Working a project at Wilgepoort. Pic by the Portage

Working a project at Wilgepoort. Pic by the Portage

Wilgepoort is a favourite trad climbing area just over two hours’ drive from Johannesburg, which was discovered in 1966 and subsequently developed.

The crag itself is in the picturesque Gouwsberg Valley on the banks of the Wilge River. Whilst appearing to be quite a small crag, it surprises one by having a significant number of high quality lines of up to 4 solid pitches.

The Main crag is West-North-West-facing, meaning that on summer’s days it can be unbearably hot . Consequently it has become more frequently visited during winter, when the temperature on the rock is more bearable. The open aspect of the main crag means that it is much warmer than the deep Magaliesberg kloofs, on most winter’s days.

The crags are located in an area of wild, African scenic beauty.  It is not uncommon to see a pair of Black Eagles, the resident gymnogene, giant kingfishers and otters fishing in the Big Pool, nor to hear the bark of baboons. When the leaves on the trees and bushes are turning colour, especially those located at water level, the place is a sight to behold.

Rock, Routes & Gradings

The rock comprises weathered Waterberg sedimentary rocks of excellent quality, and vertical cracks predominate on the Main crag. There is some loose rock at the top of some routes, so you are advised to wear a helmet. Most routes follow cracks, open books, grooves and chimneys. A standard trad rack, supplemented by additional camming devices usually suffices. The size and duplicates of camming devices to be carried can usually be determined in advance, once the width of the crack to be climbed is observed. (If ever in doubt, take MORE).

There are some routes which feature bolts and pegs, however no route is entirely protected in this way. Therefore be prepared to place gear, and be proficient in this skill.

Most routes will require some jamming at some point, so it will be advantageous to have or to acquire the required skills.

The grades attributed to each route are generally accurate, with very few anomalies. New Generation has a reputation of being very hard (and bold) for  23 (H1). The third pitch of Bottleneck Bulge (graded F2 + when opened in1968) is hard for the ‘translated’ grade of 16; it remains, however, a very good route.


The property is now owned by MCSA being purchased in 2013.  For bookings, permits and the access gate lock combination, contact the MCSA Magalisberg Section,
Tel: 083 845 1573 (8am-10am weekdays),
Email: admin@(add:mag.mcsa.org.za)

Permits cost R40 per weekend (as of 2013), to be paid to the MCSA Magalisberg Administrator. The access gate has a combination gate lock, the number being given at time of booking. Once a booking has been made, it is advisable to phone Andre, the tenant farmer at Cell: 082 388 3087.


By the gift of nature the routes on the northern half of the Main crag may be descended by using The Ramp. This feature curves around the northern end of the Main crag and is clearly visible as one approaches Wilgepoort. It is loose in places and helmets should be worn for this descent; novices may need to abseil the bottom third of the descent – trees are available for this. The Ramp can also be used after climbing routes in The Broad gully, if the particular route finishes in its vicinity. (For routes higher up in The Broad gully, descend by gaining the top of the gully itself and then  walking down it).

In winter 1994 Clive Curson equipped the general line of the combination route Cabernet/Muscadel as a swift and safe descent route from the southern half of the Main crag. The first rap is off the tree at the top of Bottleneck Bulge and then three raps (alternatively, with 50 metre ropes, 2 raps) off large U-bolts bring you back to terra firma.
Routes located at the far southern end of the Main crag can be descended by scrambling upstream to a broad, vegetated gully which runs beyond the ridge taken by the route Naboom Nuisance.

Descent off the Pillar of Eros (aka The Western crag) is via rapping off trees.

Camping, Access etc.

The roads are passable with normal cars. Contact MCSA for latest access details, they change fairly often! See our MCSA Access page. The MCSA has been working hard over the years to keep the access to this area open. Please be quiet, dont litter or do anything else that would upset the owners of the property and possibly close access in the future, always please first contact the MCSA.

Camping was traditionally done on the western shore of the large pool, and this venue remains popular due to its proximity to the Main crag. However, another campsite closer to the parking area has become popular in recent times; it is located on a beach immediately upstream of the rocky ridge which one scrambles over after 100 metres from the cars. There is space for approximately five tents.

