It is my hope that putting this voice out into our world has value, not only for me, but for others, as well. I admit to sometimes entertaining dreams of it going viral, of infecting the world with my vision. But most of the time I am content to be motivated by Gandhi's assertion: whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


It is a good story, worth writing down, I think, even after all these years. And maybe it has taken all these years for me to discover the voice with which I want to tell it. I am thinking of the story because I am driving the road along which it draws to an end, twenty six years ago. It was a road then, that lead home, but no longer does, a road that I have travelled thousands of times throughout my life, but then was travelling for the first time in two years. I was returning home. I was twenty two years old. Twenty two seemed older, then.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Happy New Year

Is it the here and now that matters? Is it what we bring back? Is it both? If it's what we bring back, then it's this: two skulls from leopard kills – one a klipspringer, one a dassie; a rough, hand-carved piece of donkey cart from along the hundred year old road; half a rusted horse shoe; a luminous, moon-like, pebble; a hexagonal quartz crystal; a pressed disa. Also photographs and memories, a tired body, a re-kindled desire to spend more time in places of beauty, and an inspiration to save mockingbirds.

Sandra and I are much more strategic about the ending of this year's family trip into the mountains, than we are about the beginning. By the end we are more in tune.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Resolutions from paradise

The beginning of each new year offers a natural, little pause in which it is common to think about the coming year. We can make resolutions. We can set intentions. We can re-consider how we want to live, what we want to hope for, what we want to strive for.

Sometimes more significant events come along that break the everyday unfolding of daily routines, to bring clarity and a changed perspective. A near-death experience is said to be one such event. If that is so, then going beyond near-death, and all the way to paradise, like we did at the beginning of this year, must surely offer an amazing opportunity for renewing how we want to live into the rest of our lives.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A tribute to Mike

On the 17th of January my uncle, Mike Mamacos, died. He was in his late eighties and had lived out the last 10 or more years of his life as something of a hermit in his beautiful, simple dwelling, deep in the Du Toits Kloof mountains, that has no electricity or communication connections with the outside world. Although a loner, he was also a quiet but welcoming host to visitors. In his day, Mike was one of the best rock climbers in the world. At a memorial gathering held at the mountain club I paid tribute to this unusual man. Composing what I wanted to say was a valuable, meaning-making process of realising and appreciating what his influence means for me:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Things that went growl in the night

A kind-of sequel to a previous post: Things that go growl in the night
There is something satisfactory in returning to a wild place that you know well, a place beyond your everyday life, yet that is familiar because it holds a piece of your own history. If you are drawn back to such places, for whatever reasons, you may find that the combination of their wildness, their beauty and their familiarity invites you both backwards and forwards into your life in a mix that is compelling.

Yellowwood is such a place for me, a place that is within the geographical proximity of my everyday experience and yet far beyond it. Today the higher ground, everything above the foot slopes, is hidden in a cloud that has been stripped away from the plains over which I drove this morning, but still shrouds these mountains.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Witness to an eclipse

This article was written for the September issue of SA Mountain Magazine.

The Cederberg has the best climbing in the world. I don't know this because I've compared climbing destinations around the world. I know it because I've climbed in the Cederberg. That is enough. It is hard to imagine having a better friend than your best friend. Climbers are not objective route quality measuring devices. We are human and part of what I love about climbing is that it engages so much of my humanity. However beautiful the rock and the moves on a route, our experience of climbing it is about much more than just that.

Friday, July 19, 2013

On the day my father died

I am driving towards the small city of Port Elizabeth in the winter darkness. The eastern horizon, dead ahead, gradually defines itself in increasingly lighter tones of orange, outlined between the dark earth and sky. There are raindrops on the windscreen. The new glasses I am wearing define the world around me more sharply. Everything is slightly more beautiful.

This is what I am thinking: The actual world beyond the windscreen pays scant attention to the models we use to understand it, whether they are models that attempt to attribute value ratings to agricultural land, or religious models that attempt to understand the mystery of human existence. I think we believe too much in the models. But of course if we don't, we set ourselves adrift in a spinning world. And that can be uncomfortable.