Rock Climbing Routes

Route Descriptions for
Rock Climbing Routes

Rock climbing has been part of Towerkop since Nefdt's first ascent in 1885, and over the decades dozens of routes have been opened.  However, large parts of the formidable faces still haven't been climbed and will continue to lure future climbers in the years to come.
Towerkop is strictly a trad climbing area and one of a rare few climbing areas where no bolts have been placed.  Considering the mountain's rich history, please let us keep it this way.

Please note:  
The route descriptions below have been compiled from various sources and although every step has been taken to ensure its accuracy, errors beyond the author’s control might exist.  Please report errors (as well as descriptions of new routes opened) in order to keep this page updated and accurate. 

Please click on image below for large view:

From Nel’s Cave, walk in an eastern direction (anti-clockwise) around Nel’s Cave Buttress as if going to the Water Cave, but continue up the steep scree until right in front of the famous cleft (south side).  For Nefdt’s and Berrisford’s routes, go west from here, for all other routes follow the highest ledge anti-clockwise around the pinnacles.

1. Nefdt’s Route – 17 Gustav Nefdt October 1885

This is the oldest recorded route in SA. On the grassy ledge start immediately behind a big block.

P1 - 17 20m:  Pull up a small overhang onto a small stance. Above a depression culminates in a small bulging overhang.  Move up until beneath the bulge, then about 3m left onto the face on small grips.  Continue up until a large sloping ledge is reached.

P2 - 14 25m:  Up the obvious chimney on the left of the gully until the abseil point is reached. 

Follow (walk) the large ledge to the west and scramble to the top.


2. Berrisford’s Variation -     A.B.Berrisford, A.J.Singer, P.J.Burrell & J.Nel March 1931

Starts just R of the big block, under a big overhang.

P1 - Pull through the overhang using a remarkable ear shaped flake. Up the face on small holds for about 5m trending slightly L. L & up over a bulge. Then zigzag L for another 4m to belay from a chock stone wedged in a deep crack.

P2 - Back down & traverse L & continuing in the same direction across the depression at a point well above the bulge.

Merge with Nefdt’s Route & continue along the same line to the top.


3. Frank Berrisford’s Route – 15 Frank Berrisford, A.Bray & E.G.Pells 4 April 1929

Start in the R facing open book about 18m to the R of Nefdt’s Route, near the SE corner of the Western Pinnacle.

P1 - 14 20m: Up R facing open book. Continue up L trending crack until underneath a small bulge with an old piton.  Traverse about 4 left and then up to a small belay ledge on the right.

P2 - 15 35m: Continue up R facing open book/gully to a ledge. Traverse 6m L on the ledge to a comfortable belay stance in a small gully.

P3 - 14 45m: Up the easy stepped face on the L, then a short crack and thereafter trending L over easier rock untill the summit is reached.


4. Life Line – 15 I.T.Martin, A.Felaar & C Felaar 26 Dec 1969

Approach the chock stone from the South. This is the easiest way. From the top of the chock stone the route is to the L.

P1 – 13 7m Travers up to a stance below an overhang.

P2 – 15 Negotiate the overhang. Up the of width above for 3m to a belay ledge. This pitch was original aided, but was freed by Mike Scott & Dion Tromp at 15.

P3 – 15 Continue straight on through a bulging section. Belay from the very top of the bulge.

P4 – 15 Straight up past the ‘cross-roads’ crack. Then slightly R & straight up for 2m to a large ledge.

P5 – 13 Up the slab to the R for 4m to a corner. A few steps. Then scramble to the top.


5. Bell - Scott South Face Route – 14 Mike Scott & Keith Bell +- 1971

Start to the R of the cleft, from the top of the grass steps in the middle of the face.


6. Long John – 14 Dave & John Cheesmond Christmas 1973

Start from the highest grass ledge on the R of the cleft splitting the peak. Climb a groove till it is possible to move to the R & up to a small stance around the corner. Travers further R onto a water worn face then up diagonally R to a ledge. Move slightly L onto the face above & straight up hollow sounding flakes, to exit into a gully. Travers L, then straight up to the top.


