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Boskloof Ridge

Location: On the south side of Steenbras Gorge, 6km south of Gordon's Bay. (See also Steenbras Ridge on the north side.)  For access notes see Crystal Pools 

Overview: A spectacular ridge route with two alternative finishes - an easy B route and challenging C-route. The entire route is cross country except for the return down past Crystal Pools. 

Key Statistics
Grade:  3 *** (B-route) and 5 **** (C-route)
Height gain:  630mfrom 30m to 660m (540 on B route)
Time:  5-6 hrs up, 3-4 down depending on route

Route Description:

Two new scrambling routes have been opened on this spectacular ridge overlooking the Steenbras Gorge.   The B route follows a clean rocky ridge with several knife edges overlooking False Bay (like Woody Buttress but more fun).  

The route starts just 20m after the gate on the path leading up to Crystal Pools.  Go up to the ridge and follow the ridge all the way, keeping as much to the edge as possible. There are 4 rock steps on the way which are climbed either straight up or to the right. At the top where the ridge ends at a 100m high rock band, traverse left on easy ground and up to a prominent cave.  

The B-route branches off left from just below the cave over a small nek and down a long, steep slab into a ravine.  This ravine is followed to the top. The descent is down an easy, broken slope into the top of Steenbras and the down through Crystal Pools. See the map and GPS track attached below. 

From the cave, the 'C route' goes right up a steep rock slab.  When this runs out, ascend a 5m pitch to the next level and then traverse right around the corner, and then keep traversing across the face of Boskloof Peak.  "Carrell's Ledge on steroids" was an apt description as it is about three times as long and much more exposed than Carrell's.  Definitely needs a very good head for heights - the exposure is severe and the ledges tiny. About 500m along the traverse the ledge runs out.  Do a 20m abseil (or an awkward C downclimb) to the lower ledge to continue the traverse. (The best abseil point is a large block - needs about 5m of ab cord.) The continuation of the traverse on the lower ledge includes a scary 50m across a rather thin, sandy section until the ledge widens. This traverse exits on the ridge from where one can reach the top by a easy pleasant ascending diagonal scramble through broken ground. The descent is down an easy slope into the top of Steenbras and the down through Crystal Pools - see map attached.  

The route does have some dangers as the long traverses cannot be protected and participants need to be confident of moving unroped on exposed terrain.  Care also needs to be exercised on the abseil to avoid the rope, or abseilers, dislodging rocks on those below as there is a lack of space at the bottom, especially for a larger party.  The first person down should do a vigorous cleaning and it would be better for the party to continue along the traverse after each person has abseiled and not wait for the rest of the party. 

C-route: First explored by Tony Heher, Martyn Trainor, Lucille Krige, Jeanne Myburgh and Dennis Lange on an MCSA meet on 21 May 2009 and completed by Tony Heher, Karen Watkins, Kenny Hoffman and Siggie Sixt on 16 May 2010 as part of a Meridian meet. 

B-route: Tony Heher, Margie Growse, Martin Trainor, Lucille Krige, Jeanne Myburgh, Peggy de Kock and Kathy Holthausen - U3A meets in June & August 2008. 

The route opening story makes an interesting tale:

A lazy meet to Crystal Pools on a hot summers day in March 2008 led to some idle speculation as to possible routes on the ridges to the north and south of the Steenbras Gorge.  Later enquiries indicated that neither was known as a route made us even more interested.

Returning in June 2008, the north ridge was climbed and nicknamed the Dinosaurus-kam after the rugged 5-humped ridge between Gordons Bay and Steenbras. An interesting "find" on this exploration was an occupied hide-out near the top Steenbras Peak. This route is an easy B. See Steenbras Ridge for a description.

In August the south ridge up Boskloof Peak was climbed. This proved to be a beautiful clean line on rock most of the way with a series of dramatic knife edges overlooking the coast running down towards Hangklip. One of these really classy classic routes! Where the ridge ended against the upper cliffs of Boskloof Peak, things got interesting.  A steep, exposed ramp up and around the corner looked C-interesting, but with time short, we took an easier B-exit down a series of steep slabs into the ravine and an easy line to the top. The descent was via Crystal Pools where we had a well deserved swim, despite the winter afternoon, after 9 hours of rough cross country going.

Intrigued by the possibilities of the C-ramp, Tony, Lucille and Jeanne returned early in September for another look, got a bit further but still did not complete the traverse.  The home trip this time was made "interesting" by the Steenbras being in flood. The raging waterfalls were wonderful, the two swims across the freezing flooded river at 5pm on a chilly winters afternoon, a little less so! 

Undeterred we returned in May 2009 for another try.  This nearly aborted before we even got out of the cars because of the fearsome ligtening storm that was raging as we drove out.  The photos in Lightening on Table Mountain show we had good reason to be apprehensive.  This time we made it nearly all the way across the traverse before turning back.  Several further attempts to finish the route never got off the ground (for some strange reason I seemed to be running out of willing victims... err, I mean climbing partners) until I persuaded Meridian to give it a go. So it was only on the 4th attempt that it was finally completed.

With thanks to all my companions who have stocically put up with dragged through lightening storms, the bush backwards (and every other way) and half naked through freezing flood waters all in pursuit of that holy grail, a classic new route.   

Tony Heher

PS For another opinion read No Man's Ledges by Dennis Lange  ...

Resources: Map of the area, gps track, higher resolution pictures for printing: ridge, upper section