'It's not the rock we conquer, but ourselves. Imagine feeling unstoppable and exhilarated beyond anything you have ever known. Having the drive, enthusiasm and resilience to overcome extreme fear and achieve whatever you want,' says an avid rock climber who admits to being addicted to the adrenalin-fuelled sport.
People who start rock climbing seem to get totally hooked. It's something to do with walking a tightrope between risk and security, and the extreme endurance and problem solving that involves both the body and mind.
Getting started requires some equipment. A good pair of climbing shoes with grip, a harness, a belay device (to attach a rope to), some fastening devices and a rope are standard.
South Africa has some amazing climbing spots. From the Cape Peninsula and the Cederberg to the Drakensburg and beyond, climbers are continuing to pioneer new routes.
Besides building muscle and getting a good cardio fix, climbing involves problem-solving skills. Alex Johnson - North Face team climber with multiple first-female ascents under her belt - says, "Climbing up a route often demands body awareness and problem solving. More often than not, the way to the top is not as direct as you might assume, and it takes laser focus to work through which holds to grab and where exactly to place your foot before shifting your body weight."
There are a number of different props you can use to assist your climb. Traditional rock climbers wear harnesses and are connected by rope to assist in scaling rock faces. Sport climbing uses protective grips bolted into rocks to help climbers. Free solo climbing is done without ropes and is more dangerous ' if climbers fall, they're likely to die. Indoor climbing is done on cement or plywood structures. Climbing up buildings, chimneys and urban settings is another trend that's catching on. The views may be different, but the thrill remains.
If you are interested in pursuing climbing as a sport, try one of the indoor climbing walls in your area to see if you have what it takes. You'll find a nationwide list at www.climbing.co.za.