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Climbing TypeSport, Trad and Bouldering
Rock TypeSandstone (Soft)
SeasonAll year round
ProvinceFree State

Topo Download


Basic Info

Swinburne is a little village just off the N3, south of Harrismith. It is a very beautiful area strewn with good boulders, some with bolted routes. The main mountain, Rensburgkop also has multi-pitch sport routes. There is a huge potential for new routes and bouldering in this area.

The Main Mountain can be seen in the image to the right as well as the boulders scattered around it. Keep in mind that the mountain extends much further southward and offers much more rock than can be seen here.

Access The crags and boulders are on private property which is shared by the Bald Ibis Hiking Trail. Please call ahead if you plan to visit. Sometimes hikers or events block book the barn. The house can also be booked. When staying in the 2-bed rooms, the kitchen in the main house is at your disposal.

PLEASE CALL Elzeri on 058 672-1013 or 084 516 6820 TO BOOK, BEFORE ARRIVING and to get directions. She is sometimes out of cell range, please be patient and try again. Alternatively, try Frans (manager) 072 708 5965.

Please pay before leaving or we could loose access to this crag. Ansie accepts internet payments, or pay her directly when you're there.

You will see some GPS co-ordinates listed for certain problems, they are all using WGS84/Hartebeeshoek94 datum, all degrees and decimal minutes South then East. The area is open to bolting but please avoid any nesting sites of birds on the main crags.

The Barn & Appin House

There is a barn in which we stay for R60 per night per person. Bunk beds, a gas stove, a fridge, firewood, hot water, hot showers and electricity are all provided. The barn can sleep about 20-25 people. You can also stay in the old farmhouse with bedding, kitchenware, a bar, a lapa and the works for R120 per person per night. The house sleeps about 12. There are now also rooms sleeping two with your own ablutions, bedding, kettle etc. also for R120 per person per night. The barn GPS is -28,22.877,29,16.576

Food & Rest Day Stuff Etc.

The tiny town of Swinburne has a very basic shop and the 'Hound and Hare' restaurant and pub at the Riverview Country Lodge. There are several places to eat including a House of Coffees at the Montrose petrol station. A Steers can be found at the Caltex garage just after Montrose on the left. You can journey further into Harrismith to stock up on supplies or to go to their Spur or Nandos. Of course you could even give the 2-day hiking trail a bash or some of the shorter walks. The area is really beautiful with some small Yellowood forests, there is even a Bald Ibis Restaurant. This is also excellent mountain biking country.

Safety & Medical

To date the area is very secure from theft etc. but please take the usual precautions. The soft sandstone rock tends to be quite soft and chunks can often break off. It is wise to use a helmet for belaying, especially on newer routes or when opening routes.The closest hospital is in Harrismith. At present there is no stretcher or first aid dump in the area. For serious accidents please call the MCSA Rescue team on 011 315-0203.


Swinburne is within a few kilometres of the Drakensburg escarpment. As a result is attracts a variety of mountain weather. In other words it can be hot, cold, windy, misty or even snowy all in a day. Plan accordingly, bring sunblock, warm jackets, beanies etc.

Ethics & Bolting

Testing was done on the different types of bolts and it was found that on slab, vertical or slightly overhanging routes a certain kind of expansion bolt can be used. This was the stainless steel Hilti HSA-KR M10x110mm, please note that for anchors of multi-pitch routes or steep routes these bolts will NOT be strong enough. Either the M12x110mm bolt can be used or the Upat UKA3 glue-in capsule with 100mm stainless threaded bolts can be used. Almost all of the other glue's and readily available bolts were tested. Please take extra care in testing where you place your bolts, there are many hollow sections of rock. Remember that when you bolt a route you do not own the rock, and that many others would also like to climb it, so bolt it for everyone and not only yourself. Projects should be marked as such by placing the first bolt (preferably) or the top anchors and tying ribbon or tape around it. Since there are overseas visitors the usual 'I.P.' is often not understood.

Route Guide

Swinburne map.gif

Barnyard Boulders

Several boulders with some of the best problems at Swinburne can be found here from V0 to V10, there are also a few routes here on the Skittle & Kite boulders.

Behind the barn in a southerly direction several boulders can be found, they are all fairly close to the barn. The Bovine boulder can be seen directly behind the barn, just left of the high ropes course. The Skittle is a bit further left and a little further away. The other boulders are just behind the big bluegum trees which run along the fence. There is a gate through this fence just behind and to the right of the high ropes course. The large Reservoir boulder can be seen here with a few smaller boulders behind and to the right, this is where the meat of the problems are. The Bolted boulder and the boulders to the left are visible from the gate, follow the path to the left to get to these boulders. There is still potential for a few routes on the Skittle and Kite boulders and still good potential for boulder problems on most of the boulders.


Kite Boulder

Walk along the road uphill from the barn, through a gate, past the dam on your right, past the farm worker's houses on your left. About another 200m on your left after a curve in the road you will see a big boulder on your left very close to the road. The two routes on this boulder are facing you as you approach the boulder. There is more route and boulder problem potential on this boulder.

