Routes on/near the Amphitheatre

Copyright: MCSA-KZN 1998 ©

The Amphitheatre is a massive and impressive structure in the Royal Natal Park. It stretches over five kilometres and is probably the most photographed formation in the entire Drakensberg. Its image adorns countless brochures, postcards, magazines and books. The Sentinel and Beacon Buttress form prominent bastions at its northern end, whilst the Inner Tower, Devil's Tooth and the Eastern Buttress guard the southern end. There are several routes on the peaks at either end of the Amphitheatre, but the formidable wall linking these extremities has attracted little recent attention and there is potential for many more routes.


BEACON BUTTRESS : North West Ridge (F3)

(Map #1 : G:23 : 3124m)

Opening Party: Gavin Peckham, Ivan van Cleef and Gavin Raubenheimer.

Date: 21 November 1996.

The north west ridge lies between the Sentinel/Beacon Buttress nek on the left and the Beacon Buttress Gully on the right. The line is highly accessible being barely an hour's walk from the Sentinel car park. It offers a nice variety of climbing with escape routes (into Beacon Buttress Gully on the right) at each of the major grass ledges. To get there, follow the contour path to a point directly below the Sentinel/Beacon Buttress nek. A very short walk, heading diagonally right up a grass slope, gets you to the base of the route. Start below an orange, overhanging block about 10m up.

  1. 45m F3. Climb up easily for about 5m (D). Traverse left about 3m (E) to the base of a shallow recess or chute with some grass. Either climb this recess (4m F3) to a narrow rock ledge, or traverse a couple of metres left, around a corner and then up to the narrow rock ledge. Either way, gear is sparse. Continue straight up the ridge for about 30m (D/E) on mixed rock and grass and belay on a grassy shoulder at the base of a vertical rock step. There is a good belay on the rock ledge, and it may be preferable to split the pitch at this point to reduce rope drag.
  2. Variation: Justin Nixon and Grant Dugtig (04 April 2004). To avoid the gearless F3 chute, start about 6m to the right of the starting point described above. Climb straight up between two loose looking, upside down flakes using a combination of bridging and laybacking. After about 6m you reach the narrow rock ledge mentioned above. From here traverse back about 5m to the left along the narrow rock ledge and then continue up the to the stance as described above. Gear is more than adequate.

  3. 40m F2. From the grass shoulder, scramble about 5m down a steep, narrow gully to the left. As you face down the gully, there is a ramp on your right. Climb the ramp (5m D) to a grass ledge and walk a short way to the base of a broken recess / crack / chimney which is climbed (5m F2). Continue easily up the ridge and belay when the next major grass ledge is reached. Walk up to the obvious start of the next pitch at the base of the next rock step.
  4. 30m E. Climb up past a small, suspect block and continue up to the base of a difficult recess that is not climbed. From the base of this recess traverse out left for about 5m along a narrow rock ledge. Belay (#2 to #3 cams only) towards the end of this ledge (exposed) at the base of another recess / open book.
  5. 20m F2. Climb the recess / open book (4m F2). Where it gets tricky towards the top, traverse out a couple of moves to the right, and then back diagonally up left. Continue upward on easy rock and grass and belay on the next major grass ledge. Walk up to the final rocky section and scramble to the top (200 m C) keeping to the left as far as possible.

Descend in a mere 10 minutes via Beacon Buttress Gully.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1996, pg 132.

 

AMPHITHEATRE WALL: Liebenberg's Route (E)

(Map #1 : I:25)

Opening Party: Doyle Liebenberg, Mary Lear, Aimee Netter and Mark Frank.

Date: 19 April 1935.

Time: 6 to 8 hours from Tunnel Cave to the top.

In the centre of the Amphitheatre is a prominent outcrop known as the castle. This castle is supported by two conical buttresses that are joined below the final headwall by a grass ledge shaped like a "W". Liebenberg's route climbs the left buttress to the "W", then climbs the ridge above and traverses left into the exit gully.

