On April 24th, Jason Tan chalked up to once again tackle Tokolosie (30 / 8A) in Waterval Boven. After falling at the crux time and time again, the frustration was building. Armed with a beta suggestion from a friend, he set out to climb his project for the last time.
We talked to Jason about the day of his triumph and his preparation for the task…
Photographs by Johannes Hachmann
1. Could you describe Tokolosie for those who aren’t familiar with the climb?
Tokolosie was opened by Andrew Pedley in 2009, and is a fairly obscure route at the God No! wall in Boven. It is a testament to the amount of quality climbing in Boven that this gem is often overshadowed by the more classic ‘king’ lines in the area. The route has a bit of everything from exposed stemming, to a dynamic roof (optional), to a sustained headwall. The footwork is also very specific and technical – most would say it’s all about the feet.
2. How were the conditions on the day of your send?
Perfect. I’m generally not phased by conditions – as long as the route is dry, I’m happy.
3. How did you feel before/during/after sending?
I was starting to get a little frustrated at the process because I’d fallen at the crux so many times with marginal progress. I had my beta dialed at that point, but it was the advice from my friend Tony that made all the difference in my next attempt. It was simple – when you’re at the crux, tighten your core and keep your right hand engaged while you throw your left. This seemingly obvious instruction made me stick to the wall where I had previously peeled off again and again. I executed the rest of the moves in disbelief and filled with much-needed adrenaline because there was still some fairly hard climbing before the chains. I’ll never forget the experience of sticking the crux and clipping the chains, and every move in between. I had linked this section of the route so many times before, but finally getting it on point is the reason why we climb.
4. How did you celebrate your victory?
I had planned to leave Boven that Sunday evening because of work the next day – everyone else would stay on for the long weekend. Once I had sent, however, there was no question that I had to stay the evening to celebrate with my friends that supported me through my journey. I decided to leave early the next morning instead.
5. What made you decide to project the route?
There are a bunch of 8As that I am trying in all of our local crags. I’ve just been lucky to be in Boven enough this year to tick this one off first.
6. How did you train for the send?
I don’t do anything specific or regimented mostly because of time. I primarily enjoy sport climbing on rock and plastic (yes plastic) so I don’t prioritise the little time I have away from work on training other disciplines like bouldering, fingerboarding or campus boarding. I just keep climbing hard twice a week in the gym and will occasionally get on a bar or rings for antagonist warmups. There’s an 8A in CityROCK with small holds that I like repeating which would’ve been good training for Tokolosie – I really enjoy refining beta on hard routes, even on plastic. I do recognise the benefits of targeting training and I suppose I’ll start eventually when I project harder routes.
7. Did you have any major setbacks?
I started working the route in December so the rains were a minor setback. I think there were three trips that I couldn’t work the route, but trips to Boven are never wasted. I’ve also had golfer’s elbow in both arms for about a year now and I’ve had to limit the volume of climbing I do per day. There’s no secret to the number, but I would limit myself to three routes a day – one warmup and two burns. But I was naughty on the day I sent because I got it on my third burn…
8. Could you take a guess as to how many times you’ve gotten on the route?
25 times over 12 days.
9. Who was belaying you on your send?
Shoutout to Jemma Falkov for the stellar catch, as well as Kirsten Roberts and Tony Dos Ramos for their patient catches while I worked out beta. Friends are awesome.
10. What gear did you use?
A 10-year-old pair of Miura laces which were brought back to life by the one and only Danny Pinkas from Boven Resoles.
Arc’teryx FL365 harness.
My friend Hannes’s slick sending rope which we knew wasn’t long enough for lowering down, but I was either coming off the crux (which I would’ve had enough rope for) or we would just deal with it if I sent.
We had to deal with it…
11. Are you working on any projects at the moment?
Red Dragon (30) at Bronkies, Fossil Fuel (30) at Choss, Stormwatch (31) at Fern.
13. Anything else you’d like to add?
Keep your music down at the crags. Or better yet leave it at home.
Well, folks, if that teaches us anything it’s that beta is made up and the connies don’t matter. Just kidding. Like all good stories, the lesson is that friendship is the key to overcoming life’s greatest challenges. And also make sure that your rope is long enough.
Photograph by Ruan De Villiers
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