No Space for New Routes?


New tradding in the Cederberg and other stories.

words and pic by DOUW STEY

A long, long time ago, in a place not so far away, a climber once espoused that ‘For something like 20 years now climbers have periodically asserted that Table Mountain was “worked out”, that is, the possibilities of new routes have been exhausted,’ and ‘At the risk of sharing their fate I will now join the pessimists and say that future generations will be hard put to it to find any further new routes…’. Those words1 were written in 1941. Apparently the author was as mistaken as those before him and many since.

Despite the number of routes then extant on Table Mountain, there was much scope still available. In the surrounding countryside, of course, only a few routes had been established and, a little further afield, at what were to become major climbing destinations, there was seldom more than one route – usually named ‘something’ Frontal.

Today, some 74 years later, our popular ‘country’ climbing areas sport numerous routes. One just has to look at the topo pictures in the guidebooks for Tafelberg and Wolfberg, for example, to be tempted into thinking that they too are perhaps all climbed out.

So if nearly 60 years after the establishment of the first proper rock climbs on Table Mountain, it was thought that there was little space for more, then surely by now it must really be so? Well, despite continued claims that it is the case, new routes are still regularly being established. Who would have thought that there was space for approximately 30 new routes on Tafelberg’s (Cederberg) Main Wall alone, in addition to all those listed in the latest guidebook? And there will be more yet. Not to mention what is waiting on other, less frequented and even as-yet-unclimbed walls.

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