7. Trilogy – 16 Ed February & Steve Bridgman 31 March 1975 (T)

Start about 20m L of a huge block leaning against the South Face.

P1 – 14 21m Up wide orange crack to a stance.

P2 – 13 21m Travers R to a diagonal crack. Up this to an extraordinary stance.

P3 – 16 21m Up the crack through the small overhang & past a small rest spot. Then traverse L & around the corner. Continue up to a stance.

P1 – 14 15m Move R & up to the top


8. Not the Christmas Route – 18 D.C.Marshall & C.Bester 25 Dec 2006

Start 5m L of the prominent leaning block.

P1 – 18 26m Up a short open book. Move R into the L facing open book. Belay from stance to the L of the stacked blocks.

P2 – 14 30m Travers R onto a ledge. Move R & up into the gully. Move R across the gully to the abseil point on the RH side of the gully.


9. Leaning Block Route - 20

Start just L of the prominent leaning block. Straight up for 28m to a ledge to the R of some stacked blocks. Continue up jagged arête above.


10. Christmas Pudding – 23 Charles Green & D.C.Marshall 25 Dec 2006

Single pitch which starts on the other side of the gully opposite the top abseil in the D

Gully of the S Summit. Start R of the prow & L of the choss. Up trending R through some

weird hanging features which were eroded round.


11. The ‘D’ Route (Direct) – 10 Nov 1898 Wolfaart, Colins & Boothman

This is the obvious gully scramble 5m to the R of the prominent leaning block. This is also the easiest descent route from the Eastern Summit.  Also see the Chimney variation (more popular) below.


12. X – 23

Start a few meters R of The 'D’ Route.

P1 – 23 25m Up a white face which is divided by a L trending diagonal crack. Up through the center of the face to the top of the pinnacle.

P2 – 16 Up onto the face above. Follow the RH crack, until able to step L.


13. ‘D’ Route (Chimney) – 10 +-1901

P1 - 10 15m: Up in the obvious chimney and through a hole near the top and into the gully of The 'D’ Route (Direct).

P2 - 10 10m: Up the next chimney, or via the easy rock on the L until the abseil station (for Eastern Summit) is reached.

P3 - Scramble up the gully for about 50m until a small face (5m high) is reached.  Scramble/climb the face and follow easy ground to the summit.


14. Greater Sloth - 22 Ed February, Tini Versfeld & Dion Tromp 31 Dec 1992 (T)

Start under a large overhang 8m R of the chimney which is the start of The ‘D’ Route.

P1 – 22 20m Easy rock to a roof 8m up. Around the roof using the obvious break to a stance in a niche 10m above the roof.

P2 – 18 20m Up the large crack moving R at first & then back to the L to exit at the top.


15. East Corner Route – 17

4m R of Greater Sloth. Up into a recess that becomes a R open book gain the large ledge. Travers along the ledge to the L. Then up.


16. East Wall – 14 Keith Bell & Mike Scott Easter 1971

Up large open book in the middle of East Face. Two 50m pitches up, at a blockage, traverse R & continue up to the top.


17. Unrecorded Route – 14 Persons Unknown

Start up the nasty recess to the R of the under cut chimney. Into L trending diagonal recess. Which is the first pitch of ‘D’ Route & to the L of Keen’s Block Route. Follow the recess for 2 pitches, past a smooth layback face. Then up the R trending diagonal to the top.


18. Supper Faffer – 19 B. de Villiers & R.Smithers Easter 1974

Start 10m L of the block that marks the start of Keen’s Block Route, under some perfect R-facing-open-book-fistcrack-groves, but don’t use these.

P1 – 14 35m Up for 6m, then move L onto grey rock & R onto bollard. Travers R to a recess, then up the crack to a ledge.

P2 – 19 35m Up & round the corner on the L. Up a series of cracks to a small niche. Up a distinctive crack with smooth on both sides. Move R at the top & up onto a ledge. Scramble to the top.


19. Keen’s Block Route –


20. Afterglow - 14 Dave & John Cheesmond Christmas 1973

Start 8m L of Prestidigitator. 

P1 - 14 - 40m: Start just left of a large boulder, move up 3m and traverse L into a crack.  Follow the obvious cracks/depressions to the top of a ‘pinnacle’.

