Mazawatee Free (Lessons)

Learning the flow of life, and projecting from Montagu to Ceuse to Rodellar
July 30, 2023

Words: Arjan de Kock

There I sat at the base of Realization, my ankle swelling up with pain and the cold wind biting at my flesh. I could have been livid with anger that I got carried away and fell on a slab that might have ended two months of climbing trip two weeks in. But I was overwhelmed by what I had just experienced. I did not do Realization, nor did I do any major links, but I had done the top crux section and was on my way up the slab about to clip the chains when I fell. Going hold to hold, I moved up this masterpiece of rock and feeling the movement, studying the shape and contour of every pocket and edge on the route. I wasn’t there to conquer, or as the Americans like to say “crush”, I was here to learn. But the journey does not start here, and neither does it end, so here is an intro.

After a long day of physical labour on our farm in Namibia, I stare out over the orange river onto a black slate desert. To keep my sanity intact, I go to the wall in our pack-house I built a year prior. I sit there in the noise of the engine room, put on my shoes and dig my hands into the chalk bucket. As I pull up on the small holds I bolted on, the noise dissipates as I move around the wall. It might not be glamorous, a far shot from entertaining, but it puts me in a better position for when I’m out climbing on rock. So here I am, in a noisy engine room putting money in the bank, because one does not just dream and one day wake up to do it. Out in the current of the river my friend Mad Michael Baleta is paddling his surfboard up and down twice a day. He has a dream of big wave surfing, one day going out when everyone is evacuating the coastline, when ships are afraid the harbours walls won’t hold, he dreams of going out of Hout Bay harbour and riding the biggest most threatening waves imaginable to man. For now, he’s in the muddy flow of the orange river where there are no waves, preparing himself for the time when he's receiving the beat-down of his life.

We are kin.

Later in the year I visited Matt Bush in Montagu, I haven’t climbed with him in ages. We were here a year prior, hanging draws on a route full of dust and cobwebs, cleaning and scoping every possible hold. We got on this together, psyched and ready to push our limits. I remembered the first time we stuck the top crux, just the one move was so hard we only managed to do it once each (That was a year ago)! Now Matt is linking the whole route, just sliding off the top pinch, he has come close so many times.  I hadn’t been on it since hanging the draws, so I was so anxious in anticipation of how I would feel after such a big break from the route.  As far as projects go, this was our biggest challenge yet, and some of the best movement I’ve done on rock. Matt was still as close as can get before sending, I was busy with exams, the clock ticking on days to climb on it before going to Ceuse. But together we jammed on it and did some of the best climbing of my life. Every burn going up would iron out the sequence and the flow got smoother and smoother climbing at my limit. Like a river follows the contours of the earth, a route guides you to where it flows best for you. If a line is at you limit, when the heavens open up and the clouds break, the water will flow through the banks and constrictions and break free of the constraints we put on it. It might open your mind into possibilities once thought impossible, and this is what I found on Mazewatee in Montagu and on Realization in Ceuse, France and on The Hulk in Rodellar, Spain.

Alive and Living the Dream!

Like a river follows the contours of the earth, a route guides you towhere it flows best for you