Magageni is an amazing wild African climbing venue on the escarpment overlooking Loskop Dam. Routes range from 50 to 120m and the rock quality is mostly excellent. The area was climbed at mostly in the '60's and '70's and since then there has been little activity. This means that most of the routes are easier than about grade 20 (or else they have aid) so the place is a playground for first ascents and first free ascents. But you better hurry up because the routes are falling thick and fast.
The JHB MCSA gets access here once a year for a meet, usually in September. Consult their meet sheet.
The land is privately owned and, although the land-owner is climber-friendly, he values his privacy and his property very highly. So if you want to climb here, go through the MCSA and FOLLOW ALL THE RULES GIVEN BY THE LANDOWNER! Usually he requires: 1) Names and telephone numbers of members of your club who will be in the group. 2) Car registration numbers. 3) Time of arrival. 4) Everyone will have to sign an indemnity form on arrival.
The gates are normally locked and the land-owner makes an arrangement with his employee to open for climbers at a pre-arranged time. DO NOT BE LATE BECAUSE THERE IS NO CELL PHONE SIGNAL AND YOU WILL PISS EVERYONE OFF IF THE GATE-KEEPER IS KEPT WAITING!
There are a number of dwellings on the property. Please stay well away from these and respect the privacy of the land-owner and his family/guests.
Facilities & Camping
There are no facilities. Camping is in the thorn trees by the cars, next to a usually dry dam. NO FIRES ALLOWED! THE RISK OF VELD FIRE IS TOO HIGH!
The campsite is above the cliffs. It is a 15 to 20 minute easy walk down a dirt track to the base of the cliffs. DO NOT DRIVE DOWN THIS ROAD - YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO GET BACK UP AGAIN!
The crags consist of an East and West Wing, split by a waterfall with a deep pool at the base. Counter-intuitively, the East Wing faces west (morning shade) and the West Wing faces east (afternoon shade).
The West Wing is the main event with routes between 100 and 150m high. It is very hot in the morning and some of the faces still catch sun in the afternoon. You can find shady routes here though if you start climbing late enough. The East Wing is shorter (up to about 60m high) and not as extensive. There are, however, some excllent routes.
It works well to do a couple of routes on the East Wing from very early in the morning, to then have a snooze through the heat of the day, and start a big route up the West Wing at about 3pm.
The descent gulley/track descends to the east of the East Wing. There is a very scrappy-looking crag further east of this with one route on it but it really doesn't look worthwhile. It has been dubbed the Scrap Heap.
At the far western end of the West Wing the crag is much shorter. There are currently no routes here but there appears to be some good rock. It looks like it owuld be easiest to access this by walking west along the top and then down past the far end of the crag.
The routes are listed from left to right, looking up.
True right is on the right when looking downstream.
The Scrap Heap
When descending the gulley/track, just after you pop out of the cutting look to your right. You will see a pile of choss. Climb over the wall of the track and traverse to the crag.
The East Wing (to the true right of the waterfall)
Follow the descent gulley/track all the way to where it curves around to the left. It soon runs parallel with the river, directly towards the crag. Just follow the track to a boma, then the continuation path after this through the forest to the big pool. The East Wing is the crag up to your left. Scramble up to the base of the crag and walk left to the routes.
A RUSH OF BLOOD TO THE HEAD 21 ***** Climbs the front of a large pillar/buttress at the far left end of the East wing. Walk up to the base of the East wing from the big pool beneath the waterfall. Walk left beneath the crag, past the massive, deep chimney (Mamba Chimney). You can see the buttress/pillar from here. Walk to the base of the buttress. It is the last good rock before the descent gulley. (You can see the climb well from the descent gulley - great photo opportunities). Start towards the left of the buttress. 1. 50m, 21 Climb straight up on crazy jugs. When these die step left and climb the arête (gear is adequate). Pass the roof to the left and continue up the face above to the top. FA: Hector Pringle, Ian Kotze, Herman Uys 2010-10-16. Descent: Scramble rightwards off the top of the buttress. Walk right along the bushy ledge to the top of Mamba Chimney. A 20m abseil off the fig tree here gets you to the next fig tree on a big block just above the chimney proper. A 30m abseil from here gets you to the ground. Or you can walk off to the top.
