Montagu is one of the focal points for rock climbing in the Western Cape. It is a vibey little town on the border between the Karoo and the Breede River Valley. The climbing potential was recognised more than a quarter of a century ago and, when sport rock climbing took hold of the world, the crags around Montagu were set upon with a passion.
It became the go-to weekend place for Cape Town rock climbers (as well as to escape the rainy Cape Town weather). Routes are predominantly one pitch long with some excellent multi-pitch routes on Cogman’s Buttress, on rock that is mostly excellent hard sandstone. The climbing is very varied and ranges from slabs to vertical walls to super-steep pump monsters.
There is certainly something for everyone here and some crags are great for children and picnics. Weekends can become quite crowded at popular crags, but during the week you are almost certain to have most of the place to yourself. Being only 200 kilometres from Cape Town, it is also quite feasible to do a day trip.
Please adhere to any rules and regulations and be courteous at all times. Do not park offensively and always remove all litter from crags, even if it’s not yours. This includes finger tape and cigarette butts. If you need to go to the toilet, please be sensible and go far from any water source, paths and crags. Remember, we are responsible for protecting the access to our crags. Further access information can be found under the various areas.
Climbers paradise: how to get there
From Cape Town, take the N1 north towards Worcester. About 20 kilometres after the Du Toit’sKloof Pass you will reach the Shell Ultra City Garage (which is an ideal meeting and breakfast spot). After the Ultra City, turn right into Worcester (at the second set of traffic lights). At the main street (third set of traffic lights) turn left and then right again at the next set of lights where there should be a sign to Robertson and Montagu. From here, continue along the R62 through the towns of Robertson and Ashton to Montagu.
Awesome weather for climbing
Montagu has a very low average annual rainfall, making it the ideal place for planning a rock climbing trip. If it is raining in Cape Town, then simply hop into your car and two hours later you could be climbing under blue skies. Midsummer can be quite hot, often forcing one to find shady crags. Winters are cold at night and crisp in the shade during the day, but wonderful in the sun, making for ideal climbing conditions. In summer however, the Southeast wind often brings rain to the area.
Accommodation for rock climbers
Rock climbers are spoiled for choice in Montagu regarding accommodation. From self catering to camping, this town has it all. A popular place owned and run by rock climbers is Rainbow Glen. Here they offer very comfortable chalets in a peaceful and picturesque garden setting. David (the owner) is also very knowledgeable about most of the climbing areas. There are many other guest houses and B&Bs in Montagu, for more info visit www.montagu.org.za
Shops and restaurants
Montagu is a country village; however, it is a semi-trendy, and quite sought-after little town. It has a nice variety of shops and some good supermarkets, including a clean, well-stocked Spar and a Tops liquor store. You will be able to get just about anything in the food and drink department for a lengthy stay. There are also quite a few good restaurants, coffee shops and takeaway joints, and on Saturday mornings there is a great farmers-cum-crafty market in Bath Street. Here you will be able to buy delicious munchies and other market-type stuff. There is also a good pharmacy for any medical supplies and many banks and cash machines. The only thing lacking in Montagu is a climbing/camping shop, so be sure to have enough chalk and suchlike available for your trip.
From rocking to resting
Rock climbing is taxing on the body and you need to take time to rest. There is plenty to do in Montagu on a rest day. The mountains surrounding the town have some really nice hiking trails. If this is too strenuous for a rest day, then do a trip around the wine farms. There are dozens of excellent wineries within a 30-kilometre radius of Montagu.
There are also the hot springs at the Avalon Springs Hotel, but choose your time wisely, as this can become very crowded. There are also some crafty places one could visit and a wonderful tractor ride up the back of Arangieskop, complete with huge mouthwatering potjiekos lunch at the end. For more information on this and for more ideas, visit the information centre in Bath Street. Of course, just lounging around the camp site with a good book is also an option.
Here is a Map of Montagu with the climbing crags illustrated on the map:
Here is a sample of the rock climbing on offer at “Legoland” in Montagu:
- I Tink Not * 12/4a
- I Bewieve So ** 16/5b
- I Bewieve So Direct *** 16/5b
- The Rope Man **** 17/5c
- The Missing Link *** 17/5c
- Hey, Come On **** 19/6a+
- Persistence of Time *** 19/6a+
- BuonGiorno Bambina **** 21/6b+
- Ciao Bella **** 19/6a+
- Buona Sera Signorina **** 20/6b
- Bolt Your Bitch * 22/6c
- Slap and Tickle * 21/6b+
- Crack Baby *** 18/6a
- Eddy of Bovidence **** 24/7a
- Cheapskate Student ** 24/7a
- CleinousHing * 24/7a
- Baboons on the Roof * 21/6b+
- Caramel Roller Coaster *** 17/5c
- Chocolate Speedway **** 18/6a
- Life and Times of Mike Hunt *** 14/4c
- Not With New Brim *** 16/5b
- Oh My Goodness ** 18/6a
- Mild Thing *** 15/5a
- Easy Does It *** 16/5b
- Pipe Dreams *** 18/6a
This information is reproduced with permission from “Western Cape Rock – A guide to sport climbing in the Western Cape, South Africa” by Tony Lourens, published in 2015 by Blue Mountain design & publishing. More information on Rock Climbing Guidebooks by Tony Lourens can be found here http://samountain.co.za/bluemountain/page1/index.html and the 2015 Edition of “Western Cape Rock – A guide to sport climbing in the Western Cape, South Africa” is available to purchase at Rainbow Glen Rock Climbing Accommodation in Montagu.