Monday, 29 May 2017

The Great Southern Sausage Fest

 Diamondback (18), Turret Peak. Photo: Damien Schumann 
Crowds are fine at rock concerts and soccer matches; in fact they are pivotal. An empty arena except for five mates going bos befok at a Pearl Jam concert just doesn’t cut it. However, when going away on a trip, I find crowds a pest. Overflowing campsites and droves of squealing kids are not why I gap the city. The admin of successfully booking anywhere worthwhile over peak season requires either forethought or luck, and I can’t always rely on the latter. Planning in advance with climbers also has the curios trend of simply not working out. This was part of the motivation to go to Turret Peak over Easter. As an MCSA property in the Koue Bokkeveld, you don’t have hordes of holiday makers or biker gangs disturbing your stargazing. Carting your katunda uphill for 2 hours may poke your legs, but has the distinct advantage of keeping the rif-raf out. Also, it is frikken awesome once you reach the high plateau festooned with crags in all directions.  But more on cardinality later.

Gaelen rock-swimming at a new crag. Photo: Damien Schumann
As it panned it, this became a dudes only mission. Recent voyages have ended up as theme events: Starwars and Scottish being particularly humorous. Ably fueled by whisky of course, particularly over New Years, when you could have been forgiven for thinking we had forgotten our kilts and sporrans at the bottom of the barrel from which we were sprouting all manner of Scroot-ish filth. So in keeping the ‘S’ pattern, and to bring on some laughs, the Easter bonanza quickly became the Sausage Fest. This broadly encompassed all things phallic. In the car, while barreling up the Gydo Pass we had already christened as yet unclimbed routes with a good selection including: The Bratwurst Boa, Russian Rinkhals, Sausage Charmer and the much feared Diaper Viper.

A six pack of sausages: Adam Thorpe, Moritz Thilo, Damien Schumann, Warren Gans,
Gaelen Pinnock and Luke Eberhard 

Now, my number of visitations to this lovely part of the Cape could be best approximated by counting my photo folders which have inspirational titles like: “Turret Sept 2014”. However, to be honest, I haven’t bothered and for the purposes of this wee recollection, let’s assume it is just shy of ten. Perhaps because of the orientation of the cave, or direction of the summit, or lack of imagination hitherto; we have pretty much always explored north. Much like blinkered stallions we had hardly considered a U-turn strategy. Perhaps stallions is a bad analogy, as they tend to bolt, which we did not. This is trad country. A few had ventured 15 minutes south to the valley immediately behind the Turret, but that is where our knowledge ended. However, a brief perusal of Google Earth prior to the sausage convergence, showed many potential rock features to the South.

Gaelen sees what lies to the South. Photo: Damien Schumann.

Undeterred by disconcertingly low temperatures, the Sausage Seven bumbled along in their down jackets past the edge of previous reconnaissances into what quickly became paralysis by analysis. The pork-sword squadron kept finding great little crags to dangle their wares on, but in almost every case, just a few minutes further away, was something that might be… better. While I fully support seeking the best, at some point you need to rope up, otherwise by sunset you may have just taken your toys for a long walk. My knees ain’t what they used to be, so moving backpacks of gear around should have an end game.

Since Boreas had evidently decided to come out of retirement as the deity providing freezing winds, climbing took a back seat on day two until we finally found the one sheltered alcove. The animals played well in the de-virgined Terrarium and with the fading light left their bags at the proudest crag, hoping for calmer weather in the morning.

The author opening Chorizo Eel (21) at the Terrarium. Photo: Warren Gans

The penultimate day was slightly less like liquid nitrogen, so without fear of snapping fingers, the sausage crew retraced their steps to the fine crag they had spied out the day before. Quickly the Butchery, the Abattoir, and The Sausage Factory were filled with routes - some beefier than others. A busy and productive morning, all members of the sausage gang got stuck in at the prime crag with smiles all round. In about the most touch and go fashion possible, I sneaked an onsight FA of The Russian Rinkhals (24), which tires you out before striking at the last move. Somewhat chuffed, I decided to push the bacon out a bit after lunch, and proceeded to get well spanked by the Cryptic Cobra (25?) until the bizarre sequence eventually uncoiled itself amidst cries of frustration and painful finger locks. That’s why this sport is so good, just when you get cocky, you get slapped right back into place. Warren bagged the fine thin seam of Grizzle ‘n Bone (21), and young Luke at a whopping 13 years old, helped bail three thirty-pluses out of a protracted battle with a devious serpent that threatened to them out after dark.

