*OFF LIMITS FOR NOW* Hold off the Earth - 300m grade 20 trad in Montagu

New Areas. New routes. Retrobolting. Add-ons. Re-grading. etc.
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*OFF LIMITS FOR NOW* Hold off the Earth - 300m grade 20 trad in Montagu

Post by Brussel »

This route is currently off limits. We were told incorrect information by the owners of Kalkoennes and the area is in fact off limits on the adjacent farm. Tony Lourens and others are trying to gain access so lets see what transpires.

Some weeks back three of us from the MCSA rescue team, Rik, Andy and me, Brent, had wanted to go climb Eagles Folly one of the classic trad routes in Montagu. It follows a perfect arete and at grade 16 we had a magnificent day out with much laughter and joy at climbing such a great route.That trip happened whilst the alcohol ban was in place, but we found a restaurant in Robertson that night who was serving 'coffee' without milk/sugar or coffee, but some amber bubbly liquid of unknown origin much to Rik and Andy's joy.

Earlier that afternoon through a series of fortunate circumstances we met family of the owner of a nearby farm and obtained access to perhaps the most looked at cliffs in all of Montagu. As one approaches the tunnel a left curve in the road means you look straight up at some long ribs that climbers have drooled at every time they come to Montagu.
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On our Eagles Folly trip Rik and Andy started spouting Shakespeare for some reason and we had a good laugh and it seemed that Shakespeare was on the cards for this trip too. We've called the wall the Shakespeare wall and there is scope for lots more routes. The route name comes from a line in Hamlet for those who care

Oh, treble woe
Fall ten times treble on that cursèd head,
Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense
Deprived thee of! Hold off the earth awhile
Till I have caught her once more in mine arms.

Hold off the Earth is the sweeping obvious and aesthetic white rib that climbers have been looking at for years and we consider ourselves fortunate to have been the first to gain access and to open what is the plumb line on the cliff. The route follows the most aesthetic clean alpine style ridge up 300m of mostly really good climbing. The first pitch is a little scrappy but the rest is classic. Expect to take 9-10 hours car to car, the size of the cliff and the length of the route should not be underestimated even though the approach is short. We were in the shade most of the day, but in summer it's gonna be hot!

There are a couple of sections we'd like to go back and straighten out and we climbed with packs on uncertain of what lay ahead. In hindsight we should have left the bulk of the kit at the farm and traveled lighter. The route was really fun and all it needed was some snow in the gullies and you'd be on a classic alpine ridge. The cimbing is mostly on balance, the rock is mostly sound and the gear is good especially at the crux.

This route is as good as Exposure in F on the Witteberg or NW Frontal on Du Toits peak and there is no other route of it's size with such a short walk in. It was one of the best days the three of us have had in the hills and the route really is worth doing. On the way home we stopped at the same restaurant as our previous trip and the three of us had some amber bubbly liquid to celebrate the joy of friendship in the hills.
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Hold off the Earth ****
310m Grade 20 trad
B Russell, R de Decker, A Wood September 2020

Access is via the farm Kalkoenness. Park outside the gate and follow the jeeptrack across the weir and then cross the foot bridge and continue past the house to the right following the bushy bank of the river until you come to a small dilapidated pump house. This is the base of the buttress and the route starts about 15m further on the right of the buttress and is marked by a cairn. 30 min

Access – NB Access sensitive. Permission required!
Kalkoennes is privately owned by the Basson family, and although the Basson’s are climber friendly and have allowed the crags to be developed, the venue does have accommodation which is hired out to the public for recreational purposes. While the accommodation is inhabited, no one else is allowed access to the property. So basically climbing is only permitted if there is no one occupying the house, or if you and your group hire it, then you will have exclusive use of the whole area. For more information, permission for day visits to climb at Kalkoennes, and/or to hire the accommodation, contact Peter Basson on 082 331 4135

Do not in any way attempt to access the cliff from the adjacent farm as the farmer does not want any climbers on his land and we would like to keep a good relationship with land owners, even those who do not want climbers accessing cliffs through their land.

Head to the top of the peak for some spectacular views and then continue SW down steep slopes past a pinnacle towards a nek just above the farm Kalkoenness. Follow the vague path down the gully and return to your car. 60 min

Standard rack with 50/60m ropes with some longer runners. Some tat is needed for the short abseil on the ridge.

