Upper Tonquani (trad)
This is one of the most popular kloofs with almost 150 routes. They are mostly multi-pitch natural routes. These routes see grades from 5 to 25. Many classics can be found here such as Hawk's Eye, Stone Needle and so forth.
There is plenty of water and some impressive pools all surrounded by forests. Climbing is good all year round.
This is the grandest and most scenically attractive kloof in the Magaliesberg. The access traverse above the pools between Upper and Lower Tonquani (C) is over polished rock and is hazardous to inexperienced parties. The upper meet point is below Kitchen Crack. The longest climbs are on the Coffin Buttress (80m). The climbs elsewhere averaging 40-50m. The rock is generally excellent and water is always available.
PDF Topo Download
Poison Rituals 19 *** [N]
Up near Reunion Gulley, starts 5m left of “Bog of Eternal Stench”, essentially climbs the pencil crack that is seen from below.
1. 19, 30m Climb up easily to the small ledge under the dihedral. Climb the right face and crack up to ramp. From the ramp climb the center of the face (avoid the corners on either side) up to a big block and another ledge. Joins up with BOES here to climb the splitter. Climb easily to the top. Be sure to bring your smallest friends and your biggest nuts. (Seriously take small gear).
FA: October 2019 Ryan McCallum & Kieran Richards.
Right Corner Overhang Area
Jet Plane 23 [N] **
To the left of Kalahari and about 20m above the river is a ledge with a big block. Directly above this is a short, overhanging wall with a flaring crack. Scramble up to the ledge. Boulder out the steep wall and crack and continue up the easy slab to the tree. Rap off. Fun moves but very short. FA: Hector Pringle, Nicholas Grech-Cumbo, 2012-04-08.
Below the Hawk's Eye tree
Accipiter’s Edge (aka The Bird of Prey) 23R **** [N]
Start directly below the abseil tree to the right of the last pitch of Hawks Eye. Scramble up as per Hawks Eye to about halfway up the leftward sloping ramp. This is just about where the climbing on Hawks Eye starts. There is a reasonable flat ledge here. 1. 23, 30m Climb up in the corner then traverse 2m right to a crack in the face. The crack turns white higher up and curves left under the big roof. Climb the crack and crank leftwards through the roof to a foot ledge on the left. Up the overhanging wall to a rail and wedged prong. Surmount this then slightly left up the technical face to a short dihedral and rail. Place a good small cam and run it out on jugs to the top. Notes: 1. Small cams and wires (especially a good selection of micros) are useful. 2. Runout but gear is solid. 3. The route was cleaned and top-roped before being led. FA: Hector Pringle and Bernard Spies May 2008.
Butcher Bird 24R [N] ***
Ascends the wall almost directly beneath the Hawks Eye abseil tree. It is right of Talons and just left of Accipiter. Scramble up to belay from the big platform directly below the abseil tree. 1. 24R, 30m Climb the slab on the left as for Hawks Eye until able to step right to a left facing corner crack beneath the biggest, upper roof. Swing right to the prow above the smaller, lower roof and climb up to the big roof. Suck it up to pull leftwards through the widest part. Stay calm in the recess above because you still have to pull straight up through two overlaps to get to the jugs. Don't screw up the last 10m to the tree. Protection on this route is poor. FA: Hector Pringle 2012/02/05.
This is the big, impressive wall to the right of Last Rites. In the ‘80’s and early ‘90’s it saw some action but then fell into obscurity. In 2020 it had a revival, and the mystery surrounding the original routes has been cleared up. It’s one of the steepest, biggest walls in the kloofs, and well worth getting on. Doing any of the routes ground-up is an impressive feat. If you’re not up to this, it’s fairly straightforward to rehearse them on top rope before hopping on the sharp end.
By Hector Pringle, after chatting to some of the original first ascensionists:
Paradise Lost (1982) was the first route on the wall. Jonathan Levy, Paul Fatti and D. Peters made it to the mid height ledge, but opted to traverse off right onto easier ground. D. Peters also did a version of this route, with M. Arsenjevic, where they traversed left instead of right to avoid the steep stuff, and finished up Last Rites.
