South African International Climbing Meet

When I saw the opportunity on the BMC site for the South African Mountain Club‘s international climbing meet it was too great an opportunity to miss. All I had to do was get the time off work and make contact with the super efficient Ulrike Kiefer to get my place sorted…

Here’s a short (as it can be) report from what was a super packed climbing adventure to what may well be climbing’s most adventurous venue – Africa!


After being collected from Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport by Neil Margetts (who kindly let Friedrich [Fritz] Bloße and I stay the night at his flat) we headed off to Cedarberg, near the Mountain Sanctuary Park. The road out from Johannesburg was okay until we got to this typical South African “dust track”…

Bad Road
“Dust” Road

The approach and climbing at Cedarberg were very pretty. But the rock was a bit of a shock with very little friction. Similar features to Gritstone, but little of the friction…

Cedarberg Approach
Fritz enjoys the Cedarberg approach

Neil Belays at Cedarberg
Neil belays at Cedarberg

Cradle of Human Kind

Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse. It rained, a lot! It didn’t stop all night and was still going strong the next day. Luckily the trip’s principal organiser, Ulrike, had a plan to amuse the group at the nearby Cradle of Human Kind.

Later, with the rain still coming down hard, the group messed about slack lining and getting to know Neil’s bird, Ruby…

Alex & Ruby
Alex Messenger & Ruby

The rain was depressing, and the promise of drier weather towards the next venue, Blouberg, galvanised a few to pack the tents in the heavy rain and set off…


Blouberg was a very long way from Johannesburg, driving North of the Tropic of Capricorn, and then requiring a hard walk late into the night to get to our bivouac. Ged Desforges, Leonie Seelen and I were accompanied by “locals” Steve Broccardo, Tony and Charles Edelstein (aka ‘Snort’), who assured us that – if nothing else – the trip to Blouberg would be memorable!

Tropic of Capricorn
So, how do you spell that again? 😆

Some cheeky kids who accompanied us on the first section of the approach walk

The approach walk was hard work – very hard work. Every bush, plant and tree in South Africa is armed with serious thorns and needles designed to stop animals eating them and climbers from passing them! Leonie in particular found it hard going. Perhaps Steve’s quote sums it up, “Africa is not for sissies”! On top of that I think the locals have a kind of masochistic love for the bush whacking – all part of the African climbing adventure…

Blouberg Bivouac
Ged at the Blouberg bivouac

The Blouberg cliff is a massive (up to 400m high) rock wall. The next picture is taken from the “big grass ledge” three pitches up. Unfortunately that’s as far as we got! We’d made a few mistakes like hauling far too heavier pack along with us (full of waterproof jackets etc. for fear of the rain returning), but mostly the climbing was too tricky for Leonie (sorry Leonie).

Panorama from Blouberg
Panorama from Blouberg

Waterval Boven

The next venue was Waterval Boven. A lovely location with ace camping and easy access sport climbing – such a change from the serious bush whacking at Blouberg.

Steve, Leonie & Phil at Waterval Boven
Steve, Leonie & Phil Welchman at Waterval Boven

Waterval Boven BBQ
Waterval Boven BBQ (braai)

Ged at Waterval Boven
Ged at Waterval Boven


Our last venue for the week was Blydepoort, and this time we weren’t camping! The bunkhouse style accommodation was a welcome change for my sore hips and shoulders from lying on the hard South African ground all week.

Blydepoort Panorama
Blydepoort Panorama

Saturday 22nd – Manoutsa

The last day of my trip (the meet continued for another day, but I had to leave a day early to make it back to work 🙁 ) was spent climbing a nice route (Hard Rock Cafe) at Manoutsa with Rebecca Rutschmann.

Rebecca scrambling off the top of our route on Manoutsa

African art!

Back at the Blydepoort accommodation Neil had bought me a “nice” steak to cook on the BBQ for the my last meal in South Africa…

A massive “Texan” steak! 😯

What a great adventure! Thanks to the South African Mountain Club, Ulrike for organising everyone and all the complex logistics, and all the local climbers who looked after us – especially Steve and Neil…

9 thoughts on “South African International Climbing Meet”

  1. Pics look great pete…. the approach to Cedarburg looks a little like Armathwaite, but the rock at Waterval Boven looks fab. :love: Ready now for some Lakes rock ❓ 🙂

  2. Yeah, sorry Terry, not many climbing pics; it’s very hard to get pictures when you are travelling on your own! 😐 Not one single picture of me climbing. 🙁 And most of the SA dudes didn’t seem to carry/use cameras at all (not that that would help ‘cos those pictures would still be in SA).

  3. But, here’s just one more for ya… This is Once in a Blue Moon, a route for Gritstone jamming crack fans! It was getting dark by the time I’d finished the route (a fierce struggle I can tell you ❗ ), so this picture of Steve is a bit grainy ‘cos of the now failing light.

    Once in a Blue Moon

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