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Ice Climbing in SA

Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 10:49 am
by anton
Who are these people climbing the ice in our country... Awesome! Where is it and who is doing it as I am way keen to give it a go!

Re: Ice Climbing in SA

Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 1:32 pm
by Gadget
Hmm lest see...
  • *Thinking that having a found a hand full of ice falls in a semi-desert African country is called ice climbing
    * Camping in a tent in freezer temperatures (-6 degrees this past weekend, -4 the previous one)
    * Lotsa bucks paid for equipment you can only use 5 weekends in a good year
    * A mere 16km (one-way) hike-in to your favorite crag with a monster 1600m uphill pasella
    * Carrying a hefty pack that makes your girlfriend's long-weekend suitcase look and feel like a vanity case
    * Suspending your whole body weight on 5 liters of water that just happens to be frozen (at least until 11 o'clock)
    * Climbing with enough sharp and pointy thingys to make the world body piercing champ think twice (and have the holes in boots, clothes and nicks on ropes to prove it)
    * Trusting a mere smear of ice as a \"hold\" in stead of looking at it as a tottering heap of sh!t that is about to come off at any time (like most people would)
Who are they? A bunch of stark raving mad nutters .... Ah, yes that is it
Then again there might be places you'd like to go and awesome things you’d like to do that require that sort of mentality

Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 2:21 pm
by ken4ord
I know I would like know where these people are because maybe I am a little mad but, even though I am living near the equator now, I still think about ice, and I still do pull ups on my ice tool in the backyard. For the last year and a half I have been able to climb ice once, but I am sure glad I brought my axes. I am still trying to figure out when I can make it to the Rwenzoris for some equatorial ice and I sure would like to climb some ice down in SA too.

Ah, happy and content on Mt. Kenya

My partner high on the route.


Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 2:52 pm
by Gonzo
Hi Anton

This last weekend I've been to oxbow in Lesotho, none of the main falls where formed but we found some short \"bouldering\" style ice to play on, it was loads of fun and is all very accesible. (Unlike Giants which is a bit of a slog).

Three weeks ago we also went to Oxbow after the snow. We climbed one peak and also found a gnarly ice fall about 20m high and WI4. Lofty lead it and I followed. (It was gone this last weekend).

I've got some pictures of Oxbow this year and Giants Castle from Last year on my MSN spaces blog.

Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 3:57 pm
by MarkM
Not all of Southern Africa's ice requires a huge slog. The Bokong ice fall (when formed) is a mere 20min max stroll from the visitors centre. The ice fall also has a shiny bolt on top which you can use to help make up your anchor if you plan to only top-rope. The main fall goes at WI 5.

Check out for SA's ice guide.

I've heard Oxbow isn't too much of a slog either.


Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 4:10 pm
by anton
Thanks for the info... I have just mailed them about the guided ice climbing... :D

Re: Ice

Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 4:33 pm
by DeanVDM

the Kwazulu Natal, Johannesburg and Magaliesberg (Pretoria) sections of the MCSA have annual Ice climbing meets on their meet lists.

From a training point of view Gavin Raubenheimer (KZN Section) and Lofty (aka. Gareth Frost, Johannesburg Section) is doing great development work with both of them leading ice climbing training meets this year. Might be a good idea to contact them although the chances are slim to get on the training meets at this late stage (look on their respective section's meet lists on their web sites for contact info).


Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 5:23 pm
by Gonzo
Hey Dean

Thanks for a good weekend at Oxbow.
I got the pictures from Lofty and posted some of them up on my blog (See link above). Your blue hat looks very nice under the helmet :-)



Posted: Thu Jun 29, 2006 10:44 am
by DeanVDM
Hi Ken4ord,

Your photos look quite cool being near the equator and all. I'd love to hear more about your Mt. Kenya climbing. We all know (?) the glorious ice-only classics like the Diamond Couloir and Ice Window route is something of the past. But is there still ice climbing left that is not so contrived that it is only for die-hards? Please spill the beans: at what time of year, how dependable are the conditions and where?

Posted: Wed Jul 05, 2006 1:33 pm
by ken4ord
Hey Dean, don't jump the gun too soon, actually those days are not over. The pictures I posted were from the Ice Window. From what the guides and porters were saying it hadn't been climbed for about 6 years. That same year the Diamond was climbed at a new rating of M8, WI4+. The climbs are not like they used to be, but now-a-days they are more modern classic that are quite safe (they used to be quite dangerous because of rock fall from the receeding Diamond glacier, now the glacier is pretty much gone and it doesn't send rocks down). As for the time of year the best time to hit is when the southern side of the mountain is in \"winter\" conditions, around July-September. There are also a couple of other ice routes on the mountain that haven't been done for a while that look good too.

Killimanjaro is still form ice on the Breach wall though if I go up there to do a route I might try it in the dark. I don't think it is too stable, but damn it sure looks beautiful.

And the third place to go is the Rwenzori's. I have no infomration on this area at all, not even the out of print 70's guide book. Anyone have this I would love to get a copy or buy it from you. Hopefully I will get out there this next year and see if there is still ice up there.

Maybe i will get around to loading up some Killi eye candy that shows the breach wall in pretty good conditions from this last december.