Sasha DiGiulian visited Montagu one week in late July to do something that no one else has quite done before. You have probably never heard of Sasha have you? Nor had I, but then for me the world of female celebrities revolves around stars of the silver screen, tennis players, wives of President Zuma, and the lady football players of South Africa Sasha is the top woman rock climber in the world. Yes, world. She is American, not yet 21 years old, and has been climbing since she was seven.
She was here in Montagu to attempt a climb that had been established but had never before had a 'clean' ascent (climbed to the top without a fall). It is a route on a vast rock overhang at 'the pipeline' in Badskloof. Because Sasha was the first to scale it she had the honour of naming it. And so, from this day forward that climb will be known as ‘Miss-Behaving'. She also rated it, proposing a grade of 33/8b+, which may not mean much to you and I, but I can assure you it is enough to get the sweat glands going in any self-respecting rock climber. The route was equipped by Sean Maasch in 1996 and has been waiting for someone to manage a clean climb ever since then.
There are now two project routes left at the Pipeline, both of which have been pronounced ‘desperately hard’. Justin Lawson of Climb ZA interviewed Sasha after her epic achievement, asking her what she thought of Montagu and the climbing here. “I really enjoyed it,” she said. “The valley is indescribably perfect too." And will she come back? ... "Clearly".
While in South Africa Sasha enjoyed a memorable safari to the Kruger National Park. What did she think of that? It was, amazing! I felt like I was seeing such animals for the first time. Experiencing such incredible creatures in their natural habitat was moving and unparalleled to any other experience I have had. I also lost total respect for zoos! And what did she think of SA generally? "I absolutely love it. The landscapes, wildlife, people, climbing - you can't really get better!"
Montagu is currently home to South Africa's hardest climbing route which is called Mazawattee and is graded at 35/8c+. Only four people have climbed the route, three of whom are South African. The photographs of Sasha on this page and the Front Cover are from Sasha's website, which we have her permission to use. The photograph above of the Montagu climb, with Sasha circled, is reproduced by kind permission of Justin Lawson.