The foot of the buttress, where the climb starts, is in the Inner Tower Gully shortly after rounding a corner from where the nek between the Inner Tower and the main 'Berg is seen. Peculiar soft red rocks form the bed of the river at this point and on the right, a small ravine joins the main stream. Scramble 2m up into the mouth of the small ravine and then follow it up to a 6m waterfall which is bypassed on the right. Not far above the waterfall, the right hand wall of the ravine eases from the vertical into a steep bushy slope. Climb this slope towards the rocky ledges above. At the foot of these ledges traverse to the right above a very black overhanging rock wall. This traverse leads to the first grassy ledge on the buttress. Continue along this ledge and around the buttress and begin ascending small, broken rock patches.

The route is difficult to describe here, but it continues up the side of the buttress with your back to the Sentinel until a large drop on the right forces you to traverse back to the front of the buttress. This traverse is along the uppermost grass ledge and leads into an almost rectangular recess in the rock face. Climb down the ledge and along the edge of the buttress, finishing in a small, ill-defined chimney which is climbed (E). The top of the chimney is the most difficult part of the climb and the leader of the opening party required help from below. This brings you to the main grass slope on the Amphitheatre wall. Climb the grass slope above to the edge of a ravine. Do not descend into this ravine(*), but continue up the buttress (Keeping to the right because the rock on the crest is rotten.) until it is possible to make a sensational traverse that leads into the ravine. (This traverse has a 300m drop on the left and a massive rock wall on the right. It begins at one of several 'summits' along the ridge. Dr Park-Ross' ashes were later placed here by Brian Godbold.) Having traversed into the ravine / gully, scramble up for about 100m to a wide chimney some 30m high. Climb this easy chimney to reach the summit.

(*) This is the gully of the 'Gully Variation' - see below.

Ref: MCSA Journals: 1935, pg 84 ; 1987, pg 28 and photo 1941, facing pg 28.

 

AMPHITHEATRE WALL: Park-Ross Variation (D)

(Map #1 : I:25)

Opening Party: Mungo Park-Ross, Walter Zunkel and Dr Park-Ross.

Date: 28 January 1941.

Time: 6 to 8 hours from Tunnel Cave to the top.

Refer the RD for Liebenberg's route. The Park-Ross variation climbs the right buttress and then traverses left across the "W" to join Liebenberg's route.

Proceed up the Tugela Valley from Tunnel Gorge for about 10 minutes (~500m), until a stream leads in from the left and a large buttress starts. There is (was?) a huge boulder in the Tugela opposite this junction with the stream. Bear left and follow the stream through very thick chichi bush and up small waterfalls until a 10m waterfall is reached. Traverse right (150m) along a narrow, steep grass ledge, (that runs along the base of a rock face with five white spots), and then around onto the ridge of the right hand buttress. (By going up this stream and traversing right the problems of the bush and the steep rock of the buttress are passed. At this point one is about 1/3 of the way up and above the free standers on the buttress.) Climb this buttress (500m) until you reach the right side of the large grass ledges which form a "W". Traverse left across the "W" through thick chichi bush until stopped by a huge ravine (*). The line now follows Liebenberg's Route.

Variation: Instead of following the left chichi bush stream, climb straight up the buttress to the left of the two free standers. Continue up to the rock bands which are avoided by a hidden ledge on the right which leads up to the buttress.

Note: This route is more direct but not recommended due to all the bush. A fit and confident climber can arrive at the top of the amphitheatre in about five hours from the hotel using the Park-Ross variation. (without a pack!)

Ref: MCSA Journals: 1941, pg 28 (with photo); 1945, pg 23; 1987, pg 28 and 1991, pg 83.

 

AMPHITHEATRE WALL: Gully Route Variation (D)

(Map #1 : I:25)

Opening Party: Phyl Goodwin, Doyle Liebenberg, Hilda Howard, Jannie Graaff and Mike Allen.

Date: July 1947.

Note: Refer the notes for Liebenberg's route. This route starts up the eventual exit gully and follows it as far as possible. To avoid an unclimbable blockage in the gully, a short diversion is made onto the "W" to join Liebenberg's route which is then followed to the top.

