Witkoppe (Free State)

Acknowledgement


This information was provided by Gavin Raubenheimer of Peak High Mountaineering.

Introduction

The Witkoppe crag is located in the Free State about 80 km east of Harrismith. It is situated on a remote part of a large farm owned by Mr. Gideon Willemse. Besides the crag described here, there is potential more routes on other buttresses on the farm including the cliff behind the farmer’s house. The climbing is on sandstone similar to that at 'Mt Everest' and at Kranskop. This venue is not likely to become popular due to its remote location. It is, however, a very beautiful place and of interest if you like a bit of adventure and something different.

How to get there


Turn off the N3 just north of Harrismith and take the R772 to Verkykerkop. ie the Mt. Everest Resort road. Continue along the road for 48 km and through the village of Verkykerkop. Then travel a further 20 km and turn left onto a dirt road to Driebult and Wikoppe. Travel a few kilometres until the farm 'Nonpareil' is seen on the left. This is the home of Mr.Willemse. Map

Mr.Willemse is friendly towards climbers and will give you a key to get through the many gates on the way to the cliff, which is above a remote stock kraal. (Whilst the party of three were climbing the Willemse family came out in their private aeroplane to have a look at what was happening.) Visitors must phone before arrival to make arrangements to collect the key and get final directions through the farm. Phone (058) 6223467 . The road from the farmhouse to the crag is rough but can be negotiated by a normal sedan, however, a bakkie would be much better. Or use a company car !

Where to stay

Camp at the old kraal below the crag, where there is water during the summer months. During winter it is better to bring your own water.

Route Descriptions


From the kraal walk up the slope to the very large semi free-standing buttress. ie Buttress Rock. All the routes described below are on this feature. The buttress has a huge corner / open book running up the middle. The lines up the main face give lovely, exposed climbing. To get to the access gully one needs to enter it from the far side of the buttress. Either walk right around the left-hand side of the buttress or scramble up a gully in the front. All the routes described below were opened by Dennis Gramkow, Michael Steiniger and Gavin Raubenheimer during October 1999.

Routes Starting from the Middle Ledge



These routes start half way up the north face of Buttress Rock from a ledge that runs the length of the face. On the right hand side there is a gully which gives access to the ledge. See map for directions. Buttress Rock is free standing necessitating one abseil from the top back to the ground or the starting ledge. There should be an old sling marking the point.

1. Mr. Perfect (13)
(Photo at right)

From the extreme left hand side of the ledge and starting from a big boulder, climb the face using the arete. Climb past a block and onto a ledge, then up the delicate face above. A spectacular route.
FA: Gavin Raubenheimer and party.

2. A Face Called Wanda (15)

Start 2 m to the right of 'Mr. Perfect'. Climb the face keeping parallel to the previous line all the way to the top. Tricky moves below the upper ledge.
FA: Gavin Raubenheimer and party.

3. Red Banner (12)

Start 2 m to the right of 'A Face Called Wanda' and below a 'T' shaped crack. Climb up to this and then over it. Move right and straight to the ledge. Once on the ledge walk left a few metres and finish up the corner.
FA: Dennis Gramkow and party.

4. Electric Guitar (14)

Start 3 m to the right of 'Red Banner' and climb straight up the middle of the face finishing up the steep short wall that forms the summit ledge.
FA: Mike Steiniger and party.

5. Septic Toe (12)

Start 4 m to the left of the gully. Climb straight up then curve to the left and onto the big shelf above. Finish up the steep short wall on the left.
FA: Mike Steiniger and party.

6. Happy Wanderer (10)

Climb the right hand edge next to the gully and up to the shelf / ledge. From a stance here traverse to the right for 15 m until over looking the next valley. Exit up an easy recess. Easy but enjoyable climbing.
FA: Gavin Raubenheimer and Mike Steiniger

7. Sep-toe-seamia (10)

On the right of the buttress are two parallel gullies. The left one is the access to the main ledge. Starting in the right hand one and about half way up on the right. Climb the easy rightward slanting crack to the top.
FA: Dennis Gramkow and the rest!
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