Scarpa North America Blog

South Africa Climbed and Uncovered

Jul. 7th 2017

Rock Climbing Table Mountain in South Africa

If you’ve ever considered climbing a trip to South Africa, no doubt you’re gunning for the legendary Rocklands, scenic Table Mountain or the enchanted Waterfall Boven. Right?

If you believe the hype, these zones are South African climbing, but look just a little deeper and you’ll realize this country is so stacked with amazing rock, it’s unlikely you’ll ever get to know it all, even if you spend a lifetime there.

Don’t get me wrong, the trad climbing on Table Mountain is superb; fist pumping vistas, bomber quartzite and a leisurely top down approach from the gondola make this place world class. Rocklands, in the Cederberg Mountains, is an endless fairytale of bullet stone for boulderers and roped climbers alike, everything about this place is a victory for our people. I never made it over to the Waterfall Boven but it looks like you’d need to go barefoot and naked to make this venue any more like the Garden of Eden. But beyond these classic spots lies a treasure trove of rockstone goodness hidden in plain sight…

Rock Climbing Pearl Rocks in South Africa

With a crew of European friends I recently made a non-standard tour of South Africa rock kicking it off in the Du Toits Kloof Mountains a couple hours outside Capetown. As rugged as they are hard to pronounce, this zone offers trad and sport climbing on dozens of cliffs ranging from single pitch to big walls. Highlights included 1000 foot routes in the Yellow Wood Amphitheater and a new 1500 foot route we put up in the Slanghoek valley that clocked in at VI 5.12c, protected completely by trad gear.

When the storm of the century rolled in to the South Cape, dumping snow on the mountains and snapping Oak trees like toothpicks we sprinted like Springbok to the idyllic fruit bearing valley of Montague. Conditions here were downright Californian and we clipped bolts in the vast network of Canyons (or Kloofs as they’re know in South Africa) surrounding the town. The varnished red quartzite was characterized by fun, pumpy climbing, leaving our arms wasted for the end of day crux: uncorking a bottle of sumptuous local wine.

Rock Climbing in Montague and Slanghoek in South Africa

Wanting a taste of something other than quartzite, we saddled up to the granite domes of Paarl, just an hour from Capetown. It was nice to finally climb some splitter cracks, but the real highlight was the cool dykes that punctuate these voluptuous formations. Teetering up on ballancy edges gave our calves a workout and our biceps a much needed rest. I even managed a paraglide flight off the summit of the highest feature which was like a miniature version of my home mountain; the Squamish Chief.

To say we got in a lot of climbing in South Africa is true, but it’s more like we just had a taste, there are so many more spots left to check out: the amphitheatre of Milne, the limestone tufas of Oudtshoorn and the mythical multi pitch of Wolfberg are just a few of the zones that make South Africa one of the World’s finest rock climbing venues. I’ll be back for sure!

Rock Climbing The Yellow Wood Amphitheater in South Africa

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