Boulder-hop up the Inner Tower Gully. Ignore the first tributary to the right, which is the start of Liebenberg's route, and take the second stream. This leads to the gully marked with an (*) in the two routes above. The first waterfall reached is climbed on the left. 100m above this waterfall the stream divides. Climb up the ridge between the two streams. Further up the right-hand stream (looking up) divides again. Cross the left-hand stream of this split about 200m further up and follow the ridge between the streams for about 100m. Cross into the right-hand stream and continue up this until a chimney on the right leads up to the "W" and Liebenberg's route which is then followed to the top.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1947, pg 36.

 

INNER TOWER

(Map #1 : K:25 : 3045m)

In the vicinity of the Amphitheatre, the escarpment edge runs roughly in a NW - SE direction. At the southern end of the Amphitheatre a spur juts out in a north easterly direction, at right angles to the main 'Berg. This spur comprises some impressive peaks - the Inner Tower, Devil's Tooth and the Eastern Buttress. Like many 'Berg peaks, the Inner Tower is flat-topped. However, the top is split by deep gullies into three distinct sections that are generally referred to as the south, middle and north summits of the Inner Tower. The south summit is closest to the escarpment and is the one that is most often climbed. A sketch on page 30 of the 1945 MCSA Journal, gives an excellent view of the various routes on this peak.

Although it is possible to approach the Inner Tower from below, by a long and difficult scramble up the Inner Tower Gully, it is best climbed by approaching from the escarpment. It is an easy four hour walk from the Sentinel car park to the edge of the escarpment opposite the Inner Tower. When standing on the edge of the escarpment directly above the nek between it and the Inner Tower, the descent gully is about 30m away on your right as you face the Tower. Part way down, where the gully forks, keep to the left. Further down the gully terminates in a chimney that leads down into the large gully separating the Tower from the escarpment. Just before reaching this chimney it is possible to traverse out easily to the left (facing the Tower) and work your way diagonally down a narrow, descending ledge to reach the top of the Inner Tower Gully at a point just a few metres below the nek. All the routes start from this nek.

 

INNER TOWER: Kelly's Original Route (D)

(Map #1 : K:25 : 3045m)

Opening Party: Father Alfred D Kelly and J E Millar(*)

(*) reported as G J Miller in "Barrier of Spears" and elsewhere, but as J E Millar in the MCSA Journals of 1945 and 1969, pages 29 and 4 respectively.

Date: 13 June 1913.

Kelly's original route is seldom used nowadays, having been succeeded by Rose's (standard) route that achieves the same objective by a shorter and easier approach. Nostalgia is probably the only reason why this route might get another ascent. From the nek Kelly scrambled about 200m down the gully on the right which leads down to the Singati river. After this it is possible to gain a horizontal ledge on the Tower side of the gully. Follow the ledge to the right for about 400m until a 20 m C grade recess leads up diagonally right, to the crest of the main south east ridge of the Inner Tower. From here scramble up the ridge to the broad bushy ledge that stretches right across the base of the Inner Tower to the Devil's Tooth. Follow this ledge to the gully that runs down from between the south and middle summits. Climb the gully to the nek between the south and middle summits, passing several obstructions on the way (D). Complete the climb from the nek to the summit by following the RD for Rose's standard route which is given below.

Ref: MCSA Journals 1915 and 1945, pg 30. Copyright: MCSA-KZN 1998 ©

 

INNER TOWER: Rose's Standard Route (C)

(Map #1 : K:25 : 3045m)

Opening Party: Stanley Rose, Liz Burton and Hans Wongtschowski.

Date: July 1945.

Time: 1 hour from the escarpment to the summit.

