Good quality, multi-pitch, trad climbing with a doddle of an approach and easy descents in beautiful, pristine surroundings, with nice, comfortable camping. A very relaxing, family friendly venue.
Gamkaberg is a nature reserve in the Little Karoo managed by Cape Nature and is located south of the R62 between Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn, fairly near (east of) the Calitzdorp Hot Springs. The reserve offers extremely nice (but pricey) Bush camp accommodation, as well as a basic stables cottage and a small ordinary camp site. For accommodation info and a map of how to get there see: http://www.capenature.co.za/reserves.htm?reserve=Gamkaberg+Nature+Reserve. The reserve (but not the climbing) was also featured in the March – May 2010 issue of SA Mountain Sport.
The climbing is in Tierkloof on very good quality, hard sandstone similar to Montagu but with many beautiful, vertical finger cracks. Access is a short, level walk along a manicured hiking trail which runs up the kloof. Only a few routes have been opened so far, but a fair amount of potential exists for routes from single pitch to 3 or 4 pitches long.
Most of the climbs are on shady south faces. There is lots of shade in the kloof. There is very little water in the kloof - take all drinking requirements.
Decent from all routes: pick a tree and rapp off – there are suitable trees on ledges everywhere on the crags.
Approach: From the camp site and reserve reception (GPS: S33.670838 E21.888915) take the most direct route up the Pied Barbet walking trail which runs up the wide kloof (start up the road, take first hiking trail right, take a left to avoid going up the side of valley, and then stick to the bottom of the valley). A less than 2 km stroll takes you to the start of the narrow part of Tierkloof – leave the Pied Barbet trail to follow the trail up the kloof towards Oukraal and the Overhang. A minute or 2 up the kloof you reach the bench (GPS: S33.68577 E21.89821). If you are staying at the Tierkloof Eco-lodge it is only a 5 minute walk to the bench.
The Purity wall is the awesome looking wall (right hand stream bank facing down) that you look directly up at from the bench.
Existing climbs are listed from the bottom of the kloof running up.
Nappy rash (16) **
FA: Paul Lochner & Johann Lanz April 2003
This route is located on a pillar at the base of the scree running up to the Purity wall.
20m (16): Climb more or less on the right hand aréte of the pillar, from the streambed
Purity (21) ****
FA: Johann Lanz & Paul Lochner April 2011
25m (21): Climb the leftward tending break up the main part of the lower wall and exit left onto the aréte.
The longer rightward tending break awaits a brave ascent (and/or some pegs).
Finger food (16) ***
FA: Johann Lanz & Paul Lochner April 2003
This route is located towards the left hand side of the wall with multiple vertical cracks on the opposite side and slightly upstream of the Purity wall.
38m (16): Aim for the immaculate looking crack above and then climb it.
Forbearance (21) ****
FA: Johann Lanz & Paul Lochner April 2011
This route is located upstream of Finger food, around the corner on the higher south facing part of the wall. Scramble up from the stream bed and left along sloping ground below the first tier of the wall. Start towards the left side of the wall.
1. 20m (17): Climb the clean, thin, rightwards tending corner crack to the top. The next pitch starts across the ledge to the right.
2. 25m (21): Climb the leftward tending crack and break starting in the middle of the wall. Move up and slightly right into the slightly rightwards tending splitter finger crack and climb it to the ledge.
3. 20m (19): Climb straight up into the vertical finger crack running up the middle of the face and climb it to the top.
Note: Pitches 2 and 3 can easily be combined into one.
Kiddies Corner Sector
Wail (13) **
FA: Sebastian Lanz
18m (13): Climb the right hand aréte and face just left of it.
A plus (15) ***
FA: Matthew Lochner
18m (15): Climb straight up the middle of the face, to the right of the Wail aréte.
Lightning flash (9) **
15m (9): Climb the crack in the face to the right of the corner, right of A plus, and continue up left past ledges.