Umgeni Valley

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Umgeni Valley
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Climbing TypeSport & Trad
Rock Type
ProvinceKwaZulu Natal
AreaUmgeni Valley


Umgeni Valley is a relatively new climbing venue situated in the sleepy town of Howick, 20mins North along the highway from Pietermaritzburg. Predominately a single-pitch Sports climbing venue with a few high quality trad lines found amongst the bolts (including the world famous ‘Crack Addiction’ and the X-rated ‘Hard Man’) The crag faces South-East looking over the valley to its sister crag at Hilton and down towards Albert Falls Dam. A great place for hot summer’s days as the majority of routes are out of the sun and shaded by the tall mist-belt forest surrounds. Grades are on the higher side with the majority of bolted lines being in the low to high twenties although there are a handful of teen grades.


Entry to this WESSA run reserve is via the office at the main entrance off the Karkloof road. Climbers must sign a register, pay a small fee and take a permit/receipt with them as proof of valid entry. The crag is accessed either along the higher Dwarves Dawdle trail which drops down into the valley, or the lower trail that leads along the base of the crag. The majority of routes are found up-valley (away from Albert Falls Dam) of the wooden staircase joining the higher and lower trail. There have also been several new routes bolted down-valley (towards Albert Falls dam) of the staircase. Ask for a trail map at reception which will help with general orienteering and location of the ‘wooden staircase’. Contact details, information, maps and directions can be found at:

WESSA Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve Map sml.jpg

Basic route descriptions can be found below or simply purchase a copy of “A Climbers Guide to Natal Rock” by Roger Nattrass which has all a climber needs to know about this venue.


from left to right if you're facing the rock, Howick Falls upstream [incomplete only fully bolted routes included]:

The Gypsy Buttress

The Hairy Hat Man 22
Roger Nattrass, 2008

Gypsy Queen 27
Faye Brouard, 2008

The Doubting Game 31/2 (sandbag)
Paul Brouard, 2008

Stone Haven 30
Roger Nattrass, 2008

The Heroes Wall

So Ill!! 27
Scott Sinclair, 2008

The Blue Horizon - Project 33
Roger Nattrass

Nothing Heals like Cold Steel 27
Roger Nattrass, 2008

Caterpillar Conquest 25
Stefan Zwanepoel, 2008

The Plot Sickens 22
Trad crack FA, G. Raubenheimer

Crack Addiction 20
Trad crack FA, ?

When Heroes Stumble 25
Roger Nattrass, 2008

Sucking Diesel 24
Stefan Zwanepoel, 2008

Age of Paranoia 23
Roger Nattrass, 2008

Glamorous Fool 18
Roger Nattrass, 2008

The Tower of Power Buttress

This area can be identified by the base of the wall having a vertically fractured section of rock leading up to a chossy break about 4m abouve the ground which all the routes climb through.

Exactly, Cheesehead, Exactly 25
Stefan Zwanepoel, 2008

Perfect Ground ***** 22
Roger Nattrass, 2008

Agnes The Skinhead 26
Roger Nattrass, 2008

Thunderstrike 27
Roger Nattrass, 2009

Smackdown 28
Start as for ToP but move left after the dyno move at the third bolt. Roger Nattrass, 2008

The Tower of POWER!!! 29
Roger Nattrass, 2008

Akward Turtle 24/25
Andrew Scott, 2008

Manic Mechanic 25/26
Roger Nattrass, 2008

Trad corner

Blitzkrieg 25/26 to be confirmed
Start under roof and follow seam tending right. Head straight up to ledge. Finish on FF. Andrew Scott, 2009

Friendly Fire 23
Start on WoG and move left around corner at ledge and up imposing face to top. Andrew Scott, 2009

War On Gaza 24
Dave Drummond, 2009

Jail Bird Shaik 18
Trad Route up Crack in face, ending at chains before top. Gavin Raubenheimer

Technica 20
Trad Route up corner, ending at chains before top. Gavin Raubenheimer

Baby Bees Don't Sting 21
Stefan Zwanepoel, 2008

With Added What-what 22
Stefan Zwanepoel, 2008

Immaculate wall

Zulu Lulu 17
Stefan Zwanepoel, 2008

Woza Xhoza 19
Stefan Zwanepoel, 2008

Stoned Immaculate 26
Stefan Zwanepoel, 2008

Look Out Below That Things Gonna Go! 25
Faye Brouard, 2008

The Corticoid Factor 27
Stefan Zwanepoel, 2009