I’ve never really tried deep water soloing. It’s a climbing style that seems very appealing – bikinis, board shorts and rock.
Trying a problem and falling in soft azure water… in Thailand perhaps, but South Africa? Recently I went on a non-climbing trip with some friends and stumbled on this little gem – a short piece of steep rock, with limestone type pockets plummeting into the warm Orange River.
Although the stretch of rock is not very long, it holds some great routes. The rock is sharply overhanging with the river flowing deeply below – awesome! You can’t hurt yourself and the rock provides some interesting features, with perfect, solid rock. And some of the routes are hard – probably 8A or more. I wasn’t very brave and didn’t go very high up, but the features keep going for quite some time – you could easily get 10m or more off the ‘ground’.
The site is between Oewerbos (the Felix Unite camp site) and the Growcery (the Umkulu camp site). If you’re driving on the South African side, it’s the rock below the small mountain you drive over that sports an abseiling site. My recommendation – if you’re going on a rafting trip – pack your climbing shoes and plan to spend the day there. It’s a great vibe floating down the river, even better when you can plan a great day climbing!
Photos: Ian Finch and Duncan Souchon
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Deep Water Solo on the Orange River