Power Wall

Copyright: MCSA-KZN 1998 ©


General Information

The Power Wall proper lies above a large band of sloping, broken rock. A wide vegetated ledge stretches across the full length of the Power Wall and separates the sloping, broken rock below from the climbable rock above. It is possible to walk freely along this ledge (Access Ledge) for its full length and thus gain access to many of the climbs on the Power Wall. The Access Ledge is approached by a scramble which starts at river level about 50 m upstream of the power lines. The scramble is more or less at right angles to the river. At first it winds up a rocky ridge with no discernible path. After the first 20 odd metres on rock the scramble continues as a vague, steep path up to the Access Ledge. The general features are shown in the photo above.


Warnings

When climbing on this wall please be especially careful not to dislodge loose rocks or boulders. There have been several 'near misses' when climbers have caused rocks to fall near people walking along the Access Ledge or along the river. Also, the ledge is generally wide and safe, but there are a few narrow, sloping sections and a careless stumble could precipitate you 30 m to the river below.

Rising above the Access Ledge, the climbable section of the Power Wall is about 40 m high and includes two large, vegetated ledges. The Tree Ledge is directly below the power lines and lies about 15 m above the Access Ledge. Just upstream from the Tree Ledge, and at the same height, is the Grass Ledge. A narrow, broken rock ledge connects the Tree and Grass Ledges. This makes it easy to cross over from one ledge to the other. The quickest way onto the Tree or Grass Ledges is via the route "Easy Access" (9). This route lies directly under the most upstream of the set of power lines and tops out where the rock ledge meets the Tree Ledge. Be especially aware of not dislodging loose rocks from these ledges.

After topping out on the Power Wall, you can walk off to the left along a jeep track, then around the eastern end of the wall where it peters out, and finally back down the Rocky Gully between the Warrior Wall and the downstream end of the PowerWall. Alternatively, you can walk off to the right and then down the Bushy Gully between the upstream end of the Power Wall and the Bushy Buttress. If you don't like walking, there are numerous convenient abseil points. As far as possible, the climbs are listed in a downstream sequence from right to left and are grouped as in the table of contents above.

 

Routes: Upstream of the Grass Ledge


The first 5 routes listed below are at the extreme upstream end of the Power Wall where it forms one edge of the Bushy Gully. The routes are best reached by following the steep path up from the river to the Access Ledge and then turning to the right and walking upstream along the base of the crag. 'Tom', 'Dick' and 'Harry' are located more or less where the crag swings away from the river to form the Bushy Gully, whilst 'Porcupine Pie' and the 'Sexy Sardine' are about half way up the Bushy Gully.

1. Porcupine Pie (13) **

Opening party: Jonathon Wigley (17 May 2003)

Start about half way up the Bushy Gully, more or less opposite 'Groovy Grunt'. Looking up from the start of the route gives the impression of a small pillar. Climb straight up the middle of the short, clean face and through a small overlap to the top. There is no gear. There is no gear – either solo or top-rope using the chains at the top of the next route which can be reached by an easy scramble from higher up the gully.

 2. Sonic Hedgehog (11) [C] ***

Opening party: Gavin Peckham (17 May 2003)

About 3 m to the left of 'Porcupine Pie' there is a left-facing corner that leans back to the right at a friendly angle. Climb this to the top. Very well protected – an ideal route for a novice leader.

3. Carry on Climbing (09) **

Opening party: Gavin Peckham (29 April 2006)

Walk left from 'Sonic Hedgehog' onto the broad ledge above 'Tom', 'Dick' and 'Harry'.  Start at the obvious crack line near the top of 'Dick' and follow the easiest line more or less straight up towards a rock covered with bright green lichen.  Finish up the centre of a narrow slab at the top of the crag. 

4. Tom (10) **

Opening party: Richard Knott (27 June 1998)

Some 20 m to the right of the 'Solar Power' roof, and just before the Bushy Gully, is an easy angled, pale orange wall. About midway along the base of the wall there are some small, step-like ledges. Start at the right-hand end of these 'steps', balance up a smooth slab and then continue straight up to the top. Walk off along the ledge to the right and then back down the Bushy Gully.