From the parking area walk upstream for 800m on the true right bank of  the river. At times of low water it will be possible to cross over the river to the old campsite and then back over the river below the Main crag. At times of high water it is necessary to keep on the true right bank; to get to the Main crag then involves scrambling over the low crags which overlook the huge pool. Traverse higher up on the grass slopes of the true right bank to the crag (see the Special notice, below):

Special notice regarding access route to the climbs

Walk upstream from the car-park, over the ridge, continue horizontally at first and then diagonally down to the water’s edge, following a vague path.   When the way ahead is seemingly blocked by a ridge running down into the river make a tricky move up on to the ridge and down it on to the rocks in the river bed. If the river is low enough one can now cross it to the old camp-site and continue along the previous access (this is the fastest approach to the cliffs).
Otherwise continue along the rocks (still on the true right-hand side of the river) and then up a bushy grass ramp leading up from the bottom edge of the large pool.  Follow the vague path, scramble 3m down a short corner (there is a stamvrug tree to hang on while descending) and then continue traversing horizontally along a grassy, exposed ledge (you are about 25m above the large pool at this stage) until you reach The Broad gully with the prickly cactuses and tree thorns, from where the going is easier (if pricklier). These can be avoided by taking a slightly higher line when you gain The Broad gully. Follow the gully down to the river and continue further to the climbing area.

Other Important Information

Please keep all gates closed. Camping and parking at present are allowed and are free of charge. Water must be sterilised (but see below, ‘ The Drip’). Fire hazard is high: take all precautions. All rubbish shall be removed, not burned or buried. Climbing is not allowed on the separate Western crag (also popularly known as The Pillar of Eros and situated 800 metres upstream of the Main crag) during the Black Eagle Nesting season (April to Mid- November).
The Drip: Immediately right of the start of  Some Like It Hot is a water drip. This drip is perennial (even in drought conditions), and is a source of safe drinking water.

Location of Rescue Equipment

Under the tree ( a Bequaertiodendron magalismontanum or Transvaal Milkplum/A: Stamvrug) 20 metres up and 10 metres true right of the water drip.  The climb Walking on Air starts at the tree, that is between the climbs Let It Be and Reluctance. The 20 metres up to the dump is an E1/7 grade climb.  It is advisable to use rope protection to climb to the dump and also a rope to lower the stretcher or drum in case of an emergency. Last inspected and replaced: 28 April 1997. Call Metro on (011) 315-0203 in case of any climbing accident where assistance is required.
A big thank you to Russ Dodding for puttting in many hours, compiling all the routes & other information.

Featured image Crag Name / Route Name Walk In
Routes / Pitches
The Broad Gully

Also known as the North Face, this feature lies to the north of The Main crag, ie to the left of The Main crag when you are approaching from downstream. It comprises a wide, steep gully, running up from the Big Pool. The gully is thickly wooded in plac …

GPS: ,
15 - 30 min.
All day sun
Easiest: 11
Hardest: 23
Andrew torquing to himself on the FA of JESD Direct (23) at Wilgepoort. The MCSA recently purchased this property. If you're not a member, become one. Its worth it. Main Crag

This is the predominant feature of Wilgepoort, and is where the rock is at its highest. The crag faces the Wilge river, ie West-North-West. Access is via either of the approaches described in the Access notes, above. The crag is split vertically by the swathe of a deep gully/crack/chimney, taken by the route Madeira. Almost the entire crag features cracks which run vertically the full height of the rock. There is a series of very impressive overhangs and roofs towards the southern end of the crag. Generally the routes on the Main crag are demanding. There are 42 routes in this subsection. Climbers often make a base at the foot of the route Cabernet .

GPS: ,
15 - 30 min.
All day sun
Easiest: 13
Hardest: 25
The Pillar of Eros

This is also known as the the Western Crag, approximately 800 metres upstream of the Main crag, in a bend in the river is this crag. The crag faces South-East. Approach by walking upstream from the Main crag, staying on the true left of the river if possible for the entire way. A pair of Black eagles nest on top of the pillar, so heed the note above, under Other Important Information, about when to avoid climbing there. There are only two routes in this subsection.

GPS: ,
15 - 30 min.
All day sun
Easiest: 15
Hardest: 17

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