Bruce and I have established a new route on the lower buttresses. It is just to the left of Fraser’s Variation on Arrow Buttress. We think that the quality of the route is on a par with Fraser’s, Bombay Duck, Manoeuvres by Moonlight and Bullseye but very much harder. We put a lot of work into cleaning this route by scrubbing off lichen and brushing off dirt. It is clean and shiny now. The route is safe as it is so overhanging but is a little run-out at times. Feedback on grades is always helpful. Here’s the RD:
Moonlight Direct 24 ***
Arrow Buttress, Table Mountain
From India Ravine traverse left under Arrow Buttress on the left for about 70m to get to the start of Fraser’s Variation. About 20m further along come to a prominent blocky pinnacle that stands away from the face. This pinnacle is the start of the route. This route takes its name from the excellent traversing route Manoeuvres by Moonlight, through which it cuts a steep, sustained and direct line in improbable situations.
Start: At the front of the blocky pinnacle.
1. 30m 17: Climb up the front of the blocky pinnacle to its flat top. Walk across to the face and head up smooth rock to reach a big ledge with huge overhanging roof. Belay 6m to the left where a seam leads up to the roof that is 3 or 4m above the ground.
2. 10m 23: A handrail runs rightwards underneath the roof and ends in a break through the overhang on the right. Ease up the face at the back then rail out right using half a dozen cams to prevent ground fall potential. The rail is unrelenting with poor foot placements. At the break head up and slightly right on steep rock to reach a small ledge with a good rail on the left for making a hanging stance. It is necessary to keep the pitch short to prevent a possible ground fall for the second.
3. 30m 24: Head directly up to the break in the first roof above. Move up and right through the break to reach a disappointing rail below the Manoeuvres by Moonlight rail. Continue up to Manoeuvres by Moonlight (excellent sharp rail) and trending right go through a few more overlaps. Pull through on small holds to get established on the vertical wall above. Head up and slightly left to reach a disappointing rail again. Overcome the bulge to get onto easy ground leading up to a good ledge below the next big roof.
4. 20m 24: Off to the right is a huge overhanging nose that protrudes far out from the buttress. Head off to the right for 3 or 4 metres to reach a gully. Move up into the gully for 2m then using a decent rail head out right over space. Place two good large cams at the end of the rail! Using small edges, a small vertical fingertips lock and tiny flakes move up the overhanging wall to eventually reach a good rail to place gear (Need a strong-head day). Proceed directly up easy ground, about grade 19, to top out on the nose at a good ledge with a small tree.
Use the small tree to rappel off. Two 60m ropes get the party to the ground.
First Ascent: Hilton Davies and Bruce Daniel, 19 March 2010