The Revival of the Lost World

Not many people get to climb at a crag that has been closed longer than they have been alive. And even fewer people get to climb at the one of the keystone crags of hard South African trad climbing, Lost World crag. On the second weekend of September, 35 people had that opportunity.

by Timothy Larsen & Simon Larsen; photographs by Garrreth Bird

The peaceful chiming of trad racks broken by the occasional call from belay to climber could be heard in the background as I placed a perfect .2 cam halfway up the immaculate rock on Find the Cost of Freedom (19). Unlike the rest of Montagu, cam and nut placements can be found wherever needed on the broken walls of the Lost World.

Simon Larsen makes his way up to the Lost World. (Photo: Garrreth Bird)

Not many people get to climb at a crag that has been closed longer than they have been alive, and even fewer people get to climb at the one of the keystone crags of hard South African trad climbing. On the second weekend of September 2021, 35 people had that opportunity. 

The Lost World crag is found just outside of the petite town of Montagu, home of some of the most passionate climbers in South Africa. Despite the proximity to the climbing community, Lost World has remained untouched for over 20 years… until now. A select group of climbers from all walks of life and all over South Africa made their way to Gelania Estate (on which the crag can be found) to climb a piece of South African history – the home of the hardest trad climbing in the country during the late 80’s & early 90’s.

 The Gelania Estate main house. (Photo: Garrreth Bird)

The weekend consisted of two full days’ worth of climbing and relaxed evenings at the Gelania main house. On Saturday night, we were privileged to hear the stories of discovery and development of the area by those legends responsible for it – Dr Ed February and Andy “ADK” de Klerk

The classics that everyone wanted to climb were:
1: Nuclear Waste (21)
 Julia Wakeling making the crux look easy. (Photo: Garrreth Bird)
2: Night Freight (24 R)
Squeaks sending the scariest climb in the crag. (Photo: Garrreth Bird)
3: Technicolour Darkness (26)
Douw Steyn on the stunning 26 that was at the peak of trad climbing in its day. (Photo: Garrreth Bird)
4:Skyline Crack (21)
Gosia Lipinska on the Very enjoyable easiest route on the Wall of Darkness. (Photo: Garrreth Bird)
5: Jay Walker (19)
Two teams on the Classic Multi-pitch. (Photos: Garrreth Bird)
6: Stone Magic (19)
Douw on the tricky shady crack. (Photo: Garrreth Bird)
7: Heart of Gold
Such a beautiful two-pitch route. (Photo: Garrreth Bird)
 8: Find the Cost of Freedom (19) and Brain Drain (20)
Squeaks on Find the Cost of Freedom which runs parallel with Brain Drain. (Photo: Garrreth Bird)

During the weekend, all the classics were successfully climbed. The most impressive sends were Willem le Roux, Gosia Lipinska, and Douw Steyn (in that order) on Technicolour Darkness (26); along with Richard (known as Squeaks) and Willem le Roux on Night Freight (24). These sends were also accompanied by two huge whippers from Douw Steyn and Garrreth Bird.

Willem le Roux on Technicolour Darkness. (Photo: Garrreth Bird) 
Enjoying the eternal shade of the Teddy Bear Sector. (Photo: Garrreth Bird)

Many of us fell in love with Lost Crag over the weekend and many had their love for the stunning routes rekindled after over two decades. Unfortunately, the crag is not open to the public, but negotiations are in process with Gelania and we may yet get to return to the Lost World. 

Some more photos from the weekend. (Photo: Garrreth Bird)
Lost World. (Photo: Garrreth Bird)
 Timothy and Simon watching Douw Steyn on Stone Magic. (Photo: Garrreth Bird)