Dargle Mountain (iNhlozane)




Location


This prominent mountain is located about 15 km west of Midmar Dam in the Natal midlands. To get there, get yourself onto the N3 toll road and take Exit 107 - Howick North / Tweedie which is about 2 km north of Midmar Dam and the bridge over the Umgeni River. Drive about 1 km to a T-junction. Turn right onto the R103 and head towards Nottingham Road. After 5 km, just past Lion’s River village, turn off to the left onto the Dargle / Impendle road. Follow this road for about 17 km until the tar ends at the bridge over the Umgeni River. After about 6 km on a good but winding dirt road, turn left at the fork. About 3 km after the fork you will reach Everglades Hotel. Park in the hotel grounds. After a hectic day's climbing Everglades Hotel is an ideal place to down a 'frosty'. It is in the heart of trout fishing country, has a wide range of activities available and is an ideal getaway venue for the family. Ring them on 033-234 4233 or check out their excellent website at: http://www.everglades-hotel.co.za for full details.



The Climbing


The rock consists of two main rock bands. There is a band of sandstone about two thirds of the way up the mountain and a layer of dolerite just below the summit. The two rock layers are separated by a broad, sloping grass ledge. There are currently only three existing routes. These are in the lower, sandstone layer which has reasonable potential for new bolted lines. The upper dolerite layer has no routes as yet but the rock is of excellent quality with the potential for several good, short routes.


Access


The rock faces may be reached by a track that starts from the back of the hotel grounds and winds up to the top of the mountain. See Map . To reach the existing routes it is necessary to turn off the path to the right and traverse in at the level of the base of the sandstone. Walk in along the base of the sandstone layer until you reach a wide, diagonal, right-sloping crack that leads up to a ledge with a chimney and large chock-stone above. The walk-in takes the best part of an hour but the 360-degree view from the top of the mountain is spectacular!



Route Descriptions


Lord of the Ages

Opening party: Gavin Raubenheimer and Jeremy Farquharson (26 March 1987). The first two pitches were done by Kevin Duffy and Jeremy Farquharson some years before.

Pitch 1 (12) Start at the base of a wide crack that slopes up to the right at about 45 degrees. Climb up the crack line using mainly the face on the right to reach a broad ledge. You can bypass this pitch by walking further to the right and then scrambling up diagonally left to the ledge at the start of the second pitch.

Pitch 2 (13). Start at the left-hand side of the broad ledge and climb the nose of rock adjacent to the corner crack - Turn left, stem across and work your feet up as high as possible, place some dodgy gear and then step up into the short gully that leads up and behind a huge chock-stone. Make a comfortable and secure belay on top of the chockstone.

Pitch 3 (17, A1). From the right-hand side of the chock-stone climb the short face for 3 m (tricky) and then traverse right to a good ledge below a short, loose chimney. The traverse has excellent rock for your feet but your hands have to balance along a bulging block of loose rock - do not pull outwards on this ! From the right-hand side of the ledge, pull up awkwardly into the loose chimney and finish straight up to the grass ledge above. (The first ascensionist lassoed a chock-stone high in the chimney and prussiked up the first few metres, but the line has been freed at about grade 20) It may be safest to belay again on final ledge before attempting the final chimney.

The Days of Adventure Climbing are Over (14, A1 or 20 free)


Opening party: Gerald Camp and John Crumley (04 October 2003)

Follow the scramble up to the start of the second pitch of 'Lord of the Ages' as described above. Walk about 10 m to the right and scramble under a large block to get to the base of a chimney. The block provides shelter for the belayer from any loose rock dislodged by the leader above! Climbing the chimney (14) is fun with gear where you need it. The chimney ends up on the same ledge, and then finishes up the same loose chimney mentioned in the third pitch of the previous route.

Comment: These are fairly serious routes because if you can't free climb the first part of the top chimney, or if your rope gets jammed when trying to lasso the chockstone, you will have to abseil off a couple of dubious cam placings and then retrieve you gear by abseiling in from above. Gerald Camp comments, rather over-dramatically that "This is possibly the worst rock known to man but a pleasing sense of survival rewards the free climber!"

Phlegm (19)

Opening party: Gerald Camp and John Crumley (04 October 2003)

This route take the obvious, left-facing corner some 30 (?) m to the right of 'Lord of the Ages'. The route finishes at the small roof. Lower off from good, large nuts which can be retrieved later by abseil from above. The effort is worth while for a mixed bag of laybacks and hand jams. Gear is good and a few extra medium to large cams are useful.
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