Back To Experience

Rockin’ Rolo: Episode 1

Monday, May 21, 2018
Roland Hemetzberger is the ultimate dark horse. At 27 years old, the German crusher has quietly climbed some of the world’s stoutest routes, including the third ascent of Europe’s hardest multi-pitch, WOGÜ (5.14b). Working full-time as Black Diamond’s Sports and Community Coordinator in Innsbruck, Austria, Roland often squeezes in training sessions during his lunch breaks, so he can squeeze the bejesus out of the rock on the weekends. Last year, Rolo traveled to Rocklands, South Africa, to sample the famed sandstone. But instead of sticking to the well-trodden path of bouldering, Rolo couldn’t resist the tempting, unclimbed cliffs that seemed ripe for the picking. Check out the first episode of Rockin’ Rolo and watch as he journeys beyond the boulders and into the traditionally protected first ascents that Rocklands has to offer.
Video & Images: Scott Noy


How many times have you traveled to Rocklands?

It was the first time, but of course not the last time.

Are you an avid boulderer?

I’ve climbed up to 9a+, but my hardest boulder so far was I guess a V9. So … I’m usually a rope climber;)

Most people only boulder in Rocklands, right?

The structure of the rock is insanely good, truly made for climbing. Conditions are awesome, the food as well and the great community mixes everything perfectly.

I guess a lot of climbers are familiar with an athletic style, and that’s pretty typical on the five star boulder problems there.

How did you find out about the roped climbing potential and what made you want to explore it?

I was with Scott Noy (the publisher of the Rocklands Guidebook) and Nalle Hukkataival in terrible conditions in the Rätikon to try WOGÜ. We all were soaked for days, and we were lost in thoughts and started dreaming about dry weather.

Scott convinced me and showed me pictures of the rope climbing opportunities and I was on.

How much trad climbing potential is there in Rocklands?

The potential in Rocklands is not endless for trad climbing, but in general South Africa has endless undiscovered rocks.

Do you think you’ll go back to explore more lines?

Of course. I’ll come back, but I would combine disciplines again. To improve my “carry-a-mat skills” with proper trad climbing days. It’s awesome to switch between different disciplines. A cool aspect for me is having the right clear mindset for these disciplines, in the right moment.

Do you think the trad climbing will become popular in Rocklands?

I’m just guessing but I think 80% Bouldering 20% Trad Climbing would be a good blend.

What’s the coolest first ascent you’ve done in Rocklands?

Rockin’ Rolo.

Another awesome experience was the first repeat of “Beware the Beasty” a spicy 8b from UK trad-specialist James Pearson with a proper runout to the top.

Finally, who came up with the name Rockin’ Rolo???

I think it was my friend Katrin Lehmann who said it a few times to me before I started climbing.

“Now it’s time for some rockin’ rolo.”

She had to belay my falls on sketchy gear, which I guess took a lot of nerves!

After awhile they integrated it into everything, from breakfast, driving, going to the grocery etc.

And it became my nickname …

Featured Gear