P2 - 10 - 20m: Straight up on knobs and large holds until a large rocky ledge is reached.

Walk L (clockwise) for about 10m and join the D-Route's gully for the final scramble to the top.


21. Prestidigitator – 17 Keith Bell & Mike Scott Easter 1971

Start from a huge block to the R of the block used by Keen’s Block Route. The first pitch goes

up a fingery slab. A layback gets one into a crack. Follow the straight line to the top. (This was the hardest route in 1971.)


22. Cheesy’s Delight – 15 Dave & John Cheesmond Christmas 1973

Start just R of Prestidigitator. Climb the face diagonally R & up till it is possible to move back L into the crack system just R of Prestidigitator. After a ledge continue up the recess to a stance shared with Graaff’s North West Buttress. Straight up the chimney to the top.


23. Scott–Smithers North West Corner Direct – 13 Mike Scott & R.Smithers

Direct start to North West Corner & chimney above Graaff’s original start.


24. Graaff’s North West Buttress – 13

Start to the R of the corner, below a chimney which starts higher up. Then traverse L into the corner.


25. Bell’s Chimney – 16 Dave Bell


26. Saturday’s Corner – 13 Mike Scott, J.Brimble, P.Attenborough & Keith Bell - Easter 1971

Up the corner in the LH retaining wall a few meters L of the huge gully, Gully D, which is to the L of Jackson’s Quartzite Face. Climb a flat face as far as a traverse line to the L, which moves into the groove. Follow this to the top.


27. Gully D – 10 Keith Bell & Mike Scott Easter 1971

Up the back of the huge gully to the L of Jackson’s Quartzite Face. Climb straight up the faces. Step to the L into the chimney & continue straight up, exiting to the R at the top.


28. Instants in the Wind – 15


29. Jackson’s Quartzite Face – 13 Travers-Jackson & Boothman April 1906

P1 - 10 12m Scramble (unroped?) up to a large ledge from where the real route starts.  

P2 - 13 30m From the ledge a small gully is climbed on the L, thereafter moving R and up into a chimney.  At the top of the chimney, move out onto the exposed face and up to a small ledge.  An old abseil point will be found here (chockstone with old rope/cord).

P3 - Scramble over boulders and around a tall rocky outcrop onto a narrow (exposed) ledge.  Continue in a Western direction until an obvious gully is reached that can be scrambled to the summit.


30. Red Recess –


31. Crazy Cracks – 14 S.Lotz, Koos van Zyl & H.Snijders May 1960

From the base of Jackson’s Quartzite Face continue westwards and through a "window". The first pitch scales the rock band immediately to the L of the start of Graaff’s North West Face Route.

P1 –  9    7m Up short face or narrow recess to broad blocky ledge.

P2 – 12 12m Up chimney that is blocked halfway up. Up recess above to a stance below an overhanging recess.

P3 – 12 10m A chimney in the RH wall of the recess, leads to a stance in the mouth of a corridor that cuts through the buttress.

P4 – 12 Follow the corridor into the buttress for 5m. Then up a narrow shaft & through a narrower worm hole to another corridor that emerges on the eastern side of the buttress. Up to another passage above & back onto the western side of the buttress.

P5 – 12 12m A crocked overhanging chimney halfway between Whites Finish & the original finish to Jackson’s Quartzite Face leads the scramble to the top.

[Note: Grades do not correspond on this RD. Please contact the webmaster if you've got the correct description]


32. Space Captain – 19 E.Marais & R.Smithers – 21 April 1979

This is the more or less direct line up the LH side of Graaff’s North West Face Route.

P1 – 15 30m Scramble 3m up the gully below Crazy Cracks to a steep scoop, exiting R onto an easy angled face. Diagonally R & up good holds to a small stance that is level with the upper traverse of Graaff’s North West Face Route.

P2 – 19 40m Travers back L for 19m to below a series of steep step cracks. Up the cracks to a large ledge. Walk & scramble L on the ledge to a huge pinnacle joins the main face.

