On the 7th to the 9th of April, over 160 climbers trekked to Montagu for the 2017 Rock Rally.
The annual Montagu Rock Rally is a sport climbing competition in which participants have 9 hours to send as many routes as possible. Points are awarded based on the grade of the route climbed, and the sending style. Onsighting the route will result in the most points, while a redpoint, flash or toprope send will be awarded a slightly lower score. Additional points are awarded for climbing in one of the prescribed “Epic Crags”, as well as cleaning up any litter in the area.
A number of South African climbing legends and up-and-comers attended, including Clinton Martinengo, Jimbo Smith, adventure couple: Team Tane, and free-solo superstar, Matt Bush, who claimed the prize for hardest send of the day. Other notable winners included Andy Court, one of South Africa’s best highliners, and Illona Pelser.
Pelser, a prominent South African climber, claimed second place in the “Experienced Climbers” category. “I was really stoked that I got to climb at crags that I have only been to briefly before,” answers Pelser when asked about her favourite part of the experience, “There are some great lines in Bosch Kloof and it was thrilling to spend all day onsighting quality routes.”
Pelser also noted that the competition seems to be growing. “The Rock Rally is definitely seeing a resurgence. It seemed to have died down a bit, but this year there were a lot of participants and it was great to see so many young climbers participating.” These sentiments are shared by Amber Konstant, one of this year’s Rock Rally volunteers. Konstant explains around 160 climbers participated in this year’s competition, compared to 90 participants last year. Konstant adds that, “There were also a lot more of the climbing youth representing in this year’s event, with many of the Western Cape Climbing team taking part.” Another way in which the Rally is growing is sponsorship. “It was really great to see how many items were donated for prizes,” says Konstant, “Montagu dried fruit and nuts packages, 8BPlus chalk bags, yo-yoga passes, Bloc 11 month passes and many more. There were enough prizes for a big raffle at the end which meant everyone had a chance to win something regardless of their scorecards.”
Of course, besides the climbing and raffle prizes, there were also items up for grabs for the more playful participants. Many Rally attendees would agree that the Fancy Dress competition is an integral part of the weekend. The competition was stiff this year with 80’s trad hippies, superheroes, adult babies, and “the French” among the competitors. First prize, however, had to go to “The Flintstones”, for sheer dedication and enthusiasm.
There is a general agreement that the best part of the Rock Rally is the amazing atmosphere and sense of community. “It was pure joy to hang out with a great bunch of people, all having a good time,” states Pelser, “The community and lifestyle are a huge part of the sport and these are at their best during these events.”
A similar atmosphere is expected at the next South African rock climbing event, the annual South African Highline Meeting, which is taking place in Rocklands from the 14th to 17th of April.
Photo credit: @millefotosa
Featured Image: Emily Wedepohl