Howick falls

For the posting and discussion of Access Issues and Closures for Areas around South Africa.
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Posts: 94
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2016 8:06 am
Real Name: Ryan Peel

Howick falls

Post by RyanKarate »

Myself and friend attempted to climb Stage Freight at Howick falls this past Monday.

The day before we scouted the access options.

The gorge walk - as described in the wiki - is unfortunately now 99% out of the question - the trail is abandoned and unnavigable. Vagrants have also now taken over the dilapidated kiosk and the trail area is their dump. The locals we stayed with say that the vagrants set traps for tourists and mug them on the trail.

Option 2 - we returned the next day to try the abseil from above. The amount of pollution, human feces and discarded nappies we had to walk through was despicable. When we arrived at the anchor and looked over the edge - all the ledges below were full of the same litter and crap as above. The locals started gathering around us to watch and that made me feel more uneasy. The last person to abseil down would be at the mercy of the locals as the anchor and rope would be unsupervised. I had a little bit of a trust issue going on and decided to abandon the abseil/climb.

No incident actually happened but it didn’t feel right. The local informal settlement I’m sure has grown over the last few years and with the unemployment issues of late and has obviously left many people there with no work and possibly destroyed any chance of work for a while.

What I’m trying to get down to is - the condition/state of the crag has obviously changed and I think it needs to be stated in the guide/wiki to make any would be climber more aware of the current situation.

I personally won’t be visiting the crag again. And have unfortunately written it off as a no go zone. The local climbers might call me out a sissie here but at least I’m a sissie that lives to climb another day.

Man it must have been amazing to climb next to falls back in the day! I’m sad I missed out.
Helping People to the Top of Their Mountain
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Joined: Mon Jul 11, 2011 11:45 am
Real Name: Allen_

Re: Howick falls

Post by laidback »

Hi Ryan

Sorry man what a disappointment after getting psyched for the route. As you say, it is a good one. The top pitch of StageFright is one of the best pitches I've been on anywhere.

The local climbers have been climbing less and less at the falls. No actual incidents as far as I'm aware, but the rubbish is certainly off-putting, and you do feel a bit vulnerable topping out there.

The community above Howick Falls is a very poor informal settlement, and are thus without services such as waste collection. Great pity for them and for us.

There is still the Dark Side (the crag on the other side of the waterfall) and Umgeni valley.

See you around

Chris F
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Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2006 1:45 pm
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland

Re: Howick falls

Post by Chris F »

Always go with your gut in these situations, being a sissie doesn't feature. We did the same parking at the top of ACRA once, too many shifty looking characters started gathering around the car and we decided to go elsewhere.
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Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2018 2:22 pm
Real Name: Donovan

Re: Howick falls

Post by donsterza »

I was there with a few mates in December for what turned into a bit of an epic.
We also said when we left that we would not be returning, the whole situation was just very uneasy. I have been told that the sport crag nearby is still worth it.
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Joined: Thu May 24, 2018 9:12 pm
Real Name: Graeme B
Location: KZN

Re: Howick falls

Post by grae22 »

Yep the climbing in the Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve a couple of km's away is still excellent.

Howick Falls has been getting more and more siff. Once you're on the rock it's usually all good, although there have been cases of kids sitting at the top and throwing stones... I've always found the people pleasant, though. Apparently mostly from Lesotho.

The Howick municipality seems to be failing horribly at keeping the place going - the roads have steadily disintegrated and the area around the falls has become pretty bleak (so dirty). No doubt they're also failing at servicing Shiyabazali (the informal settlement), hence all the nappies and rubbish. This in spite of what must be a huge increase in rates collection resulting from all the development around Howick - private businesses are clearly taking off (well, prior to COVID-19 at any rate), the Municipality not so much.
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