From the nek, scramble up a zig-zag line keeping to the grass, and then climb (C+) onto a large block about 40m above the nek. Just above this block a short narrow ledge leads around a corner to a deep crack. Step across the crack to gain a steep, broad bushy ledge. Walk along the ledge keeping to the higher level where the option presents itself. Continue along to the end of the ledge where it turns the corner formed by the south east arete. From here (the start of the SE Arete Route) continue traversing to the right by making a couple of slightly exposed moves to gain another broad bushy ledge on the east face. Walk along this ledge crossing a couple of wash-ways until you get to the gully running down from between the south and middle summits. Scramble up the grass to the left of the gully. Move back into the gully when it becomes easier. Just before the nek at the top of this gully, move out left and up to gain a narrow grass ledge. This grass ledge runs part way around the south summit some 5 m below the top of the peak. Walk to the left hand end of the grass ledge and when it peters out, climb diagonally left up a rock ramp / recess which has good holds just where you need them - 4m, C, exposed). This recess exits onto the south summit.

Descent. Reverse most of the route and then ab (optional) off the large block next to the step-across. This abseil takes you straight down to the nek. Alternatively abseil down the SE arete - see below.

Note: Rose et al originally used this line as a descent route after climbing the SE Arete Route. It has since become the standard route to the top of the Inner Tower.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1945, pg 34.

 

INNER TOWER: South East Arete (E)

(Map #1 : K:25 : 3045m)

Opening Party: Stanley Rose, Liz Burton and Hans Wongtschowski.

Date: July 1945.

Time: Three hours from the escarpment to the summit.

Follow the standard route to the point where it crosses the south east arete (see above) and belay here. 6m of easy scrambling is followed by a 3m shoulder with an awkward projecting rock at the top. A walk leads to the next section, a 5m bulging shoulder (E). There is a short piece of old rope hanging down over this shoulder to facilitate its ascent. The rope is attached to a very solid peg, but the current state of the rope is uncertain. It was still fairly good in 1996. Without the aid of this rope the shoulder would have been considerably harder than the E grade attributed to the route. (As a social service, future parties should consider taking 5m of old climbing rope along as a replacement.) The next 10m step is the crux. It is climbed just to the left of the crest on smallish holds. There is a tricky move to the left about 6m up, which is followed by a diagonal traverse back to the right for 3m (E). A stance is made next to a large block.

The arete now falls back a little and gives 18m of pleasant C climbing. The original RD suggests that you climb up 3m over crumbly rock and then across an extremely narrow and sensational knife edge to a grass ledge immediately under the unclimbable buttress at the top of the arete. This is unnecessary. You can reach the same ledge by simply walking up a grass slope below and to the right of the knife edge. Follow the grass ledge to the left for about 40m to a spot almost directly above the escarpment / Tower nek and below a 15m face. Climb the face (E) up the obvious line of weakness to the top.

Descent. Either reverse the standard route, or make two abseils straight down the arete followed by a third abseil off the arete onto the broad, bushy ledge on the escarpment side of the peak. Thereafter reverse the approach with an optional abseil from the block near the step-across.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1945, pg 29.

 

INNER TOWER: Summit Traverse (E)

(Map #1 : K:25 : 3045m)

Opening Party: Stanley Rose, Liz Burton and Hans Wongtschowski.

Date: July 1945.

The purpose of this line is to reach the middle and north summits after having climbed the south summit. Reverse the standard route to the nek between south and middle summits. Climb up about 4m and then walk 10m to the right along a grass ledge. From here, climb up through the obvious recess (E) in the rock above. The exit move onto the middle summit is tricky, but well protected. Walk across to the gully separating the middle and north summits. Tie in a fixed rope and abseil down into the gully. An easy scramble leads up onto the north summit from where you can look down on the Devil's Tooth. If you don't like prussiking up fixed ropes, then try climbing down a gully (D) on the middle summit, about 30m from the abseil point, until you able to traverse into the gully between the summits. A short F grade chimney and scrambling lead up to the nek. Reverse the route in order to descend.

Ref: MCSA Journals : 1945, pg 31 and 1947, pg 34.

 

DEVIL'S TOOTH (F3/A1)

(Map #1 : K:25 : 2941m)

Opening Party: David Bell, Peter Campbell and Ted Scholes.