The Sausage Factory, perched in all its glory above the valleys even further south.

As a bit of maths nerding on the side, Luke can climb about 10 grades above his age, on trad, which is at an age almost 10 years before I even started climbing, but which I have now been doing for 5 years more than he has even been alive. #thatprobablydoesn'tmakesensethefirsttimeyoureadit.

Halsey’s musing of relativity could be simplified by saying that this is one talented kid, who can hold his own with folks who have decades under the belt. On just this trip, he probably opened more routes than a number of trad climbers in Cape Town have done in their whole careers. Watch this space.

Luke about to run it out on Medium Rare (16)

It seems my sausage thread has gone a bit soft, which is fine as I am mostly vegetarian. None the matter, we can still conclude our story, as like a kid saving the best for last, I had left a treat for our final day. A whopping 8 minutes’ walk from the cave is a striking orange wall I had threatened to check out for quite a while. As luck would have it, there were just enough holds to blast straight up the most aesthetic transition between grey and orange: if you have a wingspan of 6 ft 3’ or more. Now I am not a population statistician, but that cuts out a whole chunk of people. Probably not as much as the long walk into the wilderness and the desire to climb grade 24 with a potential ground fall, but then I have never really claimed to be normal. 

The exquisite, albeit morpho, Copperhead (24). Photo: Damien Schumann

We do what we do that makes us happy. While it is a pity that Copperhead is essentially impossible for shorter folks, as evidenced by the Great Southern Sausage Fest of 2017, there is no shortage of stone for folks of all dimensions, ability and sanity. It's like the Mecca for single pitch trad exploration, but your sausages don't need to be Halal.

In fact, the best part of having taken our meat further south that it had ever been before, is that the very edge of our exploration marked just the start of another untapped plateau. We may be but tiny fleas on the crust of the earth, but we can jump for joy at the prospect of having so much to suck on in the future.

If you enjoy the frivolous adventure of climbing in (and into) the unknown, we have the mother-load on our doorstep, and that is seriously exciting shit.

Damien, in his camo photographer gear, blending in on Gravy Maker (16)
Warren enjoying some Chorizo (16) at The Sausage Factory
Luke opening his Chicken Dinner (17). 
Reaching out on Copperhead (24). Photo: Damien Schumann
Thanks to all for a lekker trip, and to Damo for all the cool pics.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Through the Gates

“The circle is done”: poignant lyrics from Beneath Broken Earth, by Paradise Lost.

Now most folks with any musical sensibility will find this track distinctly objectionable. Both the growling vocals and overall heaviness attempt to impart hearing damage. As veritable chameleons, the band have gone from death to doom to gothic to electronic to synthetic to other-terms-I-don’t-understand and back to seriously dark, heavy shit. While this orbital musical journey has essentially nothing to do with my little story, I did perchance across this song before an adventure to Turret Peak, and parts of it were playing back in what was left of my eardrums as we headed out. You see, when an entity is unpredictable, you have to sample it to find out what the status quo has become. It’s a form of morbid curiosity. This, and circles, do actually have something to do with my tale, which fear not, will commence shortly.

The Turret from the maze entrance
Or now. Turret Peak is a spectacularly satisfying place. Even if you have no interest in clawing your way up the numerous crags. Perched at a respectable height above the blue wobble stuff, is a vast maze of gulleys and tunnels, proud spires, arches and sunken streams. The Great Owl guards the East while the Elephant ‘n the Room overlook the Kouebokkeveld below. There is a spine on the Chopping Block and a feast of mushrooms on all the summits. Steep boulders are strewn among cliffs of all orientations and colours. 

Approaching entrance where the Great Owl resides. Photo: Marie Bosman
My first visit was back in the Halloween month of 2013. While there were a few tricks, like finding the path, it was mostly treats. As part of an MCSA meet, we were blown away (not literally) by the wild camping on the vlakte surrounding the Turret. As obvious as a pink ostrich it was, that return trips with rock climbing toys would be needed. Six or so forays later I am pondering how to return back before all the water evaporates, leaving me thirsty till next season. It was on this initial courting that I spied the battlements from below. Almost immediately, the right pillar of the central gates stood out as the pièce de résistance. Yet, for reasons that escape me, I resisted for over 3 years.
The Gates 
The inaugural gathering of climbers was a jovial affair, with the Versveld brothers bringing everything except the kitchen sink. My battered knees get sympathy pain at the thought of carting steel frying pans, litres of milk and kilograms of steak into the wilderness. However, it must be said, the smell of fried goodies rising from the cave made my bowl of Pronutro and water seem somewhat sub-par. Now, I would not call us lazy, especially not those on the gourmet cooking crew, but we didn’t get very far from camp. The climbing in the immediate vicinity was just too captivating. Even on the second trip I only got halfway to the battlements that in part catalyzed all these missions. The Gates were open, put I never even knocked.

