Fort Fordyce

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Thanks to Derek Marshall for supplying the bulk of the information on this page

Sport Climbing (67 routes, few grades below 20, mostly between 20-24). Some Trad clmbing. Dolerite rock. Up a stunning pass through south facing forests of Stinkwoods and Yellowwoods. This really is climbing in a jungle environment. This area was the site of the early 1850’s fierce and bloody war between the Xhosa and the British (Read “Maqoma” by Timothy Stapelton if you are interested).



The climbing

There are 4 main sectors at Fort Fordyce: the Fever Ward, the Labour Ward, the More Mojo Sector and the Wall of Memories. These sectors are at the rim of a huge forested amphitheatre which resounds with birdcalls and flashes with bird flight. Mostly vertical to slightly less than vertical, the routes tend to be crux with the odd fingerlock for the big cranks. Like the Hogsback crags, friction is excellent. The lower sector is in the forest itself off the pass, and dries out much more slowly than the top sectors after rain. In general the routes are 20-25 m long with 35 – 40 m pitches in the “More Mojo” Sector.

Getting there

Take the Fort Beaufort road from Grahamstown. Then from Fort Beaufort take the R67 to Queenstown. After about 12 kms you will see the Fort Fordyce signboard. Turn left here and travel a further 12 kms on a sometimes not very good dirt road, the last 8 kms of which is quite steep, to reach the reserve. You do not need a 4x4 to travel this road, but a vehicle with good ground clearance is recommended. There is another way (much better road) which goes through the Mpofu game reserve, but is much longer. Pass the turnoff to Fordyce and carry an along the R63 till the turnoff to Mpofu is reached. Turn left and carry on after the third one turn left. Continue, till a small sign indicates a left turn to Fort Fordyce. Follow this road to a gate which is normally locked outside office hours.

Food and accommodation

Macqoma's Den or Loeries Rest. You can also camp with prior arrangement with the manager Mr. Pienaar (046-684 0729 or 082 730 2799). For an additional fee you may also make use of a tented campsite. This has about five large, permanently erected tents with concrete floors, cold showers, toilets and braai facilities. There are no shops after Fort Beaufort (23 kms away), so you it is necessary to take along everything you may need. For a list of places to stay in nearby locations, and help with booking contact the HOGSBACK TOURISM CENTRE + 27 45 962 1340 PO Box 56, Hogsback 5721, SOUTH AFRICA


SA Mountain Magazine - Issue No. 2 September 2002

Route Descriptions

Updated route guide


From the Fort Beaufort take the R67 towards Queenstown. About 10km from Fort Beaufort there will be a coffee shop with poor service, but great lemon meringue on the R. 3km later there is a turn off to Fort Fordyce on the L. Follow the signs on a reasonable dirt road to a steep pass up a green forested hillside. Sign in at the gate house. Continue to an office & living settlement at a junction at the top. Find the crags & accommodation from here.


Fort Fordyce is a nature reserve & is open to the public. Reservations can be made at the nature conservation offices in Bisho. TO-DO: Fort Fordyce has much to offer non-climbing family and many off day activities. Walking trails, swimming and bird watching.


There is a range of accommodation available. Bush camping, bungalows, comfy cottages and a tented camp. We normally bush camp or stay at Pakamisa. Pakamisa is a rustic house with a few beds, a gas stove & a great setting. It is very informal, normal quite cheap & a bit rough. There is some times running water, but bring your own drinking water. Please don’t bitch about the facilities or lack of facilities.


There are 73 sport routes and more than 50 trad lines. Lots of potential for new routes.


Vertical dolerite set in thick bush. Lots of potential.


Fort Fordyce was first climbed in the ‘80s. Keith James started the fresh wave of climbing there. He initiated the first bolted lines & is responsible for the vast majority of the sport lines. Later Garvin Jacobs added quite a few.


1. Take tick repellant. Ticks can be an issue. 2. Good place to find snakes. 3. It can be hot, make sure you have enough ice in your cooler box & that you put it in the shade during the day. 4. There are a large number of horses wondering around at Fort Fordyce. Horses bite, kick, stamp on toes, smell bad, crap all over the place & are generally a huge threat. 5. Horses attract horsy chicks. They can be cute….till you realize they are completely psycho. Don’t let horsy chicks, girlfriend or wife know about the horses; or you will never hear the end of it. You may even be forced to go horse riding which would be a total bind, especially if you would prefer to lay about in the shade with a beer on your off day & talk about climbing.


As the road reaches the scattered settlement, take a sharp L. Follow this road past the turn off to The Tented Camp & Harris Hut. The road continues though an oak avenue. 500m further, park at some flat slabs. Look out for beacons that lead to a path. After about 150m make a turn L on to another path. Continue on this through a thick alien veg patch to where the path breaks out on top of the Fever Ward. Continue L across the top of the crag to a scramble down. The routes are recorded from L to R as you walk in.

