Updated: Nov 5, 2020
Tied up with no escape, Rico Brand learns the ropes
I'm always trying to push myself harder and further, chasing those crazy adrenalin rushes. Standing at the edge of that cliff that day was breath taking - going over the edge though, was so far out of my comfort zone, it terrified me.
Taking a weekend off during these strange times allows one to forget about the current chaos of the world and, being the only campers at Spitzkoppe made this trip all the more special. Joined by friends Martin, Mari and Richard.
Having spent the first day enjoying a few of the 100's of climbing routes scattered around Spitz, Richard invited me to accompany him the next morning while he completed bolting a project he'd first attempted two years before whilst on an expedition with a visiting British team. The line follows a mixture of traditional placements and bolted protection up a sun protected face behind the Rhino Horn. Two years earlier he started bolting the route ground up on lead, took a fall with all his tools, and retreated. This time, we decided to change tactics and scrambled up around the back, securing anchors first and then finding the ideal line.
The idea of spending hours suspended in a harness with all your food, a days water and a ton of extra weight on your back, was intimidating. Trusting only your gear, the person next to you and the anchors being installed was a whole other kettle of fish. I'm forever preaching about how safe climbing is, provided you follow protocol and trust your gear - well this experience was certainly putting my money where my mouth is as I kept chanting to myself "TRUST YOUR GEAR!"
This was my first multi pitch abseiling experience and the second time I observed how route setting is done. It was amazing to witness how passionate and meticulous Richard is about finding the right line, reading the rocks, trying the moves and installing bolts. "There are always unforeseen challenges" he tells me. Well, after 9 hours of hanging off the side of a cliff, dislodging fridge sized boulders, eating dust and breaking the hammer with still one pitch to go, we finally made it back just in time for a very well deserved sundowner.
photo credits: MCSA Namibia
The following day was spent resting and reflecting whilst surrounded by the fascinating scenery. What the previous days antics highlighted for me was that I was now being trusted to pass on the knowledge and teach others how to climb. As a coach and instructor, getting to a point where you can do or teach with full confidence, is what we strive for.
Every day we ended off cooking together, joking and sharing tales around the fire. Doing this under the open heavens in all its splendour, was just the way to do it.
Overall, I am grateful for what I’ve learned and experienced. I recommend to everyone to never stop learning and pushing yourselves past your comfort zone.
R Brand (AP)