5. Dick (12) [5B;C]*** (Retro-bolted)

Opening party: Gavin Peckham and Richard Knott (27 June 1998)

Start at the small, step-like ledges mentioned above.  Climb straight up the smooth slab above and then continue straight up steeper rock to the chains.

6. Harry (13) [6B;C] *** (Retro-bolted)

Opening party: Gavin Peckham (27 June 1998)

Start about 1 m left of the 'steps' mentioned above.  Pull up onto the face and follow the line of bolts straight up to the top.  If you prefer to follow the line of the original ascent then the original RD read as follows:  Pull up strenuously onto the face.  Climb straight up for about 8 m then follow the obvious traverse line which tends upwards to the left.  Either duck off around the corner to the left (easy), or continue straight up the short face to the top (tricky).

7. Solar Power (20, 17) ***

Opening party: Jonathon Wigley and Mike Ward (10 August 1997)

At the point where the main access scramble reaches the Access Ledge at the base of the Power Wall, there is a broken overhang. A prickly pear is (currently) visible on a small ledge about 15 m above this point. Running through the overhang are two diagonal cracks. Climb up and through the overhang via the right hand crack and then follow this crack line up the face above and belay on a small ledge just left of the prickly pear.

Traverse 2 m left then climb up to three small, right-tending roofs stacked one above another. Move out right under the roofs then break through and climb the face to the top. Avoid the easy gully on the left.

8. Half Man, Half Biscuit (16, 17) ***

Opening party: Gavin Raubenheimer and Gerald Camp (25 October 1997)

Start 1 m to the left of 'Solar Power' and pull through the left-hand crack in the left sloping blocky overhang. Step left into a recess which is followed to a ledge. Continue straight up a face to an overhanging nose. Pull directly through this and continue up easier ground to the top.

9. Anonymous (15) ***

Opening party: Anonymous - at the request of the climber !!! (10 August 1997)

There is a narrow recess at the left-hand end of the 'Solar Power' / 'Half Man, Half Biscuit' roof. Pull strenuously up into this recess then climb to the top tending left most of the way.

 

Routes: Access Ledge up to the Grass Ledge



1. Nameless (14) **

Opening party: Richard Knott and Jeff Shamley (25 October 1997)

Directly below the Grass Ledge is a large roof overhanging the Access Ledge. Start just left of the downstream end of the roof and climb up from the Access Ledge to the Grass Ledge on broken rock, up a sort of rounded arête.

2. Crackerjack (16) ***

Opening party: Gavin Peckham and Jonathon Wigley (25 October 1997)

Start 3 m left of 'Nameless' at a smooth, left sloping ramp/slab. Climb the ramp using the crack in the corner which forms the right hand edge of the slab and which provides excellent protection.

3. Cul-de-Sac (16) ***

Opening party: Jonathon Wigley and Gavin Peckham (25 October 1997)

3 m left of 'Crackerjack' is a second smooth sloping ramp/slab. A block obstructs the top right-hand corner of the ramp. Climb the ramp and then pull over the block to exit.

 

Routes: Grass Ledge to the Top of the Crag


1. Right of Way (16) ***

Opening party: Gavin Peckham and Jonathon Wigley (25 October 1997)

Walk to the upstream end of the Grass Ledge. Where the Grass Ledge peters out, continue in an upstream direction for about 5 m along the narrow, rock ledge that continues at the same level as the Grass Ledge. Start at the base of a large, shallow, right-tending recess. Climb the recess as it tends to the right and then finish straight up.

2. Way to Go (15) ***

Opening party: Richard Knott and Jeff Shamley (25 October 1997)

Start at the same point as 'Right of Way', but climb a vague recess that tends left and then finish straight up.

3. Get Cracking (15) ***

Opening party: Jonathon Wigley and Gavin Peckham (25 October 1997)

This climb follows the arête at the upstream end of the Grass Ledge, just to the right of 'The Easy Way Out' corner. Continue up the arête, until it is possible to gain the start of an excellent off width crack that leads straight up the face to the top.

