Yellowwood Amphitheatre is a beautiful and striking wall about 250 metres high, set in the wild and remote Du Toit’s Kloof mountains. It is one of South Africa’s premiere backcountry climbing areas, with routes for most climbers. Until recently Yellowwood had nothing really to offer the moderate climber, as most routes started from about grade 20 and the routes are serious for their grades. But in the last few years many easier routes have been opened which has brought this outstanding venue within reach of the more moderate climber. In saying that, Yellowwood should be respected and never underestimated, as all the routes there are ‘big’ for their grades on a high and exposed wall.
IMAGE: Anthony Hall on Prime Time (23). Charles Edelstein.
Best time to visit
The most stable time (weather wise) to visit would be during summer, as that would mean the least chance of rain and bad weather, but from midday onwards the wall is bathed in sun and can get very hot. The whole wall does curve somewhat, so the left side would stay in the shade a tad longer. In winter however, if you can get fine weather, then a day on Yellowwood, would work perfectly, as the wall is in the sun for most of the day, but the days are quite short, so speed will be important.
Yellowwood Amphitheatre is situated high in a big mountain range, so is subjected to big mountain weather. In winter it can become arctic if recent snow has fallen and/or it is overcast with nary a ray of sun. Summers can bring very hot weather, but rain is not uncommon here during this period as well.
Camping and accommodation
It is best to stay in Cape Town and drive out for the day (about 1 hour drive). In Cape Town there are many backpacker lodges and B&Bs, etc, or befriend some climbers and stay at their place.
IMAGE: Hazel Findlay on Newborn (29). Africa Fusion
The rock and the climbing
The stone on Yellowwood Amphitheatre is comprised of good hard Table Mountain Sandstone and is really quite unlike the rock anywhere else in the high mountains of Du Toit’s Kloof, except perhaps for the Hellfire Crags near the road. In saying that, this is typical country climbing and care should be taken regardless, as there are patches of not so perfect rock here and there. The climbing ranges from moderate to quite hard and should not be underestimated, with protection ranging from good to not so good to sometimes quite scary. Climbing in Yellowwood is wild, out there and exposed so come prepared.
There is no printed guidebook to Yellowwood Amphitheatre, but adequate information can be obtained from climbing.co.za.
All text by Tony Lourens.