1. NO STRINGS ATTACHED V7/7A+ **** Start sitting on a jug and an undercling on the left. Climb up left then right for a fair crimp, up to another small crimp and then to a big jug with the right. First Ascent: Sean Cremen
2. OPEN PROJECT Sit start then diagonally up left. This should go at about 8A/V12.
3. ONE FOR THE ROAD 20 [6D,A] Follows a water streak on the side of the Kite boulder facing the local's house. There is a fairly sharp move from the start. First Ascent: Jun 2001 Victor Rundle and Dylan Morgan
4. KITE RESCUE (MIDNIGHT MISSION) A1 [N] On the arete nearest the road, easy free moves are augmented with good hooks in pockets and 8mm drilled holes. Descend via the single bolt with chain above ONE FOR THE ROAD. First Ascent: Jul 2000 Dylan Morgan
5. AUKAMS RAZOR V5/6C+ ** Starts sitting as for MANGO GRUNT, climbs diagonally left and finishes as for FRUIT COCKTAIL. This problem also sports some sharp holds. Does not top out. First Ascent: Eric Riemann
6. FRUIT COCKTAIL V4/6C ** A stand start using some rather sharp crimpers. Move up to a sloping rail and then up to finish on some big holds rather than topping out.
7. MANGO GRUNT V3/6B *** Start sitting with a pocket (a little sharp) and then go straight up using the pockets. Does not top out, finishes on some big holds.
8. VO PROBLEM V0/3 ** A short but nice problem, does not top out.

Skittle Boulder

This boulder looks rather like a fat skittle. When looking out from the barn towards the mountain it is the tallest boulder to the left close to the gate, the fence intersects the boulder on the left side. There are a few short lines on the east side, a few boulder problems and potential for a few routes on the western side. Topo included with Bovine Boulder.

1. KYLA 14 [6D,A] First Ascent: Jan 2003 Jason Bruning Bolted: Martin Bruning
2. BULGE 17 [7D,A] First Ascent: 2003 Martin Bruning
3. JUMP UP 19 [6D,A] First Ascent: 2003 Martin Bruning
4. NARROW ESCAPE 20 [6D,A] Climb up slightly rightward to the right hand anchors. First Ascent: 2003 Martin Bruning
5. TENPIN 17 [6D,A] First Ascent: 2003 Martin Bruning
6. THE SWAMP MONSTER TRAVERSE V6/7A * Start sitting with good holds about 1.5m left of the concrete pillar, traverse to the left to KYLA on sharp holds staying low. First Ascent: Andrew Pedley
7. DANGER 21 ** [6D,A,R] Take care clipping the third bolt and beware of the concrete pillar to the right. First Ascent: 2003 Martin Bruning
8. EVEN MORTALS BOULDER V1/4? Starts just left of the fence on the eastern side of the boulder. Climb up and then traverse left and down again. First Ascent: Feb 2002 Roland Magg and Rory Lowther
9. CATALAN EXPOSURE V3/6A [R] Start just right of the fence. Climb up and traverse a bit left to get to good holds. On the ledge traverse left and down. Take care on the upper section as there is risk of falling over the pillar of the fence. First Ascent: Aug 2002 Xavier Texido
10. 3RD WORLD 23 * [B,A] Start just below a large pocket in the middle of the face. Crimps and delicate footwork get you upto the next large sidepull. Follow the pock-marked face right then up. There are no bolts yet, just top anchors. Bolts may be added to complete the route. First Ascent: Aug 2002 Miles Cone

Spearhead Boulders

Several boulders not too far from the barn with several moderate boulder problems and 18 short and long bolted routes ranging from 12 to 28. There is still scope for a few more good lines and many boulder problems here.

The Forest Boulders

A myriad of boulders in amongst a beautiful forest at the base of the main mountain. There are some classic boulder problems here and potential for some great routes on The Pyramid.

The Hillside Boulders

Many nice boulders on the slopes to the right of the Forest boulders and uphill from the Spearhead boulders. Topos will be uploaded in the near future.

The North Face

The main face of the mountain. There are multi-pitch routes here and two short routes on the Bug Boulder. Endless potential for good multi-pitch and single-pitch sport lines.

The West Face

The western side of the mountain. It starts just beyond where the eagles are nesting. Please keep well clear of these nests when climbing. Williams Gorge is the forested gully on the hiking trail. A few good routes are popping up here now.

Whale Rock Boulders

Several very large boulders with fourteen lines developed here so far, from 11 to 28 with scope for many more easy & hard lines. Some good bouldering can be developed here too with a few problems already. This is a very beautiful area with excellent views & sunny, shaded and sheltered spots.

The Manure Boulders

A few large boulders in the north-eastern corner with a few routes at present.

The Magic Mushroom

An impressive looking mushroom rock with some boulder problems and projects.

The Long Tonk Boulders

Some of the better boulder problems on a few bigger boulders close to the farm road. Potential for routes on some of the bigger boulders including some boulders a few hundred metres behind the Long Tonk boulder.

The Bootup Area

Boulder problems on a few smaller boulders close to the farm road.