The big aid route Z.A.P. was then opened sometime in the ‘80’s at a staunch 22A3. The enigmatic Tarquin Holt led it ground-up over a few weekends, placing the odd bolt on lead. He took the obvious weakness through the lower roofs, moving left higher up. It was a bold effort and he had to deal with loose rock, big runouts and an uncertain outcome.
Watching Tarquin on Z.A.P. inspired Stephan Isebeck to try his own new route, Navigator to Heaven. In 1989, together with Chris Leslie-Smith and Chris Lomax, he lowered in and placed two crucial bolts in the break to the right of Z.A.P. The team climbed the route with a bit of aid, including Leslie-Smith boldly onsighting the runout final pitch. Stephan recalls asking Lomax (notorious for his bold solos) if he wanted a rope while seconding that last pitch. Much to everyone’s relief Chris said yes. Stephan returned with Dirk Neethling and managed to free the lower crux. The top crux remains to be freed.
Two years later, in 1991, Mike Cartwright achieved the ultimate in style: a ground-up onsight new free route. He started up the crux pitch of Navigator to Heaven, continuing straight up after the lower crux instead of moving right. The next 15m were incredibly bold with many hard moves, and finished with a holdless mantle past a mass of loose rock. Fortunately, these days most of loose rock has been trundled. Mike then moved left to finish up the main break in the center of the wall. The first ascent of In God’s Country must rank as one of the boldest performances in the kloofs.
Many years passed and these routes faded into obscurity. Navigator to Heaven and In God’s Country at least had descriptions in the route guide. For Tarquin’s original big route Z.A.P., however, there was just one simple line: “No route description available”.
In 2020 Andrew Pedley had finally become bored with boven and turned his attention to the kloofs. The Navigator Wall is the biggest thing around and was an obvious objective. With the sketchy information about the existing routes, and without the constraints of old-school ground-up ethics, it made sense to top rope and eventually lead the direct line straight up the middle. The resulting Quartz Whisperer is a bold king line. It starts up Z.A.P. and then launches into new terrain up blank and very runout rock between Z.A.P. and In God’s Country, before joining In God’s Country for the glory run at the top.
I had belayed Andrew on one of his practice runs on Quartz Whisperer and this inspired me to do some exploration of my own. Using the same top-down approach I eventually cleaned and, with Marianne Schwankhart, freed what I thought was Z.A.P. But something was bugging both Andrew and I – we wanted to make a topo for our routes, but we still weren’t sure where the original routes went. It was poor form to draw new lines over existing routes, so we reached out to the original first ascensionists and got some great history and an accurate topo for our troubles. We discovered that the two new routes we’d done share portions with some of the existing routes. But in both cases their cruxes, plus other significant climbing, are independent. And so we decided to write them up as routes in their own right. I thought Paradise Found was an appropriate name for the route I did, going full circle on the Paradise Lost made by Fatti et al the year I was born.
There is more still to do on that wall: Z.A.P. needs a free ascent in its entirety (Quartz Whisperer climbs its lower portion and Paradise Found uses its top pitch as one possible finish, but no-one has yet climbed the whole thing free in one go). And Navigator to Heaven still hasn’t gone entirely free. Hopefully this little write-up will continue…
Navigator to Heaven 24 A1 ****
This adventurous route takes a line through the roofs right of Z.A.P.
1. 19, 40m Start on a large boulder about 20m right of Last Rites and follow the easy break to the right hand side of the green face above. Climb the face going diagonally left to a rotten pillar/block (gear is min).
2. 24 A1, 25m Move right into the book above and past a roof (bolt is difficult to clip). Step onto ramp above roof, (yellow dot on the nose of the roof), and follow the pegs diagonally rightwards to a second bolt (near the off-width crack in the next roof). Do an aid move here (or go for the FFA). Finish slightly left above a peg in a small ledge.
