With Onsight Friday starting to pick up pace a peloton is forming of climbers learning from each other, each aiming to be first to successfully lead climb a test route. There is a pot of competition money that rolls over each week if it’s not won, but it’s not about the money, as Russel explains.
Russel is from beautiful Bloubergstrand in South Africa, where he cut his climbing teeth in the Western Cape in spots like Rocklands and the Cederberg. A mate of Chris Taljaard he was travelling (he spent three years teaching in Chengdu, China) and came to Vietnam, and specifically Saigon where he’s been for six months.
“I love HCMC,” he nods, his trademark beaming smile breaking out as he talks. His route to Onsight Friday was something of a natural progression: “I started out bouldering and then took to top roping as it was more fun, more interesting, and hey you get equipment to play with – all the toys, the quick draws, the ATCs. I prefer lead climbing. Yes there’s more risk but it’s also more Zen as you have to be more focussed – it’s a bit the case of more risky, but more fun.”
The first Onsight Friday took place in the first week of July, and drew a hardcore nucleus of competitors and a crowd to watch. The idea is that the demon route setters of the Push team set a route to be lead climbed. You put 20K in the pot and you get your go. First person to onsight it (climb the route without errors) gets the pot. If the pot isn’t won it rolls over to the next week but beware; the route will change.
Words by Steve Shipside.