Haelhoek Sneeukop Massif - Donkerkloof and Haelhoek

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Donkerkloof is the tall dramatic kloof on a sharp bend on the alternative road to the tunnel, and is not in Du Toits kloof itself. The bridge before the tunnel crosses down stream of this kloof.

General Layout

All the climbing described below happens on the left side of the kloof, and have been written up in order you will come across them- from left to right. The three most striking features of the kloof all have lines written up below:

1. The obvious ridge marking the start of the kloof is Bella Donna

2. Aloe Ridge takes the right ridge of that feature, and starts well into the kloof.

3. Haelkop Spire is the obvious Triangular shaped pinnicle in the middle of the kloof.

4. The enormous grey wall higher up the kloof hosts Central Deidre up its center, with blockbuster taking the right hand Fault/arete/ridge.

Astonishingly nothing was recorded in the 1985 guide on the brown amphitheatre on the left end of the kloof, nor is there and thing on the large orange diagonal face on the right of the kloof, so much still to be done here.

Access: Park on the left side of the road as one drives up the pass, then walk back to the stream. Typically there are picnickers etc at the rock pools at its base, but after 20m or so walking up the kloof they disappear. The easy riverbed path up the kloof actually improves as one ascends, and approaches to the bases is simple, however because of the nature of the kloof it may be difficult to find the starts of the routes.

There are many routes in this kloof, however not all are written up below as this is currently based on the 1985 MCSA guide. That guide does elude to other routes in this kloof, and just the basic information about those routes is below, so should you have more information on them please edit accordingly!

Mia's Poort

This pass is mentioned below as an alternative descent to Donkerkloof, and lies about 2.5 km North of Donkerkloof.

Bella Donna ** F2

J.H. Graafland, E v d s Lots, W.A. Schoon 1959

A striking feature on which beauty is but skin deep.

Start:The route follows a prominent buttress at the beginning of Donderkloof. This buttress, on the left side of the kloof, is to the right of a waterfall in a red amphitheater. Walk for about 5 minutes along the path and then strike up the slopes to a grassy shoulder on the right side of the buttress. Scramble for 80m through the intervening rock bands to the base of a prominent chimney where the buttress steepens. Now traverse left onto the crest of the ridge.

Pitch 1. 9m (C) Climb a bushy recess immediately right of the crest of the ridge. A steep, tree filled gully will now be notices slanting up on the left side of the buttress.

Pitch 2. 48m (C/D) Traverse left along a narrow, grass ledge to the base of the gully described above. Ascend the gully. Scramble one or two meters onto a bushy ledge at the foot of a short vertical wall.

Pitch 3. 18m (E2) Climb the wall at the first obvious break- a steep 4m ramp. Climb to the knife-edge.Scramble 18m to the first band of overhanging rock.

Pitch 4. 16m (D/E) Climb up the face directly above the knife-edge, bearing slightly right to a large detached block, then continue straight up 6m to a small concealed stance.

Pitch 5. 25m (F2) For 10m ascend the sloping face left of the stance, traverse left to avoid a minor overhang. Now move diagonally right 2m until below a series of stepped overhangs. Escape left by traversing onto the tip of the projecting nose, then straight up 9m in a shallow recess. Step right around the corner to a small stance, which can be spotted when further progress upward seems very hard.

Pitch 6. 24m (F1) Pull up right to the corner. Ascend the corner 2m until it is possible to traverse right onto an open face. Bear diagonally right up to a grass filled groove which is the stance.

Pitch 7. 20m (E2) Originally the pitch went though the overhang on aid, Instead, traverse right 3m to the end of the overhang, then up and left the the base of a recess and climb the crack to a ledge which leads to a comfortable stance on the left.

Pitch 8. 25m (E2) Avoid the short vertical wall above the stance by climbing diagonally right then traversing left to the foot of a broken face. climb 18m up the face to a stance.

Pitch 9. 16m (D) Start 4m left of the previous pitch. Climb over several blocks and up a steep corner to a good ledge.

Pitch 10. 30m (D/E1)Walk right about 3m, then climb up the face above, bearing diagonally left. Above is a second band of overhangs. Traverse 10m left on easy rock to a small stance beneath a steep face.

Pitch 11. 30m (F2) Climb the face, working back into the base of the recessed corner that breaks through the overhangs. Continue up the recessed corner to just below a large overhang (there a narrow, bushy ledge veers off left). However, traverse right, around the projecting rib above the recessed corner to a large, concealed stance.

