Spitzkoppe & Pontoks

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Spitzkoppe & Pontoks
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Climbing TypeSport, Multi-pitch Sport, Trad
Rock TypeQuartzite/Sandstone

The inselberg Spitzkoppe in Namibia is one of three granite plutons in southern Africa. The others are Sheba's Breast in Swaziland and Paarl Rock. These were formed by subterranean volcanic activity years ago and were slowly exposed as the surrounding ground eroded away. The word "inselberg" means, literally, island mountain, and apt description of Spitzkoppe. Not only does it, like Paarl Rock, stand out from the surrounding plain, it is also truly isolated. One has to travel through kilometers of flat remorselessly hot, treeless desert to get there and the first thing most people do on reaching the berg is to spend some time just soaking up the shade. Spitzkoppe is well worth visiting just to drink in the incredible scenery. However, many visitors have more exciting agendas. The bird watching is excellent as, although there is no standing water the trees at the foot of the berg make this a veritable oasis and the long. sheer granite faces offer some of the best climbing on the subcontinent.

The climbing

Many of the nicely rounded domes offer exciting but safe scrambling for the not too-adventurous and offer spectacular views from their summits. Ore skilled climbers can plan a long climbing holiday with out ever leaving this one small spot. Naturally protected pitched of 200m or more, ranging from a relatively easy grade 16 to an exacting grade 24, are plentiful and there are a number of sport climbing pitches as well.

Getting there

To get there, take the B2 which leads from Swakopmund to Okahandja, then turn off to Uis Mine on the 1930 (this is a road number, not a date) and follow the gravel road for bout 20 km. The turn-off to the Spitzkoppe is on your left. It's hard to get lost - you can see the berg for miles.

Food and accommodation

There are several accommodation options very near the reserve, with pros and cons to each:

For many years this was a favourite spot for just camping out in the reserve wherever you found a spot for R190/ night, but the local community has recently built a basic campsite with fireplaces, refuse bins and pit toilets. (Probably as a reaction to the inability of many urbanites to camp hygenically in the wilderness.) It is still pretty casual though. You just rock up (no pun intended) and take any available site. If you fancy a more cultural experience, you may rent one of the purpose-built traditional Damara-style huts. This is still an out-of-the-way spot, though, so take all your own supplies, including water.

Check out natron.net for camping & prices

More recently a local has built an excellent camp flanking the Reserve. Spitzkoppe Tented Camp https://spitzkoppe-tented-camp.business.site/?utm_source=gmb&utm_medium=referral#summary offers fixed tents with ensuite bathrooms (about R400/night as of May 2021) and camping (R80/ night as of May 2021).

The camp has a bar, restaurant, pool, large kitchen and frankly all the things that make camping civilized.

It is now reasonably practical to fly into Windhoek or Walvis Bay (closer), rent a car and stay in a fixed tent. As you have access to kitchen facilities it drastically reduces your packing needs.

Guide Books / Articles

Spitzkoppe and Pontoks, Namibia - A Climber's Paradise, 2010 (Click here to buy the guidebook)

Spitzkoppe & Pontoks - a climber's guide by Eckhardt Haber, 2001 (Blue Mountain Publishers) A comprehensive traditional and sport climbing guide to Spitzkoppe and Pontoks in Namibia (Out of print)

Some RD’s and Journal articles not in Eckhardt Haber’s route guide

Alards Big Wall Climbing Page

Trip report of a route on the SW Wall, Royal Flush


The information above is an taken from an article published in the Sunday Times by Jennifer Stern.