4. A Fine Line (16) *

Opening party: Jonathon Wigley and Gavin Peckham (06 June 1998)

Climb up the centre of the narrow face between 'The Easy Way Out' and 'Get Cracking'. The crux move is about half way up - avoid stepping across onto the tempting block on 'Get Cracking'. A decidedly arbitrary eliminate, but good climbing if you avoid trespassing on either of the adjacent routes.

5. The Easy Way Out (11) ***

Opening party: Gavin Peckham and Jonathon Wigley (25 October 1997)

Near the upstream end of the Grass Ledge are two pronounced corners. A small, square roof caps the one on the left. The one on the right has a crack running up the back of the corner for its full length. Climb this corner to the top. There are two large, suspect looking blocks on the way up. They have defied our very best efforts to dislodge them and seem quite immovable.

6. Onesler (17 / 15) ***

Opening party: Robbie Dyer; Gavin Peckham; Jonathon Wigley (26 April 1999)

Climb the blocky arête located five metres downstream from 'The Easy Way Out'. Gear is sparse if you stick to the arête (17). By starting just left of the arête and ducking off slightly to the left or right here and there, it is possible to reduce the climb to a well-protected grade15.

7. Chalk and Cheese (19) ***

First "ascent": Gavin Peckham and Jonathon Wigley (06 June 1998)

(Top-roped with 2 m of slack to simulate a lead! No gear. Needs bolts.) Mid way along the Grass Ledge, where it is at its widest, is an orange face. Near the middle of this face, a small broken column of whitish rock reaches about half way up the face. Climb to the top of the column using the crack on its left edge (12). >From the top of the column, step left onto the face and then follow the very thin, left tending crack line up the steep orange face to a large ledge (19). Ab off the tree, or scramble up easy rock to the top.

8. Rock Around the Block (15) ***

Opening party: Gavin Peckham and Jonathon Wigley (06 June 1998)

About 15 m left of 'Chalk and Cheese' is an obvious large, orange open-book that starts half way up the face and leads to the top. About 3 m to the right of this open-book, and at the bottom of the face, is another, smaller orange recess. Climb to the top of the recess and then over a white, rectangular block (crux) to gain the base of another open-book with a good crack up the back. Climb this to the top.

9. Colour Contrast (15) ***

Opening party: Gavin Peckham and Jonathon Wigley (06 June 1998)

About 5 m to the right of the downstream end of the Grass Ledge there is an orange recess. Climb this recess then continue straight on up the crack-line that runs through the top of the recess (crux). Pass just right of a small fig tree and continue up the white face above, tending to the left.

 10. Sky Light (16) ***

Opening party: Jonathon Wigley and Gavin Peckham (26 October 1997)

From the top of 'Easy Access', move about 3 m to the right along the narrow, broken rock ledge that connects the Tree and Grass Ledges. Start directly below a large V-shaped gap in the roof above. Climb straight up a recess and through the V shaped gap in the roof to reach a belay in a large recess with a small tree. You can ab from the tree or continue to the top on easy rock.

11. Sky Walker (17) *****

Opening party: Gavin Peckham and Jonathon Wigley (26 October 1997)

Climb 'Easy Access' and then continue up, tending slightly left and heading for the left-hand edge of the roof on 'Sky Light'. (Do not climb straight up to a position under the roof, as the rock here is somewhat loose.) Climb up past the left-hand end of the roof until it is possible to traverse 3 m to the right, across the slab that forms the roof. This is most exciting if you traverse with your toes on the lip of the roof, but you can traverse more easily about a metre higher if you wish to avoid the thrill of an airy traverse. At the right hand edge of the slab, climb up strenuously to gain a crack line with good grips. Do not whimp off into the large 'Sky Light' belay recess after the first couple of moves, but continue up the crack line on good holds to reach the base of a short, white face. Climb up the middle of the face on tiny holds (crux - no gear - escape to the right if necessary). Careful rope work is necessary to avoid excessive drag. It is possible to make an uncomfortable belay (2 climbers only) before starting the traverse. A single ab takes you all the way back down to the Access Ledge.

  

Routes: Access Ledge up to the Tree Ledge


1. Easy Access (10) ***

Opening party: Gavin Peckham (26 October 1997)

The route is located directly below the most upstream of the overhead power lines. Making use of the partly concealed layaway crack in the right-hand wall, climb the huge crack that runs up diagonally left to the upstream end of the Tree Ledge.

