South Africa is blessed with plenty of climbable rock & geological variety. There are literally hundreds of climbing venues scattered across the country. There are thousands of routes & problems, with plenty of potential for new development. The mountain club has been on the forefront of rock climbing since its founding in 1891. Contact the section nearest you, as listed on our home page. Some sections have published route guides.
Climbing Meets | Going Places | Meeting people
Each section has a climbing coordinator & regular climbing meets are held all over the country. This is a great way to meet up with experienced climbers, meet climbing partners & make new climbing friends. These meets are communicated on the meet sheet & climbing meets are open to everyone. The climbing coordinator can help to hook you up with a climbing partner. Often there is a WhatsApp group to coordinate climbing plans. Get added!
Most sections have regular beginners meets, where experienced members share their passion for outdoor climbing. Beginners are taught best climbing practices, safety is first. MCSA provides the climbing safety equipment & normally it is free or at a nominal cost.
Access | Permission to climb
Much of the rock we climb on is on private land & access is the first crux. The MCSA lead the way with negotiating access to climbing areas. MCSA negotiates as a body & has plenty of experience in dealing with access challenges. The MCSA acts as a repository for access information & can provide current access details for most areas.
The MCSA owns some important climbing venues. Various land usage rights & in some case entire properties have been bought in Magaliesberg outside Johannesburg. The MCSA owns various properties in the Western Cape, including a third share of Towerkop, where the first climbing route in South Africa was opened – in 1885! The MCSA’s Lady’s Slipper property has 52 sport routes, more than 200 trad lines & about 70 boulder problems.
Indoor Climbing | Getting Strong
There are numerous climbing gyms & walls across South Africa. Google will assist you to find the one that suits you. Most climbing walls in SA are closely allied to the MCSA & many are owned by MCSA members. Most gyms offer MCSA members discounted subscription fees & club members get discount in their gear shop. Become a member and save a fortune.
Most climbers partake in the various forms of climbing which have developed but most specialise in one or other form.
Traditional or ‘trad’ climbing
is the oldest form of climbing practiced and involves placing one’s own gear including cams, nuts and slings for protection. Routes tend to follow natural lines or cracks where gear can be placed. South Africa offers great scope from climbing in what is termed the ‘trad’ way. There are many areas which are deemed to be ‘trad’ areas and where bolting is either not allowed, or the climbers have reached tactic agreement that areas should not be bolted. There are also a number of crags where ‘trad’ routes sit along side ‘sport’ routes. The general agreement between climbers is that if a route was opened on ‘trad’ it remains that way, and only by the implicit consent of the opening party may routes be retro-bolted.
has gained huge popularity over the past 10-15 years and there are probably more people now who climb bolted routes than traditional routes. For sport climbing one only needs a harness, rope, quickdraws and shoes. Sport climbing involves climbing routes which have pre-equipped with fixed protection. This is generally in the form of bolts which have been placed into the rock. The MCSA actively promotes the safe bolting practices and a number of sections have drawn up bolting policies. The MCSA also sponsors sport climbers in the bolting of routes. Various bolting guidelines have been set-up:- Guidelines for Western Cape
is a natural offshoot of artificial wall climbing which people built to train on during the week and when they couldn’t get out to the crags. In the mid-90ies the Sport Competition Climbing and Development Trust was formed to oversee the activities of competition climbing and development in South Africa. Now the SANCF is holding this position. To check out the international competition curcuit head over to the iFSC website.
has fairly recently become more popular although has been practised from the earliest of climbing days. When people climb new routes they tend to write down where and what grade the route it. The routes get published, either in hard copy format or in electronic format on the internet. Bouldering, possibly one of the most natural forms of climbing involves climbing generally short, hard sections of rock fairly close to the ground, without the use of rope. Often a crash-mat is used to soften the landing. ‘Spotters’, or other climbers often stand behind the climber to break their fall or make sure they land on their feet.
For over a hundred years the MCSA has recorded the ascents of climbing routes in Southern Africa. A number of route books have been published by each section, but more common now is for private companies or individuals to produce hard copy route books. There are a number of route guides available electronically over the internet.
Climb ZA is a hive of climbing activity with much useful info, and an extensive Route Guide Wiki.