Pitch 12. 9m (D) Climb the face above to a big ledge.

Pitch 13. 30m E2) Move up the rounded face into a recessed corner left of an overhang. Climb the corner, then move left on easy rock to the foot of a long grassy gully.

Pitch 14. 30m (C/D) Follow the gully to the top of the Buttress.

Descent: Go up to the head of the buttress, cross a gully on the left and move onto a ridge which descends, curving towards north. Lower down, move right into a deep water scoured ravine. (which could be used all the way down bus is very bushy). The ridge and the descent to the ravine are beaconed.

Spire Aloe Ridge

Central Diedre - Donkerkloof **** G1/M1

A Dick and R Fuggle 1969

Significant variations as well as opening pitches 1-7 by a Barley, D. Hartly, B Honey, M Scott and H. Snijders

A Serious, big wall, but the best route in the vicinity. An easy approach, but long retreat or descent.

Start: Walk up Donkerkloof for about 30 minutes to the large face with the massive overhangs, left of Haelhoek Spire. Walk up the long clean scree to the foot of the rock buttress on the right, where the treeline ends. Block Buster is further right.

Pitch 1. 45m (F2) On the buttress at the right side, near the top of the scree a swinging traverse leads right into a groove on the corner. A Series of strenuous Pull-ups follow. Continue to a good belay at the end of the rope.

Pitch 2. 45m (F1) Climb the face above, move left and climb a series of blocks and a little faces to a big ledge. Traverse right and scramble up a narrow gendarme of blocks below the unbroken bands of overhangs.

Pitch 3. 20m (G1) From the top of the block, ascend the shallow groove over a bulge until the angle relents slightly. Make an awkward move to gain the grove on the left, climbing it on good holds to a stance on the right.

An Alternative (F3): Traverse left from the block and up grassy slabs before moving right to the stance.

Pitch 4. 30m (F1) Move right and up diagonally a while, then up and slightly back left to a big stance.

Pitch 5. 10m (F1) Pull onto the undercut slab ,using a short crack above the stance and up to a ledge.

Pitch 6/7. 90m (F2) A long, undulating traverse left leads to a broken corner. Climb up via a series of blocks, faces and grooves to a big bivy ledge in a corner with a dark brown groove running behind it.

Pitch 8. 30m (F2, M2) Climb the groove above the bivy ledge using the left wall. Traverse left near the top and use micro-nuts in a slit to get through a steep section. The ledge is on the left.

Pitch 9. 40m (F3) Move left at the first peg above the stance. Strenuous lay-aways moving diagonally left and climb to a small stance.

Alternative for pitches 8 and 9 8A: 30m (F2) First do a "C" traverse on an obvious line running left to a small belay. Pull through the overhangs and move left and up a groove to a stance in a sort of cave position.

9A. 25m (G1) Move up and right onto a nose and traverse right to take a crack line to a small overhang, passing it on two dubious flakes. Traverse right to a belay.

9B. 40m (F3 M1) Climb the recess behind the stance to a peg. Move around the corner on the right using the peg, step down and traverse across a white face. standing in a thin sling on a minute spike, then continue up through a break in the small overhangs via 2 pegs, to a narrow, long stance.

Pitch 10. 15m (E2) Traverse left to the corner, and climb some blocks to a ledge.

Pitch 11. 25m (E2) Move diagonally across the wall and up a groove to a platform on top of a corner on the right. You are now in the huge Diedre.

Pitch 12. 35m (F2 M1) Climb up to ascend a smooth slab using a fixed peg. Climb a severe section up to an overhang and traverse right on slots to exit past the corner. A bit further up is the stance.

Pitch 13. 30m (E2) Climb straight up the groove.

Pitch 14. 30m (E2) Continue on this ramp to exit on a ledge beneath an overhang. Walk off towards the right.

Alternatives to Pitches 11-14: Pitch 11. 25m (E2) Traverse left to a steep white face.

Pitch 12. 25m (F2) Climb up then traverse right to a ledge.

Pitch 13. 20m (F2) Climb an open book then move up to a knife edge on the left, which is climbed to a large ledge below the summit overhangs, where one can walk off.

Descent: This is eather via the head of the kloof, , or agross to Mia's Poort, or down "B" ridge left of Bella Donna's waterfall.

Pitch 10.

Blockbuster G1 *

D. Hartley, B. Honey, M. Scott. 1966

A major but scruffy route.

