Outside the South African township of Waterval Boven, 160 miles northeast of Johannesburg, the Elands River plummets some 230 feet over red sandstone cliffs. It’s a natural wonder—but also ground zero of one of the world’s emerging climbing hot spots. Adventurers worldwide travel here to ascend the wall. But for 26-year-old pro climber Sasha DiGiulian, the striking 12b route is just a warmup.
“She was just stretching her arms,” says Keith Ladzinski, who snapped the photo.
Though not the hardest climb DiGiulian tackled on a recent trip to the region, it wasn’t without challenges. She first had to negotiate a rappel from the top, with help from a partner, before climbing back up.
“That’s the only way out,” she recalls.
For DiGiulian, the route epitomizes South African climbing.
“It feels really wild,” she says. “There’s a grandiose beauty to it all.”
Which helps explain why she already has a return trip in the works: “There’s so much phenomenal rock to explore.” —J.R. Sullivan
Read more about Sasha DiGiulian, and 16 other kickass, game-changing women in our latest feature: The New Adventure Icons.