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Home Travel South Africa Trip Report

South Africa Trip Report

[In the immaculate overhang of The Rhino, 7b+, close to Roadside]

We started our trip in Munich, since flights from there are significantly cheaper than from Austria. Unfortunately we went with KLM, which is a big disadvantage if you want to bring chrashpads because they recently changed their luggage policy from “weight-“  to a so called “piece concept”.  And one piece of check in luggage just isn’t enough…

However we got to Capetown alright, bringing all our gear and plenty of motivation.  As the plane went lower and lower, I remember thinking:  “ha, cool, I can’t wait to put my downjacket on.”  When we left Austria it was 30°C. But logically, as the plane went down the outside temps that were shown on the little monitor in front of my seat went up. …and up and up and… "Wait a minute!" It was around midnight and the temps kept climbing up to 22°C??? Wtf!? “Well”, I thought, “maybe just a few unusually hot days...” I should be wrong.

After one night in the airport hotel we picked up our rental cars and headed north. The “Rocklands” which are actually called Cederberg Mountains are about 3 hours from Cape Town. To keep the costs low we teamed up and had only 2 cars for the 7 of us. Some of us were a bit skeptical about it at first, but having brought a few cargo belts we easily strapped our chrashpads to the roofs of the cars. By the way, the little Hunday Getz we got from Europcar was 700 € for 45 days including full insurance.

Of course we were also quite curious about the accommodation we had booked in advance. Back in Austria I had heard about a place called “Traveller’s Rest”. Apparently some other boulderers had been pretty pleased with their services and so I thought we should give it a shot. Booking was easy, they reacted quickly to our email requests and the location seemed pretty close to the boulders.
One in our group, Berni had already been to the Rocklands before.  He told us, that the drive to the nearest town Clanwilliam was a nasty dirtroad, sometimes close to undrivable after rainfall, so we should stock up on groceries first. To our surprise the road had just been tarred and the drive was now comfortable, taking about 25 minutes.

[Traveler's Rest Perdehoek Cottage at night. Simple, but paradise for us]

When we actually arrived at Traveller’s Rest we immediately fell in love with our little cottage. It was called Perdehoek, and about a 5 min drive from the Traveller’s Rest main office. The setting was simply beautiful, close to a small lake and surrounded by nothing but meadows and boulders. It was, in a way, the perfect location to relax and forget about your stressful job / studies.  Still it covered all necessary commodities like fridge, freezer, microwave, 2 hot showers and so on. But most important: we felt at home!

[Feeling at home and filling up on calories at night]

We spent the first 2 weeks bouldering without ever going to the same sector twice. There was just so much to explore! One area called Sassie’s, was the closest to our cottage, but heavy rainfall in July had torn some big holes in the dirtroad and so getting there was a bit of a hassle. Europcar would hate us if they knew what we did to those vehicles. Let’s put it this way: A few times it was on the edge! (I’m about to get my master's in automotive engineering so I know that stuff.)

[Stuck in the steep section on the way to Sassie's]

I could go on and on about the problems at Sassie’s and how good they are, how close or not close Stefan and I got on the super classic Soshaloza but I think I will skip all that and just put in a few pics.

[Thommy the horse-whisperer. Sassie's in the background]

[Me doing the classic Paula Abdul, 8a, Sassies]

Basically, there are 4 main “large scale areas”: The stuff close to Traveler’s Rest (sectors like 8 Day Rain, Kleinfontein and Sassie’s),...

[During the on sight of the majestic arete Barracuda, 8a. ]

...the boulders around the De Pakhuis Campground (the Plateau Boulders, Fields of Joy)...

[Berni on Shift Horizon, 7c/+, Plateau Boulders]

[Stefan getting ready to send the far left exit of Minky, in this variation 7c/+]

...the boulders up on the pass (Roadside, Roadcrew, the Other Side, Fortress, …) which is the biggest of them all...

[View of the Fortress sector from the parking]

...and last but not least the sectors around the old campground, closer to Clanwilliam (Campground, Tea Farm, Riverside, ...).

[During the flash of an unnamed 7b at the Campground Boulders]

All of them are excellent but as far as the landscape and the surrounding goes the climbs up at the pass were my favorites. The landscape feels a bit more pristine, wilder and rougher than in the lower regions. Maybe I also liked the climbs a bit more because they were a bit higher up and therefore colder than the others, who knows.

