Harrismith. The new frontier?

Harrismith Rock Climbing

Colin Crabtree working on Swiss Cheese, 28/29. Pic by Andrew Pedley

Boven is all but climbed out, The Magalies sport likewise.  Joburg climbers are seeking the next place to open stellar new lines.  And of course Harrismith has a stack of existing classics, of all grades single and multi-pitch.

Its early days but the new routes are starting to trickle in..in 2010 Hector Pringle and Heinrich Kahl added a 4-pitch 24 on Mooinoek Mountain called “Indecent Exposure”, apparently awesome.  At Alternative Rock, former Pretorian strongman (now Capetonian strongman) Harry Crews opened  ”Cosmic Girl”, a line bolted years ago by Colin Crabtree but left unopened.  Harry sent the climb easily late last year, grading it 28 and it has been repeated this year by Colin himself(!) , Andrew Pedley and Brian Weaver; confirming the grade and quality.

Andrew recently bolted and opened a line to the right of Swiss Cheese, calling it “Free State of Mind” giving it 29.  It sports some funky flings to big pockets and bit of crimping to finish, all with the wild exposure that comes with climbing on the Eagles Head.  It was repeated quickly by visiting Italian climber Dario Zanon, who also flashed Swiss Cheese thinking it low in the grade (it was opened at 28).  Brian Weaver also sent Swiss Cheese thinking it 29.  Naureen Goheer sent the incredibly exposed “Bird Brain”, 25 which was rebolted (using MCSA bolts and anchors), surely one of the best sport 25’s in the country, definitely the most exposed!

Harrismith Rock Climbing

Colin Crabtree on Bird Brain (25). Photo by Dave Johns

Harrismith Rock Climbing

Andrew Pedley opening ‘Free State of Mind’, 29. Pic by Colin Crabtree

Next in the project line-up is a massive steep wall  above the Eagles Head chalet; bolted by Grant Murray in 1995, this 30-metre 15-degree overhanging wall looks a ‘Masawatee’ on sandstone; crimpers instead of slopers, a massive arch of rock in permanent shade; it will likely go at 32-33.  Andrew has dubbed it ‘Phase-Change’.

There are numerous untouched crags and old projects on massive leaning walls and boulders all over the property and adjacent farms.  If you are keen to get in on the next “rush”,  set a few weekends aside, borrow a drill and steer the car southeast (instead of east..).  With the highway improvements from Joburg  it’s 3 hours door-to-door –  at a gentleman’s pace; 2.5 for the quick.  Can’t be more than 3 hours from Durbs, a great way to escape the summer sweat; Harrismith is always 10 degrees cooler than lower lying areas.

Harrismith Rock Climbing

Back in the day! Scanned from the old hand written topo, Dark Desert Highway opened by Mike Cartwright, probably only seen 1-2 ascents, probably 28.

The Mt Everest property has new owners; they are there for the sheep farming but very friendly and keen to see an increased number of climbers (as we are generally good folk).  There is camping and chalet options, all very well priced and the views… just crazy, best scenery in SA to my eyes.  Check out the Mt Everest website at goeverest.co.za.
To contact the owners call 079 886 3101 or send an email.

There is a guidebook to the area compiled by Gavin Peckham which can be ordered from him here, or they can be bought for R95 at the farm.  Hopefully someday a guidebook will be free and downloadable, no better way to get people interested in this wonderful area again…

For more specific climbing info and psyche, contact Andrew (user name Andrew P) through this website.

The Harrismith RD can be found in the Routes Wiki (you can also still get the route book)

Go get it!

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11 Responses to Harrismith. The new frontier?

  1. Ian Jan 25, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    Go have a look at Alcatraz, could probably do with some replacement bolts.

  2. Pierre Joubert Jan 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    Where is this Bird Brain? Close to Swiss Cheese?

  3. Grant Jan 25, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    Very cool! No mention of the slightly variable weather though…

  4. Amanda Weyers Jan 25, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    The phone number in the article is incorrect, it should be 079 886 3101

  5. Justin Jan 25, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    Thanks, I have updated the phone number in the article.

  6. Brian Weaver Jan 26, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    @Pierre yeah, it’s just to the right of Swiss Cheese and Free State of Mind, in the corner… It’s brilliant

  7. Paul Jan 26, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    What a lovely place! So glad that the new owners are keeping at accessible for climbers!

  8. Hector Jan 26, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    There’ll probably be a rad (hard) route up the overhanging face below the top chains of Indecent Exposure…

  9. Laura Feb 2, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    Most magical place ever 🙂 Nothing better to make you feel alive than getting on Everest rock!

  10. Warren G Feb 2, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Is there a Rock and Road this year and isn’t it in eastern Free State?

  11. Justin Feb 10, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    The RD can be found here: http://www.climbing.co.za/wiki/index.php?title=Harrismith

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