P3 – 17 30m Climb the face with the arête on the L and a deep crack on the R. Keep to the L of the face, avoiding the very steep central section by going L around the corner & reappearing a few arêtes higher. Scramble around to the L into a gully which leads to the top.


33. Graaff’s North West Face Route –


34. Crack-a-Jack – 17 E.Marais & R.Smithers – 21 April 1979

Start in the middle of the face about 10m R of Graaff’s North West Face Route.

P1 – 15 35m Up a vague crack to a large ledge. Move R to & up another crack to a ledge below a black groove. Up the groove on good holds to where the face begins to lean back. Up & L to belay in a cubby hole(Same stance as P1 of Space Captain).

P2 – 17 30m Diagonally up & R to a fine jam crack. Up this to a large ledge. Scramble easily to the top


35. North West Arête – 17 R.Ledger, J.Rous & John Moss June 1973

Start on a pinnacle about 50m to the L of the edge of the north face.

P1 – 14 26m Climb the steep wide crack.

P2 – 14 26m Continue up the crack system above.

P3 - 16 23m Up the narrowing chimney with increasing difficulty. Belay on a ledge to the L.

P4 – 12 32m Move back into the crack on the R. Up to a large ledge that runs across the face. Up easy ground to belay to the R of an orange pillar.

P5 – 17 23m Up the wide, smooth chimney on the RH side of the pillar. The chimney narrows & begins to overhang. Over the chock stone, then L over a small sloping ledge to a small stance.

P6 – 14 30m Step back into the steep, narrow crack & up to the big orange overhang. Move L along the ledge to belay in a steep gully.

P7 – 12 30m Up the gully moving out R at the top.


36. West Side Story – 19 Mike Scott, Dion Tromp & A.Dintheer New year 1988

Start on the arête to the L of Black Crack’s recess, behind some large blocks.

P1 – 14 “Thoughtful” pitch to narrow ledge. Move R into Black Crack to avoid bushes & to gain the large ledge above.

P2 – 14 Steep, delightful pulls on the corner above. Move R onto a face, then up parallel to West Face Route to a ledge.

P3 – 17 To the R an undercut start leads to a chimney crack, which narrows to a strenuous jam crack. Up to a cramped niche stance.

P4 – 19 Up the intimidating, but well protected recesses & hanging flakes. Up the white slit with finger locks & a wedged block to rail on the L


37. Black Crack – 13

P1 - Easy recess.

P2 -

P3 – Up the gloomy strenuous chimney, then up until a gully (as used by Jackson's Quartzite Face) can be reached to scramble to the summit.


38. West Face Direct Start – 15 Dave & John Cheesmond Christmas 1973

Start 8m R of the edge of the buttress. Up a delicate water worn face moving slightly R, then L & up to the walking traverse ledge.


39. West Face Route – 14 Keith Bell & Mike Scott Easter 1971

Start to the R of Black Crack. Climb through the faces to the big ledge that runs from the northern side. Round the corner onto the western side. Walk along the ledge & then up a diagonal line up the west face & across into the top RH cubbyhole section. Break through the overhangs on the RH side of this line.


40. Western Flyer Direct – 21,M1 Dion Tromp & Mike Scott 2 Jan 1988

Start about 50m R of Black Crack.

P1 – 19 25m Pull around an overhang, using a layback jug high on the L, gain the jam crack in the grey face. Up the wall on the L until it’s possible to move back R & up a layback finger crack to a ledge. This is the same as P1 of Western Flyer.

P2 – 15 Step L 7 up a steep face to the lower handrail under the overhang. Rail R over the undercut & pull up onto a stance.

P3 – 20, M0 Up trending R to a through a vague recess below a massive roof. Strenuous moves & a diagonal break to reach a hanging belay in the rail directly below the massive roof.

P4 – Rail R with good protection into a slit on the exposed prow. A tricky stand-up leads to thin committing moves up steep vague recesses, moving R on hand rails along the way. Pull onto the stance at the base of P7 of Western Flyer. Continue up P7 & P8 of Western Flyer.


40. Four Days & Twelve Eggs – 22 Jayson Orton & Carel Haumann 05-12-2000

Note: This route is only slightly more direct than Western Flyer Direct.

