Our home in South Africa is in Pearl Valley, located in between Paarl and Franschhoek. Until now I hadn’t realised just how much there is to explore down here in the Western Cape – from trad climbing to sport, bouldering to hiking, every mountain activity seems to be represented in full force.
Bouldering Mecca – Rocklands
I was recently lucky enough to convince my family of taking the three hour drive up to Rocklands, at the top of the Cederberg Mountain Reserve and this place truly deserves the reputation its raised for itself over recent years. It couldn’t have been easier to get to – you simply drive north on the N7 until you see signs for Clanwilliam and De Pakhuys, ”Where all the climbers stay”, is another 20 minutes from there. I stayed at Traveller’s Rest for a night, as De Pakhuys was full; if you’re planning a trip to Rocklands make sure you sort out your accommodation in advance, especially if you want to stay in the lodges. Most of the climbers, however, camp at the De Pakhuys site in winter, when it’s slightly cooler. The campsite is perfectly situated and has a chilled vibe so when (not if, when!) I go back, that’s where I’ll be for sure!
The bouldering itself is seemingly infinite – if you’re a bouldering junky you will be in heaven. There are boulders as far as the eye can see, of every shape, size and colour, host to problems of every grade and ability level. However as I found, you’re probably more likely to call it a day due to your hands getting wrecked from the super course rock than from getting pumped out! It would definitely take some getting used to.
Sport climbing paradise – Montagu
I haven’t personally been to Montagu yet, but it’s only two hours away so I’ll get there soon enough. Apparently it’s pumping there with a lively climbing community – with over 400 single pitch routes I would probably think so!
Paarl Rock is practically in my backyard. I drove there in under 30 minutes the other day and hiked to the top of it for the first time, scoping out a few boulder problems that I want to try along the route and the view of the valley from the top was incredible. The main climbing here is natural slab on a cluster of three large granite domes.
Du Toit’s Kloof is also just around the corner, through the huguenot tunnel. There’s quite a lot to explore here, including the Yellowwood Amphitheatre which is host to some quality trad and sport climbing, including some fairly long multi-pitch routes.
Table Mountain is of course not too far away, being an hours drive back into Cape Town. I bought the Table Mountain Classics guide, which is over 300 pages of information on walks, scrambles and rock climbs on table mountain. Suffice to say, there’s enough to keep oneself busy for a long, long while. You also get the added bonus of climbing an iconic mountain with magnificent views of Cape Town and Cape Point, overlooking both the Atlantic and Indian oceans.
If indoor climbing is your thing, or you want to train on a rainy day for all the fantastic climbing the Western Cape has to offer, then City Rock is quite literally the only place to be/go. I went there for a few hours and they have a nice new bouldering area as well as plenty of lead climbing, as well as the best gear shop in the Cape!
If you want to hire some experienced guides, who certainly know far more than I do, check out Cape Climb, these guys sound amazing! For all the latest rock climbing news in South Africa, climb.co.za is the site to check out.
Alright that’s my primer on climbing in South Africa, get down here as soon as you can possibly afford to! Cheers