Granite Cragging Above The Ocean

Hout Bay is connected to Noordhoek by the famous and spectacular Chapman’s Peak Drive. It is one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world and it is the view from my house across the valley on Little Lion’s Head. In 1996, my brother Dave and I did the first (and likely to remain the only) route up that big, intimidating, crumbly cliff that overhangs the cantilevered tunnel on Chapman’s Peak Drive. At that time I had thought about the granite cliffs below the Drive from time to time, like many climbers I suppose, but didn’t do anything about it. By 2012, enough time had passed and I went for a close-up look by hiking in from Noordhoek Beach, across the granite boulders just above the surf line. What I found got me really excited – especially one big buttress directly below the road.
It turned out that my young climbing partner of recent years, Guy Paterson-Jones, had also been thinking of taking a look at these sea cliffs and was similarly excited about prospects on our first proper climbing recce. We found that, unlike the horrible sedimentary rock above the road, the Cape granite below the road is hard and in many ways similar to Paarl Rocks. But where it is so different to Paarl Rocks is that it presents a much higher density of really good vertical crack climbing, much of it very steep and overhanging, and less of the slabby stuff.

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Words by: Hilton Davies
Image by: Tony Lourens

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