The Dark Side

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The Cave Sandstone of Mooihoek Mountain is capped by a thick layer of dolerite with its characteristic abundance of uniform, vertical cracks. On the Harrismith (west) side of Mooihoek, towering above the campsite, the band of dolerite is known as the Dark Side. Several impressive multi-pitch trad routes located here and there is excellent new route potential in this area for energetic climbers. From the campsite follow road south east, just before arriving at the Bosduif Chalet go up the grassy slope on the right. Take an almost straight line to the cliffs, aiming for the obvious black water streak, to the left of this is ‘Rhyme..’ and right of this is ‘Use the Force’ and ‘Under African Sun’.

Crag Photo

Harrismith guide 09.jpg

Route List

The Dark Side Routes from Left to Right

1. Rhyme of the Ancient Climber (19) Trad FA: Jacques Raubenheimer and Hennie van Zyl (1999) The dolerite layer overlooking the Mooihoek camp site has a prominent black water-streak running down the face. About 10m to the left of this is a smaller streak with a big overhanging nose about 50m up. The route starts below this nose.
1. 19 (10m) Just left of the smaller streak is a column of rock with a crack just left of the inside corner. Climb this crack to the top of the column.
2. 18 (30m) Climb straight up to the overhangs and pass them on the left. Beware of loose blocks. Continue up to two ledges. The top one is heavily vegetated and is just left of, and a little below the nose. The second ledge is smaller and about 2m lower, but provides a good belay.
3. 16 (15m) Climb the heavily vegetated crack and then move out left to a large ledge.
4. 18 (25m) From the left of the big ledge climb the crack to the top.
2. Use the Force (25) Trad ***** FA: Richard Pike and Adam Beaven (16 September 2002) This route is located at a continuous crack to the right of the prominent black water streak mentioned under the RD for the previous route.
1. 22 (20m) Climb the chimney / crack to an awkward move where it narrows (pull on a wobbly flake!). Belay on a ledge to the right.
2. 21 (20m) Climb the superb flake / crack to a belay ledge.
3. 25 (20m) Hard. Follow the crack on superb jams and finger locks with excellent gear to a hard crux sequence. A fixed runner was used as aid on the first ascent. The first free ascent awaits!

Comments: Pitches 1. and 2. can be linked. A 60m ab gets you back down – be careful ! The first ascentionists were UK climbers of the 'Hot Rock Global Challenge Team'.

3. Under the African Sun (22) Trad *** FA: Richard Pike and Caroline Graham-Brown (12 September 2002) This route is located some way (?!) to the right of 'Use the Force' near the centre of the buttress. Start to the left of a rock scar below an obvious jamming crack.
1. 22 (35m) Follow ledges up to the crack and enter this with some difficulty. Sustained crack climbing leads to a face and a belay ledge on the right.
2. 21 (35m) Continue up the crack to the left of the belay ledge to reach a final wide crack which continues up for another 20m - a #4 Friend is useful. Finish on a ledge with a block belay just to the right of a rock formation that looks like a baboon's head from below.

Comments: Superb jamming. A 60m ab gets you back down – be careful ! The first ascentionists were UK climbers of the 'Hot Rock Global Challenge Team'.