WOW Prow Topo

Following the recent trip to the Wow Prow by Paige Claassen, Jon Glassberg, and a psyched bunch of climbers from Joburg I decided to let the cat out of the bag and write this topo.

Although there are only a handful of routes, the quality is exceptional; if you climb 28 and above its definitely worth a long weekend.  If you are from Bloem, now’s the time to get on that Moon Board and get strong enough for Digital Warfare, its on your doorstep!  Many of the climbs are on pockets which is pretty different for South Africans, increasing its appeal – pockets are so cool!

If you do decide to go please respect the landowner arrangements described in the topo.

Andrew P.

wow prow topo

Andrew Pedley on Digital Warfare. Pic by Dirk Smith


Sport climbing on pocketed sandstone with grades from 27 to 33..and a single 16.  The climbing may be the best in SA though there aren’t many routes.  It is worth a redpointing trip for a few days, even if it means traveling from as far as Mars.  All the climbs start of a super clean ledge which for some reason always has high energy and psyche.

Pretty much all the routes are amazing but if you can climb 33, there is a treat in store for you..a route really like no other.  The number of routes is limited and there is no room for any/many more at the Prow, but maybe there is potential in the area.  The crag was discovered by Hector Pringle, then developed by Hector Pringle, Dirk Smith, Marc Efune, Andrew Pedley, Dylan Vogt, Jahne Theron and Nic Grech-cumbo.  Paige Claassen and Jon Glassberg made the FA’s of many of the routes.  All bolts provided by the Mountain Club Of South Africa Johannesburg and Magaliesberg Sections.
BIG thanks to them, if you aren’t a member…. man/lady up and join.


Summer is too hot and the crag is in sun from midday onwards. Winter the crag is in shade all day and it can be chilly (though not as bad as Everest/Eagle Mountain) but we have had great days mid winter.  Best is probably Sept and Oct then April and May.


5 minutes from the town of Clocolan in the Freestate.  An easy 3.5 hours drive south from Johannesburg or 1 hour east of Bloemfontein (who’d have guessed Bloem would have the cream of the cream of sport climbing!).  Use your GPS to get to Clocolan, then follow the map below.

WOW Prow map

We have spent days developing this crag, please please don’t undo it all by upsetting the landowners.


Parking is on the farm next door, in front of the gate (without blocking the road) with the ‘passop boerboels’ sign (don’t worry, the dogs are actually pretty soppy!).  YOU MUST CALL THE OWNER OF THE HOUSE A COUPLE DAYS BEFORE YOU PARK THERE, TO CHECK ITS OK AND BE SUPER POLITE AND RESPECTFUL.  For the owners details, email Andrew Pedley


The closest and nicest place is ‘Ben Nevis’ which is a cherry farm and winemaker (the only registered cherry winemaker in SA!) with a small campsite.  There is also a double room with an ensuite bathroom and mini-kitchen.  To get there, pass the crag and continue down the S380 for another kilometre or so until you see the sign on the left.  Call Cariena for bookings on 051 943 0031 or 072 205 7328.  For camping ask for the per person rate (R80/night at the time of writing).


There is a good OK Grocers in Clocolan, and plenty of bottle stores, banks etc.


To avoid unnecessary erosion, try stick to the path which we have marked with cairns (please keep adding to them!).  The walk up is easy: from the parking, walk into the field on the left of the house, keeping within about 30 m of the garden fence, passing fruit trees (and big holes in the ground!) until you reach a rock where you can step over a fence where there should be a cairn.  From here, contour left towards the huge rock with the big split in it then start to climb more steeply past the huge rock with the round bun on its top, then past the big the big triangular rock, you should see small cairns all the way, finally passing through some bushes and a little scramble to a fantastic ledge.  The dogs may follow you up which is fine.  If you need to get to the top, walk left and there are a couple of easy scrambles.

WOW Prow walk in map

wow prow topo

Click to enlarge


1. Fist Or Fly (24) ** BB & FA by Hector Pringle 2010.  Start on the left side of the wall then move around onto face (reach back to unclip first bolts to reduce drag). Climb diagonally up right using as much or as little of the arête as you choose until you arrive at an obvious crux.

2. Spirit Bird (31)*** BB Dylan Vogt. FA by Jon Glassberg 2013.  A very hard move to turn the lip then easier above.

3. Rage against the Machine (28) **** BB Marc Efune and Andrew Pedley. FA by Jon Glassberg, July 2013.  Excellent steep start to a throw at the lip then pumpy technical to the chains. Can be done from the first bolt on the headwall at 26 as originally done by Marc Efune (Ghost and the Machine).

4. Born Free (27/28) *** BB & FA by Andrew Pedley , July 2013.  Same start as the above then once on the headwall move right and up the juggy grey-brown water strike with some curling crimps to finish.

5. Future Life (31) ***** BB Andrew Pedley and Dylan Vogt. FA Jon Glassberg , July 2013.  Stunning stunning stunning. Start on the far R end of the steep ‘chos’.  Boulder up diagonally left to a jug on the headwall then bust out left and up the immaculate orange streak above. Doesn’t get any better than this anywhere..except for DW.

6. Death Camp into Stoompomp Blues (30) **** BB Dirk Smith, Andrew Pedley, Dylan Vogt. FA Jon Glassberg, July 2013.  Same start as above but instead of moving left from the jug, keep going up.  Slightly easier than Future Life but still has the boulder crux start. ‘Stoompomp Blues’ was the original line, starting from the bolt above the double bolt on the headwall (27).

7. Digital Warfare (33) ****** BB Andrew Pedley. FA Paige Claassen, July 2013.  The only 6 star line in the Universe?  The sixth star is not for the climbing, just the aesthetics, this line is flawless and makes all other rock types look ugly.  Sustained pocket and edge pulling takes you to a shake then a boulder problem to a glorious cruise to the chains.  If you do this climb you are amazing.

8. And the hardest of all…Twinkle Toes (16) *** BB Jahne Theron and Nic Grech-cumbo. FA. Stacie Martin.  The long slab forming the right side of the Prow.

Oh what fun we had on that ledge.  Respect to all who helped and provided psyche!

Related article:  Paige Claassen bags the First Ascent of Digital Warfare (33 / 8b+ / 5.14-)

wow prow topo

Photos of the WOW Prow. Click to enlarge

4 Responses to WOW Prow Topo

  1. Deon Jul 17, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    From all the climbers in Bloem, big thanks to Andrew and everyone involved! it looks amazing and can’t wait to get on it!

    BTW…If anyone is interested in developing clocalan further, there is a place just across the road from the WOW Prow called Umpukane (RD link: Probably not as amazing but there is a ridiculous amount of potential!

  2. hermann Jul 18, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    Wow indeed! Even makes a boulderer drool a little. Digital Warfare reminds me a little of the ‘razorblade’ problem at Everest – but more than 10 times longer.

    Another target for the ‘Toprope revolution’.

  3. Chris F Jul 18, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    Very charitable giving FAs away like that, not sure I would. Looks great.

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