1. Life is Cheap – 17 D.C.Marshall & C.Bester Sept 2008 (T&C) Crack up ramp & steps that is closest to the scramble down. 2. Yojo Edging – 19 Keith James & Kingswood Climbers 2001 (14B&C) Start on ramp to the L, traverse along a sloping ledge then up the RH arête. 3. Hey Jo - 19 Garvin Jacobs & William Lesley 2007 (12B&C) 4. Flojo Lilting - 17 Keith James & Kingswood Climbers 2001 (14B&C) 5. Double Header – 19 Keith James & Kingswood Climbers 2002 P1 – 18 (8B&C) P2 – 17 (8B&C) 6. Gangrene – 18 Keith James & Kingswood Climbers 2002 (6B&C) 7. Mojo Rising - 21 Keith James & James Kantoor 1998 (18B&C)


As the road reaches the scattered settlement, take a sharp L. Follow this road past the turn off to The Tented Camp & Harris Hut. Just after the first section of oak trees that line the road, turn R. Park 300m further. Follow a good path for 75m, then turn R. Walk 200m to above the second clump of trees. Turn L (S32° 41' 24.0" E026° 28' 33.1").

Down over clean slabs to the tree line. The path into the forest starts to the R of the fence (S32° 41' 23.9" E026° 28' 29.2"). Path trends L to the Forgotten Dream Sector. Routes are recorded from L to R as you walk in.

1. Panga Meister – 21 Neil Margate & Keith James 01.05.2009 (7B&C) Bolted by Keith James. 2. Rape & Pillage – 19 D.C.Marshall & Garreth Brown 03.05.2009 (6B&C) Bolted by Keith James. 3. Cookie Slayer - 26 Martin Renz & Dricus Bezuidenhout 03.05.2009 (8B&C) Bolted by D.C.Marshall.

4. OPEN PROJECT - +-28 (10B&C) Bolted by D.C.Marshall. 5. (T) Big open book to the L. 6. (T) Big open book to the R. 7. Psycho Block - 25 Neil Margate & Martin Renz 03.05.2009 (8B&C) Bolted by D.C.Marshall. 8. CLOSED PROJECT - +-24 (12B&C) Bolted by D.C.Marshall. 9. OPEN PROJECT - +-29 (12B&C) Bolted by Magnus Wagener. 10. OPEN PROJECT - +-28 (14B&C) Bolted by D.C.Marshall 11. OPEN PROJECT - +-30 (14B&C) Bolted by D.C.Marshall


Just after the scattered settlement, take a sharp L. Follow this road to where the walking trail starts. The path to Reclaimed Fantasy Crag starts about 15m R of the sign for the walking trail. Follow the weak path for 300m towards a high fence on clean slabs. Through the fence. Trend R to lower slabs. The path continues at the tree line to the L of the lower slabs. Once in the forest move steeply down & R to the Reclaimed Fantasy Crag. Router are recorded as you walk-in, from R to L.

1. Looming Essence – 22 Garvin Jacobs & William Lesley 2007 (7B&C) Bolted by Keith James. 2. No Mean Cutter – 21 Garvin Jacobs & William Lesley 2007 (7B&C) Bolted by Keith James. 3. Miscreant – 19 Mark Horan & Garvin Jacobs 2007 (6B&C) Mark Horan in a flash of inspiration lead this on trad after Keith had already placed the top anchors. The trad version climbs slightly more to the R. Bolted by Keith James 4. Justice Denied – 18 Garvin Jacobs & William Lesley 2007 (5B&C) Bolted by Garvin Jacobs. 5. The Slotter – 20 Garvin Jacobs & William Lesley 2007 (6B&C) Bolted by Keith James. 6. Dubious Invitation – 23 Garvin Jacobs & William Lesley 2007 (5B&C) Bolted by Keith James. 7. Parasite – 19 Garvin Jacobs & William Lesley 2007 (5B&C) Bolted by Keith James. 8. Leave to Appeal – 20 Garvin Jacobs & William Lesley 2007 (6B&C) Bolted by Garvin Jacobs. 9. Wrong Side Of the Law – 21 Garvin Jacobs & William Lesley 2007 (6B&C) Bolted by Garvin Jacobs. 10. OPEN PROJECT - +-32 (??B&C) Bolted by Garvin Jacobs & Kevin Watkins.


Pack a mountain bike to explore the tracks on the plateau. Take your bouldering mat or trad rack to the north-facing edges visible from in front of "Macqoma's Den" or "Loeries Rest". Fish for bass or swim at the picnic dam half a kilometre from the houses. There are 3 excellent half-day hiking trails, each exploring a separate forested amphitheatre. It's an excellent place to visit if you have a family and want to combine a half-day's climbing with family time.