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Climbing TypeSport
Rock TypeLimestone
SeasonAll year round
ProvinceWestern Cape

World Class Sport Climbing 30 km north of Oudtshoorn (near the Cango Caves). The rock is limestone and the routes are mostly overhanging with awesome stalactites. There are 111 single pitch sport routes, 13 of which are projects. Routes are up to 35m long. The climbing is located around the De Hoek Resort camp site.

Getting There

Oudtshoorn is about five or six hours' drive from Cape Town. Take the N1 to Worcester, then turn off onto the R60 towards Robertson. Drive through Robertson and Ashton to Montagu. From Montagu, take the R62 and pass through Barrydale, Ladismith, Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn. From Oudtshoorn, follow the signs towards the Cango Caves. About 30 km from Oudtshoorn (and 1 km before the Cango Caves), turn left into the Prins Albert road. Drive for 5km to the De Hoek turnoff (on the right). De Hoek is about 1 km down the road.

Food & Accommodation

Oudshoorn is the nearest big town - so stock up on all your food and supplies before heading off tho the camp site. The De Hoek Campsite is great. Check out their website at http://www.dehoekmountainresort.co.za. Contact: Campsite - De Hoek Mountain Resort En Route to Swartberg Pass Tel. (044) 272 8214 phone for Reservations. If you are only climbing for the day, you will need to purchase a permit from the entrance of the campsite.


Sport Rack & a 60m rope, if you've got a 70m rope, even better.


All year round. It can be rather hot in Summer, but the main crag enters the shade in the late morning.

Download PDF

Updated PDF Route Guide


Oudthsoorn Main Wall, a 30-40m high wall of steep and very featured limestone, has one of the best collections of climbs in SA. This impressive and steep wall can be seen on your left as you are driving towards the campsite. From late morning the Main wall goes into shade. The path to the main crag begins about 100m outside the entrance to De Hoek.

This crag was initially developed by Sean Maasch and Jono Fisher in the 1990s. It was revived again in 1996 by Arno Naude, Gunther Migeotte, Shannon Law & Jeremy Colenso. Please take care to not damage the bushmen paintings at this crag.

Sean Maasch and Jono Fisher first went to Oudtshoorn around 1991. They came back with tales of drilling pockets, enlarging them by squirting acid from a metal syringe into the holes, to create these perfect lines linking blank sections between tufas. This became the route Seven", inspired by the Brad Pitt/Morgan Freeman film... remember the seven - deadly - sins...this route has seven manufactured holds.

The drilling and chipping at Oudtshoorn has to be seen in the context of the early 90’s. Where chipping, drilling and gluing was all the rage in some countries in Europe, as climbers tried to create 8c routes that relied on endurance rather than getting the grade from a single hard move. This stands to reason if you consider that bouldering grades had only just touched the font 8a barrier with problems like Karma. At the time the existence of a limestone crag in South Africa was a big wind up, but of course the only people who knew where it was were Sean and Jono, who were not letting anyone go there without them.

The whole crag then lay fallow for a few years, while Montagu was developed. Sean got married and had kids, Jono left the country to pursue his climbing/modeling career & Jeremy got involved in winning competitions to get sponsorship, and travelling to Europe and the US to climb.

In 1995 Jeremy Colenso ended up at Rhodes University on a Sports Scholarship. He & Shannon Law set out to explore the Eastern Cape sport climbing potential. In the same year (1995) during a varsity vacation, armed with the Rhodes University drill and bolts they went looking for limestone in the most obvious place to look for limestone, the Cango Caves. They came across the Main Wall at De Hoek, walked in, and saw the only line that had been bolted & because of the drilled pockets immediately recognized it as being the work of Sean and Jono. Their secret crag had been discovered. Jeremy & Shannon immediately set out to find out who the land belonged to and obtained permission to place bolts. Since the bolts were mostly sponsored by Rhodes University they had to strike a balance between easier routes and hard projects. In the interests of 'eco tourism' Oudtshoorn municipality was convinced to sponsor some of the bolts.

