Although not part of the Africa Fusion movie due to time constraints, the Cederberg mountains offer world class trad and sport climbing and is of course home to the famous Rocklands bouldering Mecca.
The Cederberg has a lifetime’s worth of climbing, that once tasted will keep you coming back for more over and over again. It is a wild semi arid mountain range with many different areas, some needing many hours to get to, which is one of the things that makes this place so special.
The three main trad areas, all of which have exceptionally fine routes, are Krakadouw – with routes up to 8 pitches – wild and big, Tafelberg – with routes up to 5 pitches – beautiful and remote, and Wolfberg – up to 5 pitches – fantastic and more accessible. The other trad areas worth exploring are Rooiberg and the Pup.
The Cederberg also has a wealth of excellent sport climbing scattered along its 70 km length. Rocklands, Sanddrif, Truitjieskraal, Rooiberg and Houdenbek are all crags that are well worth visiting.
Honestly, if you came to South Africa on a climbing trip and only went to the Cederberg, you would come away from the best holiday of your life.
IMAGE: Climbers on the top crux of Omega (18), Wolfberg. Tony Lourens
Best time to visit
It is best to plan your trip to the Cederberg far away from the winter months. It can get rather chilly and miserable at that time, with snow often lying thickly on the surrounding mountains. In saying that, mid summer can get really hot, but as most of the walls and crags are multi faceted, you can always find something in the shade. And if one of the trad areas is your destination, mid summer will work fine, as they sit at around 1500 to 2000 metres above sea level. So in a nutshell plan your trip from around November to April. This will accommodate all eventualities.
Although classified as semi-desert, the Cederberg can get a fair amount of rain in winter (between may and September) and also a fair amount of snowfall, which almost always covers the higher peaks, but sometimes comes down to the camping and chalet areas at around 1000 metres. A rather chilly time of the year to be ponsing about there. The summers on the other hand can be brutally hot with temperatures sometimes going up to 40˚C, but there are always shady crags, and the high mountain crags never reach these temperatures. In the midday heat there are also many rivers to cool you down.
IMAGE: On the intimidating rail of the 4th pitch (17), Energy Crisis (20), Wolfberg. Teresa Leal
Camping and accommodation
The Cederberg mountains are very popular, so have many campsites and chalet accommodation, depending where you want to base yourself. Wild camping is also possible if you want to climb at the more remote trad areas. See guidebooks for more information.
The rock and the climbing
In short you will be hard pushed to find better rock and climbing anywhere else in the world. The Cederberg mountains are made up generally of super solid, bullet hard “Table Mountain Sandstone”. The formations lend themselves perfectly to rock climbing – beautiful soaring corners and layback faults, perfect handrails, huge climbable roofs and bulges, and delightfully eroded pockets and gargoyles. The climbing is simply superb and protection is generally good to very good, but of course there are always a few routes with a reputation.
IMAGE: On the delectable Wow Wow Pedal (20), Sanddrif Crag. Tony Lourens
For more information on all of the above and detailed descriptions of the climbing get the following guidebooks, which are all available from Mountain Mail Order:
Tafelberg & Spout – Central Cederberg
Wolfberg Cracks – Southern Cederberg
Rooiberg – Southern Cederberg
Western Cape Rock – sport climbing guide
Visit Blue Mountain Publishers for more details about the guidebooks
All text by Tony Lourens.