Start: This route works its way up the large face beyond the Haelhoek Spire on the left side of Donkerskloof. The Upper part of the face forms the left skyline when viewed from the bend in the road at the bottom of the kloof. In general the route runs from left to right across the lower sections of the face to a large ledge, traverses to the right around the skyline and comes back into sight of the round about two thirds the way up.

It commences in the trees right of a large patch of scree above a bend in the stream at virtually the lowest point at which the rock joins the scree. There is another beacons right of the start of the route which should be ignored.

The rock is generally sound, but there are a number of loose blocks that should be treated with care.

Pitch 1. 36m (E2) Climb a recess 12m past some small trees. Move right 6m,. ascend a subsidary recess and then traverse back to the left. Climb up to a large ledge. Continue left along the ledge to a tree that provides a good anchor.

Pitch 2. 36m (E2) Slightly left and almost directly above the top of the first pitch, climb the crack for 12m to the base of a large flake. Continue to the right around the base of the flake into a bushy recess and climb it for 19m to a tree.

Pitch 3. 24m (E2) Continue up the corner for 2m, the diagonally left towards the skyline. After 12m there is a block on the corner (Half of which is loose). From the block climb a short recess and then continue up to a ledge.

Pitch 4. 30m (D) This pitch starts slightly left of the top of the previous pitch, and leads to the top of the lower section of the climb.

Pitch 5. Walk 30m right along the large ledge below the main face to a recess.

Pitch 6. 43m (E2) Climb the recess 8m then move right onto the nose. Climb the nose until the rock eases off and then continue upwards past a number of trees and pushes, to the top of a large block that enables one to get a good view of the next section.

Pitch 7. 15m (E2) Climb the crack diagonally to reach a stance on the left.

Pitch 8. 27m (F1) Move up a meter or so from the left edge of the stance, traverse right and continue diagonally upwards (what direction?) for 5m. Climb the face, move slightly left 12m and then traverse right and climb up to a ledge.

Pitch 9. 12m F1. climb via some thin cracks 6m to a small ledge. An interesting move of the second ledge leads to a broad ledge above.

Pitch 10. Walk 6m along the ledge to a beg belay.

Pitch 11. 22m (F2) Just around the corner from the stance climb a crack (past a peg 1.5m up) then climb up a few meters, moving back right. Climb slightly left, passing a small bush on the left. About 3m above the bush traverse left and then climb to a ledge that runs a good way across the face. Traverse left to a small tree.

Pitch 12. 18m (E2) Traverse 9m left to the corner. Descend 6m, continue left and mantelshelf onto a stance below an overhang.

Pitch 13. 18m (F3) Climb the face at the back of the stance and then traverse left onto the nose. Climb up and slightly left for 6m to a cubbyhole. Move 5m left, then up to a handrail 6m above, then right to a good stance above the start of the pitch.

Pitch 14. 12m (F2) Climb the corner above the stance moving left after 6m, Traverse left along the ledge to a tree.

Pitch 15. 18m (D) Continue left along the ledge and climb an easy recess passing some blocks and small trees.

Pitch 16. 36m (F3) Climb the slightly overhanging corner above the stance, move left then continue straight 27m to a good stance.

Pitch 17. 36m (F1) Climb up 6m slightly right of the stance. Traverse left, moving down slightly at the beginning and continue to a small ledge on the skyline. Above this ledge there is a good handrail which is used when traversing around the corner to a bottomless recess. Climb the recess 9m and traverse a short distance to the right to a ledge. Easy climbing up a crack leads to another ledge below an overhanging crack

Pitch 18. 36m (F3) Climb the overhanging crack 9m then traverse into a shallow recess near the skyline. Continue upwards 18m or so, moving out near the crest of the ridge after the first 6m, then back to the recess. The stance is small. Alternatively, climb the face above the crack and then traverse right. This variation of G2 standard is not recommended.

Pitch 19. 12m (E2) Continue straight up to a broad ledge.

Pitch 20. 22m (F2) Climb straight up the recess above the stance. The Crest of the ridge to the right is not recommended as the grips thin out near the top.

Descent: Walk tot he head of Donkerskloof via a series of traverses across bushy slopes, or ascend a slope to the vlaktes on the North side of the Haelhoek Summit and across these to come down Mai's Poort. Both descents take several hours.

5. Flight of the Bats 1977

Haelhoek Spire Frontal ** F2

K. Fletcher, J. Quial, R. Williams, P.White 1965

"It had to be climbed, and it was"

Start: The 1947 route up the Spire lies up the right profile of the pinnacle which, from the photographs and the road appears to merge with the rock behind. This route is left of the original.