3. 21, 30m Go hard right on the white (bat) ledge. It makes good sense to empty your rack into the crack at this juncture. Move up on a small hold and traverse to the arête keeping low. Climb the arête to the roofs above and wind through to the top.
FA: Stephan Isebeck, Dirk Neethling, Chris Leslie-Smith and Chris Lomax, 1989
In God’s Country 24R ****
1. 24R, 45m Start as for pitch 2 of Navigator To Heaven, then left into small recess. Break left and up blank and runout face to small ledge. Mantle up and left on the long ledge. Move left and climb the centre of wall above and through more roofs to finish at the notch at highest point of the crag.
FA: Mike Cartwright, 1991 (onsight)
The Quartz Whisperer 26 *****
You need to be ‘one with the rock’ to lead this one. A truly fantastic line splitting the big leaning wall 10-15 m right of ‘Last Rights’. Probably 25 climbing but an extra grade for the seriousness. The climbing is secure and not pumpy but a fall from the crux will be large, if gear holds it will take you 15 m past the belay, if gear rips you will swoop past the belayer, maybe 25 m in the air, maybe ending in a very bad time. The climb starts on a good pillar/ledge half-way up the wall below the first overlaps, there is an old (but solid) bolt at the pillar/ledge and a good sling. We just abseiled in from top, from an old (but solid) bolt visible on side of a block 3 m back from cliff edge, cairn on the block. The ab is steep but takes you exactly to the pillar/ledge without need for swinging about, exactly 30m (knot the end) down. First timers will want to top-rope the line, just get belayer to lower you to the pillar then climb back out.
The first part of this pitch follows Z.A.P. through the initial overlaps. It then moves right up the blank wall where Z.A.P. goes left.
The climbing: From the pillar/ledge move easily slightly left past some bat poo through overlaps to place tiny bomber pieces under roof on right, then back left a bit and through the niche in the roofs past two decayed weird rawl bolts, onto the slab above (Z.A.P. goes left here). Arrange various ‘bits-and-bobs’ of gear then move boldly up the white face above culminating in 2-3 tricky moves to gain a jug, gasp, then move a bit left, then move right to jugs under an overlap, gear, reach over overlap to gain rail, rail a few meters rightwards and pull-over by an obvious thread (cord in place). From here it’s safer but steeper climbing to the top, following the line of weakness, steady past the aloe.
FA: Andrew Pedley, 2020 (headpoint)
Z.A.P., 24R (22A3) ****
A seriously bold first ascent done sometime in the ‘80’s. All sections of this route have been climbed free at some stage as part of other, newer routes.
1. It unknown where the original first pitch went, but the lower wall is relatively easy. Follow your nose to the ledge beneath the steeps.
2. 24R, 45m From the pillar/ledge move easily slightly left past some bat poo through overlaps to place tiny bomber pieces under the roof on the right, then back left a bit and through the niche in the roofs past two decayed weird rawl bolts, onto the slab above. Climb diagonally left up the obvious break to a hollow flake. There is devious gear in solid rock in the corner above this. Balance trickily rightwards (scary), then run it out to the roof. Crank through to jugs and a welcome rail. Rail left to an ancient peg and other gear. Climb up to an ancient peg on the left, then exit left up the right-facing corner to the top of the jutting prow.
FA: Tarquin Holt and Don Hartley, date unknown (with aid – 22A3) (ground up over multiple attempts)
FFA: No known integral free ascent, although the entire route has been freed as part of other, more recent routes (Quartz Whisperer climbs the lower section to the slab, and the left finish to Paradise Lost climbs the upper section)
Paradise Found, 24R ****
This is an adventurous and serious route with a big-wall feel. The first pitch is new terrain, while the second pitch (one of the wildest in Magaliesberg) starts up the old aid route Z.A.P. and then goes straight up where Z.A.P. exits left. The aim on the first pitch is to pull through the left side of the big, mid-height roofs at the obvious leaning corner. Start on the immediate downstream side of the massive boulder about 20m right of Last Rites. Scramble up to the nek between the boulder and the wall.
