Rocklands, South Africa
One of the most iconic lines in the Rocklands. Shozoloza, 8a+. Photo: Peter Crane
The Rocklands is a magnificent bouldering area located in the Cedarburg Mountains, just 200km outside of Cape Town, South Africa. For the last couple of years I have been drooling over the idea of climbing here and last summer a few friends and I from Ireland were lucky enough to get a chance to sample the delights. The Rocklands is home to some of the best Bouldering in the World with Sandstone boulders stretching as far as the eye can see. As soon as you arrive it becomes easy to see how the area got its name. There are just thousands of sandstone boulders; everywhere you look, you find proud arêtes, big roofs, outstanding highballs and even some excellent low balls (if you’re into that)! It is clear to see why it draws in the best climbers from all over the world. This article aims to highlight a few recommendations about the climbing, what to do on rest days and a few other bits and pieces in between.
Irish tricolour in the Rocklands.
Each sector of the Rocklands has its own unique feel, although the style is mainly gymnastic, with good holds and big moves, you don’t need to look very far to find something to suit you. In our time bouldering here we managed to find a bit of everything- arêtes, grooves, highballs, lowballs, roofs, dynos, slabs, crimps, slopers, pinches and even jamming cracks, all of which were of the highest quality.
The spread of grades is something that was mentioned before my trip. I arrived thinking that to get the most out of the trip I needed to be pulling hard and looking at high grades but in truth that’s not completely accurate. It’s not uncommon to stumble across a 5+ right next to an 8a, both of which of high quality and offer up their own unique challenges. Often you would see mixed-ability groups all climbing on the same boulder but on different lines and different grades, all wearing big smiles and sharing the psyche. This was a part of the trip which I really loved. Regardless of whether you were crushing your 8c project or climbing your first 6a outdoors, people are happy to help and are always encouraging.
The brilliant ‘Girl on Our Mind’ 6b+
That being said there are an incredibly high amount of outstanding boulder problems in the 7’s and 8’s but with so much rock all around you, whatever grade you climb you will be able to find something, especially those who are keen to explore and open new boulder problems. As for grading, take grades with a pinch of salt, like anywhere grades can be subjective, morpho, soft or hard. Arrive there only with an open mind and appetite to climb and you will leave very satisfied.
In this section there should be a mention to the top outs and walk in’s. Both of which are fantastic if given due care and attention! At the top of the large majority of boulders there are big holds, jugs, threads and chicken heads. Just take your time when topping out, don’t go swinging around on these holds like a Neanderthal, they have been known to break off if no care is given! As for the walk in’s they are to a large degree, a delight. The walk in’s range from 10 minutes to 30 minutes and often have a flat path surrounded by beautiful scenery, so for this reason try and stick to the paths as best as you can and keep the landscape as untouched as possible, avoiding any possible future access issues!
If you are planning a trip out to the Rocklands a guide book is really helpful, if not necessary. The Rocklands bouldering guide was published in 2010 so is rather outdated but regardless, over 1,000 boulder problems are described ranging in grade from Font 3 though to Font 8C. The guide includes maps, directions and a lot of useful information!
Kev Marnane on ‘Springbok’ 7a+
One of the classics ‘The Rhino’ 7b+
Passing the crux on ‘Ulan Bator’ 7b+