Support the Greater Good Bolting Fund

Climbing veteran and local powerhouse Illona Pelser is taking Cape climbing onwards and upwards with her brand-new Greater Good Bolting Fund...

Climbing veteran and local powerhouse Illona Pelser is taking Cape climbing onwards and upwards with her brand-new Greater Good Bolting Fund (GGBF). We had a chat with Illona to find out more about her cause and what it means for our home crags…

Illona Pelser on The Activist (30). Photograph by Oan de Waal.

When did you establish the fund and why?

I created the fund last month, October 2021.

Often I will spot a line at a crag that looks like it would be a fun, easy route. But, because bolting is expensive and a lot of effort, there’s little motivation to bolt it. However, after mentioning this to a couple of people, many responded, “Why don’t you start a bolting fund?”. After some thought, I realised that this would benefit many climbers in the community – why not give it a try? So far it has been met with a lot of enthusiasm, and people seem really psyched about the fund and future developments.


How does the fund work?

It’s very straightforward: people can donate whatever amount they’d like, and this is used to cover expenses incurred during bolting (e.g. bolts, hangers and drill bits). The fund will primarily be used for routes that are in the grade range of 16-22. At the moment, I’m mainly bolting around Montagu; however, I have spotted lines at other crags, such as Kleinmond, Truitjieskraal and the Hole.

So far, we have opened up four routes –  Bratwurst (17), Der Tigerköning (21), Johnny Pneumonic (18) and Rette den Esel (19).


Could you tell us a bit about your bolting experience?

I have bolting experience primarily in Kwa-Zulu Natal, where I was mentored by the great Roger Nattrass – he is well-known for his quality lines. I established fourteen lines in KZN. I had only bolted four routes in the Cape before the fund was established, but I have my eye on many more. I have also helped to re-bolt a number of routes.



What are you hoping to achieve with the fund?

My biggest hope is that, by establishing easier lines at more crags, more climbers will be able to enjoy all that Cape rock has to offer. I often hear people planning climbing trips and choosing crags, only for someone to say: “But there’s nothing there for me.” By increasing the grade range, classic crags can offer something for everyone. Plus, this can help to expose climbers to higher grades and give them the inspiration and opportunities to jump on hard lines.

It would bring me great joy if I could get people to explore more crags, so that they don’t need to limit themselves to ‘beginner’ areas for the sake of lower grades. Also, these new lines will provide more warm-ups for climbers projecting the hard stuff – it might also help more climbers to get on their projects because now there are more routes for their climbing partners to play on.


How can the community support you?

If people would like to play a part in giving back to the community and seeing the sport grow, they can donate to the fund via the following bank details:

Bank: First National Bank (FNB)

Account Name: Greater Good Bolting Fund

Account Number: 62401381455

Account Type: Savings

Reference: (Your name) GGBF

Show Illona some support and get climbing!


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