The Elephant Eye
Birthday rounds were drunk and calendars changed. Over a thousand days passed before I finally arrived at battlements ready to fight. As if to punish me for tardiness, the wind howled through with fierce determination. A savage iciness was in a loyal accompaniment. Evidently the task at hand, which was challenging to begin with, just got more so. The delights of the previous two days had delayed our arrival, and I did not relish the thought of returning empty handed on the last day, again. Suffice to say the conditions were not prime, but in addition to stubbornness, I was morbidly curious. How much harder would it really make it?
For some perspective, the route is steep and committing with large airtime potential. On the plus side, falling into a wind tunnel would be a novel experience.

The sending gates were open...
A blow by blow account, excuse the pun, it not warranted, but imagine climbing inside a giant fridge with powerful fan on full bore. Tricky gear placements and flapping clothes slow you down. Once your fingers have turned into mutineers, and you find yourself shivering at the last rest spot before the steep runout, take a moment. These are the moments that define ourselves. Bailing would be easy now, but how would it feel later? There is no glory in giving up. This is when you need to pull yourself toward yourself and throw caution to the wind, of which there was plenty.
Falling two moves later would have been worlds apart from calling it quits: polar opposite modes of failure. Yet, somehow, I held on. Onto what I am not sure, as sensory awareness had long since been gusted out of me. What I can say, is that it was an acutely intense experience. While I was too mentally exhausted right then to be satisfied, it still brings a smile to my face while I write this months later.

Heading back to terra firma

The more you are tested, the greater the reward.

The Gatekeeper was born.

The circle is done.  

Johann Lanz enjoying Helium Jive (18)

The author opening Orange is the New Black (24). Photo: Illona Pelser

Photo: Moritz Thilo

Friday, 23 September 2016

One Life Stand

We connect to walls that have seen millions of years. Photo: Anton Gietl 

The world changes, and it doesn’t.
However the stories are more important than they stage they happen on. 

Eons ago, our ancestors painted on cave walls and told their tales around the glowing embers.  

Today we take photographs and write blogs by the glow of our screens.

Back then you could see the expression of the listener, run your fingers over the art.

Now a stranger posts a comment and you zoom in on pixels.

In the Cederberg you can still find ancient rock paintings, gather around a campfire, snap away and type your adventures up.

We can act like our for-bearers, but I doubt they could imagine our digital circumstances.

The world changes, and it doesn’t.

Either way, it is all about the story, that is what counts. They are not bound to a time or place. They drift down through generations and the phases of civilization.  

These days we take pictures as reminders of those stories. Sometimes the picture itself speaks, sometimes you need the narrative. 

Here are two. Almost identical. Without the words they are just images of rock. 

First glance: No chalk

The first is from September 2013. I teamed up with a free spirited traveller, Anton Gietl, to explore the area near De Pakhuis. He had a great attitude to life, a positive exuberance and was up for any adventure. Even if it could turn out to be kak. Which it never did. After doing a route we still haven’t named, I saw this beautiful line. I vowed to come back. I am like a magpie in this regard – I have an affinity for pretty things – and some just say “climb me”. Unlike the feathered one, I prefer to collect sparkling tales for the memory bank rather than shiny shit for my nest.  

Two years later: just some chalk remains

The second is from August 2015. I met Alex Bester at the campsite. He was in the enviable phase of being a dirtbag, having lived out of a tent for the last 3 months. It’s a simple and satisfying way to not be stressed about the universe. We returned to the area I visited in 2013, and climbed the line that had been on my list for almost two years. We named it One Life Stand. The circle was complete.

The rock didn't change, but I did.
The stage remains, we move on. 

The next day while others were hiding in their tents, rain beading off the flysheets, we were abseiling down a steep cliff. You can learn technique, train for strength but you can’t coach desire. I suppose some would argue you can’t coach stupidity either, but we had a great day, despite our wet clothing and soggy gear. If that counts as stupid then I’ll wear it. We also have a project to come back to…. Another cycle begins.

Make time to do the things you enjoy, and do them with people who share your passion. Revisit special places, enjoy these cycles. 

Whether you paint it, write it or tell it across the flames; this is the story of you. 
It is all that will be left at the end.   

