Swartberg Pass

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Swartberg Pass
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Western Cape


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Download the Swartberg Pass Topo NB: this is a 922kb PDF


DON’T OPEN THE COFFIN

A new route in the Swartberg Pass Groot Swartberg range

Location: The climb lies at the beginning of the Pass, on the Prince Albert side. From the PA/Klaarstroom road on the N side of the Swartberg, turn off onto the Pass road. About 1/2 km after the Cape Nature sign, rock walls close in on both sides of the road. About 100m further, park at the first lay-by on the RHS (this is where Deon’s routes are located). Walk up the road for about 60 meters, until a sharp right-angled turn to the right. Immediately where the road straightens out again, locate a short wall on the right, about 20m above the road. This wall is set well back from the road, and lies at the far (northern) side of a bushed ledge. The wall faces south, with a clearly visible crack system. To the left of this wall is a shattered arête that forms the RHS of Roadside Crag, the main face of which runs parallel to the road. (From slightly further up the road, the “coffin” at the start of Pitch 2 can clearly be seen, projecting out from the ledge high above).

Scramble up to the base of the short wall, easiest from a point on the corner of the road, below a large perched boulder.

Pitch 1. 18m. F1

Up the crack to belay on the lip above.

Pitch 2. 40m. F2

Continue up the edge to the large chockstone; step over this onto the small platform above. Make an exposed move left onto the arête itself, and pull up (beware loose block) to continue through a short dierdre, leading up to a point where the arête forms a horizontal ledge. Step off the huge flake at the end of this ledge, onto the “wrinkled” rock above. Trend left and then right around the corner to belay from easier rock.

Scramble up and then along the left hand side of the arête to gain a large ledge (running parallel to the road below), at the far end of which the massive coffin block balances precariously (opening it might dislodge it…).

Pitch 3. 40m. F1

About 3 m right of the coffin, take the crack (cairn) in the centre of the wall (a further crack runs parallel higher up), over a short break, and then trend leftwards, moving at one stage around a large rectangular block projecting out left. Continue up to the summit platform.

Descent: Scramble down west off the platform (some parties will rope for this). Continue scrambling along the knife-edge ridge for another 50 m until an easy break at the far end of the knife-edge allows access to the scree slopes leading down to the road (and pool!).

First Ascent: Basher Attwell, Carl Fatti, Brian Lambourne. 17 Sept 2010