|Volume 1, No. 3
Last month's Editorial elicited a fair response. Pro and con. Rather than repeat the various "yes but...," "no but...," we publish the two most comprehensive replies in "The bolting issue continues..."
Meanwhile the illustrious CragRat, has observed more of his fellow climbers in distress...
There is a difference, though. Today, they are here. Suddenly, the calm scene is rudely shattered. Obscenities rend the air. A red-faced climber comes storming by, lashing the ears with oaths. "There goes my flash. Aw shit man, my flash! Last week it was my redpoint. Little monsters robbed me, man!"
There appears to be consensus. Heads nod sagely. "Yeah, brutes made me fall as I was trying to make that clip on the 28. You know? The one that comes after the three metre run-out!" Continues another, eyes wide with fear, and a trip to the dry-cleaner imminent...
What monsters lurk up there? Trigger happy farmers? The local anti-bolting league rolling boulders off the top of the crag again? Mountain Club Officials?
Well, no. Not exactly. The monster's name is Onychognathus morio. Well hell, you think, what fell beast is THAT? Actually, it's the Redwinged Starling. Yes, you bunch of naffs, a bird. So, just how much of a nuisance is the critter. Well, plenty of strapping, muscle-bound climbers were only too eager to winge about their experiences to CragRat. Apparently it can be a bit of a problem for South African climbers. The birds vigorously defend nests and territory from invaders. They swoop down from above or behind with a shrill whistle, and try to beat you off. Typically they go for the head. If there are young in the nest, you're toast. Says Justin, a local, "Sure man, the little buggers are cunning. I mean, they only seem to take a shot when you're gripped. It's like they can check out your style, man!"
Jason agrees. "So I'm at these mondo big buckets, high on this 22, and I like, decide to experiment, you know. So I know the vultures are there, so I start to look real gripped. Like I'm grunting and quivering, but I'm hanging off the buckets. No shit, man, here they come, wings in my face. I climb on, through the crux, going real cool, like, they leave me alone!" "Sons 'a bitches pulled my beanie right off, man!" Puts in Craig.
It seems not only sport routes are prey to the scourge. CragRat seems to remember a certain mountain magazine editor muttering about having to beat a retreat off a route on the scenic traditional-climbing mecca of Table Mountain, in Cape Town. Again, nesting starlings had pushed a tricky traverse on thin gear up a few grades too many.
So, whaddaya do when some fowl plays foul on your fave route? CragRat asked a wizened old Guru for advice. "Waal, ah always keep me 'elmet on. Keeps t' boggers at bay, it does!"
I can see it now: Cranking that 30, festooned in the latest lycra, mamba draws and Bamba slippers..... and wearing a HELMET! Wouldn't that be cool? CragRat's off to find a quiet nesting place...
" Liana Darenskaya takes a peek at the fascinating world of the 24 yr old World Champion Speed Climbing Champion
In and Around Cape Town
Number 2 - July 1996
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" This issue released on 5 August 1996