How are climbing routes/facilities managed?

New Areas. New routes. Retrobolting. Add-ons. Re-grading. etc.
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How are climbing routes/facilities managed?

Post by Optimistix » Sun Nov 27, 2011 6:35 pm

Hi all

I am not into climbing at all so please pardon all silly questions ... :lol:

I am helping a friend develop a business plan for a guest house and ancillary activities on a plantation near Neslpruit. The plantation is located in a montaineous area (as far as mountains go in this part of the world ... not the same is those in the Cape :wink: :wink: ) and from my untrained and inexperienced viewpoin there may be opportunity for developing climbing routes/facilities.

What I want to find out is how these types of facilities are normally developed, how access and use is controlled, etc, etc, and whether there would be any interest in developing such facilities in this area.

the company on whose property such development may be done will prefer that all related activities be managed through a second party who will handle all bookings and control.

In order to finalise the business plan I am also interested in the types of fees and numbers of usres normally involved in these type of activities.

Feel free to comment on this post, but please send me a PM containing contact details if you are interested in assisting in developing this idea further.

I look forward to share in your ideas and experience.

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Re: How are climbing routes/facilities managed?

Post by Optimistix » Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:51 pm

Surely there must be some info on this topic out there?

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Re: How are climbing routes/facilities managed?

Post by dirktalma » Tue Nov 29, 2011 7:59 pm

I thought someone would have responded by now. Here goes.

A good idea would be to contact the Mountain Club of SA. Either the JHB or the Magaliesberg section (Pretoria). They have over a 100 years worth of experience dealing with access and the management of climbing areas. You can contact them via their websites ( and Snd me a PM if you can't get hold of them and I'll help you find the chairpersons' contact details.

Another good idea is to contact Gustav Janse van Rensburg. He runs a climbing shop and guiding/training company (Roc n Rope) in Waterval Boven. Check out for more. Waterval Boven is the biggest and most developed sport climbing area in the country largely thanks to Gustav and some of his friends. I'm sure he'll be willing to help or at least steer you in a better direction.

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Re: How are climbing routes/facilities managed?

Post by henkg » Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:30 pm

Methinks you should not expect too much on your "business plan" - ROI etc. There is a lot of "free" rock out there and most climbers do not represent the affluent segments of society.
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Re: How are climbing routes/facilities managed?

Post by andrew p » Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:17 am

Firstly, there is very little money in climbing in SA as there are so few of us. However, drive out to Boven and check it out. There is no payment of entry fees. Access to those areas is free. Access could be charged if the area is exceptionally good, maybe R30 per person, you might get an average of 4 people per day..hardly big bucks. You can only expect to make money if you have chalets but they will only be popular if the climbing is fantastic..and even then climbers may not stay there. So, firstly you need to determine if the climbing is good. Are there some clean looking steep (vertical) orange cliffs? Why not post a couple of pictures..if they look good you may get help from the climbers to develop them. 9/10 cliffs that non climbers spot are not good at all. Hope this helps. Andrew

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Re: How are climbing routes/facilities managed?

Post by Chris F » Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:35 am

Agree with the above. If the climbing is definitely worthwhile, you may attract a few climbers once you have got someone to do the bolting for you. You might attract a few extra clients to use the guest house if the climbing is a draw, maybe older climbers on decent incomes? Getting people from the main urban areas to drive past Boven to where you are the climbing will need to be pretty special though.

If there are clients who want to try out climbing or abseiling, it maybe be better to discuss with Gustav and see if you can contract out his services on a half day rate or something for taking them out.

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Re: How are climbing routes/facilities managed?

Post by mr Chabalala » Wed Nov 30, 2011 1:42 pm

if the rock is fantastic, you will definlty attract one or two bolters that most likely wil do the development for free, to get the first accents etc. As some have stated, you might then get the extra climber that will use your guesthouse facilities. There is no money in charging for access in Mpulanaga, but there can be in provdiding accomodation, if the rock is good.
No harm, and no expense in trying.

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Re: How are climbing routes/facilities managed?

Post by Optimistix » Sat Dec 03, 2011 3:25 pm

Thanks for all the info everyone ... your answers are pretty much what I expected.

Yes, the idea is first of all to develop a guest house type facility that, amongst others, will also provide some climbing opportunities if someone thinks the cliffs are worth climbing :lol:

We want to provide accommodation with a bit of a difference so we are also looking at providing other activities as well. The whole business will slot in with an exisitng and well established horse trail in the area as well.

Thanks for the feedback ... I now have some homework to do :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:

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Re: How are climbing routes/facilities managed?

Post by Franz » Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:40 am

Dirk's suggestions regards Gustav & the mountain club is solid. You should go speak to them.
Same for most other comments. I would however disagree about the pockets of climbers. Yes, you get the poor students, but also the affluent businessmen. What is true is most of them like to go the cheap route.

My opinion it would be a nice 'alternative' activity on location, but not even close to a main income stream.
Keep in mind that in general climbers and most other 'holiday makers' don't mix well. Its not that they hate each other, they just have very little in common.

Suggested Plan of action:
* Book time with Gustav and spend a day climbing to get a better picture.
* Invite experienced climbers to scout your crag to see if it is worth it.
* Spend the money to get it bolted.
* Bolt selectively - only good stuff.
* Bolt many routes (100+). If we can work through the route guide in one day you will see us only once.ii. Make day visiting free
* Keep your accommodation basic and cheap. Consider including camping.
* Make your money from selling chalk, tape, (maybe route guides). You will probably generate enough profit from this to buy food for the guard dog except if it is a great dane. :jocolor:
* If everything is free you will get more people.
* It helps if the owner / manager is a climber that knows the game.

If experienced climbers endorse the initiative (without getting a kickback) others will follow.

Good luck!

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Re: How are climbing routes/facilities managed?

Post by Justin » Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:15 am

I'm basically echoing what others have said above.

Factor in +-R50 (mechanical) / +-R60 (Glue-in) per bolt, average of 10 bolts per route (for a 25 meter route) + another R200 for top anchors + drill bits = about R900,00 per route.
A battery operated hammer drill is between R7000 - R14000.

Climbing routes should be seen as an attraction (investment) to get people to come to your area – one way to get people to bolt on your behalf, is for you (the land/business owner) to sponsor the bolts (they bring their own drill and drill bits) – be sure that the correct type of anchors are being installed.
Contact Gustav & Mountain Club of SA

Young hardcore climbers are generally not big money spenders as they are typically students (so make sure you have camping facilities) - and remember that they will probably come back with their families one day.
By bolting easier routes you will attract more ‘family types’ who want to go climb the ‘not so hard stuff’ (getting feedback would be the best thing to do). Rock climbing should be seen as an addition to your business plan.

Groups can provide good income. Climbing, abseiling and teambuilding.
*Note: that you want someone qualified for this – outsourcing is worth looking at initially as it will save you time (qualifying) and money (certification fees + gear + insurance).

There is no qualification in place for placing bolts. However it is very important that you have someone that knows what they are doing and that you use the best possible hardware for your anchors (hardware store stuff is a bad idea).
So you are currently looking at either 316 Stainless Steel mechanical anchors or 316 Stainless Steel Glue-in’s.

For bolting info check out:
Anchor Replacement Fund
Montagu Bolting Fund
Climb ZA - Administrator

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