1. 24, 45m Step off leftwards and continue diagonally leftwards to gain the obvious left-facing break. Climb this and step right on a small ledge, then easily up to a bigger ledge. Make a tough, runout crank through the overhang, just right of the groove, and follow the easy ramp up and left. Continue up the face above to the horizontal break (possible stance). The rock becomes steep here. Climb the face to clip the ancient peg in the roof (most likely a high-point for a failed attempt). Crank far left to the obvious jug below the leaning corner. Clip three pegs (placed in 2020) then navigate the holdless corner (crux) and step down and left to a foot perch on the lip. Finish up the corner to a semi-hanging stance at the rail.
2. 22R, 35m Traverse 5m right to the Z.A.P. break. Climb diagonally left up the obvious break to a hollow flake. There is devious gear in solid rock in the corner above this. Balance trickily rightwards (scary), then run it out to the roof. Crank through to jugs and a welcome rail. Rail left to an ancient peg and other gear. Climb up for 2m. There are two options here – both go free at a similar grade. Z.A.P. goes up to an ancient peg on the left, then exits left up the right-facing corner to the top of the jutting prow. The wilder and better option is to step right and fight the pump straight up into the roofs. And then exit left at the very last roof.
FA: Hector Pringle, with Marianne Schwankhart, 2020 (headpoint)
Paradise Lost, 20 **
Starts halfway between Coffin and the very large boulder about 20m upstream.
1. 17, 32m Climb the face a few meters right of the obvious-looking corner for 10m and continue right up a series of minor ramps to the ledge. Traverse right along ledge for 7m. Belay below an undercut corner which leads to a ledge 5m above.
2. 20, 25m Gain the ledge 5m above via some strenuous moves (20) or use a shoulder. Traverse 5m left to a smooth corner and climb this to the overhang. Climb up right using undercut layback grips to the overhang, then traverse right to easier ground. Continue to belay on shattered blocks.
3. 19, 25m Traverse left around the corner and continue on a long horizontal traverse with a few precarious moves to gain the foot-rail traverse of Last Rites and the traverse line of Coffin.
Note: The climb is not complete in itself as it uses the finish of other climbs, but it is included on its merits, as was the case with Last Rites.
FA: J. Levy etc made the first ascent of pitches 1 and 2. Pitch 3 was first climbed by D. Peters and M. Arsenjevic
Variation to pitch 3:
3. 11, 20m Instead of traversing left to Last Rites, traverse horizontally right across the smooth slab and continue up to the start of the final pitches of Tonquani Triangle and Feng's Folly
FA: May 1982 J. Levy, P. Fatti and D. Peters.
Last Rites Area
Lethal Injection 21 **** [N]
Essentially an alternative to the crux pitch of Last Rites. Climb Last Rites to take a semi-hanging stance at the Coffin rail. This is the rail about 4m above the final roof on the 2nd pitch of Last Rites. 1. 21, 20m Step left onto the slab and climb the groove to where it dies. Step left to a pencil crack and climb this to jugs at the left end of the Last Rites crux traverse. Up to belay at the small tree. Notes: 1. Small cams and wires are useful. 2. The route was cleaned and top-roped before being led. FA: Hector Pringle, Bernard Spies and Linda Watson May 2008.
Blood Before Tea 24 **** [N]
See topo below. Sepulchre ascends the grotty chimney on the downstream side of the Coffin buttress. This route climbs the grey slab and steep headwall immediately left of this. From the base of Last Rights walk around beneath Alchemy and scramble down past the base of Sepulchre’s chimney to belay on a ledge in some slabs a few meters above stream level. There is a steep buttress directly above with roofs low down on its right side.