Date: 6 August 1950.

Time: Three and a half hour's climbing.

Devil's Tooth was one of the last major 'Berg peaks to be climbed. For decades it attracted parties of strong climbers from around the country. The onslaughts of even the most determined climbers were to no avail. Jannie Graaff was reduced to the comment, "The Tooth remains for another generation of climbers . . . a generation of dental mechanics…" ! Being the focus of such attention, it was just a question of time before the peak was successfully climbed.

Devil's Tooth is best reached by a long slog up Tooth gully. Bypass the first major waterfall on the right - very bushy. The next two minor waterfalls are also passed on the right. The next major waterfall is passed by steep scrambling on the left - note the ab point here. Flat slabs above this waterfall provide a convenient bivvy spot if necessary. When the gully forks and leads up to either side of the Tooth, take the left fork and be prepared for the boulder problems which characterise the remaining section of the gully. Tooth Cave is on a ledge about a third of the way up the left fork. There is usually water in the gully below. Alternatively, Tooth Cave can also be reached by ascending the "Lion" ridge and traversing below the final rock bands - see the JMCSA, 1992, pg 104. The absence of water is a problem with this approach. Finally, it is possible to reach Devil's Tooth from the escarpment by a traverse across the east face of the Inner Tower. A diagram in the 1945 MCSA Journal (pg 30) illustrates this option. There is much speculation that this is the easiest approach, but I have never met anyone who has actually climbed the Tooth this way.

From Tooth Cave, the climb is approached by a clockwise scramble three quarters of the way around the base of the Tooth as follows: Scramble up the left hand gully, negotiating 2 tricky scrambles, to reach the Tooth / Eastern Buttress nek. Traverse around behind the Tooth and across a broad gully to the Inner Tower / Tooth nek. Descend a short way down the gully on the Tugela side until able to traverse around the base of the Tooth Pick to reach the base of the Tooth itself.

  1. 10m E: The route through the lower sections is obvious because it is the only one feasible, and it commences about 7m left of the base of the gully separating the Tooth Pick from the Tooth itself. Ascend broken loosish face to cubby hole and large stance. There is a piton belay on right in the cubby hole.
  2. 20m F3: Traverse left around the nose and then ascend to a belay on a slab below the overhangs. Traversing high is balancy; if one drops around the nose, good holds are available. At the stance, there are currently three good fixed pegs high up on the slab. The lower one currently has a fixed carabiner and there are two more pegs about a metre above this. Pitches 1 and 2 are usually done as one. Extra protection is hardly necessary on these pitches because there are about 10 fixed pegs along the way.
  3. 30m F3/A1: Traverse left across the bottom of the slab for 5 m, step out left past a very loose peg and ascend the bulging face for 5 m to a small sloping stance at the bottom of the recess. Climb to the top of the recess which is riddled with fixed pegs. Most people aid through this pitch (half of which fell off in 1980) but it can be climbed free, if you're feeling stupid.
  4. 35m E: Traverse up and left around the corner until a friction take-off next to a fixed peg enables one to climb back up an right onto the corner. Continue diagonally right up to a ledge.
  5. 50m D. After an awkward takeoff climb easily up a narrow gully, keeping mainly the slabs on the right, to reach the summit.

Comment. From the top of pitch 3, you can climb more or less any line you like to the top. Probably the most pleasant is to start 1m left of the belay at the top of pitch 3 and then climb more or less directly to the top, in two pitches, exiting some 10m left of the usual exit gully.

Descent: Abseil down pitch 5, then down pitch 4, then down to the base of the climb. The descent of the upper part of Tooth Gully and the waterfalls lower down, can be greatly facilitated by making numerous abseils - take plenty of ab cord along!

Ref: MCSA Journals 1950, pg 41 and 1985, pg 100.

 

TOOTH PICK (D)

(Map #1 : K:25)

Jannie Graaff records that the Tooth Pick may be climbed, "by an obvious route of D standard." No other details have come to light.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1947, pg 34.

