South Africa Trip

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South Africa Trip

Post by petey_w » Tue Aug 08, 2006 1:55 pm


We are coming to SA in Nov/Dec this year to visit some family and cruise up the coast from CT. I wasnt originally planning on bringing climbing gear, but my wife has recently started getting into it so I am thinking of ditching the kite/surfing gear and bringing the climbing gear instead.

We will be spending a bit of time in Prince Albert which is near Oudtshorn (sic?) which looks unreal. Also wouldnt mind checking out a few of the moderate classics around the country.

I was thinking we would stick to sport climbing stuff so as not to have an epic OS and in a totally unfamiliar enviroment, but I wouldnt mind climbing up Table Mtn and alike. Boven also looks pretty cool.

My questions are:
What sort of gear will we need?
- What size rack/what gear would be needed for the moderate routes on table mountain?
- Are most of the sport routes equiped with hangers or rings, or would we need to bring bolt plates?
- Any other specific gear required (eg slings for threads etc???)
- Anyone got any recomended destinations.
- Good guides/books which cover the country?

I have climbed a few Aus 25's and 24's but mostly climb 23's or below (which according to the SACIN website would be about SA 25 or below). My wife on the other hand is only just getting up a few Aus 18's (SA 20) on top rope. So we would probably be looking areas which have a wide variety of quality climbs to cover this range.

Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.



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Post by Brussel » Thu Aug 10, 2006 8:20 am

Hi Pete,

All the sorts routes in SA are fully bolted with good quality lower offs. You'd need a 60m rope and max 15 draws

As for Table Mountain(TM). All trad. You'll need a standard rack of nuts and cams, hexes work especially well on all the moderate routes. Slings are a must for TM to sling the huge chicken heads and jugs.

There are guide books for both boven and cape town sport and TM trad.

Silvermine sport crags have awide variety of climbing grades - bolted on great rock

Table mountian: outstanding trad climbing!

Paarl Rock: Great slab sport climbing on granite

Boven: awesome sport climbing with hundreds of routes

Montague: awesome sport climbing with hundreds of routes

South Africa has so much rock that most of the climbing is on only the best stuff

If you need more info give me your email address and we can talk offline


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Post by PietSkiet » Thu Aug 10, 2006 11:04 am

g'day pete,
there is a place 1 hour up the coast from cape town called langebaan which has legendary kiting. you can stay at friday island and the windsurf centre is next door, where you can rent loads a sh1t.
there's no established climbing in the area, but you might enjoy the break.
cheers, pete b

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Post by Hector » Thu Aug 10, 2006 1:48 pm

If you're staying in Prince Albert you'll have 300m crags about 15min drive up the Swartberg pass. The climbing there is awesome. If u just head up the dirt road (Swartberg Pass signposts), you'll turn a corner after a few km's and see this massive rearing butress with hundreds of vertical cracks. I have a route guide of sorts which I can mail to you. This only contains a few routes done over two or three road trips a couple of years back. I think more routes have been opened, but you'll have to scour MCSA journals to find them. The best is just to rock up and climb a likely looking crack. Nubile Belly Dancers is absolutely brilliant - 300m of corners and cracks, never harder than SA 18. There are loads of shorter (1, 2 or 3 pitches) routes as well. Drop me a mail:

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Post by petey_w » Sat Aug 12, 2006 1:57 am

Thanks for the info guys. Greatly appreciated.

What about helmets? From my memories of the swartberg pass it looked a bit on the loose side, but I havent been there for about almost 10 years when I was a kid.

What about the rock on TM? are helmets required?



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Post by Marshall » Mon Aug 14, 2006 8:27 am

Why are helmets are the norm for trad, but not for sport?

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Post by Hector » Mon Aug 14, 2006 11:17 am

Because sport climbers are so cool...
Bring a dome for TM - there are silly tourists on top who do silly things, in addition to the usual loose rock. Helmets a must for Swartberg.

