I chose to wait a little before I wrote the ending of Malawi. I apologize for what I feel was something that got dragged out a little bit; but I wanted to wait for a few reasons. One was so that I could link the product of our filming to the ending of this adventure; but there was another reason…. I just wanted to sort out the experience. This was not just simply another we came, we saw, we climbed. There was much more.
As climbers we explore the world in a different way. We explore with a purpose… we see the landscapes differently than a tourist’s eye and we eventually put a ton of energy into developing ourselves and our skills. Some trips we grow as climbers, others we grow as people, and on those rare occasions we excel in both.
We all experienced a completely different social structure, faced fears, death falls, scary situations, and insanely complicated situations that required massive amounts of learning and effort to figure out. Yet we all laughed, bonded, adventured, and learned to exist in a completely different environment. Each having their own drama unfold within the group and still managing to work together was something special. It took a little bit, to have things flow; but by the time we arrived at the Cape, having things not work the way you expected became a joke.
This is Africa (after all).
The climbing in this area was an odd mixture of bullet hard rock sitting on the shore, to crumbly junky granite on Devil’s Point. The shore boulders were scary because pad protection was limited (nonexistent) and the falls were bad. But then there was the Point in which we were wanting to really explore.
I remember getting frustrated because every time I made a move further up a line that I wanted another hold would break. Then I would go flying back into the lake. Melissa did not have that much luck either… but after some shennanigans and trickery we were getting to the point setting up for the last move. Unfortunately; the moment Mel pulled on the crucial crimp it broke off in her hand… and that was that. The route was over. We invested a lot of effort into this problem and in a blink of an eye it was done– plus to add insult to injury Mel decided to tip the Kayak I was so diligently captaining.
We sat in water for a little bit and decided that the deep water soloing adventure was not going to be as fruitful as we had hoped, so as a team we decided to go back to the seminary boulders. I really wanted to get that crack problem and my hands were a little more healed.
So… back to Mangochi! It was a time for us to put in our last ditch efforts. The last day that I worked on my project I put everything I had. My hands were not healed yet… and I kept sliding out of my locks due to ooze from my sores, and in the end putting it together didn’t work. I was close but not quite enough… I lost feeling in my pinky so I stopped before I made permanent damage. (It took me a month before I could close my hand normally).
It was Mel’s turn to crush. She had a great effort but the temperature and crimps proved to be a big ask. I felt them and remember thinking that this problem would not be an easy one in the best of circumstances. After she managed to tear her finger we decided to call it. It was going to be a long drive back to Lilongwe to catch our flight the next day.
As we packed our gear in the fading light, I gazed across the Great Plains that stretched to the horizon. In the distance plumes of smoke rose, baboons chased each other, and the world was perfect.
Walking back to the car my mind began to drift and I lapsed. That was when I felt a familiar pain in finger. A searing razor cleft my thumb deeply. Apparently I had not leaned my lesson. That damn grass wanted to make sure I remembered it!
Warmth spread across my finger tips and as slowly looked down I watched as red orbs dripped to the brown dirt. I smiled inside. It was the perfect ending to the perfect trip:
“All other places are Tame, This is Africa”.
Welcome to “The Warm Heart of Africa” I hope you enjoy.
seek out your own adventure it’s there waiting…