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Friday, 12 August 2016

Extraordinary Women: Anette Grobler

Motivated to “live life to the fullest”, Student Development Officer, Anette Grobler has made headline news for taking on world first solo adventures to summiting some of the world’s highest mountains.

Her most renowned adventure saw Grobler become the first person to walk the entire Skeleton Coast Park (570 km) in Namibia solo. This area is known for its inhospitable and desolate terrain, as well as extreme climate.

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Grobler completed the mission in approximately 30 days, all while pulling a rickshaw developed by CPUT’s Engineering Department that contained her satellite phone and various supplies needed for her journey.

Grobler gave CPUT news some insight into some of her amazing adventures.

You are the first person in history to walk the entire Skeleton Coast Park (570 km) in Namibia solo and unsupported. What motivated you to take on this challenge?

For some or other reason I started a bucket list when I was only 14 years old. I can remember that I listed 10 things I felt that I needed to do in my lifetime. I cannot recall everything on the list, but I do remember that one of them was “to do something that has never been done before”. 

How did it feel to be alone during this period?

Yes, I was alone. The longest days were the days I could not walk whilst the tides were not in my favor. I could only walk during low tides and that needed to be during the day. At night there are too many wild animals that are out hunting.

It is amazing how you start talking to yourself - out loud. It is almost an attempt to stay sane because if you say something, you need to put the words together and form them properly in order for it to make sense and making sense of something is still part of being sane!

Where you scared?

Yes, I was scared of the desert lions - about 38 of them in that area. Five of the rivers that I needed to cross were in flood for the first time in 20 years and I was warned about the quick sand.

So, my two biggest fears, namely being buried alive or eaten alive, became very real the minute I entered the Skeleton Coast National Park.

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What was the highlight of this solo walk?

The day before I completed the 570 km, the wind dropped for the first time in 26 days. I was able to swim in the sea and wash for the first time in days!  

This was not your first solo adventure. Where and when did you complete your first solo walk?

I walked the coastal desert of Angola in 2005, starting from the mouth of the Kunene river continuing north to a place called Namibe (the old Mocamedes).

Apart from the solo walks, you also climbed some of the world’s highest mountains. Which ones did you summit?

I summited Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Mount Elbrus in Russia (with an CPUT Alumni Sam Ramohlola  who “paid it forward” and actually sponsored me to climb Mt Elbrus with him). 

We also continued to climb Mount Aconcagua in South America but none of us managed to summit as the weather turned against us on the summit night.  

What motivates you to take on all these adventures?

Many years ago I got lost in the Namib desert during a solo adventure race. When I eventually managed to find my way back to civilization, I promised myself that I will live life to the fullest because I had a new appreciation for the most wonderful thing called “life”.

When one takes something for granted, you don’t appreciate it that much. So now, the closer I am to nature, danger and death, the more alive I feel!

Written by Candes Keating

Tel: +27 21 959 6311
Email: keatingc@cput.ac.za

Provides coverage for the Engineering and Applied Sciences Faculties; the Bellville and Wellington Campuses, and research and innovation news.