Category:Yellowwood Amphitheatre

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Yellowwood Amphitheatre
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Climbing TypeMulti-pitch Trad
Rock TypeSandstone
ProvinceWestern Cape
AreaDu Toits Kloof


The prevailing ethic for Yellowwood is tread lightly.

"Tread lightly" means no bolting of belay stances unless all possible alternatives have been completely exhausted. No placing of bolts for running belays that are not absolutely essential. No use of pitons, unless necessary. No use of power drills is accepted!

Climbers are asked to respect the prevailing ethic which is intended to preserve the aesthetic appeal of Yellowwood as a world-class Trad climbing destination.

It is essential for first time visitors to do an ascent of one of the existing classic trad routes to appreciate the committing and adventurous nature of the climbing at Yellowwood. Older routes such as Armageddon Time (and the direct), Blood is Sweeter than Honey and Time Warp are all test pieces for their grade. And newer routes such as Prime Time (and the direct) and Fantastic Time as well as "routes in progress" of which there at least 3, are no less demanding at the grade. Most, if not all the trad routes have at least one "R" (run-out) pitch but none are "X" rated. None have bolts. There is only one piece of fixed gear on all these routes (a peg on Blood is Sweeter than Honey) and there are no fixed stances!

A new route on Yellowwood, Fighting The Dark Side Of Gravity, has had all its bolts removed, except for two that are essential for the leader on Pitch 3. Two non-essential pitons have also been removed.

There has been much debate about Yellowwood and the most active Yellowwood climbers have talked extensively so as to settle the ethos of this high-value cliff.

In a recent meeting Adam Roff, Jeremy Samson and Hilton Davies distilled the following:

Yellowwood is a very special Trad climbing venue and there have been some mis-steps in route development at the crag. Newborn was bolted many years ago before locals had given much thought to bolting and ethics. It is a legacy that shall remain, but should not be seen as guidance for route development at Yellowwood. More recently four new routes have been established by visitors who have made extensive use of non-essential bolting. Whilst route development is encouraged, non-essential bolting is not; and these new routes are getting their non-essential bolts removed. They will remain as good adventurous routes.

Further Signatories:
Willem le Roux
Karl Hayden
Stephen Davis
Andy Davies
Andy Wood
Bruce Daniel
Keith James
Douw Steyn
Ross Suter
Rik de Decker
Dirk Versfeld
Paul Fatti
Carl Kritzinger
Rob Zipplies
Scarre Cilliers
Mark Berry
Anthony Hall
Mike Scott
Kevin Smith
Stewart Middlemiss
Nic Good
Charles Edelstein
David Vallet
Andy de Klerk
Richard Behne
Tienie Versfeld
Alan Ross
Chris Lomax
John Alexander
Evan Wiercx
Ed February
Andre Vercueil
Bryant Roux
Stuart Brown
Dave Shewell
Johnathan Gordon
Stewart Noy
Paul Schlotfeldt
Clinton Martinengo
Bobby Woods
David Mercer
Neels Havenga
Justin Lawson
Brian Weaver
Johann Lanz
Guy Paterson-Jones

How to get there

Yellowwood Amphitheatre is in Du Toit's Kloof on the Worcester side of the Hugenot Tunnel, approximately an hour's drive from Cape Town. The amphitheatre is on the south side of the road (the N1). (It's on the right hand side if you are coming from Cape Town.) A path winds up the right-hand side of Yellowwood Ravine to reach the foot of the Amphitheatre. The walk-in is steep and takes about two hours. There is a water drip near the base of Yellowwood that is unreliable and seasonal - June to December

Fees & Permits

Accommodation & Food

Attractions & Activities


Getting There

Descent: Walk right(looking in) to reach a system of gullies beyond the ridge. Scrambling and two rappells over short vertical sections gives access to a traverse line that leads back left to the bottom of the amphitheatre.


Yellowwood topo small3.jpg


Lekker Time topo with beta and Abseil descent.png

1. Timerity abseil 30 minutes.

This is the safest and most convenient and the fastest descent whether climbing on the main amphitheatre or the east buttresses. It brings you straight to the water point.

It helps to have a print out of the photo and the RD. Before climbing a route have a good look at the "lie of the land".

If topping out on the main amphitheatre head left (east) towards Worcester for about 10 minutes down past the first depression that is the end-point of Yellowwood crack and then head north (back to the cliff) to the gully at the lowest point. You will find cairns of stones leading you into the gully.

The first point is a thread at the top of the 5th (22) pitch of Timerity. As you come down the gulley you will find yourself on the right end of a long ledge system under a long overhang. Look straight down to see a grey square block and find the thread. The first take-off is a bit awkward as there is no ledge to stand on.

(See Topo on photograph)

Descent is an elegant and relatively safe 3 or 4 abseils depending on whether you have 50m or 60m ropes.

  • 1. Abseil about 40m to a sling point.
  • 2. Abseil about 32m or so to the next sling point on a small recessed ledge.
  • 3. Abseil about 18m or so the next sling point and hex or continue to the ground if you have 60m ropes.
  • 4. Abseil to the ground with fifties or all the way to the drip with sixties.

2. Down Time 60 minutes.

Down Time is an atmospheric exciting descent that is best to do with someone who has done it.

3. Zip Time 40 minutes.

This is now defunct as the Timerity descent is better. It is still in place in case there are multiple parties needing to get down as it is also relatively safe and almost as quick as Timerity.

It has been recently improved to include another thread point which makes the rope handling easier especially in high wind. It also allows for less strenuous pulling down of the rope. It is on the west facing aspect of the Tea Time Buttress

Zip Time Rap Route with Tea Time, Extra Time and Fine Time.jpg (click image for larger size)

4. Gully between Smallblaar ridge and the Chess pieces 60+minutes

Walk right to the gulley between Smalblaar ridge and the Chess Pieces. This involves three short abseils. At the bottom of the gully follow a feint trail more or less horizontally heading north east (towards the highway) to round the ridge below the "Gendarme" and continue back to the base of the amphitheatre.