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Post by Marshall » Mon Aug 14, 2006 12:43 pm

Considering the high safety standards dictated in industry, travel & various other is quite odd that sport climbing is exempt from helmuts. Although you would probrably find that medical, life & disability insurance would not pay out if there was any sign of negligence. Not wearing suitable safety equipment could constitute negligence.

We were on \"Route Number One\" , at Far Side in about 2000. This is a route bolted in 1994. A triangular chunk of rock weighing about a Kg came off the route, skiming my belayers temple, because he moved his head at the last minute. The chunk of rock was covered in chalk from previous climbers pulling it.

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Post by Rastaman » Tue Aug 15, 2006 8:43 am

Since a very similiar thing happened to me, I always wear a helmet when climbing sport or trad. It will also (help) protect you if you fall and swing into the rock. Imagine taking a big fall and connecting with a sharp edge, like on a roof. Eina :cry:
Had a few comments from some idoits, this one guy could not belive that I was \"dumb\" enough to wear a helmet when doing some sport routes at Lakeside Pinnacle, where there is a bit of loose rock. I reckon if you don't see the point of wearing a helmet then you have very little to protect upstairs anyway!

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Post by Hector » Tue Aug 15, 2006 11:26 am

I guess wearing a helmet is like anything else in climbing - you weigh up the objective dangers and make a decision about what level of risk is acceptable. For some people, the feeling of restriction, or the bad image of wearing a helmet outweighs the danger of klapping your head. Other people wont even go bouldering without a helmet. Some people choose to go soloing, or do death trad routes with poor pro, or climb rotting piles of choss. If one of the consequences of no helmet is that insurance wont pay out, then that must be taken into the equation. Your biggest responsibility when climbing is to your climbing partner, so as long as both of you agree that no helmet is the way forward, then go for it. Just accept the consequences if things (for instance your head) go pear shaped. Just dont knock other people who might wear a helmet at (shock, horror) your local sport crag.
I think a healthy dose of common sense is useful. For instance, many of the Magalies classics are on super solid rock with little chance of bashing your dome, while a sport crag like Bronkies or Harry Potter is full of lurking blocks. Darwin at his best...

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Post by fanta » Tue Aug 15, 2006 5:21 pm

because you will feel like a right wolly when Search and Rescue come to pick up coz u got a cracked skull, and they say \"Dude next time wear a bucket to contain the mess\" ... and u say \"I should've but i left it home...\"

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Post by petey_w » Fri Sep 22, 2006 2:12 pm

Back again guys. Not that I spend much of my time here in Australia on the forums etc, but people seem quite happy to let people go their own way in regards to helmuts. Guess you have got no one to blame other than yourself if things go wrong.

Back to the real reason for my return: we were looking forward to spending a bit of time at Boven, but all this talk of muggings etc has got us pansy Aussies thinking twice -> nothing like having a gun pointed at you to ruin a holiday...

Anyway could anyone recommend other areas with similar range and quality of climbs? Preferably we are looking for areas with access to lots of solid rock, which offers climbs in the 15-26 range. Ideally well bolted as well.

Here in Oz, there is a great little town on the NSW south coast called nowra which has ~20 crags ranging in heights upto ~40m but mostly between 15 and 25m. Some of the more developed crags offer upto 200+ climbs and most climbs are bolted well with lower offs, which means you can cruise your way up a large number of classic climbs or work on. Something like this would be great...

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Post by Marshall » Mon Sep 25, 2006 7:12 pm

Try Montagu about 180km northish of Cape Town. It's way nicer than Nowra though. You may have to adjust.

Mount Everest Game Reserve near Harrismith Is really awesome. Quite a few muilti pitch routes. More than a 100 lines.


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Post by Grigri » Mon Sep 25, 2006 10:24 pm

Montagu or Boven are the biggest sport areas, Some crags at Boven are prone to crime whilst others may be safer, serious efforts are being made to combat the crime there, check with Gustav owner of the climbers refuge; website:
Oudtshoorn is awesome although not very extensive in scope, its also the only limestone crag in the country.
There are other sport areas all over the country, in the gorges around Durban, near Harrismith, on the east coast, and around Cape Town.

