Fledermaus – De La Bat Ridge ***** Grade E2
C Inglis, B Quail and P White 1958
An Africa Ledge Route in the country. A fun day.
4km from the Hotel turnoff, where the Kloof opens out and there is a view of De Wet’s farm below the Molenaarsberg, park at a layby at the bottom of De La Bat ravine. Slog ¾ hr up the left side of the ravine heading for some grey slabs at the foot of a rib on the right of a red and grey amphitheatre. Halfway up the rib is a prominent nose shaped overhang. The first slab (with a rocket shaped chimney on the left) can be bypassed by scrambling up ledges on the left. Don’t. Traverse onto the front of the buttress below the “rocket” chimney.
40m “D”. Climb up the slab, ending in a short crack, to a ledge below an overhanging cleft by a bottomless recess. 15m “E1”. The recess has some hollow sounding flakes init, which you stand on to exit to the right to an easy face and up to a big ledge. 40m “C”. Move diagonally up the easy slab to a grassy corner. Scramble to a narrow ledge under an orange overhang (the big nose visible from the road is further up on the right). Traverse left onto the front of the rib to a belay. 45m “D+”. Pull through a little brown undercut face. Climb in the corner until you are forced out right onto the face (where it is possible to make a 2-man stance). Above looks a bit grotty, but is OK. On the final section, step into a groove in the corner, which is climbed to the ledge. 40m “B”. Scramble up diagonally right over easy boulders until under a funnel shaped, ramp-like slab with a thin slanting crack in it. Above is a tall grey blocky corner. 35m “E2”. Climb the slab and some blocks to get into the corner. Ascend the jam-crack to a stance below or on top of a chockstone. 20m “C”. Move up a clean rib on the right edge of a face to a long narrow ledge under overhangs. The key pitch breaks through 6/7m left.
30m “E2”. Pull through the chest high overhang onto a sloping ramp. Climb up using the groove on the right until lichen covered rock closes in. Step out right and traverse to a 3-man platform on a rib. Pull up the recess for 5m to a better stance.
80m “B”. Although it is possible to do a pitch up the steep grey wall ahead, or even in the crack around the corner to the right, the more usual way is a scramble up the bushy face to the right, then head back diagonally left across a grassy ledge and up a lichen covered face. Walk left on the ledge now reached, past a block, to the corner. 20m “E3”. From a flat block under the undercut corner do a long step up and left around the edge. An awkward pull up is followed by a crack in the face, which runs out of grips at one point, and continue on a face to a platform. 8m “C”. Step up into the chimney recess and exit right onto the walk off ledge.
Although it is possible to climb pitches in the rock band above, the usual practice now is to descend by traversing left along a grass ledge and over the top of the ridge. Angle down past a low cave, then cut back towards the ridge and descend some gullies in a rock band (beaconed), then either follow a white watercourse to the road or keep on the ridge by angling back on sloping ledges until low down enough to cross over the ridge. At this point it becomes clear that the ridge has split and you have to cross a big slope heading for the line of pylons to get back to the bottom of De La Bat Ravine. (1¼ hours).