This is your one life stand.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

The Other Fruit

It is easy to fall into habit. Beneficial or not, beware stagnation.

Last light across the Wolf. Photo: Julia Wakeling

Routine is comfortable. Those that we effortlessly slip into, generally offer little more that predictably. Half-hourly Facebook checking, scoffing the same breakfast, frequenting the regular bar, one milk, no sugar - it becomes ingrained, entrenched. Conversely, routines that offer a more positive impact, tend to be take more commitment. The pre-work workout, after dinner online courses, lunchtime yoga, Sunday meditation. These may be regular, but require input: they are not factory settings.

The alcoholic and the gym junkie are on distant health-sides of repetitive behaviour, but both spend a lot of time doing the same thing. Over and over.

Julia making the first pass of The Axe on Undertow. Photo: Marian Penso.

Breaking routine on Undertow. Photo: Marian Penso

A particular routine of mine has been regular seasonal trips to Tafelberg. A reliable formula with enjoyable and enriching outcomes. These new route forays, often in the company of Dr Steyn, have been enormously satisfying and productive, albeit reasonably predictable. They require dedication and energy, but have developed an air of familiarity. “Yes, we went up there, again.” While I view these numerous trips as a chapter of a life well spent, the opportunity to really explore can be stifled by recurrence, regardless of it’s inherit benefits.

To shake a habit can involve an introspective based decision, or an external factor. Like water. Despite our preferences, predilections and tendencies, sometimes we must succumb to essentials, such as liquid ice.

Looking down from below the crux of  The Hippo and the Zebra 

No avoiding the void on The Hippo and the Zebra. Photo: Tommy Bairstow

Yip, that wet substance, or lack thereof, can rattle even the most buried of tendencies. And so it came to pass that the summer of 2015/16 saw extensive time at the mountain of the Wolf rather than that of the Table. Be it El Nino, drought, climate change or just f*cking dry; the drip at Tafelberg was not doing what its name suggests. We could have carried water up, but that would have involved dripping sweat, which is exactly not the type of dripping we were after. Call it smart, or lazy, but I opted for something less camel like. The regular programme was replaced. I went to Wolfberg for the first time in years. And it was rad!

Familiarity is comforting. The mannerisms of your mates, the smell of your garden and music from your own collection. Yet it is not exciting in the way the unfamiliar is. New faces, aromas and sounds stimulate another part of the brain. At Tafelberg I know almost every ledge, corner and blank cul de sac. Not so for Wolfberg, and I spent an entire day soloing easy routes to gain a basic understanding of the place. I also got climb with Tommy (pronounced Tah-Me), a Yosemite local that I had not shared a rope with before. His middle name is also Hardman. It's not every day you get to pair up with a bona fide hardman of climbing! So, there was certainly new, but there was also old. 

Pioneering through the roof on The Last Hardman. Photo: Julia Wakeling.
Tommy on unfamiliar terrain.

Like Officer McClane, old habits die hard. The surrounds and people were different but the desire for virgin rock was as strong as ever. Aristotle postulated that nature abhors a vaccum, and similarly, I naturally want to fill empty spaces.    

I made the strange less so, I looked for the unknown in the less known. I fell back into a role. I went elsewhere just to act the same. It was a Russian doll of routine. This first layer was removed by changing location, the second by new adventure partners, but after that the pioneering doll remained.  

Marion enjoying some After Action Satisfaction

As my battered Thailand T-shirt says: “Same same, but different”. Yet even a subtle difference is important. It invigorates and stirs. It makes routine less routine.

I completely advocate jumping out of your comfort zone. Doing wild, crazy and completely new things. This is how we discover new passions. This is a way to grow.  However, we can’t do this all the time, and within those parts of our lives that we already identify with, there seems to be a lesson.

Avoiding stagnation is not necessarily about changing everything, but changing enough to feel the difference.

Thumbs up!

Most importantly - be silly, have fun. Photo: Julia Wakeling.
Lesser know sport of rock surfing. Photo: Julia Wakeling.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

The Circle

Like many of the best moments, there are no photos.
No memory stick of memories,
just memories, sticking in my memory.

Illustrative images, unlike experiences, can be borrowed. 

There are things that inspire us, motivate us, permeate our thoughts and infuse our dreams.
We can pontificate ad infinitum the deep psychological reasons behind what drives desire.
Yet, the answer is often remarkably simple.
Sorcery: the line between light and dark. Photo: ClimbZA
Within the climbing realm, Boven holds such status. Over three years ago, an internal cartilage incident circumcised that trip. So I have felt a long term credit for more. In particular, I wanted another shot at Sorcery. It was a contorted effort at the crux of this route that imploded my knee in 2012. So like a moth to the flicker, I returned. Hopefully with enough sense not to get burnt, again.

