Quote of the week – April week #2: Table Mountain adventure

“Where the ledge ends, the leader ties on and passes round a bulge. Anything more sensational could not be wished. He finds himself on a little ledge, a few inches wide, split, fissured, looking like a row of crazy unstable tiles. He sees nothing below except the slope eight hundred feet below, while the face above presses him outwards. Carefully he works his way around. The rock falls back a bit and he stands below a vertical recess of fifty or sixty feet. The best way is the bold way. Slipping his fingers into the crack at the back of the recess, he climbs leaning well back, and reaches a good ledge thirty feet below the summit. The party assembles on this ledge. There is a short sporting chimney above, but the tension is over and the day is won. They shake hands, light up, and saunter down to Fountain through the fragrant leucadendrons. The Southeaster begins to stir. The sun sets in the wine-dark sea. The sky’s orange shades through pellucid lemon and pale infinite green to violet. The stars come out, the light begins to shimmer through the city’s heat, and the climber jogs homewards, sometimes kicking a spark from the sandstone rubble with his clinkers.”

Extract from the book ‘Table Mountain’ by C.A. Luckhoff, describing an early ascent of a route above Africa Ledge on the north face of Table Mountain.

In this somewhat sentimental description of a 1920s climb on the upper front face of Table Mountain, the writer’s sense of adventure is as apparent as his affinity for nature, and it is perhaps the combination of these two attributes that allows one to experience Table Mountain in all its facets. Adventure is a retrospective pleasure that requires one to step outside their comfort zone: from carpeted corridors to rocky trails; from rocky trails to craggy slopes to imposing cliffs. Adventure opens our minds to sense impressions and allows for personal growth as well as a more intimate acquaintance with our surroundings. That is what hiking or climbing Table Mountain is all about. It’s sad to hear some people reduce Table Mountain hiking as a means other than the cable car to reach the summit. A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of taking a Cape Town local aged 40 on her first ever hike up Table Mountain. Despite the fact that we had no views due to cloud on the mountain, she was blown away by the experience: the surreal rock-formations looming through swirling mist, the solitude, the floral diversity, and above all the sense of achievement gained from hiking Table Mountain.

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