Black Diamond’s South African athletes and brand ambassadors are on a mission: brand ambassador Team Tane wants to show off the vibrant African continent that is our home, and sponsored-athlete Gosia Lipinska explains how she consolidated her love of climbing with being pregnant. Additionally, brand ambassador Toit Honniball traveled to France in search of new ice climbing spots and techniques.

Lipinska has been a climber for the past 14 years, and through the sport she has gained much on a personal level, she says. “Life-long lessons and relationships are born out of time spent on tiny ledges far above the valley floor, trudging up an interminable scree slope or sharing elation on a successfully climbed route,” she explains.

When she decided to have a child, she had to re-evaluate how she’ll safely be able to continue her love affair with climbing while pregnant. She learned that there are certain adjustments she could make in the way she approached the sport.

For Gosia Lipinska, being pregnant didn’t mean stopping her outdoor activities.

With the lack of research around climbing and pregnancy, and some that was misleading, she had to make her own decisions on practicalities. For example, to stop lead climbing: “while our ancient ancestors may have quite reasonably had to run while pregnant and evolution probably made sure that running did not reliably result in miscarriage, falling and being caught by climbing ropes seemed beyond the scope of our ancestral legacy”.

Instead she has taken to the climbing wall in her gym, which is in a safer environment. She has also found that a full body harness doesn’t work so well (yet, is recommended by most blogs) – instead she uses an ordinary harness, because it pulls away from the stomach and all the weight is taken by the lower back and legs, with no pressure on the stomach.

Lipinska may have taken her regime indoors, but Team Tane (Tarryn and Shane Quinnell) are taking their adventure to Africa.

Team Tane wants to show off Africa from its mountain heights.

To showcase the “vibrant, alive and incredible side of the real Africa”, Team Tane will be setting out on their Africa Sky High (ASH) expedition. The journey will take them from South Africa to Kenya and back, crossing through another ten countries on the way. They will also be attempting to climb Africa’s Big High Five mountains, and will share their journey via their social media channels.

Toit Honniball got to experience la glace.

Even further afield, Honniball attended the UIAA Youth Camp for ice climbing in Guillestre, France. He and fellow camp attendees were able to hone their ice climbing skills on climbs at Aiguilles, Ceillac, Les Orres, Crevoux and Cervieres. The camp also helped camp attendees become more efficient in advanced ice techniques ranging from making a solid ice belay, to efficiently placing screws to creating an abalakov (v-thread) anchor.

Black Diamond is distributed in South Africa by Ram Mountaineering.