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Bronkies and the Bolting Bug

Dave with his trusted old Hilti drill
Dave with his trusted old Hilti drill

When I began climbing back in 2010 I remember the fellow Wits climbers I climbed with saying Bronkies has a grade sealing of 27 and that there is no potential at the crag for anything decent except within the Eagle nesting zone. While the former statement is mostly true, the latter has been proven terribly incorrect.

Like many sport climbers I too aspired to one day bolt some lines and walked the base of crags looking up making the famous statement “something could definitely go here.”  The urge to place metal in rock grew until one day in 2012 I took the step.  There was a line at Bronkies (the crag with no further potential) that I had looked at many times. I spoke to Darryl Margetts about bolting and how to go about it.

Darryl said he would show me how to bolt and assist on the route if I purchased bolts and hangers. I was given the bolt specification and bought a box of Hilti bolts (which come in a box of 40).

Darryl helped me bolt The Bat (24) and that was it, the bolting bug had bitten and the infection set in. With 30 bolts remaining in my possession I walked the base of Bronkies with a different mindset constantly on the look out for which line of rock to next drill holes in.

After purchasing a 2nd hand Hilti drill and more hangers I went crazy bolting the Joker (25), Silence of the Lambs (25) and the finish to Red Dragon (30) which became a major obsession and long term project.

About a year later I opened Red Dragon and remember many of Bronkies local climbers saying that they guess they will no longer see me at Bronkies since there was nothing left there for me to climb.

They were wrong, there was still more.

David Wade opening 'The Flying Dutchman' (27)
David Wade opening ‘The Flying Dutchman’ (27)
John Wade sending 'The Bat' (24)
John Wade sending ‘The Bat’ (24)


In-between bolting and opening Red Dragon I opened Black Pearl (27), which was bolted by Andeas Kiefer through what looked like an unclimbable roof. This open the door to me spotting another line to the right of it, which I thought was going to be graded over 30.
February 2014 I bolted and opened this line, The Flying Dutchman, and after figuring out some good beta graded it 27.
But I wasn’t done yet, last month I bolted and opened a direct finish to Blue Suede shoes called ‘Mortal Blue’ (25) and this past Saturday bolted and opened ‘Barbarians’ (24), a sustained 24 just before the eagle nesting area.


Side pull rock climbing
David Wade at the top of ‘Red Dragon’ (30)


But now, after opening 8 new lines at ‘the crag with no further potential’ I think I’m finally done. It may be time to look for a new crag near by to develop. Although, coming to think of it, there may be another good line I spotted a while back…
PS: The Flying Dutchman (27), Mortal Blue (25) and Barbarians (24) have not yet (to my knowledge) had second ascents, so go grab those second ascent and confirm the grades!



  1. Avatar

    Good job. Please bolt us a hard line to get something new out there for us to play on:D


  2. Avatar

    nice Dave. Some great routes, I look forward to trying the latest additions. If only the eagle section was open, the best lines there I think. Ebert, there is Red Dragon which will certainly keep you busy for a couple days, its hard especially without the knee.

  3. Avatar

    Good job! Bring that drill to KZN ;p

  4. Avatar

    What’s that first picture REALLY about…? 😉

  5. Avatar

    Hermann, someone needed to ask that question!

  6. Avatar

    haha, janee…

  7. Avatar

    Hehe! Guns boet!

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    Hi Dave, thanks for the article and also of course the routes. l have a son who is 12 and really short who is capable of 24 l think, Brian Weaver has helped him a lot. which of the Bronkies routes will suit him. it makes such a difference choosing the right route as it is really fraustrating to be beaten by a low grade with only large widely spaced holds. Thanks Matthew

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