Rocklands – Life after the Flames

I find myself putting finger to keyboard after receiving numerous messages from all corners of the globe asking whether i had some insight as to the current situation. To those who do not know, Rocklands is a bouldering paradise in the Northern Cederberg, my home away from home, for countless reasons, that last month saw a devastating fire run through a large part of the area causing huge damage to the nature as well as the community that lives within it.

“Will we be allowed to climb in the areas this season?”

“Were any of the boulders damaged?”

“Was anyone injured?”

“Is the bar ok?”

Sadly i could not provide any answers myself… why sadly you might say?

If I had the choice I would’ve driven up to Rocklands as soon as i heard the fire was threatening… or more likely, I would’ve been there when the lightning stuck that started it… but for the last 3 years if been in Europe for the South African summer and thus I too have being keeping up to date via friends and locals posting news as to the damage done.

Here are a few quotes that may answer some of your questions:

One of the fires started on de Pakhuys guest farm in the Agter Pakhuis valley, but that was put out in a matter of hours.  Some 50km away, however, a second fire raged in Wupperthal, destroying the community’s profitable tea fields and an unconfirmed number of houses”

“Tragically, one person has died – Christo Fourie was driving down the Pakhuis Pass when flames engulfed his car.  He and his workers fled on foot, but Mr Fourie was caught up in the fire.”

JP Du Plessis

Freelance Writer and Photographer living in the Agterpakhuis Valley

“… they are currently keeping Rocklands closed… for a month or so but… will be open when (the) bouldering starts”
“… people need to stay on the paths and not cut across to Rocklands as they have done previous years. If all obey the rules it will lead to a successful bouldering season in Rocklands again in 2013”

Clanwilliam Tourism Association

“So CapeNature confirmed this morning – no climbing areas will be closed this season!! Rocklands as usual”

“We are fine… the fire burned through the fields – luckily not the olives. All the houses were kept safe by helicopters watering it. hectic”

Thys Kruger

de Pakhuys Guest Farm

My heart goes out to the people who make Rocklands special, that for the last decade, have welcomed me into their lives and whom I consider as close as family. As with all things in life there is always another side to every story. Fire is a vitally important part in the cycle of the flora of this area. From the ashes will come forth the next generation of vegetation, and by the time the season rolls around the now burnt land will once again be a canvas on which nature will paint the most beautiful picture.

Fire flowers

photo: Kaddi Lehmann

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