Professional rock climber Paige Claassen faces her first challenges in South Africa and works to bring awareness to Room to Read.
-Good morning, South Africa. How is it? It's a cool 15 degrees Celsius this morning in Mpumalanga. Slow-moving traffic on the N4, cause of pile up all the way from Pretoria. Going to tune in to our rock-climbing segment now. Check-in for more updates on Facebook on the Lead Now Tour page and follow us at #LeadNowTour. Now, bringing you some [unk] both from local and classic tunes, getting you into the mood. -Right now, we're in South Africa and this is the first stop on our trip around the world both to climb and to raise awareness for different non-profit organizations. -I haven't found anything that pushes all the buttons and ticks all the boxes like climbing does in South Africa. And we- we're very much out of the way. And we've got something different to offer. -It's been crazy because we drove in and I was like, "Oh, yeah. I like the landscape." It doesn't look like The Lion King or anything. It looks like Colorado or maybe driving to Midwestern parts and then all of a sudden, you know, there's a giraffe watching you climb in New Guinea or in Boven, there's baboons that have probably made the first sense of all the routes here but we're climbing them for ourselves. It's just awesome to see this world that's so unlike what we're used to. You know, we see squirrels up the cliff. They see baboons. That's when you're like, "Oh, we're in Africa now." -Visiting, a foreign climber will first notice the first and the third world together. You know, you'll have a big hospital and across the road, there'll be a shack where somebody's burning wood to cook their meal. There's so much to be done still. People is- is at their houses without water and electricity, and it's like that in the climbing too. The climbing's not developed. There's so much to do, so much to discover, there's new things out there. -The space for improvement is really obvious. It's right there in your backyard. -We are often climbing in areas where we are immersed within a disadvantaged community and it is intriguing to see how people can understand the challenge and they can connect with the concept very quickly. -Today, we're gonna go visit a school supported by Room to Read which is one of our non-profit partners. These kids are just smiling and putting on a show. But you know that behind those faces lie so many struggles. Fifty percent of them are orphans of HIV/AIDS and many of them only get to eat when they're at school. I'm here climbing at Waterval Boven and my hope is that I can raise $10,000 to support their school because I really want to show that not only is this a cool area for climbing and these routes are awesome but there are these beautiful kids here that need an education. -Waterval Boven directly translated means "above the waterfall." There's a massive 40-meter waterfall and there are climbing routes on the right-hand side of it. Working a route with somebody else definitely makes everything that little bit more rewarding. -The first time I got on Rodan, some of these nooks felt totally impossible. Brian just has all these tiny, little pieces of data. He's like an encyclopedia of climbing data. -I just have that- the extra- a little bit of a push because I've got somebody at the bottom cheering me on and- -He would go and try hard, and I would go and try hard, and he would go and try hard, and we would each do a little better. So, because of that motivation, I'm like slowly getting higher and higher. Because of the other person's psych, I was finally able to pull it off. -The numbers of women versus men climbing this country is- there's a huge disparity especially of those girls that are climbing harder routes. It's really motivating to climb with other women that are strong. Having other girls here, warming up on the things that I spent all week working has given me a renewed motivation to train harder. -It's been really cool to talk to different people here. To see that they're inspired by watching us climb because I know that I'm certainly inspired by watching them climb. -So, we're in the Free State of South Africa which is not known to be a climbing area at all. I don't think there's more than 5 climbers in the Free State which is probably the size of France. We found [unk] in 2009. The first thing I saw was this [unk]. I just realized that this is maybe the most beautiful line that I've ever seen. -He sent me photos and it definitely looks incredible, like the rock is amazing unlike anything I've ever seen. Six stars if that's possible. -In terms of, like, aesthetics, it's just the perfect line. It's like somebody made this thing [unk]. It looks impossible if you step back 50 meters, there's no holes. But you get up close, there's all these pockets. That's kind of more my space these days is the bold stuff and make it open for anyone. I've tried to get some guys, some strong guys from- in South Africa but they never came and then Paige contacted me. I saw what sort of climbing she's into in the States and I thought this chick was born for this climb. -This is so cool. This is like the coolest route ever. -Saturday's gonna be cold. I just need to finish this. Why? I'm so tired. I was really frustrated with myself. I wasn't performing how I wanted to and I was nervous about time pressure. And the weather was gonna get bad and then I was running out of time and we had to move on, and I wasn't gonna complete the coolest route in the world. -No matter who you are, where you come from, climbing presents you with the "what if." I might not do it, I might do it. And if you get up, you scream when you get to the top. And I think anybody can identify with that. -I want a great opportunity for somebody enthusiastic to open what I think could be the world's most special climb. -I'm so happy. I've never climbed- a greater route. Oh, I'm so relieved. I've never really experienced this before. I've never done an FA. The climb route that no one has done before. I was talking to my dad the other day and I told him that no one had completed it and he was like, "Not even a man?" -I feel like we've really been able to be immersed in the culture here. -Climbers worldwide are willing to open up their hearts, and their homes, and their routes to people from all over the world no matter what you're climbing. Sharing images, sharing data. Those connections are really strong in South Africa. -Some people run marathons to raise money for breast cancer awareness but I'm terrible at running and climbing is what I'm good at. So, I'm gonna try and use climbing as a way to raise awareness for other issues. It's less conventional than running a marathon but I'm gonna try something different and do what I can to try and make a difference even if it's in a small way. This is a way to explore and learn how I can help other people across the world. We're all psyched to send hard routes but to know that maybe it will help one little kid, that's really cool. -Thanks for tuning in. Check back next month for an update from Russia. Have a lucky day, China.