a country which felt quite different to the one we’d just left. Shanty towns on the outskirts of Cape Town provided an interesting change from hanging out at the local library in Horsham in the Gramps.  Arriving in Rocklands I found a picturesque area packed full of a bewildering array of boulders and small outcrops. The scenery is beautiful, the cottage we’re staying in with our friends James and Jo is basic but a nice upgrade from living in a small van with far too much gear to be convenient, and the rocks are freakin’ awesome. After a jet lagged struggle on day one and a bit of a mission to retrieve our delayed bags and pads from our airline we awoke to perfect conditions and headed up to the Roadcrew sector for a great day where we both began to feel like ourselves again – Ella quickly doing good links on Un Rime Stupide (7C+) and me doing that, Purple Nipple Clan (8A) and getting frustratingly close on Royksop (8A) at the end of the day before a weird popping in my hand told me it was time to stop and return another time (fortunately it seems like it was just one of those times where something moves over a bone or tendon or whatever rather than an injury).

The sun goes down in Rocklands

With a satisfying day at the boulders under our belts it was time to fill our bellies at the much anticipated fish barbecue which one of the local landowners puts on on Fridays. Drive up the road… Ella indicates and waits for oncoming traffic.. start to tur
Suddenly we’re spinning, my head going a million miles an hour.
What the fuck happened?
What the fuck is going to happen.
You’ve got to be kidding me, this can’t be happening.
Smoke everywhere, is the car on fire?
Get out of the car.
Get out of the car.  
Ella is in the drivers seat. Head down. Unconscious.
The door won’t open. Climb out the window.
Shouting. From me? From someone else?
My glasses have gone, I can’t see properly.
Run around to Ella’s side of the car.
The door won’t open. Fuck. Fuck.
Back to my side. Ella has come to, she’s already climbing out of my window after me.
You’ve got to be kidding.
Her memory is fucked. Can’t remember the crash. People have turned up. They’ve called the ambulance.
Ella goes around in circles like a goldfish whilst we wait for the paramedics “What happened? It wasn’t my fault was it? My head hurts, it’s bleeding. My neck’s starting to hurt. Don’t leave me. Don’t let me fall asleep. What happened…?”
Is that just shock? Is something wrong? Fuck. Fuck.

A 4x4/pickup-truck had ploughed into the back of us at god knows what speed as we started to turn. Fortunately the car wasn’t on fire, it was probably just the radiator of the other car which was smashed up pretty badly, as was ours with the rear of the car caved in. Whilst the accident was some hideous luck, the fact that we were both walking out of the hospital the next morning with only sore necks and stitches for a cut on Ella’s head seems really lucky given how messed up the car was, and thank God that only pads were in the back of our car rather than people.

Many thanks to everyone who helped us out, especially James Noble, Jo Allen, Dan Turner, Will Buck, Charite (the owner of Travellers’ Rest where we’re staying) and Duke and Holly from America.

A few days later and with normal service resumed I was chuffed to manage a 1 session ascent of Black Shadow, the classic 8A+ of the area. Now time to try some harder stuff…

Royksopp (8A), Rocklands

When We Were Kings (8A), Grampians