The following short series is a report back of our mountain-climbing expeditions in Namibia where we had a Spitzkoppe-adventure. It was our first ‘country’ trad-route. (well, “country” to us at least). We arrived on a Tuesday to the campsite to meet up with my wife’s parents and their friends. Their friends had actually opened up a route on Spitzkoppe about 30 years ago.
Before I get to our own adventures, I’ll give a quick account to what happened to my in-laws and their two friends. The day after we arrived the four of them attempted the Normal route – a looong climb for four people, and a grade 17 trad climb with some bolts in key places (and some lacking in key places :-p ).
Trad climbing (traditional) is the way they used to climb before people could take a battery powered drill and drill bolts into rock (big debate in the climbing world). So it’s much more of an adventure, where you take protection which is nuts and cams etc. – stuff that you can wedge into cracks in the rock that if you fall, you fall down to that point only. It’s a pure form of climbing in that you don’t scar the rock with bolts, and it allows you to climb wherever the rock is protectable (i.e. where there are cracks/grooves).
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Sport climbing is the newer form where you drill and bolt the rock and clip your rope into bolts as you ascend – much safer and it means you can climb where there are no cracks etc. – so you can climb where you wouldn’t have been able to climb, as long as you take a drill and bolt it (usually from the top down while abseiling).
A big problem was that they had not been informed of changes to the route – namely the abseils down, even after questioning the author of the route guide before. They started climbing around lunch-time after the long walk/scramble in, and got to the top of the third pitch, only to find that the old exit point that had previously been in use had been replaced with new bolts, but they had removed the old chains, and thus this caused some confusion and fear about a way down.
It was getting late so they decided to bivvy on the ledge rather than climb higher, and try to solve the problem the next morning. After a cold and “epic” night they fixed a rope around a boulder and abseiled down to the start below, abandoning the rope and began to walk out.
Eventually we met them at the start of the climb where my wife and I had worriedly been waiting. We were really happy to see them, and we had a good catch up session of the previous night’s adventures.
Click to read Part 2 in our Adventures of Hiking in Namibia
Click to read Part 3 of our Hiking in Namibia adventure.
(If you’d like your own hiking story published, feel free to send it to me).
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