The Attraction

Sussing it out in 2012. Photo: Warren Gans

While we may develop our minds, and believe ourselves supremely intellectual, we are often akin to bugs around a porch light. Drawn by primal urges, undermining conscience control, reined in by hedonism and the magnetism of pleasure. And I am not just talking about pretty girls. (Or boys, if you are a girl, or a guy who likes guys. Damn, sexuality correctness is tricky!)

Attraction does not to be articulated or defended: awesomeness has a gravity. Resisting the pull is invariably harder than letting yourself fall right in. Yet, as climbers, once there, we try our best not to fall any more. Otherwise, you may be left with unfinished business. In our world of ever more instant gratification, this forces some delay, and I had been waiting a pretty long time. To climb the route, of course.

Simplicity. Green, orange. Chalk, cams. 
Which brings me back to the proud arête by the waterfall. King Lines are not absolute. The most revered Indian Creek splitter will not excite a tape glove virgin. No, it is personal, and while certain features generally elevate a route’s status, it is ultimately what stirs something inside you. That particular vertical journey that stokes and fuels. It is not about being universally awesome, but that which you find awesome. For me: the long edge of the ACRA wall, with great moves, thundering water, committing sequences, dominant prominence and no bolts.

Alex Honnold on the lower sections of Sorcery.
Photo: Gutav Janse van Rensburg. Credit: Africa Fusion (

The rock is just a dancefloor, and what we really seek is a King Experience. These can crop up anywhere, but the ones that top the clambering charts often happen in conjunction with our favourite routes.

My buddy Tim Dunnett held the ropes. As the water flowed downward, I made a fluid rise to the finishing hold. A sensory concoction: absorbing the beauty of the space while focusing on each and every movement. Clicking biners and chirping birds. No crowds, no one snapping away. Just my good friend helping me to complete a story I started over a thousand days prior. As with other moments of this ilk, it culminated mostly in a quiet, satisfactory welling from within. Acknowledging how fortunate we are play in these sacred mini-worlds and the fantastic people who party with us.

Steve Bretherick on Satan's Temple, which climbs the face to the right of Sorcery.
Photo: Dirk Smith (

Another one for the memory cache, another circle drawn. 
This business was finished, but the next chapter was just starting to take form in my head.

The memory collector never rests. That’s why we dream. Isn’t it? 

Location and setting par excellence. Steve Bretherick soaking it up higher on Satan's Temple. Photo: Dirk Smith. (

The start and end of this story. Photo: Warren Gans.

Big Thanks to: 
Tim, Uwe, Anita, Sarel and all the other climbers I shared moments with. 
Gus and Alex, for once again exuding awesomeness. 
The Tranquilitas team. 
Dirk, Warren, Gustav and Robert Breyer for the use of photos. 
Oh, and whoever returned my headlamp after I ‘misplaced’ it.   

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Midnight Sun

This was not a climbing trip, yet I did one of the best long routes I have ever done.

I had never heard of Lofoten, until about 2 weeks before hitching along the island chain.

I do like surprises!

Nordic summer
Sunset-less days in the Arctic Circle. Midnight soloing without a headlamp. Overhanging granite with pockets. A Marilyn Manson concert, for free, in an amusement park. A few of the novelties now in my memory bank, that I can’t really claim credit for experiencing. Granted, I grabbed the chance, but I certainly did not orchestrate it being there for the taking.

Overlooking Henningsvaer: bridge heaven

We have calendars, we make lists, we dream, we plot, we plan, we sacrifice, we invest, we wait. I have no quarrel here, it usually requires dedication to achieve goals. Yet, despite all attempts to maximise our lives, how firmly do we actually hold the reigns? Furthermore, how much in control do we really want to be? Some of the best things I have done required hard graft and preparation. However, just as many fantastic opportunities literally flopped out of the ether and required no more than a little courage to pick them up before they wriggled off. 

Reine and surrounds, it is hard to take a bad photo, even for me

Let me elaborate. I had planned to go back to Australia for another dirtbag stint. It had been a rough few months and I just wanted drop off the radar. I knew the drill, it was a safe option. Low risk, high reward. For years I have been wanting to return to do some of the spectacular routes at the Eureka Wall in the Grampians. I had unfinished projects at Arapiles. Flights booked way ahead, friends contacted months in advance, tick lists scribbled. I was in conductor mode and the orchestra seemed set to play.

