Crag Spotlight: Skoorsteenskop

A spotlight on Skoorsteenskop, Western Cape...

May brings us closer to the official start of winter (a.k.a. sending season) and we’re stoked to adventure into some beautiful places and get on some rock! If you’re looking for some new crags in the Western Cape to try out, consider the majestic Skoorsteenskop above Hout Bay.

We’re not going to lie to you, the walk-in is challenging… but it is so, SO worth it when you get up there to gorgeous climbing, stunning views and an all-around incredible crag that you should definitely visit at least once! Read on to find out more about this lovely spot and check out some snaps…

ACCESS

No permit is required to climb at Skoorsteenskop, but you will need to get the codes for the locks on the two gates along the path; you can do so by emailing the CityROCK team at skoorsteenskop@cityrock.co.za or Anita from the MCSA at  admin@mcsacapetown.co.za. As always, make sure to respect the land and local ecosystem by staying on the designated path, leaving nature as you find it and packing all your trash out with you. It’s essential that the climbing community maintains a good relationship with landowners, so always be courteous and mindful of the space around you.

It should be mentioned that there were some incidents of climbers being mugged at Skoorsteenskop back around 2015, but the perpetrator was subsequently arrested and sentenced in 2016, and the crag has been considered relatively safe since. That being said, there is safety in numbers and it’s always advisable to go climbing in a decently-sized group and minimise the number of valuables you have on your person and in your car.

PARKING & APPROACH

Parking for Skoortsteenskop is on Whittlers Way in Hout Bay; this is a residential area, so please bear the residents in mind when parking and make sure to stay clear of any driveways. The path starts immediately opposite #37 Whittlers Way, in between properties #32/32a and #30; you will need to unlock the first gate (please remember to lock it again behind you), and then follow the path for around 100m until you reach the second gate, which you will again unlock and re-lock behind you.

After the second gate, continue heading up the mountain past the property on the left until you reach the upper bounds of the property; turn left and walk alongside the fence for around 50m and then turn onto the path marked with cairns (there are a few paths to choose from, so following the cairns is your best bet); continue walking until you reach the crag. Depending on your fitness levels the walk takes between 30 and 45 minutes.

The approach is quite steep in places and pretty sunny, so make sure to pack lots of water & sun protection and take it slow!

THE ROUTES

Skoorsteenskop has three distinct climbing areas – Main Wall, The Gully, and NE Wall which are all reasonably close together so you can jump between them throughout the day. In total, there are 14 routes graded 17 to 23 and ranging from 15m to 25m high. The rock is absolutely beautiful with great friction and features on mainly vertical face climbing, offering a superb day of sending with stunning views all around. This is a great spot if you are climbing 23s, as Skoornsteenskop is home to some of the best routes of this grade in the country. Plus, most routes have been ARF’d, i.e. rebolted with bomber glue-ins.

You can view the route guide on theCrag.com at the button below or in Tony Louren’s Western Cape Rock guidebook.

Main Wall. Image from TheCrag.com.
The Gully. Image from TheCrag.com.
NE Wall. Image from TheCrag.com.

THE CONDITIONS

While Skoorsteenskop is not an ideal crag to visit when the South Easter is blowing (for those days you can head to Misty Cliffs), the base is mostly sheltered from the wind with plenty of space to belay, hang out and enjoy the expansive views. The crag is shady for most of the day so you’ll want to bring along some warm layers; however, as mentioned above, the approach is sunny so you shouldn’t skip the hat and sunblock!

On the whole, Skoorsteenskop is a must-visit spot for any Cape climber. Although the walk-in does require some good fitness, you can always go at your own pace (the hike is beautiful anyway!) and, again, it’s all worth it once you reach the summit, gear up and get on the rock!

Check out this hidden gem, keep safe and stay tuned for the next featured crag…

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