THE GAY MONKEY 20 **** Towards the middle of the East Wing is a massive, deep chimney (Mamba Chimney). Immediately to the right is a buttress with a large, detached block at its base (HANDJAM ascends this buttress). The next buttress further right has an obvious splitter up a slab for its top third. This route ascends the splitter. Start directly beneath it. 1. 60m, 20 Climb up easy rock until it steepens. Step out right to a flake line that curves up and right. Up this to where it dies. Climb diagonally left on excellent jugs (runout) to a ledge. Step left to the main corner crack. Up this to where it ends and continue up the face above to the bottom of the splitter. Climb the splitter and exit left at the top to a tree belay. FA: Ian Kotze, Graham Terrell, Christie Terrell, Hector Pringle, Herman Uys 2010-10-16. Descent: Abseil off the tree or climb a short scramble and top out. Notes: The splitter was originally approached by doing the first pitch of HANDJAM and then traversing right, by Ian, Graham and Christie, Sept 2010.
NAKED REPTILE 22 ***** Towards the middle of the East Wing is a massive, deep chimney (Mamba Chimney). About 50m right of this the bottom of the crag is fairly broken. Start by scrambling up here to a ledge about 10m above the ground. This is about 8m beneath a long, narrow roof with an undercling crack around its left edge. The route pulls through this roof then moves left onto the steep wall with the splitter hand crack. 1. 50m, 22 Climb the corner to the base of the roof. Undercling left and crank round the left edge of the roof into a corner. Up this until able to step left to gain the base of the splitter. Climb the splitter to a good rail. Step left to the arête and climb this until able to step back right into the continuation of the splitter. Climb this for a few meters and then step left again to climb jugs to a good ledge in an alcove. 2. 30m, 17 Climb the crack above and left of the alcove. Follow your nose to the top. FA: Hector Pringle, Ian Kotze, Herman Uys 2010-10-16. Descent: Scramble down and left to the top of Mamba Chimney. A 20m abseil off the fig tree here gets you to the next fig tree just above the chimney proper. A 30m abseil from here gets you to the ground. Or you can walk off to the top. Notes: Opened with one rest. Still needs a clean ascent. From the top of pitch 1 it is possible to climb/scramble diagonally left to walking territory.
The West Wing (to the true left of the waterfall)
Follow the descent gulley/track all the way to where it curves around to the left. It soon runs parallel with the river, directly towards the crag. Just follow the track to a boma, then the continuation path after this through the forest to the big pool. The West Wing is the main crag up to your right. Cross the river and scramble up to the base of the crag. Walk right along the base to the routes.
THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM 22 (20A1) **** This route ascends the very obvious huge open book about 30m right of the pool. Start where some tree roots come down the face to ground level. 1. 50m, 19 Climb tree roots until able to rail left to a tree. Up to another rail, then left again to the base of a shallow open book/groove. Climb the face to the left of the book to a ledge. One can stance here but it makes sense to carry on up the main open book above and take a hanging stance about 5m below some massive blocks in the right wall. 2. 30m, 22 Continue up the corner, over the massive blocks. Climb carefully up the flake on the left wall to beneath the roofs. Power through and then traverse left to pull around the last roof. Climb the corner above until you run out of gear or rope. 3. 30m, 18 Continue up the corner to the top. FA: Jerry Linke, Romey Druschke, Eckhart Druschke, 1979/04/14. FFA Hector Pringle, Ian Kotze, 2010-10-16. Notes: Small cams are useful
HEAD ARRANGEMENT 22 (20A1) **** Standing near the big pool one can see a very obvious huge open book about 30m right of the pool. This is THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM. The next deep open book to the right of this (about 30m right, and right of the cave) is a large offwidth crack. This is KNEEJAM BLUES. HEAD ARRANGEMENT starts as for KNEEJAM BLUES and then branches off left and heads for the big roof. It breaks around the left edge of the roof and ascends the headwall to the top. 1. 30m, 16 Climb the first pitch of KNEEJAM BLUES to where that route heads up to the obvious massive open book. Continue up the pleasant corner to a block stance at an acacia tree. 2. 25m, 20 Climb the continuation corner above, past a fig tree (the original route went left to the arête for a stance and then back right into the corner). Make wild moves rightwards past the overhang and climb the slab until able to step left to a good crack line in the face. Climb this for a few meters and take a semi-hanging stance (It is possible to stance on the right soon after pulling past the overhang, but it is then very tricky to get back onto the face). 3. 40m, 22 Climb up to a rail about 3m below the roof. Rail left to a perch where the roof pinches out. Reach far left and crank through to gain the headwall crack. Climb this to easier ground. Jug-haul to the top. FA: J. Fantini, G. Moseley, 1980. FFA Hector Pringle, Ian Kotze, Herman Uys 2010-10-17. Notes: The original HEAD ARRANGEMENT first pitch starts about 5m left of KNEEJAM BLUES and is graded 19A1. It looks very dirty and unappealing, but still awaits a FFA.
CONTRABAND 22 **** Start to the right of Leguan, beneath the obvious left-facing open book. 1. 55m, 22 Climb up and left until able to traverse right to the base of the book. Climb the corner to a platform at the top. 2. 60m, 16 Start on the right side of the platform. Climb up the blocks, step left and up then traverse left to a gulley. Up this to a tree. Climb the fun corner behind the tree, step left to the arête at the top. Climb this ridge to the summit. FA: H Sangerl, E Druschke, E Haber 1978, FFA Hector Pringle, Linda Watson, Ian Kotze 2008-09-12.
THE ESTABLISHMENT 19 *** This route follows a line between Groovy and Dirt bag groove. Start at the same spot as “Snakeskin Arête” but instead of climbing diagonally right, head left up the obvious ramp below the huge roof that is about 60 meters up. 1. 55m, 15 Climb the corner of the ramp until forced out left by the steeper ground and some poor looking rock. Head diagonally left towards the arête and take a stance on the arête at some blocks. 2. 25m, 19 Traverse back into the corner then out on the face to the crack that goes up to the bulge. Climb the crack to below the bulge then traverse right on big flat edges and step down onto the arête. Step across the open book and climb that to the ledge. 3. 55 m, 17 Climb the layback crack and then step right onto the arête. Climb diagonally left to below big corner that turns into a chimney higher up. Climb to below the chimney then traverse left onto the face. Climb the face to the top. FA: Ian Kotze, Graham Terrel. 2009-09-05 Note: Third pitch is brilliant exposed climbing. Would be worthwhile to try and go through the bulge. There is good gear. It will be hard though.
SNAKESKIN ARÊTE 20 **** Start to the right of Groovy, on a slight hump of ground at the base of the crag. Up and to the right is a striking arête with a steep, featured face to its left. Directly up is a fig tree at about 35m. 1. 35m, 20 Climb up to a small bushy ledge at 8m. Step right to a grotty groove. Up this to a ledge. Climb the vague corner to the roof above. Pull through this slightly left to ledges then back right and up to the fig tree. Stance just above the tree. 2. 45m, 20 Traverse right from the tree to the middle of the face. Up the crack to some small foot ledges. When the wall blanks out, traverse right to the arête. Climb the arête until a crack/groove breaks slightly left. Steeply up this to a ledge. A mind blowing pitch! 3. 20m, 18 Climb the vague recess above to a blocky ledge. Up the sandpaper corner above this to a tree with a ledge above. Walk 10m to the left hand side of the ledge 4. 30m, 17 Climb the obvious jam crack to a small ledge. Up the cracks above to a small roof. Pull through to blocks. Step left and teeter up the suspect blocks for 5m to the top. FA: Hector Pringle, Linda Watson, Ian Kotze 2008-09-13.