Hotrock Report

Well, we have done it!! The first major leg of the Hot Rock GlobalChallenge is over. Having just experienced an adventure that would fillmanya life time, it is hard to believe that we are only one third through.As Istupidly said in my last update, about having nothing to write homeaboutand that my e-mails were in danger of fizzling out, well things havechanged. A month or two ago I was put in touch with guy called Paul Middleton. He lives in Lesotho but is only a 20min drive from the pleasant townknown as Ladybrand. He expressed great enthusiasm for us to come downandjoin him to help bolt and develop a local crag. Changing plans andtraveling to where the new climbing takes us is something that Hot Rockdoes well, so we jumped at the chance and joined Paul in the veryquaint town of Ladybrand. The climbing was on very compact featured sandstone varying from 10m to25min height. Having the whole area to ourselves was great and having only5existing routes there meant there was endless new routes for us to do.Thetype of climbing was not everybody´s cup of tea, so the truck drove on250kmround to the northern tip of Lesotho to the Mt Everest area. Myself and4others stayed behind to carry on new routing and to document the wholearea.The local tourist info bod was so pleased with what we were doing hegaveus free accommodation and organized free flights for us to take aerialshots of the area. In total we put up 14 new routes varying from F5+ toF7b+.We were now left with the task of catching up the truck that was busybungee jumping further south. This we would do by using our friends NEWlandrover. Ok things so far are not that interesting and perhaps the email hasfizzledout, but wait….. 19:00 17/09/02 somewhere on the N7 driving towards Cape town. BANG!!! The explosion had startled me and as my side of the land roverwasgreatly lower then the other I assumed a tyre had blown. Sparks werebeingthrown up from the tyreless wheel cutting through the tarmac. The carbeganto turn, the rim caught and the vehicle flipped. This I rememberclearly.The first complete roll I remember clearly, and slicing through a roadsignI also remember well. Then all was quite, I was lying in the dirt. Thecrunching of metal had stopped and was now replaced by mine and themoans ofa friend next to me. On the first roll the roof had been ripped from thecar, and as it finished its second and final roll I had been thrown fromthepassenger seat over the drivers head smashing my collar bone on the topofthe door flipping on further and landing in a heap on the floor. Having,forthe second time this trip, to fight to get air back into my lungs. Thebroken bone was easy to find as a large lump stood out from where myrightcollar bone should be. As for the others; three came away with scratchesandthe girl I was lying next to had a broken arm. I had calmed down a lot,acar had been pulled over, and an ambulance called. It was at this pointwhenmy breathing began to rattle and I started to cough up blood. Having asharppain in my back I assumed I had punctured my right lung. But as itturnedout it hemorrhaged due the impact. To my delight it stopped bleeding 5minslater. I phoned up Fi to inform her on the situation and to her and mysurprise I was very calm with the whole situation. The ambulance arrivedandtook us to the local hospital. We contacted the insurance (arranged withtheBMC) to warn them. The agents they use are incredible and within 4 hoursofmaking the call an ambulance arranged by them had driven the 3.5 hoursdrivefrom Port Elizabeth to pick us up and take us to a better hospital. Thehospital, doctors and insurance company continued to impress and 14hourslater I was waking up after an operation with 9.5 screws holding a platedown to the four pieces of my right collar bone. All now is well and am feeling fine and I will be home on the same dateasbefore. Things are still sinking in and I find it hard to believe that we havejustdriven 35,000km down the length of Africa over the last 10 months.