Route description
P1 35m 18 start on the right of the buttress. Head up left on fractured rock to a crack that has some loose blocks in it, pull through right on the arête and follow it upwards across a vegetated ledge to belay at the base of an orange wall.
P2 35m 15. Head up right along a ramp up the side of the gendarme and then belay on the ridge.
P3 20m 15 continue up the arête and past an obvious pinnacle where the only way to continue is to abseil. Use tat around a bollard and abseil 10m into the notch.
P4 35m 17 climb delicately up the slab using two good micro nuts for pro and then continue up the arête to belay just before a notch.
P5 40m 17 Climb down into the notch and stretch across (short climbers may have some trouble stretching across) and climb a sharp arête. Continue awkwardly up the right of the gendarme and then up a corner crack system to belay at the base of the obvious crux hand crack. (this pitch needs to be straightened, there is an unprotected bulge on the arête that we bypassed)
P6 45m 20 climb the superb hand crack for 30m and then continue up to two cracks splitting the slanting roof. Place bomber gear and then pull through the left crack (crux) and stance on a small ledge on the left.
P7 40m 18 climb the corner crack above the stance and then continue up the arête to stance on a ledge below some orange rock
P8 40m 15 climb the orange rock on cracks and continue on the arête.
P9 40m 12. Continue up the arête to the top of the pinnacle.

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Looking across the valley to the Eagles Folley arete.
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Rik leading pitch 5. with the obvious handcrack on the crux pitch above him capped by the crux roof. Foreshortening shortens the cliff and we where only half way at this point.
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A stellar this and aesthetic line up (mostly) great rock. looking up at pitch 4 from the abseil point.
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Rik heading up the crux pitch with the ridge below and the pinnacle just catching the sun
Last edited by Brussel on Thu Sep 17, 2020 2:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Hold off the Earth - 300m grade 20 trad in Montagu

Post by codger »

Stunning. Congrats! Cant wait to get on it. Dave S.
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Re: Hold off the Earth - 300m grade 20 trad in Montagu

Post by Rastaman »

This is awesome
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Re: Hold off the Earth - 300m grade 20 trad in Montagu

Post by mokganjetsi »

Nice! Looks rad; been ogling those cliffs for ages.
There must be a lot of sport route potential as well - did you guys discuss it with the landowner at all?
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Re: Hold off the Earth - 300m grade 20 trad in Montagu

Post by SNORT »

Cool guys. Will head there ASAP
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Re: Hold off the Earth - 300m grade 20 trad in Montagu

Post by Brussel »

there are a good number of recently developed sport routes on a crag on the farm too,the one I climbed some weeks back was 5 star good. But I don't see anything about them anywhere, there were probably 8 or 9 routes. And there is loads of trad potential and definitely potential for multi pitch sport too. But please tread carefully with landowners. The best bet is to rent the place for the weekend R3000 I think and it can take about 12 people in the house and as many as you like in tents on a a huge grassed area. More than likely bolted dev on the big crag will be fine seeing there has already been a good amount on the other crag on the property
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Re: Hold off the Earth - 300m grade 20 trad in Montagu

Post by justin »

Dear everyone,

Please know that the three guys above messed up. They were incorrectly informed as to whose land they were on. That is to say they were misinformed by a person who they thought was in the know.

This means, that the 2nd ascent of the route is going to have to wait a while.

Please know: There is currently a lot of (access) work going on where a few of us local Montagu climbers (and some CT one's) are trying to gain access to new and closed crags. Please help us by following the rules by not doing things that you are not supposed to.

TO BE CLEAR - The route above 'Hold off the Earth' is OFF LIMITS (until further notice)

Thanking you in advance.

Justin Lawson & Tony Lourens
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Re: Hold off the Earth - 300m grade 20 trad in Montagu

Post by Brussel »

sadly Justin and Tony are in fact correct and the family on Kalkoenness did give us incorrect info which we unknowingly took to be true. We saw mapping data this morning that does support the fact that those fins are on a farm that has NOT granted access to climbers. Its a pity but hopefully access will be gained and thanks to Tony and others who are trying to gain and in some cases regain access to areas.
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