Crime is a problem all over South Africa, not just at the crags. Dont leave anything in your car when going climbing or exploring around the cities. Be aware! Flashing expensive camcorders around downtown anywhere is likely to attract the wrong sort of attention. Having said that SA is reasonably safe and a little common sense and decent insurance will ensure you have a fun and memorable trip.

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Post by petey_w » Tue Sep 26, 2006 2:23 pm

Thanks guys,

Montague looks gold...

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Post by DouglasWard » Tue Sep 26, 2006 8:03 pm

Try the Mt Everest reserve near Harrismith. It used to be very safe because it's isolated (in a reserve). Any locals have an update on that?

Besides, it is worth including in an SA climbing trip anyway. Awesome spot with enough really good routes.

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Post by African Climber » Thu Sep 28, 2006 3:41 pm

Mt Everest is still fantastic, I have never experienced any problems relating to crime in those parts or heard of any, and if you do stop off at Everest, you may as well pop into Swinburne for some brilliant bouldering. There are also sport and trad routes. And a cool pub down the road(The hound and Hare), say hello to Steve and have a frosty after the day is done.

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Post by petey_w » Sat Dec 16, 2006 6:10 am

Just got back from our trip.

Thought I might add my thoughts for any future international travelers who find this post.

We visited:

Table Mountain
We didn't climb because the day we went up was quite windy. But it definately looked good, very intimidating though. The rock was very similar to the sandstone we have in NSW Australia, atleast in texture. It was raining the day we tried to go to the sport climbing areas around CT so I can't comment on them.

Definately plenty of easily accessable rock here, and quite a nice town. All the routes (at least those we climbed) were excellently protected. We were a bit thrown off on the rock type as we were expecting \"sandstone\" like home, but actually found the rock to be extremely hard and slippery. And now realised why the rock of TM was described as \"high friction\" in the guide, which at the time didnt make much sense. We found that we never were able to feel really secure on any of the climbs (even the easy ones), however, it was quite hot while we were here which Im sure didnt help things. If you are planning a trip here I would sugest maybe choosing some other time than summer...

Awesome, definately my favorate place we visited, unfortunately, due to circumstances we only spent a morning here and never returned as planned. Bummer.

Rock similar to Montagu. I would have some doubts about the secureness of cams in the cracks the rock is that slick. We didnt climb here. Also looks like a real mission to get up and down. I would liken the climbing here more like mountaineering and we were not really prepared to have an epic overseas.

Didnt get to climb here due to rain but the rock seemed good with more friction than I was expecting. Walking up that hill looks like a mission though. There was a big cliff near \"The Edge\" which looked like it could have some great slabby climbing with really easy access.

Waterval Boven
We stopped here for one day and found the climbing to be much more pleasant than in Montagu. Maybe it was the difference in heat, but the rock seemed to have better friction and features (but still appeared to be all as a result of the rock fracturing). Definately a shame about the security issues as there were some really spectacular cliffs here.

Overall I have to say we were a little bit dissapointed in what we found, but then again I dont visit spots in my own country out of season so maybe the comparison is unfair. Even so I would, with all due respect, recommend anyone considering a trip of RSA to also consider Australia. But then again we don't have the other cool things that Africa offers (Animals, WaveHouse etc etc)


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Post by Marshall » Sun Dec 17, 2006 7:14 pm

I'm fanatical about local climbing & development, but would have to agree with Petey. Australia offers way more ascess to climbing for a non local climber.
Guide books are plentiful, most climbing shops in Aus would have best-of type guides & a host of spesific-area guides...all high quality, often with a thousand routes or more. In SA you have to scratch. Some areas have guides & there are sport guides. Cederburg, Montagu(trad routes), Towerkop & Mary have no avalible comprehensive guide....that is listing just a few. Most places don't have guides.
There are +- 40 routes at Outshoorn(de hoek). What a shame. There could be 200 routes there. Climbing in SA is way under developed. May be 30 years behind Aus.

The nice thing is we get to open lots of routes. There is endless potential.

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