Every year when summer rolls around—or winter in the Southern Hemisphere—the world’s best boulderers flock to South Africa. Like migratory birds they head south, following not the warm weather but the cool, sending temps. They congregate in Rocklands, an oasis of free-standing sandstone boulders—seemingly all with perfect buckets at the lip, making for many a dramatic dyno finish—and establish new lines, repeat old ones, and scope projects for future seasons.
This season has been no exception! Some exciting sends have gone down—and more are surely still to come.
There have been hard climbs left and right: Here’s a rundown of some of the climbers with the biggest seasons or most exciting ascents thus far. (This round up is non-exhaustive list, but rather just a brief look at some highlights.)
But the season rolls on—Rocklands Roundup Part II in due course. After all, crushers like Isabelle Faus, Daniel Woods and Giuliano Cameroni have only just arrived—who knows what havoc they’ll wreak down there.
Is there any boulder this guy can’t climb? Seems like anywhere he goes he employs a Scorched Earth policy, torching open projects and undiscovered hard lines, and polishing off all the established testpieces to boot. Pretty conclusively, Webb seems to be having the biggest season down in South Africa thus far.
Rather than go into all of the problems he’s sent, just take a look at the (non-exhaustive) list below for an idea of what he’s been up to.
Parzival (8C/V15), second ascent
Black Eagle (8C)
The Finnish Line (8C)
Monkey Wedding (8C)
The Healing (8B+/V14), first ascent
Red Bottom Sky (8B+), second ascent
The Book Club (8B+)
Matinée (8B+), first ascent
Shakey Warrior (8B+)
The Austrian climber Karoline Sinnhuber is having a big season on the blocs in Rocklands.
She sent her first V13 in several years, Ray of Light, writing on her 8a.nu scorecard, “after many sessions last year i finally managed to stick that fingerlock move!!!!sooo happy to have done it.”
And though she gave it a personal grade of 8A+ (V12), Sinnhuber also sent Ubuntu, a consensus 8B. She wrote on 8a.nu, “2 short sessions to check the moves and sent it in the 3rd session 2nd go. 1,5 weeks left in [paradise]!”
It’s been a relatively quiet season thus far for the Finnish powerhouse, but he has shared news of one (literally) huge ascent.
Last month he made the first ascent of King of Kokko, a highball in the No Man’s Land sector. He did not comment on the grade, but in an Instagram post he wrote, “This line has been stuck on my mind for five years now when I first discovered the area. This year the right crew came together and I could pull it off just at the last moment. A day to remember.”
Alizée Dufraisse, of France, put down her project Ray of Light not long before Karoline Sinnhuber sent it.
Her assessment on 8a.nu? Simply, “Hard one!”
Graham has been in the game for a long time now, but he’s showing no signs of slowing down, continuing to establish wild new lines.
His most notable moment of the season thus far is his FA of Deaf Leopard (8B+). On Instagram, Graham described the dizzying new roof problem: “With around 25 hand moves and a no-hands kneebar separating two distinct sections, it climbs more like a short route than a boulder, and as the last move of the climb is the crux, its a bit of a heartbreaker. … Felt pretty damn hard for me with my sequence, seemingly a notch above other problems of the same grade here in Rocklands, but with so many options for potential new beta that could arise, its a tricky one to grade.”
He is working on a couple of the other established tough lines—including Giuliano Cameroni’s Smile (8C)—and still toiling away on other hard new rigs, including one he described on Instagram as “maybe one that can be the goal of a lifetime.”
Timonov, from Russia, made a quick smash-and-grab visit to Rocklands. While a 22-day trip might not sound short, compared to other climbers who post up for months at a time, it’s a small window to get hard climbs done.
But Timonov managed anyways. He sent two 8C boulders, Black Eagle and Noise vs. Beauty, giving the latter a personal grade of 8B+.
Add to that ascents of two other 8B problems—Speed of Sound and The Book Club—plus two 8B flashes—Hipster Whale and The Arch–and it’s clear he made the most of his short visit.