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Giuliano Cameroni climbing Legacy 9a ay Rocklands in South Africa
Photo by archive Giuliano Cameroni
Fred Nicole making the first ascent of Oliphants Dawn 8B+, Rockland, South Africa in 2000
Photo by Fred Nicole archive

Fred Nicole and Giuliano Cameroni, two climbing legends send Legacy in Rocklands


At Rocklands in South Africa the Swiss climbers Giuliano Cameroni and Fred Nicole have both climbed Legacy, a 9a sports climb.

Rocklands in South Africa is famous above all for its world-class bouldering, a little less so for its trad climbing despite its enormous potential, and certainly less known for its sport climbing. Now though in the space of just a few days two climbers have sent a short single pitch which is without a doubt the most difficult route in the area, perhaps even in the entire country.

The route is comprised of a very difficult boulder problem start followed by a somewhat easier exit. The route was bolted by one of the absolute legends of this sport, the Swiss climber Fred Nicole, back in 2015. Due to hips problem Nicole’s attempts in 2017 and 2018 were unsuccessful, while earlier on this season after a hip replacement and some new beta he managed to climb the pitch with just one fall after the crux.

Fellow countryman Giuliano Cameroni is on brilliant form after his recent 8B flash first ascent and a repeat of one of Rocklands’ reference 8C, Finnish Line. The youngster asked and obtained consent from Nicole to try the line and after three days of attempts he pulled off the first ascent, with Nicole repeating the line a mere two days later. The grade put forward is 9a and the route has been called Legacy.

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Yesterday I was finally able to finish a project that had many up and downs like seldom in my life. 2014 I saw this beautiful line and with Joe we started looking at the movements. 2015 Sean asked Cape Conservation for permission to bolt and I started seriously working on it. The route has 2 parts: a really hard boulder on tiny slick holds, followed by an easier but sustained section to the top. I started to understand the moves of the boulder section but wasn’t able to put it together. The following season was my best and I did the route in two sections. 2017 and 2018 I was struggling to do the moves due to a hip problem, so that I spend a lot of time finding solutions that worked with an handicap. November 2018 I had a hip replacement as even walking was getting impossible without pain. When I came back this year I didn’t know what to expect. I was surprised to see that my flexibility was back and I could do the moves again. But there was something lacking and one day when I was working on the route with Joe and Kaddi, she proposed a slightly different version that made the first section possible again. On my best go I fell just after the crux section, and was able to do it till the top. Unfortunately the following tries didn’t go well. When Giuliano asked me if I mind him trying the route I sincerely didn’t know what to answer. In my generation it’s not usual to try somebody’s project till the person does it or gives it free. In the same time I didn’t feel like telling somebody I know since he was born, and that I respect for his performances, not to try it. I let the decision to him and wished him sincerely luck if he would go for it! A few days later „Legacy“ was born! Yesterday the weather was on my side and with a cold wind I was able to link both sections together and do this personal challenge. I’m not interested in the controversy this route has built. The important things for me remain respecting the ethics, the people, the nature, the rocks and staying open for constructive discussions as we can all learn from each other and keep having fun! @fiveten_official @blackdiamond @e9clothing_official @climbskinspain #rocklands #bouldering

A post shared by Fred Nicole (@fred_nicole) on

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“Legacy” (9a/5.14d) FA Since my first trip to Rocklands, I’ve always admired this beautiful and unique wall on top of Roadside. This year I improved my climbing vision, and when I stood again underneath the wall I felt a strong desire to climb it. I knew that Fred was trying it, so I asked if I could join the game. He allowed me so, and I was happy with his response. A week later, after three days of work, I could climb the route for its first ascent. Two days later, Fred sent me a cheerful message saying that he had finally done it! His beta is harder than mine because he can’t use a left heel hook, so I was very impressed and inspired by his ascent. Fred is a very humble person and before I climbed the route he didn’t tell me how close he was to send it. I’m happy for him, and since he’s put a lot more effort than me, it seems correct from my side to share the first ascent. Rocks have been there forever, which means that first ascents are important only because the name of the climber will be attached to the climb he’s done first. In this situation Fred deserves the same credits as me, so I’m happy to share this with him, who’s been one of my heroes since I started climbing! Side note: in my generation we tend not to close projects anymore, rocks are free and everyone is able to enjoy them. I found and cleaned a lot of beautiful boulders, and I always shared them with other climbers. My goals are simple: try hard, have fun and inspire people to find and share all the beautiful rocks the world has to offer. In my opinion this is the best way to progress our sport, by working as a team instead of competing against each other. I hope many climbers of every generation share this opinion

A post shared by Giuliano Cameroni (@giuliano_cameroni) on


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