Updated: May 6, 2019
Imagine a place so peaceful and serene, it makes you feel at home from the moment you arrive. We are on the road meandering through the volcanic hills of the Erongo mountain range, around every bend the breath-taking scenery continues, abundant wildlife and – not to forget – rugged rock formations welcome us. The sky promises rain, several layers of clouds bank up and merge while beams of sunlight pierce through the gaps. The spectacular play of light and shade creates a dramatic backdrop to herald our 2019 Easter expedition.
Located at the heart of Namibia, our destination is easily accessible yet evokes a sense of seclusion. The Erongo mountains hold a few surprises for travelers of all kind, but especially for rock climbers. Plenty of long, well-bolted and highly varied routes lie hidden in the corners of the wildlife reserve. The crags are accessible by foot, belayers are provided with the highest comfort and I don't have to emphasize how visually stunning the view from the top of the routes is. But I'm getting ahead.
Our group is the perfect blend of enthusiastic beginners, old hands, casual weekend warriors and ardent climbing aces. Coming from different backgrounds, we get together to share what we have in common – full engagement in the sport and a profound appreciation for nature (also the gusto for a cold beer around the fire seems to be, coincidentally, something we share).
After a rainy first night, we head out to the first crag. Stretching our tired limbs on the wall is the best way to get the day started. Some of our climbers experience friction for the first time, facing the mental challenge that climbing involves, no, requires. Besides climbing, we share as much knowledge as possible with each other, demonstrating the use of gear and cheering one another at the crux of the route. We sally back to the campsite in the evening and while we braai and roast marshmallows, the calming sounds of ukulele and crackling fire ring off a successful day of climbing.
A narrow path winds up the hill behind the campsite. At dawn and on an empty stomach we journey up the hiking trail. Breakfast would be the great reward, but the panorama of the light-speckled landscape below us, Brandberg and Spitzkoppe in the distance and the all-round view of the Erongo mountains pre-empt the reward. Every drop of sweat (and there were plenty) was worth it.
Following this, the second climbing session happens to be at another crag. This crag could be mistaken with an actual climbing gym, since it offers spacious flat grounds to belay from and route next to route – a paradise of 20-30 metre long routes. To climb here, reach for your magic kit, you're gonna need all the tricks. Some of the routes start with friction, lead you through cracks and finish with a knobby finale. Delicate features, slow moves and well-placed tiptoes on bare exposed rock is what awaits the climber on top of most routes. At the end, everyone feels content, satisfied, happy – and quiet. This state of meditative happiness I have only seen after climbing outdoors.
Our trip ended with a great social get-together around the fire and a visit to stunning bushman paintings the next morning. New friendships were made, our community is growing and Urban Friction's goal is clear – we want to expand our climbing family.