African Time - ain’t a straight line (23, A0) ***

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African Time Topo

The route offers great quality climbing particularly from pitch 3. After making the halfway ledge, we found that other climbers had nabbed our intended continuation. After making a few abortive (and white-knuckle) attempts at a direct continuation, we eventually, in African Time, meandered towards other parts of the wall to resume our route on less-crowded rock.

Start approximately 40m left of Armageddon Time and about 10 meters right of a big flat boulder surrounded by Wild Peach trees. This is almost directly below the left hand edge of the large stepped roofs of Armageddon’s third pitch. The route follows close to a fairly obvious straight line break that runs up the first half of the wall at about 10 degrees left of vertical. This break looks chossy and vegetated, but the route mostly avoids it, except for the first and parts of the second pitch. At the third pitch it rails right (through the large left-facing corner) and continues up a clean crack line that runs parallel and about 8 meters right of the main vegetated break.

  • Pitch 1: 45m, (19) This pitch starts up the very shallow recess, following the leftward trend of the entire break. Start up easy ground and continue on small holds up the steepest part of the seam past an old peg (this should be replaced) – the gear is thin in the first half of this pitch. At about 15 to 20 meters the seam opens to a finger crack. Continue up the slabby face left of the crack to a good rail. Pull up steeply in a good crack to a small bushy ledge. Follow the main vegetated vertical break above for about 10 meters, to where it steepens. Gain a rail on the left at an orange patch of rock below a small roof. Rail left and up, to stance on a good ledge in a recess (gear for the stance can be found several meters further up).
  • Pitch 2: 35m, (20) From the ledge climb a few meters up and right to a small ledge. Climb a steep, reachy finger crack for several meters until it is possible to step out right to stand on the arête. Climb the arête to reach a ledge at the bottom left of the large Armageddon roofs. From the ledge step left across the vegetated recess (wet after rains) and up to a hanging stance at the level of the first, thin rail that goes out right, across the overhanging, leftwards facing wall. This is about 10 meters up from the ledge at the top of the arête and 5 meters below a bigger, easier, but unprotected rail going out right.
  • Pitch 3: 30m (22) Rail right for 5 meters to the skyline arête. The rail is thinnest at the start (crux) and widens later. Move up and rightwards for 5 meters to a ledge. Then climb up past a small roof about 5 meters above (thin), and up to gain the clean leftwards-trending crack up to a big, comfortable ledge.

Note: It would be possible to combine the next 2 pitches (only with 60m ropes), but it would be a long, very sustained pitch, requiring much gear.

  • Pitch 4: 40m (21) The route continues up the clean, straight, leftwards tending crack line about 6 meters in from the left hand edge of the ledge (the continuation of the crack line from the last pitch). Climb this up to a tiny ledge at about 15 meters and continue sustained climbing, through layback moves, and two small roofs, and then follow the crack line leftwards around a small arête into less steep ground in a recess. Recommend hanging belay here.
  • Pitch 5: 12m (21) Continue up the crack and where it steepens, use the arête on the right and face on the left to stem to gain a good rail 5 meters above. Move up and slightly right to finish up a layback and thin face moves (the sting in the tail) to gain the halfway ledge.

Note: There is an easier-looking escape up the left-hand, chossy recess.

Note: There is an alternative, hard finish (done only on top rope) - 23 or more on very sketchy gear. After the 2 small roofs on pitch 4, rail 2 meters right below a third roof. Lay back and use pockets on the face above. Move up and slightly right into the vertical break up to a small roof and then left up to the rail and then up the last, thin few meters of the wall.

The route continues way over to the right (towards Smalblaar Ridge). Walk along the ledge past Armageddon and the exposed step-over. Approximately 15 meters beyond this is an obvious break, where a steep vertical, very grassed-up crack leads into a roof. Four metres right of this is a leftwards tending, thin finger crack which runs up to the right hand side of the roof.

  • Pitch 6: 45m, (23) Climb the finger crack. Follow the wider crack above, through another roof and straight up to a big ledge.
  • Pitch 7: 35m, (18 A0) Continue straight up the line of the last pitch for 5 meters. Trend left on small ledges and faces to reach the base of the obvious overhanging crack just left of the big corner. Aid up the crack (will go free at about grade 26). Continue up a few meters and left to a ledge.
  • Pitch 8: 25m, (21) Go left along the ledge for about 3 meters. Climb the vertical finger crack, through 2 small roofs. Traverse a few meters across the face above to its left hand edge and do a thin move up and into a crack that is followed easily up to a ledge below a roof.
  • Pitch 9: 30m, (21) Climb the overhanging chimney / crack through the roof from the ledge (hard), into thin cracks in a face above and then straight up to a ledge. Climb one of the water runnels on the next face up to the top.

First Ascent: Johann Lanz and Robert Zipplies, May 2011