Follow the path up Donkerkloof for about 45 minutes to the base of the spire. The first rock band out of the Kloof , (which looks bushy and unpleasant) may be avoided by scrambling up to the right and then traversing to the left to a ridge. Approximately 60m of "B/C" scrambling up the ridge leads to the first beacon.

Pitch 1. 35m (E3) Climb up the face, bearing right then left. Scramble up 5m, then walk left on a broad ledge to the foot of a large, square cut, overhanging recess.

Pitch 2. 30m (F2) Climb the face below the recess about 6m, traverse right onto the right wall of the recess, and ascend to a small stance.

Pitch 3. 6m (E1) Ascend the recess on the right and then traverse left, across some loose blocks, to a small stance.

Pitch 4. 33m (F1) Traverse left into the recess and climb it until where it closes in at the top.

Pitch 5. 25m (E3) Climb the face above to a ledge under an overhang.

Pitch 6. 5m (F2) Walk left, descending slightly, and then climb the face to the ledge above.

Pitch 7. 30m (F1) Do not ascend the recess but climb the face from the right edge of the ledge. Continue up the face to a small cubbyhole stance.

Pitch 8. 6m (F1) Climb diagonally left and continue up to a large stance.

Pitch 9. 33m (E2) Continue up the recess to a large ledge.

Pitch 10. 25m (F2) Traverse left into a crack. Climb the crack and exit right at the top. Scramble about 5m to the foot of a face.

Pitch 11. 32m (D) Continue up the face to the summit.

Descent: Walk towards the head of Donkerkloof until you reach a large gullly running into the klood. Descend this gully until stopped by a waterfall. Traverse into another gully where a 30m abseil down a waterfall takes you to the kloof.

Alternatively, Continue along the traverse to the head of Donkerkloof and descend the ravine all the way.

7. Haelhoek Spire (Schaff) 1947 8. New Dimensions -

  National Road Routes

These routes flank Donkerkloof, and seem to be sparsely placed.

Bella Vista * F2

H. Graafland, E. van der S Lots, A. Schoon 1958

"Looks good from far, but is far from good!"

Start: This route lies up the predominantly disjointed (Stepped to the left in the middle) and sheer-looking buttress on Hugenot, about halfway between the northern skyline and the central buttress climbs.

A 20 minute walk up an easy slope from the Road brings you to the base of the buttress. The route is to the right of the red overhangs, behind a solitary indigenous tree.

Pitch 1. 8m (C) Climb diagonally left to the base of a recess.

Pitch 2. 12m (D) Climb the right wall of the recess.

Pitch 3. 6m (D) A broken face. Scramble up to the overhangs, then through the very narrow slit on the left onto a comfortable stance. (It is possible to do an E3 pitch on the outside to avoid the slit). An ascending traverse left, around the corner, leads to a "cave" stance.

Pitch 4. 12m (D) Climb up on the outside of the slit to a platform, then left and up.

Pitch 5. 18m (D) This is a rib between two busy gullies. Walk to the crest of the buttress and scramble up a few meet.

Pitch 6. 12m (E2) Start right of the crest, working on to the letter as soon as possible. Higher up one moves right again.

Pitch 7. 10m (F2) An open recess on flaky looking rock. A knife blade piton should be taken for protection as places for nuts are dubious. Look out for concealed feet.

Pitch 8. This section consists of a diagonal traverse of not more than "D" over blocks and connecting ledges. Scramble up for 100m or so to the nek below the upper section. A rocky tooth is bypassed on the way.

Pitch 9. 12m (E2) A broken face above the neck is climbed to a stance.

Pitch 10. 15m (D) Proceed up a sloping ramp and then through a short chimney to a broad ledge. Walk to the crest of the buttress.

Pitch 11. 6m (C) Take the left of two parallel cracks.

Pitch 12. 18m (D) Climb the chimney directly above.

Pitch 13. 8m (C) Climb up the left of a sharp, protruding rib. Scramble for 100m to a grassy slope. The next pitch is on the huge square cut rock mass immediately ahead.

Pitch 14. 30m (F2) A smooth recess is climbed to a small platform on the right. A lay-back movement, followed by a semi-hand traverse left brings the climber onto a well weathered face. The face is climbed to a crack, which is followed to the top. From here easy scrambling leads to the summit. The final pitch can be easily bypassed.

Descent: Continue up to the summit and then cross the vlaktes on top and use Mia's Poort to return to the road.