 

EASTERN BUTTRESS: Kelly's Route (D)

(Map #1 : K:25 : 3047m)

Opening Party: Father Alfred D Kelly and J E Millar(*)

(*) reported as G J Miller in "Barrier of Spears" and elsewhere, but as J E Millar in the MCSA Journals of 1945 and 1969, pages 29 and 4 respectively.

Date: 10 July 1914.

Time: 1 hour from the nek to the summit.

From the nek at the top of Tooth Gully, traverse left starting across a large smooth slab of rock to reach a long grass ledge the runs across the west face of the peak. Walk left long this ledge to reach the main SW gully. It is easiest to enter this gully if you approach it from as high as possible on the long grass ledge. Just above the point where you enter the gully is an obstruction that is easily climbed on its left. Scramble up further to a small buttress that blocks the gully. This is also climbed on the left and can be frustratingly difficult when wet. From here it is an easy scramble to the summit. Descend by the same route.

Ref: MCSA Journal 1915.

 

EASTERN BUTTRESS: Lionheart (G2 - 20)

(Map #1 : K:24 : 3047m)

Opening Party: Paul Fatti and Russ Dodding (with Gordon Erens on pitches 1-3).

Date: 14 March 1992.

This route, up the north arete of the Eastern Buttress, does not actually lead to the main summit, but to the top of a buttress separated from the main summit by an 8m wide, 100m deep chasm. The route takes the left-hand skyline in the photo on page 155 of "A Camera in Quathlamba" by M L Pearse.

From Tendele car park, cross the river and ascend to the Lion Buttress, past the guard huts and a waterfall (last water before the campsite). Follow the broad ridge to beyond the spot height 2438m on Slingsby's map (2435m, K:23 on the new maps). Just beyond this point, camp in a superb position on a ridge to the left of the broad ridge, after about 4 hours walk. Water can usually be found in the stream around to the left below the free-standing pinnacle mentioned below.

From camp, descend 30m to the left of the main ridge to avoid a knoll, then continue up to the first major rock band (which is part of a free-standing pinnacle). Walk right for 500m to below a pair of short chimneys through this rock band; these are 20m before a shallow watercourse. Scramble up the deeper (right-hand) chimney, past a chockstone, then gain the grass ledge above by scrambling up to the left. Follow the rising grass ledge back left to the gully which separates the free-standing pinnacle from the main buttress. Gain the nek; there is a good belay point on the pinnacle, 5m above the nek.

  1. 40m F3 (18). Climb the slab via a shallow groove (the only break in the slab) and thus gain a grass ledge at 15m. Walk right along this to the first gully with a tree. Scramble up the gully until able to go diagonally left to a grass ledge. Step left into a short corner and climb this to belay on blocks (abseil point). Walk up the slope for 15m to below a crack. This break is 10m right of the start of the large grassy ramp above.
  2. 48m F2 (15). Climb the problematic first 4m of the crack to gain the grassy ramp on the left. Follow the line of least resistance to the top of the ramp (mostly D) and belay in the nek. (Fixed abseil on small rock buttress to right.)
  3. 48m F3 (17). In the wall above the nek and slightly to the right is a shallow weakness. Gain this by a very thin move onto the slab, a crack on the left and a rightwards traverse and then climb delicately up the weakness. Above the weakness, make your way up easily to the large shoulder on the ridge. 
  4. Walk up to the foot of the upper part of the ridge. The next pitch starts at the foot of a groove in the main arete at a block/pedestal belay. Gain this position by a short break on the right.