The king line, Short Circuit, was quickly sussed out. It got its name after a drilling incident: Guy Holwill had loaned Jeremy his cordless drill that had been set up to be powered by a motor bike battery which hung between the legs in a separate bag. Halfway up the route, drilling on lead of course, during a really long stretch to place the next bolt, Jeremy pull one of the wires loose from the battery, which then touched the wire attached to the other terminal. The short circuit immediately set on fire the bag holding the battery. Just as the flames started to melt his harness and rope, he managed to pull the wire free of the battery, unclip the bag and toss it away from Shannon, down the scree slope, suffering only minor burns to his hand in the process.

Other lines such as El Nino, Jonny Rotten, Sid Vicious etc were bolted and climbed around the same time and were training routes for Short Circuit which was climbed the following year, 1996, after a number of visits. Paul Schlotveldt, Gunther Migeotte, Arno Naude, Keith James and Mike Roberts were also active in developing Oudtshoorn around that time. Jeremy sent Short Circuit in 1996, Bitter Sweet on the Blue Wall was dispatched after a few tries in 1997. A month or two later he bolted and began working Streetfighter. 1998 saw Jeremy leaving for the on sighting potential of the bolted crags of France and Spain.

Between 1998 & 2000 there was a furore about the start of a route in the middle of the big cave going through a painting, had to chop and move the first bolt & the start was re directed. Strangely, this was a few years after the route was bolting. Ed February, then an archaeologist with the SA Museum in CT, intervened to save Oudtshoorn being closed down permanently. Further bolting was banned. At that stage there were 28 sport routes. The author negotiated the lifting of the bolt ban with Nature Conservation in December 2003.


There are several limestone crags all of which are within short walking distance from the campsite.

Initiation Sector

This sector is located on the grey slab next to the path going to the main crag. The path to the main crag begins about 100m outside the entrance to De Hoek. There are routes from grade 16 to 22. As you are approaching the Main Wall you will pass a shorter grey wall with a few vertical routes, some are a little sharp.

Routes from LEFT to right.

1. Deja vu a la Buoux 22
2. Initiation 20
3. Pins and Needles 18
4. Southern Cross 16
5. Dr Stein 18
6. Ride the Sky 18
7. Victim of Fate 19

Main Crag

One of the best collections of climbs in SA. The path to the main crag begins about 100m outside the entrance to De Hoek.

Below is a draft topo of the Main Crag by Roger Nattrass

Routes (from left to right)

1. Streetfighter 34 FA: Grant Campbell (2006) a.k.a. 'Two to win' the name given by Canadian Grant Campbell who opened the route. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth the more popular SA variant has stuck. Was the hardest route in Africa until Mazawattee (35/8c+).
2. The Viking 33 FA: Clinton Martinengo, Linda the Viking Aug (2011)
3. Kohler-Turkstra 31 FA: Tommy Caldwell (1998)
4. Royal Flush 29 FA: Clinton Martinengo (2007)
5. The Abominable Douwman 29 FA: Douw Steyn (2009)
6. Bigfoot 26 FA: Jason Temple-Forbes (2006)
7. Menopaws 27 FA: Jason Temple-Forbes (2006)
8. Paws 26 ***** FA: Jeremy Colenso, S Law (1996) previously known as Tears for Fears
9. Talons 31 FA: G Campbell (2005)
10. Mama Africa 31 FA: J Kudtaty (2004)
11. Sid Vicious 27 FA: Jeremy Colenso, S Law (1996)
12. Lost Safari 28 FA: T Zwolak (2004) extension to Sid Vicious
13. The Quickening (wimp) 27 FA: Jason Temple-Forbes (2006)
14. The Quickening 28 FA: Jason Temple-Forbes (2007)
15. Little Up 24 FA: Andy Davies (2009)
16. Up for Grabs 31 FA: Tommy Caldwell (1998)
17. Fin Fang Fly 23 FA: Jason Temple-Forbes (2006) start up Goonie Goo Goo then branch off left.
18. Going Going Gone 29 FA: Sean Maasch (2011)
19. Up Up and Away 31 FA: Sean Maasch (2012)
20. Goonie Goo Goo 22 FA: Deon Hugo (1997)
21. Pudenda Menda 23 FA: Scott Miller (2006)
22. Phallic Mechanic 24 FA: Paul Schlotfeldt (1996)
23. The Vice 30 FA: Jason Temple-Forbes (2011)
24. Squeeze Play 23 FA: Scott Miller (2006)
25. Soft Play 24 FA: Jason Temple-Forbes (2006)
26. Hard Play 29 FA: Jason Temple-Forbes (2011)
27. Johnny Rotten 27 FA: Jeremy Colenso (1997)
28. El Niño 30 FA: Jeremy Colenso (1997)
29. El Niño Dura 30 FA: Phlip Olivier (2014)
30. Seven 32 FA: Tommy Caldwell (1998)
31. Seven (Wimp Finish) 29 FA: Jeremy Colenso (1998)
32. Rapscallion La Codge 24 Mike Roberts (1997)
19. Bitter and Twisted 26/7b 10B+A FA: Jeremy Colenso (1998) Hard 26. An awkward bouldery start on slopers leads to excellent climbing above.
20. Project
21. Jason's Route 25 FA: Jason Temple-Forbes (2006) This route is on the far right of the crag Originally bolted by Scott Miller and permission was given to JTF to open the route.