[Doing the incredible Ulam Batar, 7b+, Roadcrew Boulders]

[During the flash ascent of Caroline, 7c+, Roadside Bouldes. It doesn't get any better!!!]

[Mel attemting The Roof is on Fire, 7a at sector Roadcrew during another amazing sunset]

For those who plan a trip, I created an overview map based on the Google Earth information available on Just go here to download it. But what’s pretty surprising about the Rocklands in general is that there are so many high quality problems in the lower grades. Of course, what we’ve been hearing about are the hard testpieces put up by Klem Loskot, Fred Nicole and the young American guns. (I already covered these to a certain extent in my Newsflash) But there is far more than that. In fact, there are probably a lot more great 5+ than 7c problems due to the fact that the sandstone has such wild features created by wind and erosion.

[Excellent easy climbing at the Roadcrew Boulders]

[Mel warming down in the evening light on a 5+ at the Riverside sector]

Even though the whole area is quite well developed by now there were still a few unclimbed lines. I was in the lucky position to come across a few of them and add 4 first ascents to this wonderful place.
The first one is a sitstart to the classic Nicole problem Baboon Sumo, 7b at the Campground Boulders. You start kind of laying down on a slopy boulder and it sure doesn’t look so inviting at first but the moves are great and it kicks up the grade to 7c or maybe 7c+. See yourself: Here is a video of the first ascent of Baunernjojo!

[Doing the classic long reach of Baboon Sumo after having linked the new sitsart, now called Baunernjojo 7c/+]

Then there were two lines at the Riverside sector, both really close to each other and quite obvious. It only took a few minutes to clean off some loose flaked and put some rocks in the nearby creek to keep the pads dry and I was ready to do the first ascent of Prestige Worldwide, a great, powerful 7b+ or 7c-ish line. It doesn’t get much better.

[During the first ascent of Prestige Worldwide , 7b+, Riverside]

The other new problem close by is rather crimpy, with a low start under a little roof. It might also check in somewhere around 7b+, time will tell. Here is a video of Systematic Session.

[Another first: Systematic Session, 7b+/7c, Riverside, named after a DJ set by Stephan Bodzin]

Last but not least there is the steepest and also hardest first ascent I did during the time I was there. This was done during the first days of our stay where we still tried to hide in the shady caves. Having done No Late Tenders, 8a,  I spotted a few small holds in the roof left of it. I figured that it might be possible to climb the roof on them using the same start as No Late Tenders. On the 3rd attempt I stuck the last hard move and finished it. Voilá: Awunda, 8a/+!

[Crankin' through the steep roof of Awunda, 8a/+, Fields of Joy]

Apart from the fact that (in my opinion) Awunda is a really cool line, it was also well situated because it is in the shade most of the day. I mentioned in the beginning that the temps were unusually hot and it stayed that way. The local farmers told us that it was the hottest winter for 50 years! Because the temperatures constantly stayed in the 20 to 30 degree celsius range we were forced to find shady or windy spots or even go out at night. Especially friction-dependent climbs like Witness the Sickness were barely doable during the day. There is also a video of my early morning send. I'm not too proud of the style, but done is done. And: the sharp undercling for your left hand broke sinde the first ascent so that 8a+ seems quite solid to me now.

[During the first (and unfortunately unsuccessful) attempt of Witness the Sickness, 8a+]

[Stefan touching the night-sky on the direct finish of Maniac, normally 7b]

Of course, to climbers like us the bouldering alone is reason enough to go to South Africa. But the country has a lot more to offer than that! I decided to stay 2 weeks longer to travel around a bit. No climbing, just some road tripping, touristy stuff and hiking.

I was impressed by the landscape and even more so the people. Friendliness seems like a general rule in this country (as long as you stay in the “right” areas). I was a bit bummed I didn’t bring a surfboard. Some of the beaches and waves looked incredible and it was never crowded.

Overall it was an amazing experience with wonderful friends that can’t be described by words. The photo gallery is a good try to do so but doesn’t even come close. You gotta go and see yourself!

[On the Cape of Good Hope]


Umfrage: your vision!