  5. 48m G2 (20). Climb the groove and then a steep strenuous corner at 8m. Gain the right arete of the corner and hence onto a block on the very crest of the buttress. Climb straight up the arete, past a loose flake, for 7m to a horizontal break. Traverse 2m right, gain the recess on the right and follow this past a sloping ledge to a metre wide grass ledge above. Blocky belay and abseil point. An exhilarating pitch.
  6. 48m G2 (20). Above the belay and 3m to the right is a groove. (This is below the right-hand end of the ominous roofs 10m above). Climb the groove with an awkward exit, then traverse diagonally up left into the alcove below a large roof, whilst exercising caution with the flakes on the wall above. (Good runner under roof, on left). Continue traversing left, around a blunt arete (Weet-bix masquerading as rock), to below a shield-shaped flake. Bridge up between the flake and the corner on the left, until able to reach the horizontal break above. Semi hand-traverse left 4m to gain the safety of the grassy ledge at the end of the overhangs.

Move up, step back right and then follow cracks and blocks up the broad ridge above, passing to the right of a roof at 7m. (Fixed abseil nut in a short corner crack at the end of the pitch just before the angle eases.) This pitch is a bold lead, in exhilarating positions - not for the faint-hearted! Scramble up past loose rock to the summit and howl with delight!

Ref: MCSA Journal 1992, pg 111.

 

EASTERN BUTTRESS: Singati (SE) Arete (F3/A1)

(Map #1 : K:25)

Opening Party: Jannie Graaff, Betty Chadwick, Phyl Goodwin and Eric Axelson.

Date: 1947.

Time: 5 hours climbing.

This is a superb line with pleasant climbing. Jannie Graaff's original RD was a single modest paragraph that belies the excellence of the route. Approach via the ridge opposite Singati Cave. There are some campsites on this ridge. Alternatively, approach from the Royal Natal park side and walk up the river valley (Thukelana) west of the Sleeping Beauty ridge. From the valley walk to the crest of the ridge via one of several spurs. The one located at M:22 (new map) being the most convenient. Continue up the ridge to a convenient camp site on a small level patch on the ridge. This is located just below the prominent knoll that presides over the junction between the Sleeping Beauty and Singati ridges. The knoll is at spot height 2552m, L:25 on the new map. Water is usually available some way down the valley between the two ridges.

The knoll is most easily bypassed on the left, although there is a much quicker and very exposed traverse around to the right if you can find it - this is much more obvious on descent. Once past the knoll, continue up the ridge until it is blocked by a large rock buttress. This is surmounted up a steep, vegetated gully about 20m left of the crest of the ridge. From here you can clearly see the arete against the skyline. Make your way up to the highest grass ledge and belay below the lowest point of the arete.

  1. 30m E. Climb up onto the arete at the low point. Walk up the arete to where it steepens.
  2. 30m D. Walk around left along a grass ledge for 5m (exposed), then climb up 3m and back onto the arete. Avoid the steep rock above by traversing to the right across a rock face with spaced footholds to reach a nek.
  3. & 4. 60m D. Scramble up the ridge on mixed rock and grass to a large grass ledge below a large, broken rock band. Belay towards the right of this grass ledge, about 5m before it peters out.
  4. See above.
  5. 40m F1. Climb up an easy recess to a small grass ledge. Traverse delicately right across an exposed rock face to reach a small gully that runs steeply up to the right. Climb this gully for about 10m and belay in the gully some 5m below where it 'tops out' between two large blocks.
  6. 20m F1. Traverse back left on a very narrow ledge (more a series of spaced footholds) to reach a small, exposed stance at a large block with a good peg on the crest of the arete.
  7. 10m D. Move left around the block and then scramble up to a grass ledge. Alternatively, climb the ramp on the right of the block (F1). Either way, scramble up and left to the base of a recess with a good crack high up at the back. Pitches 6 and 7 can easily be combined if you are careful to minimise rope drag.
  8. 20m G1 or F3/A1. Climb the recess (crux) to a small ledge. Scramble out right to the summit. This crux recess can be aided if necessary. There are also reports that the left face of the recess can be climbed. To quote Jannie Graaff this pitch is, "an embarrassingly difficult finish to the climb."

Note: Pitches 5, 6 and 7 can be missed via a direct F2 pitch that is not recommended.

Descent: Back down the route. Bring plenty of ab cord and don't steal the pegs!

Ref: MCSA Journal 1947, pg 35.

Comments