Curiosity Crag

Up and right from The Watch Tower, a large crag with a slabby base. Routes from LEFT to right.

1. Curiosity killed the cat 22 FA: Scott Noy 2006 (may need higher chains because of rope drag)

The Watch Tower

Left of the Main Crag, the small tower-like crag. Follow the path from the main crag up and across to access. From Left to Right:

1. All along the Watchtower 19 FA: Scott Noy (2006)
2. Dust till Dawn 21 FA: Scott Miller 2006
3. Supafly 21 FA: Scott Miller 2006

Skinny Legs wall

Follow the path on from the street fighter side of main crag, head down a bit, across a bit and up a bit to the Bushman's cave (Cave entrance obscured by bushes), Scramble up to a blocky ledge left of the cave using the metal staples (Thanks to Douw Steyn). Routes from LEFT to right.

1. Closed project Sean Maarsch - follows break veering left
2. Skinny legs 27 FA: Jimbo Smith (2008) 30m - start on tufas, up yellow wall to top tufa system
3. Closed project Douw Steyn up slab onto overhanging face

The Incredibles wall

Follow the path on from the street fighter side of main crag, head down a bit, across a bit. Continue down the path where it branches up to skinny legs. Dodge some pot holes.

1. Mr Incredible 31/32 FA: Jason Temple Forbes (very long line running up the entire left side of the overhang) - Check the knot in the end of your rope!
2. Elastigirl 25 FA: Beth Higgins (step off viewing platform to finish at chains of Mr Incredible)
3. Dash 28 FA: Jason Temple-Forbes
4. Dash - extension Closed Project
5. Right Hand extension of Dash Closed Project
6. No Caped 28 FA: Jason Temple-Forbes

Short Circuit Sector

On the other side of the road from the Main Crag.

1. Short Circuit 31 FA: Jeremy Colenso (1998) A roof climb on the obvious looong roof.
2. Live Wire. 32 FA: Jamie Smith (2013)
3. Behr Hug 24 FA: Mike Behr (1997) A classic!
4. Chicks Dig It 18
5. Chicks Dig It Too 20
6. Gillette 20

Bobbejan Cave

A small cave with two short boulder problems inside. The cave is on the Short Circuit side of the road. Crosses the river as the approach to Short circuit, but head more in the Main crag/downstream direction (to the right) before entering the forest. The cave is small and the walk is tough. Worth the while if you want to climb short hard routes.

  • Unknown (31/8a+)
  • Bobbejan (32/8b)


De Hoek Campsite is a great place to camp as it is walking distance from the crag and has swimming pools, hot showers and other niceties.

Chalets are available at the De Hoek Resort. A four-sleeper costs R250 per chalet per night (March 2009).

De Hoek sells sweets and cold drinks and firewood. The closest place to buy other food is Oudtshoorn.

Other activities

There are some caves near the crag. Ask the locals where they are, if you know what you are doing. Otherwise guided trips through the Cango Caves are your best bet. You can also ride ostriches, camels and quad bikes, or check out the big cat breeding programme at the wildlife ranch just outside of Oudtshoorn. The Swartberg pass offers a nice alternative route back to CT via Prince Albert and the N1.