Smalblaar Ridge ***** Grade F2

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Yellowwood topo small3.jpg

Below is the original MCSA description, but to my mind you will get confused using this, especially if you don't know the area. I have added notes in italics to make it clearer.

R Davies, J de Villiers-Graaf, M P Mamacos and F Villa 1953

A Klein Winterhoek clone, with genetic pitch aberrations on a sensational knife edge.

Start Approach via Yellowwood Ravine. This is well marked from the road with cairns. Start below the large electrical pylon situated to the right of the ravine and then follow the cairns.

Walk in on a rising traverse from the base of Yellowwood Amphitheater (vague path) and then up the ridge (better path and beaconed). At the point where the path descends around the corner to the obvious grassy bivvy cave / overhang (ie approximately 70 meters before the bivvy cave) scramble up the gully, go left, and then up another level to walk past the gendarme on its left.


Replace pitch 1, below with this: To reach the large halfway ledge on Yellowwood Amphitheater from the grassy spot below the gendarme, takes about 70 meters of climbing (2 pitches), up to grade F1. Take the obvious line, pretty much on the ridge line. At the Yellowwood half way ledge, you will then be at the point where pitch 2 in the original description below starts.

  • 1. 22m “E2”. Climb up a prominent fault to the left of the crest.
  • 2. 25m “F2”. The smooth grey face is climbed using the left-hand of the two prominent cracks up to a good ledge above.
  • 3. 15m “D”. Continue up the crest of the rib.
  • 4. 12m “E2”. Move up to an overhang, straddle around the rib to the left and continue to the foot of a a bottomless crack.
  • 5. 12m “F1”. Climb up the bottomless crack to a stance at the foot of a chimney.
  • 6. 25m “E2”. Ascend the chimney past a large chockstone and scramble to a stance at the top of the climb.

(A more aesthetic and less thrutchy finish that avoids pitches 5 and 6 i.e. the chimney, is to move round to the right and climb into the right facing corner scoop above and then back left.)

Many of the pitches can be combined into longer pitches.

Descend either by slogging across the ridges and go down De la Bat Ravine or down via the “B”route back into Yellowwood Ravine.

Nowadays, take the standard descent that is used: Walk over the top of the amphitheater and down into the first walled gully that runs down between the first chess piece and the Smalblaar Ridge buttress. Scrambling and 3 short abseils brings you to the base of the gully (water spot during wetter times of year) and a path back to the bivvy cave.