Then the unexpected: I met a great travel companion, I ended up in ICU, had a heart operation, planned a trip to Turkey, another visit to an emergency room, cancelled the Istanbul tickets, had further tikker surgery, jetted to Stockholm, took a train to a starless wonderland, got a gap in the rain, tagged with a partner-less climber, romped up a 500m cliff and witnessed a spectacular mixing of orange rays and turquoise waters at the witching hour.

Not bad for an opportunist. If things don’t go according to plan, just enjoy the flow, you never know where it will take you…

The Midight Sun

For those who like the granular detail:

I have a certain penchant for novelty. The unusual. The quizzical. For example, the Big Baobab boasts a pub inside its trunk. Barely functional but vastly quirky, and certainly worth the effort. If you like the odd. Several years ago, I saw images of 3am-bouldering dappled with Nordic sunlight. While not consciously, the idea-seed of climbing under a midnight sun had been planted. By luck, some dominoes fell right and I ended up at the base of Vespillaren with Megan at 4pm. Combined with a fortuitous break in the rain, this also happened to be one of the best long routes of its grade in the Northern Hemisphere. Minimal planning, maximum benefit. Not only did I get to top out at 11:55pm in the sun, but above 12 pitches of absolutely sublime granite cracks. A truly world class line that I had never really planned to do. I don’t know about brave, but fortune does seem to favour those who put themselves in a position to be favoured.

Approaching Vespillaren. Photo: Megan Beaumont
The first of many great pitches
One of the many great pitches

The perpetual light also got me mulling over that most puzzling of entities. Time.

We have clocks everywhere. On cell phones, computers, church towers, kitchen walls, train stations, car dashboards, radios, TV, neck pendants, microwave ovens and old school ovens. Hours and minutes are shoved at you with metronomic regularity. The rhythm of the calendar, the beat of the diary. The scheduled life: back-to-back appointments while running errands during lunch. We are the robots telling ourselves when we can and can’t be free, and yet, when finally we stumble across that most Holy Grail of ‘time to ourselves’, we are completely exhausted, and slump down in front of yet another screen, that will invariably, be telling us the time. Tick Tock.

Nature is timeless. Photo: Laleh Akbaynoor
So the grand irony plays out, when after months of slaving away, Mr Everyman finally gets his allocated amount of holiday, where time is finally his own. As if it never was in the first place. 

Our week of constant daylight whittled the significance of clock time. 9am was just like 15:36pm which could equally be 1:42am. The glowing orb simply bobbing along the horizon, not a care in the universe, while we had not a care in Norway. Time will march on ad infinitum, but we are not beholden: the only shackles we have are self-imposed. In a place like Loften it is easier to feel this freedom, but it exists everywhere. 

Don’t worry about time, it sure isn’t worrying about you.

Feeling free while sport climbing at Eggum. Photo: Laleh Akbarynoor 

On the way back from the bizzare granite bowl of Eggum, I caught a ride with an elderly local. Laleh and Megan got a lift with his wife in the decidedly more fancy of the two cars. He spoke very little English, and my Norwegian is as existent as political integrity. We gesticulated about the weather, and other topics of small talk, but without the talk. As the rusted, russet van rattled on, the scenery was nearly giving my retinas an orgasm. I smiled. The radio was probably twice my age, with both tiny and tinny speakers. The next song was ‘Nothing Else Matters’. Indeed, at that moment in time, those words were the truest that could be said, thought or just accepted.

How you got to where you are is just history, planned or otherwise. Luck, fate, chance, destiny - does it matter?

Not to me. 

The joy of where you are, what you are doing, and who you are there with, is all that really matters.

Nothing else.  

Midnight solo on the Rock and Roll Ridge

Yet another great pitch!
Not your stereotypical island paradise. Photo: Megan Beaumont

A stiff warm up. Photo: Laleh Akbarynoor

In winter skiing is a big thing, apparently.

Like 24hr daylight, a free Marilyn Manson concert in a kiddies playground, was somewhat novel.

The best things may be a surprise, so you might as well act surprised.

Huge thanks to Laleh for an amazing trip, to Megan for some great climbing, to Jim, Dave and Tanja for fun while hanging at Bobil Camping and to all the cool folks I met in Stockholm. Oh, and to all the many strangers we hitchhiked with :)

Big up to Outward Ventures for supporting my adventures.

Photo: Laleh Akbarynoor