1. 24, 35m Climb the shallow rightward leaning dihedral on the right edge of the buttress until able to step right to a ledge above the roofs. Continue up the dihedral above until able to traverse right then up to reach sloping edges beneath the grey slab. Traverse back left (hands just below the lip of the slab) to a jug around the arête. Climb the blunt arête (crux) to a rail, then step right to the main vertical break in the slab. Climb this then move onto fun edges on the right to gain a rail which slopes down to the left. Rail left to regain the vertical crack to the top of the slab. Belay at the rail beneath the steep headwall.
2. 23, 20m Climb into the headwall and make a wild rising traverse right to the apex of the Sepulchre chimney. Clip the old peg here and finish straight up to a ledge of your choice (there's a good rap tree on the higher ledge – 55m back to the stream).
Note: There was a very old fixed nut at the crux so someone has tried this before.
FA: Hector Pringle and Arnold de Beer, July 2016.
Variation to P1: 21, 35m. After reaching the sloping ledges beneath the slab move right and up and then traverse back left to gain the vertical crack in the slab. FA: Hector Pringle, Marianne Schwankhart and Steve Broccardo, July 2016
Finger Hatchet 25 **** [N]
See topo below. This route shares a start with Blood Before Tea before moving left and up the immaculate face to break through the roofs above.
1. 25, 30m As for Blood Before Tea, climb easy rock to gain a vaguely rightwards trending rib, then step right to a ledge. Move up and left to the obvious rail in the clean wall on the left. Rail 1.5m left then climb the face to the base of a rightward facing corner. Climb this as it gradually steepens then exit leftwards above the lip to beneath the large square roof. Pull past the left edge of the roof to easy ground and build a fixed anchor at the manky old peg – shared with Finger Hatchet). Either rap off fixed gear or climb Blood Before Tea’s top pitch.
FA: Hector Pringle and Marianne Schwankhart, November 2016.
Warrior Princess 27 **** [N]
The best of the bunch. See topo below. Climbs through the middle of the roof to the left of Finger Hatchet. Start as for Blood Before Tea and Finger Hatchet. Aim for a narrow, left-facing dihedral in green and red rock on the smooth wall beneath the overhang (the only significant feature here).
1. 27, 30m Climb easy rock to the base of the dihedral. Blood Before Tea and Finger Hatchet both go up and right on the diagonal rib. Instead, step left and climb the dihedral then step left and up to foot ledges and a vertical flake. Up and left again to the highest foot ledge. Traverse right and make a tricky move right to a jug, just above the level of Finger Hatchet’s rail. Crank straight up to get to the white underclings at the start of the overhang. Climb these up and left, then power through the roof above. Climb slightly left up the short headwall and build an anchor at the manky old peg – shared with Finger Hatchet. Either rap off or climb Blood Before Tea’s top pitch. Like the other routes here its straightforward to rig a toprope by climbing Lost Trail to just above the “A” and traversing across to the anchor.
FA: Hector Pringle, November 2019.
Warrior 27 **** [N]
See topos below. Lost Trail climbs the large, A-shaped recess on the true right, about halfway between Coffin and Help-Help pool. This route tackles the fiercely overhanging right retaining wall of the “A”. The meat of the climb is a fantastic boulder problem with good gear preceded by a nice but easy intro. Descent is by rapping off fixed nuts - bring some old gear for this. Alternatively top out on Lost Trail (30m of easy choss). It’s straightforward to rig a toprope by climbing Lost Trail to just above the “A” and stepping right to the fixed nuts.
1. 27, 30m Climb the left-facing corner to a ledge on the right. Continue up the wavy flakes and step right above them. Lost Trail comes in from the right here. Climb up to a small foot ledge level with the wide, bottomless crack on the right retaining wall (17ish to here). Climb up 2m to a ledge in the belly of the “A”, reach far up and right to place a good wire, then downclimb back to the level of the bottomless crack. Starting at the obvious handjam just above the wide crack, launch rightwards onto the steeps. Use the right arête for the first half, then finish leftwards to rejoin the crack for the last move or two. Ends on a good small ledge.
FA: Hector Pringle, September 2019.