Copyright: MCSA-KZN 1998 ©
These crags are located about 60 km north east of Pietermaritzburg on the road to Tongaat. They are very easily accessible and there is moderate potential for new routes.
Head north out of Pietermaritzburg towards Greytown on the R33. After about 15 km turn of to the right and head for Wartburg on the R614. Drive straight through Wartburg and continue for another 14 km to a T-junction. Turn to the right and continue for another 15,5 km, still on the R614. As you reach the top of a hill there is a road sign indicating, 'Montebello'. Turn off to the right onto a tarred district road. Travel along the district road for 2,7 km and carry straight on along a gravel farm road at the point where the main tar road swings away and down to the left. Carry straight on along this farm road for 5 km. After 3 km there is an old farm house on the left and after a further 2 km you will reach a T-junction. The main track goes off to the left. Take the lesser track off to the right and follow it for less than 1 km until you see the crags on your right-hand side. These crags are on private land and trespassers will be prosecuted.
The landowners, Conrad and Henning Klipp, are happy to have climbers, hikers, bikers and bird-watchers visit their farm, provided that prior arrangements are made by phoning Matthew Joubert on 074 9750260 or at firstname.lastname@example.org (if Matthew is not contactable, please try Conrad on 082 8245441, or Henning on 082 8202995). Please note that the old farmhouse, which was previously available for self-catering accommodation, is now permanently occupied and therefore no longer available. THere is, however, accommodation available very close by at the Harburg caravan park.
Apart from the climbing you can go hiking, mountain biking and bird watching. Horse riding can be arranged on request. This is also an ideal venue to just 'get away from it all' and do absolutely nothing for a weekend!
The local rural population in the valley below make regular use of the path along the bottom of the crag and then up the access cleft and through the farm. There have been no reports of theft from visitors but it would probably be unwise to leave climbing gear or other possessions unattended at the crag. Anything of value in your car should be locked away out of sight in the boot. These common sense precautions are no more than you would take at most other climbing or tourist venues. There is cell phone reception on most parts of the farm.
Climbing at this venue was initially done by students from PMB Varsity the late 1960s. In the Journal of the UNP Mountain Club Carl Fatti gave RDs for three routes but there is undoubtedly potential for many new lines. The cliffs are Natal Series sandstone and are between 60 and 80 m high. Unfortunately they tend to be a bit vegetated but there are several sections of good clean rock. From a climbing point of view, winter is probably the best time of the year to visit this area. During summer the weather tends to be either very hot, or very misty. An outing to this delightful venue is will provide a pleasant change from the usual trek to Monteseel or the Magnetic Wall!
The cleaner rock tends to be at the end of the crag, furthest from the farmhouse. Access to the foot of the crags is down a spectacular, narrow cleft which tops at the point where the road comes closest to the crags - photo. There is a well worn path down this cleft that turns to the left (facing downhill), continues along the base of the crag (past the best climbing area) and then winds down a ridge into the valley below. In his original article in the Journal of the UNP Mt Club, Carl Fatti described the following routes. These are listed from left to right, starting with the one closet to the descent gully.
Opening party: Carl Fatti and Glyn Chapman (March 1969)
Start at a big tree about 20 m to the right (east) of the descent gully.
Pitch 1. (12 m : E) Climb up about 8 m and then traverse to the right to an adequate stance.
Pitch 2. (30 m : F1) Climb diagonally up left to a large stance.
Pitch 3. (12 m : F2) Traverse to the right for about 3 m from the stance and then climb up to the top.
2. Horse's Delight (F2)
Opening party: Keith Pyle and Mike Males (1968)
Start about 25 m to the right (east) of the descent gully directly below a big, white patch of bird manure high up on the cliff. (30+ years down the road, the bird manure may no longer be a reliable marker ! )
Pitches 1 and 2. (45 m : E) Zigzag up to a wattle tree stance.
Pitch 3. (12 m : F1) Make a thin traverse left to reach a small stance.
Pitch 4. (25 m : F2) Climb up an open book, through a small overhang and continue on up to the top.
3. Can Was (F2)
Opening party: Tony Dick, Barry Manicom, Waves Webster, Judy Rankin and 'Pogwog' (1968)
Start almost 150 m to the right (east) of the descent gully below a prominent, red rock face.
Pitch 1. (40 m : F1) Climb the red face to a stance.
Pitch 2. (25 m : F2) Climb a chimney behind a rock buttress abutting on the cliff and then continue up an excellent 5 m face to the top.
4. Number Two
Mentioned by name in Carl's write-up, but no further details were recorded.