Young daredevil is first to master climb
A 21-year-old student has become the first climber in the world to master an ascent up a sheer rock face – hundreds of feet above the tree canopy – in South Africa.
Sasha DiGiulian – rated the world’s top-ranked female outdoor rock climber – mastered the climb at Waterval Boven, near Johannesburg.
It was the first time she has claimed a ‘First Ascent’ – being the first to climb a route from ground to top without falling.
The route had been laid out earlier by a climber using lines and other climbing equipment to insert bolts in the sandstone cliff face.
But it took 12 years for anyone to master the challenge – in the form of Miss DiGiulian, who is a student at Columbia University in New York.
By becoming the first to complete the route, she won the right to name it and chose Nelson Mandela’s middle name, Rolihlahla.
“I’ve never done a first ascent before so that’s a cherry on the cake for me. I was so pleased,” said said Miss DiGiulian, from Washington DC.
It took her six attempts over four days to achieve her goal, suffering cuts and bruises along the way.
Each attempt effectively failed whenever she fell, plummeting towards the ground hundreds of feet below, before her safety line took the strain and saved her.
“You slam into the wall and it hurts,” she said. “You start getting scared and the fear rises. If you fall improperly, it hurts.”
Later on the same South African trip, Miss DiGiulian completed her second First Ascent at Montague, near Cape Town.
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