Rainbow Glen Climber Profile: Tony Lourens

Dave Webster of Rainbow Glen chats to familiar face & Montagu local Tony Lourens...

The small town of Montagu is home not only to some of the best crags in the country but also to a few of South Africa’s great climbing pioneers. Lucky for us, David and Tara Webster of Rainbow Glen Self-Catering Chalets – themselves passionate climbers – have taken some time to sit down with a few of Montagu’s local legends so we can get to know them a little better.

We’ve heard from the esteemed Edmund February, and now it’s time for another familiar name – guide, writer, publisher, bolter and donkey enthusiast Tony Lourens!

Tony has been coming to Montagu since sport climbing first developed in the area in the early 1990s.

He has without a doubt opened more sport routes in Montagu than anyone else and, in some instances, developed whole crags and areas and even “Garages” by himself, with a bit of help from his friends!

Prolific guidebook author, owner of SA Mountain Magazine and successful climbing guide, Tony has achieved what many people can only dream of – to make their passion their job and to create a successful business out of climbing.

Tony is on the Montagu Tourism Committee and has been instrumental in developing several of Montagu’s best climbing areas, including The Farm, Kalkoennes, Joe’s Garage, The Bold and the Beautiful and many more.

He is also in constant negotiations with landowners to ensure thataccess to various climbing areas remains open. He was the driving force, raising funds and somehow coercing a large number of people to happily carry heavy loads of wood up a flippin’ steep hill, behind building the platforms at The Bold and The Beautiful Crag and also at the Farm on 62, which the whole community can surely appreciate.

His passion for climbing is larger than life and his endless enthusiasm, work ethic, and single-minded focus is something to be admired – as is his Basil Fawlty impression!

As a good friend of ours once put it, “Tony is a force for the good!”

Dave: What is the approximate or exact number of routes you have opened in Montagu, Tony?

Tony: I can’t really say off hand, but I think around a hundred or so.

Dave: What year did you bolt your first Montagu route?

Tony: That was in 1993 – Hey Come On (19), at Legoland.

Dave: I’m sure it is a difficult question as I know you feel that all your routes are like your children, but out of all of them, which one is your “favourite”?

Tony: I don’t have a favourite child… But my relationship with my children at Joe’s Garage is very special. I had a great time developing those routes and also kitting out the little tea cave at the base of the crag. Great memories with good friends, and great routes! And a new development I am working on at the moment with some friends I think will prove very nice as well.

This ‘new development’ is no secret anymore… click the button below to check out the new Rock n Roll Kloof crag in Montagu!

We all know that the only thing that Tony loves, almost as much as his wonderful wife, Patsy, is a good donkey!

Dave: Tony, where does your passion for donkeys come from?

Tony: I’ve had a passion for donkeys for many years now – I mean, just look at those faces! I have always felt that they are very badly treated in general as a work animal, and just thought that I would like to do something to make a difference in their lives.

Tony’s annual fund-raising event in Montagu, Climb4Hope, is in its fifth year now and over the last 4 years he has raised and donated close to R400 000 to the Eseltjiesrus Donkey SanctuaryAnimals Matter Langeberg (AML) and DKMS (previously known as the Sunflower Fund).

2023’s event is taking place on 11 November – click the button below to get all the details and join the fun!

Rumour has it that in the early 90s Tony had a rock-climbing apparel company called “Rock Dog”, and some of his sponsored athletes included Steve Bradshaw and Jeremy Colenso, amongst others! He also owned a climbing shop in Rondebosch in the early 90s called Bergsport which was way ahead of its time.

Dave: Tony, I would imagine that you have people contacting you endlessly to discuss the grading difficulty or star quality rating of the many routes in your guidebooks. Is there one route in particular that people have contacted you about most?

Tony: Not that often really, but grading and star ratings will always be subjective to a degree. The Gospel Express at Steeple in Montagu was always a very respected route for its grade of 17, until finally it was given the grade of 18 that it deserves, but the slightly run-out crux is still a tad testy. Big Sky at Skull Crag is another example; many complained about the grade, so now it has been upgraded from 18 to 20 in the latest guidebook.

Dave: You’ve associated and climbed with many well-known people over the 50-plus years you have been climbing. What is a particular route or experience you remember fondly?

Tony: Yes, this year is my 50th year climbing, and I can feel it in my joints! I have had so many amazing times, climbs and memories with many friends over those years, that it is impossible to single out one route or experience. It is as much who you climb with as what you climb.

Having said that, I must say, that climbing with the famous British climber Doug Scott in the Cederberg and on Table Mountain was an incredibly special experience. Quite surreal actually, having read all his books as a young lad and following his climbing exploits.It was a huge honour!

Dave: Many of your routes have “interesting” names. Where does your love for Frank Zappa’s music come from and have you ever seen him play live?

Tony: Ooohh, I really wish I had seen Zappa play live. That would’ve been a real privilege. I was introduced and exposed to Zappa when I was in my mid-teens, by a rather eccentric friend who I also climbed with quite a lot. For us then, it was like a cult following and we listened to “The Mothers” a lot. My passion for Zappa stayed with me. And his song names make great route names.

Most of my route names follow musical themes of some of my favourite artists, like Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Deep Purple, etc. All of whom I have seen live in the past. Just recently, Patsy and I had the privilege of seeing Roger Walters live in Lisbon during a climbing trip to Portugal, and that concert has also brought some new route names to the table.

I was fortunate to meet Tony’s very Italian mama, Rossana, at his wedding here in Montagu about 10 years ago, and she told us the story about how she “tooka” Tony to their family doctor when he was young because all he wanted to do was climb and she hoped the doctor would have a “cure” for this “dangerous behaviour” but the doctor’s answer was “buy him a good rope”! Coincidentally and very fortuitously, the doctor was Dr Sandal, a very active climber himself.

The way I see it, people plant trees so that other people can enjoy them and I think people bolt routes so that other people can enjoy them too. It is hard work, time-consuming, expensive and sometimes thankless.

I believe that, as a climbing community, we need to show appreciation and give recognition when it is due, so we would like to say thanks to Tony on behalf of all the people who enjoy climbing here in Montagu and around the Cape.

That’s all for now, folks! Keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram pages for the next climber profile, and give Rainbow Glen a visit if you head out to Montagu!


Rainbow Glen, owned and operated by climbers Dave and Tara Webster, provides superb self-catering accommodation in Montagu, with seven cottages of different sizes available for big and small groups. Plus, along with being located right at the start of Bad Kloof and close to all of Montagu’s other crags, Rainbow Glen offers discounted rates for climbers!

Visit www.rainbowglen.co.za to find out more and make your booking.

Along with operating Rainbow Glen, David also runs Route 62 Mountain Adventures, which offers guided hiking, mountain biking and climbing experiences in and around Montagu – visit this link for more information and start planning your adventure…

Special thanks to David and Tara for allowing GoodBETA to re-share this interview, first published in the Rainbow Glen newsletter. All pictures are courtesy of Rainbow Glen.