Note : This neat line is the usual means of access to routes that start from the Tree or Grass Ledges. Despite the easy grade of the route, less experienced climbers should probably rope up because there is a 30 m drop to the river from the Access Ledge along the base of the crag.

2. Step-Down (10) **

Opening party: Gavin Peckham (26 October 1997)

Climb the blocky recess 5 m left of 'Easy Access'.

3. Step-Up (11) **

Opening party: Gavin Peckham (26 October 1997)

Climb the blocky recess 3 m left of 'Step-Down'.

4. Short Circuit (10) *

Opening party: Gavin Peckham and Eugene Parsons (23 November 1997)

Start 8 m left of 'Step-Up'. Climb diagonally left up a broken recess, then continue straight up to the Tree Ledge.

5. Transformer (18) **

Opening party: Gavin Peckham and Eugene Parsons (23 November 1997)

Start 8 m right of 'Pylon' and climb diagonally left up a short (4 m) steep face (crux). Step left into the base of a large recess in which a small tree is growing. Climb easily to the top of the recess. There is no gear low down where you really need it !

6. Pylon (12) ***

Opening party: Gavin Peckham and Richard Knott (09 August 1997)

Climb the recess that leads straight up to the downstream end of the Tree Ledge. (It starts directly beneath the most downstream of the set of overhead power lines.)

 

Routes: Tree Ledge up to the top of the Crag


1. Bats in My Belfry (15) ***

Opening party: Richard Knott and Gavin Peckham (09 August 1997)

A few metres left of the upstream end of the Tree Ledge is an obvious narrow recess. Start strenuously up the recess (crux) and then follow this line to the top of the crag. The line is better than it looks and is on clean rock all the way even 'though you have to squeeze past bushes here and there.

2. Winding Umfolozi (18) ***

Opening party: Trish Stoops and John Crumley (08 June 2002)

Start about 5 to 10 m to the right of 'Power Line'. Climb up onto the obvious block (crux - aid by pulling up on a small wire if necessary). Follow a broken crack system up then tend to the right until the line reaches the same large vegetated ledge as 'Bats in My Belfry'. This line will probably be improved by climbing straight up rather than tending off to the right near the top.

3. Power Line (17) ***

First "ascent": Richard Knott and Gavin Peckham (09 August 1997)

(Top-roped. No gear. Needs bolts.) Layback up the corner crack located close to the downstream end of the Tree Ledge to gain a rock ledge about 10 m higher up. Walk a couple of metres to the right then climb the face above, moving left into the left tending scoop which is followed to the top using friction and small holds.

 

Routes: Downstream of the Tree Ledge


1. Sensation (22) [?B] ****

Opening party: Gerald Camp (1994)

A long journey (40 m) on good rock with an adequate number of bolts that can be supplemented with extra gear by the more cautious. The chains and one of the bolts near the top are bad but there is plenty of natural gear. The route has a grade 24 variation ending and can be easily top-roped.

2. Return to Power (18) **

Opening party: Daniel Ryding and Neil McQueen (1992)

About 30 m downstream from the power lines is a very large, clean recess which runs to the top of the crag (40 m). The recess is capped by a prominent lime green boulder which can be seen from river level but not from the base of the climb.

Follow the line of least resistance up to a small recess from which you move right around a nose. Continue past a bird nesting area to a stance at the bottom of a flaring crack.

Climb the crack tending left over a couple of loose blocks to a quite prominent pea-pod groove. Climb this, then on up the arête on green boulders, heading for the lime-green objective.

3. The Powers That Be (19) *****

Opening party: Jonathon Wigley and Gavin Peckham (04 May 1997)

Start in the same large recess as 'Return to Power'. Climb straight up the centre of the recess on good layaway holds. Continue straight up and onto a small, protruding mantleshelf ledge (tricky) about 10 m up. If you are bold enough, continue straight up the open book above the mantleshelf (22? and no gear) and up a broken recess to reach the fist-jam crack mentioned below. However, from the mantleshelf ledge, lesser mortals can bypass the open book by traversing delicately to the left for 2 m and then around a corner to reach a broken recess. Climb this for about 3m to reach a small roof. From a position up under the roof, exit right (crux) to regain the main recess. Continue more easily up the broken recess for a couple of meters to reach a tiny (optional) stance. >From here climb the 3 m right-tending fist crack and then move out left to the undercling flake on the left wall. Climb the off-width crack formed by the left-hand edge of the flake and then scramble to the top. This route is about 45 m long.

