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MMF 2024 – Recap

Highlining festival Boven

By far, MMF 2024 has been the best thus far. It was a rad weekend of highlining, climbing, slacking, swimming and partying. Follow Zada’s journey from conception to reality – on her journey to Mayhem.

In early 2023, when I first joined the Wits Mountain Club, I discovered a community of people who would become some of my closest friends in the year that followed. It was through them that I heard about a mysterious Highlining festival which happened in March/April every year. I didn’t end up going in 2023 for a multitude of reasons, but I was quick to regret that choice and vowed to make the trip in 2024. I didn’t know how, but I was determined to make a plan.

Cut to early 2024. When March came, the inevitable question remained: how the hell was I going to get myself to Mayhem? I put it off for ages, until two short weeks before. I decided to buy a ticket for the whole weekend, without knowing how I’d get there or how I’d afford enough food. I didn’t even have a tent.

But, as is often the case, things have a way of working out. I made a plan with a few friends and showed up to Josh’s house half an hour early, with a perfectly reasonable amount of luggage for a four-day camping trip. Our friends Lea and Chris were meant to join us, but I trusted Josh’s judgement. Until I saw the car. To my absolute horror, he rolled round the corner of his apartment block in a Volkswagen Up – one of the smallest hatchbacks on the market. “Nah, it’ll go,” was all he said when I expressed concern. 

After a long struggle, all four of us miraculously ended up in the car, perching around precarious piles of luggage, each carrying things on our laps and wedging our feet around items stashed under the seats. But eventually, the journey up to Boven commenced, and we reached the highway with no hiccups. The rest of the ride was smooth sailing.

As we headed up the road from Machadadorp, three long hours later, I could feel my excitement starting to build. We turned up to Mayhem Mountain Adventures, going down the path I had failed to take one year before. As we rounded the final corner, I saw the place I’d heard so many stories about, the dam and the ancient tree both glittering in the afternoon light. 

The first morning after we arrived was heavy with mist. A few of us woke up to watch the sunrise, but we couldn’t see through the fog. After a rushed breakfast, we all hurried to catch Wes’ energising yoga flow. We stood on the Launch Pad, overlooking the canyon as the sun chased the mist away. The flow ended with some mindful intention setting.

A safety presentation by Swart kick-started the festival activities, and he emphasised Mayhem’s focus on community and sharing. I remember him saying that we might go home having lost our spoon, but that someone else’s spoon might find its way to us. I didn’t realise how prophetic that statement was until I lost my own spoon on the second night. Luckily I found it again, but it goes to show that at Mayhem, things find their way back to you – whether it be your courage, your sanity, or your cutlery.

The mornings and evenings spent in the makeshift kitchen were the most humbling and touching moments of the festival. I got to see the spirit of Mayhem in the way people would happily give up their pot and gas stove if you needed to cook or would boil extra water to ensure you had some too. 

The following days were filled with incredible experiences and many firsts. I stood up on a slackline for the first time, saw Mik take his first buggy out on the lines, and attempted my first twenty-two in the Mayhem crag. I also made use of an outdoor compost toilet for the first time, which ended up not being nearly as bad as I thought it would be, and showered outdoors for the first time. On the second day, thirty-five of us squeezed under the stretch tent on the Stoep for Jess’ beautiful yoga flow, which ended up making me cry.

The Bush Doef on Saturday night was definitely one of the highlights, with incredible sets by DJ Aymeric (Sexy French), DJ Not Tim, and CUE (DJ Jay). Unfortunately, I didn’t attempt the Highlines, but I’m giving myself grace. Besides, it’s an excuse to make the trip again in 2025.

The last full day of the festival ended poignantly, with a touching speech by Swart. He thanked everyone who helped organise the festival and gave us insight into how much work goes into Mayhem. The prize-giving was particularly special, and several people were honoured for their bravery, their helpfulness, and their enthusiasm. It was the perfect way to round off an amazing weekend of adventure. 

Consider making the trip to Mayhem in 2025, if you haven’t already. It’s worth it, I promise. 

List of prizes: 

  • Venus Prize – Andile 
  • Mars Prize – Zander 
  • Earth Prize – Carmien
  • Moon Prize – Josh

Zada Hanmer

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