This is the real Harrismith! High up, excellent rock, massive views, super climbs. At the western end of the property the Eagle's Head formation stands out spectacularly against the skyline. The climbs on the left; Bird Brain, Swiss Cheese and Free State of Mind move into shade late morning, great for a summers day. The climbs on the right (Aero onwards) are sunny until early afternoon, perfect for a winter morning or summer afternoon. It can get pretty cold during winter, especially since the wind often howls up here! Whatever time of year it is, take some warm clothes.
Eagle's Head Routes from Left to Right
|#||ROUTE NAME / AREA||GRADE||# OF BOLTS (INCL. ANCHORS)||RATING||BOLTING/OPENED INFO||DESCRIPTION|
|1.||Swiss Cheese||28||10D||*****||FA: Mike Cartwright (1994)||The left-most line, up the middle of the grey face left of the cave. Climb the pocketed face via some gymnastic moves with a growing pump to a final crux then finish up a balancy slab.|
|1B.||A Free State of Mind||29||*****||FA: Andrew Pedley (2012)||Climb first 2 bolts of Bird Brain then move left and up the face via pockets, small and large. A few big spans take you up to the chains. Slightly harder than Swiss Cheese.|
|2.||Bird Brain||25||11D||*****||FA: Mike Cartwright (1994)||Surely the most outrageously exposed sport climbs in SA!? And one of the best. The second line of bolts from the left. A hard boulder start leads to the wonderful corner above. Climb the corner and up the bulging headwall.|
|3.||Easy Rider||18||12D||***||FA: Clive Curson (1995)||This route starts at ground level. The first pitch can be used to access 'Alcatraz'. You can either walk in on a vague path to the base of the crag as indicated above, or ab down from the chains at the far right-hand side of the cave. In case your rope is not long enough, there is another ab point 5m off the ground.|
1. 15 (18m; 12D) Start directly below the right-hand edge of the cave. Follow the bolts past some unnecessary chains to a ledge.
2. 16 (l2m; 8D) Climb up the wall to reach the chains just to the right-hand side of the cave. Pitches 1. and 2. are usually climbed as a single pitch.
3. 17 (10m; 7D) From the chains, start up the vague groove. About 3m up, step around to the right and climb up to a ledge.
4. 18 (12m; 7D) Climb the wall on the right of the large crack / recess. This wall starts with large pockets, and then requires a technical move to reach a concealed jug. Continue up to the chains below the impressive, orange headwall.
Either climb one of the routes on the headwall, or abseil back down to the cave - less than half a rope length. If you ab from these chains you need to 'walk' across the rock to the left as you descend in order to reach the cave. If you loose your footing you will pendulum out into space on the right. Halfway down there is a slight hump of rock that you can guide the ropes behind in order to facilitate a safer descent.
|4.||Aero||24||10D||****||FA: Mike Cartwright (1994)||Start at the chains on the ledge to the far right of the cave. Clip the first bolt on 'Tough Turkey' then move left and climb the overhanging arête. Very exposed.|
|5.||ToughTurkey||20||10D||****||FA: Grant Murray and Mike Cartwright (1994)||Start at the chains on the ledge to the far right of the cave. Climb straight up the steep wall. After the crux, move slightly right and up the slab above to anchors from which you can abseil back to the cave. A second pitch (grade 10) continues up to the top. On the right of the buttress there are some chains and two abs will take you back to the cave. It is probably easier to walk back down the adjacent gully.|
|6.||Pumping Peacock||18||7D||**||FA: Clive Curson (1995)||Start from the chains to the right of the cave and climb pitches 3 and 4 of 'Easy Rider'. Climb the line of bolts to the left of 'Power Pigeon'.|
|7.||Power Pigeon||21||15D||*****||FA: Clive Curson (1994)||One of best climbs at Mt Everest!! A mega classic on great rock in a fantastic position!! Climb pitches 3 and 4 of 'Easy Rider' to a stance at the base of the impressive, overhanging orange wall. Pull up onto the orange face and climb the crack. Move diagonally right to the final steep section just to the left of the crack. Very well bolted toward the top - the final top-out move is probably the crux. It is probably best to belay at the bolts on the ledge and then walk off to the left and back down the gully. If you choose to ab be aware that the top pitch is just on half a (50m) rope length. You also end up hanging out is space and it can be difficult to reach the stance.|
|8.||Alcatraz||23||12D||***||FA: Mike Cartwright and Grant Murray (1994)||This route starts below the level of the cave. Either climb the first pitch of 'Easy Rider' or ab down from the cave to this point. Walk along the ledge to the crack in the south-facing wall. |
1. 23 (30m; 12D) Pull up diagonally right onto the steep wall then move up diagonally left, back to the crack. After a hard move to get established in the crack, climb up to reach an easy ramp leading up left to chains below 'Power Pigeon'.
2. 22 (25m; 12D) Start 2 or 3m right of 'Power Pigeon'. The last steep section is fierce.
If the second follows, you can walk off down the grassy slope to the left. Alternatively, two abs takes you back down to the cave.