4. Day-Tripper (17) ****

Opening party: Gavin Peckham and Richard Knott (07 September 1997)

Start about 10 m upstream of the Rocky Gully between the Power and Warrior Walls. Scramble 6 m up a huge left-sloping crack to reach a large weedy ledge. Alternatively, from a point about half way up the Rocky Gully it is possible to walk out to the right along this ledge. Either approach ends at the base of a prominent 25 m high corner with a white streaked block about 6 m up.

In a nutshell, climb the corner to the block, make a rising traverse to the right, all the way across the face to the arête on the far (right hand) side of the face and then climb the arête to the top. A more detailed description is as follows:

Make a strenuous start up the crack in the corner and continue up to the block. With your feet at a level just below the base of the white block, traverse very delicately to the right for 3 m to a small, rectangular recess. Move up diagonally right into a secure, square recess that is currently home to a small bush. Exit this recess to the right (tricky) then continue traversing to the right, tending slightly upwards (thin) to reach a secure stance at the base of a large, orange recess 3/4 of the way across the face. (Optional belay at this point). From the right hand side of the stance, climb the right-slanting recess that leads out onto the arête on the far (right hand) side of the undercut face. From here, climb easily to the top, keeping just left of the arête most of the way. Finish straight up a crack line a few metres left of the arête.

This line is 40+ m long and is adequately protected with some excellent positions. Careful rope work is required if you climb this line as a single pitch. Jugs towards the top contrast with the delicate traverse. The top of the Warrior Wall (top of Scorpion) forms a comfortable balcony from which an audience may obtain an excellent view of the antics!

Variation: Eric Penman and Dylan Salt (9 September 2001). Climb the corner until just above the white-streaked block and then traverse out horizontally to the right to reach the same large, orange belay recess mentioned above. Continue as above. Apparently much easier than the original traverse.

5. Alley Cat (16) ***

Opening party: Gavin Peckham and Richard Knott (07 September 1997)

Start as for 'Day-Tripper' but move awkwardly up past the white streaked block and follow the corner to the top. After pulling up past a large chockstone, do not exit up the scramble on the left but continue straight on up to the top via the short face on the right. Well protected and better than it looks !

Tata ma' Chance (20) ****

Opening party: Gavin Raubenheimer and Gerald Camp (13 September 2003)

This line runs along under the overhangs that under-cut the 'Day Tripper' face. These overhangs slope up diagonally to the right and peter out at the 'Day Tripper' arête which is then followed to the top. The opening party of 'Day Tripper' likes to think that this line is a mere variation to the start of their route!

Pitch 1 (16) Start from the same ledge as 'Day Tripper'. Step down 2 m on the right and move around a corner into a recess. Traverse diagonally up and to the right to reach a small stance on the arête.

Pitch 2 (20) Pull up strenuously onto the ramp above. Climb 10 m to an overhanging corner. Traverse delicately to the arête on the right and below a block. Move to the right of the block and then up on the exposed arête past a shiny peg. Move left up a blocky recess to gain the face above and finish straight up.

Tata ma' Chance Direct (20) ****

Opening party: Andrew Porter and Rance McIntyre (15 June 2003)

Pitch 1 (20). Start to the left of "The Powers that Be" underneath a layback finger crack running through roofs of purple rock. Pull through the two roofs and climb diagonally left to reach a sloping ledge.

Pitch 2 - as described above. This start gives a more direct line with a consistent grade.

 

CASANOVA COVE

There is a small secluded beach directly below the Power Wall and just downstream from the power lines.  At the back of this beach there is a pyramid shaped rock - 'Baby Face' - that merges with the steep slabs  leading up to the Access Ledge.  Two anchors (one chain each) have been placed at the top of this block.  These will allow the top-roping of about three very short easy routes.

Comments