The Black Diamond Tradathon 2013

Words: Julia Wakeling | Photos: Brendon Salzer & Julia Wakeling

The Magaliesberg kloofs are mystical havens of shady forests and babbling streams, surrounded by hot dry savannas and platinum mines. Climbing in the kloofs, we're often alone to pick and choose preferred routes and skinny dip in the multitude of pools.

Not so on Saturday when more than 100 trad climbers descended into Tonquani, Cederberg and Boulder Kloofs for a day of excitement. The aim of the Tradathon is simply to promote trad climbing. It's not a competition, but rather a learning and fun experience to be had by all. Sure, some people, like Brian Weaver and Ivan van der Tang may like to warm up on 25s and climb 30s, which is very impressive, but that's not the whole point of the day. It can be considered a great success as people who'd never climbed trad were out there learning about it. A host of experienced trad climbers (Alard, Hector, Andrew, Craig, Marianne, Rob, etc..) taught teams of newbies the tricks of the trad(e) - like how to get a nut properly stuck in a crack (while leading), and how to get it out again (when seconding). Those who didn't need such explanation explored new areas, heights and excitement by is the usual way.


 A whole host of people lead their first pitch of trad, or went trad climbing for the first time. I remember my first trad experiences, and if they are anything to go by, then a few worlds were rocked on Saturday and with any luck, a few more trad climbers were born into the scene. There may have been a few dry mouths, a little fear of exposure and a couple of moments of panic, but the day was carried out safely and in fine style. 


I may be biased, but I'm always excited by having more female trad climbers around, and it's rather cool that the trad rack as won by Jen Blenkinsop. On Saturday at least three girls lead 18s for the first time...well done Wiebke Toussaint, Rhea Rahman and Teresa Lourens. I look forward to having more girls on the rock and around the campfire. Also, the age range was huge, with school kids and ballies alike experiencing the wonders of moving over rock in a new and wild environment. 


A big thank you to everyone at Black Diamond, Mountain Club of South Africa & Mountain Sanctuary Park for facilitating the awesome experience, providing a scrumptious spit braai and a highly entertaining slideshow by Paul Fatti. 


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