Start: As for Western Flyer about 8m left of the right arete of the West Face of the Western Buttress.

P1: 20m (19) Pull up into the crack and climb it and the face above to the ledge (as for Western Flyer).

P2: 22m (22) From the left end of the ledge, climb straight up thin twin cracks (right of WFD) and continue to a tiny ledge with a block on it (above left of WFD P2 stance). 

P3: 40m (22) Traverse 4m right and follow the break up to the roof.  Rail right until able to pull up onto the steep nose.  Climb straight up for about 20m to a rail and go right to a blocky ledge.

P4: 45m (19) Climb the groove (peg) and continue up the cracks above to the top (as for Western Flyer).


40. Western Flyer - 21, M1 Dion Tromp & Mike Scott +-1989

Start about 50m R of Black Crack.

P1 – 19 25m Pull around an overhang, using a layback jug high on the L, gain the jam crack in the grey face. Up the wall on the L until it’s possible to move back R & up a layback finger crack to a ledge.

P2 – 15 10m From the RH edge of the ledge, move up & R, then round to the R to a narrow ledge. Walk R to end of ledge to a belay spot.

P3 – 14 10m Up the recessed corner with a big flake stuck in it. At the handrail under the overhang, move R & up onto a ledge. Continue to the third small platform stance below an overhang.

P4 – 21, M1 35m Up the bulging recess on the L & up to the rail below the overhang. Rail R with spaced foot grips to the end. Step up & continue R around a corner into a gully. Up the gully to a stance.

P5 – 16 30m Follow a line on the L to a steep grey wall. Up & diagonally L to a large block at the end of the ledge to the L of Nefdt’s Route.

P6 – Scramble up to the L corner. Travers behind & over some blocks until The ledge ends at a small stance below a steep ramp.

P7 – 19 40m A steep face the through an overhang with thin finger slots. Move R into the recess with jams & finger lock slits. Up to a ledge.

P8 – 10 20m Move L onto steep easy face. Top out.


41. Magic Mirror - 21 Ed February, Tini Versfeld & Dion Tromp 01/01/1993 (T)

Start large stepped recess, midway along the base of the West Face.

P1 – 18 25m Up the stepped recess trending R. Belay below half moon roof.

P2 – 18 25m Diagonally L across the wall to the skyline. Up an easy face to a small stepped recess. Up this crack system to a comfy ledge.

P3 – 19 20m Up the recess to a large ledge.

P4 – 21 45m Step from the large block slab at the base of the large crack onto the smooth face on the L. Up a thin crack till able to move 3m L to larger grips. Diagonally R for 10m to a slightly overhanging recess. Up this to the top.


42. Too High For the Jedi – 24 Ed February, Tini Versfeld & Dion Tromp 02/01/1993 (T)

Start about 8m R of Magic Mirror.

P1 – 24 23m Up easy rock for a few meters to a rail below a small roof. Rail R for about 2.5m, then up diagonally R to the overhanging break. Up the break to the stance.

P2 – 19 20m Up the steep face to the roof. Move R around the roof, then straight up easier rock to a small stance below a small orange recess.

P3 – 19 40m Diagonally L & follow a small recess to a small roof. L around the roof to a small ledge. Move R & up a vertical crack to a steep recess with magnificent jugs to a stance.

P4 – 17 30m Climb the recess for 5m , moving R at the top. Up the face to the top.


43. Charcoal Carola – 18 20m Keith James 6 – 10 December 1998


44. Green Cheese – 20 Charles Green & Steven Reed 25 Dec 2006

Start 3m L of Stevie’s Dilemma.

P1 – 20 Easy ground to gain a wide open book, with a large sloped flake 6m up. Over this & up moving R onto a large ledge.

P2 – 20 Up the sickle shaped open book. Exiting R, continue directly up the prow. Top out onto the Upper Terrace. Abseil 6m R.


45. Stevie’s Dilemma – 17 Ed February & Steve Bridgman 30/03/1975 (T)

This route starts about 60m L of the cave.


46. Flame & Fallacy – 16 35m D.C.Marshall & C.Bester 27 Dec 2006

About 15m L of the cave up a R facing open book.


47. Predictability of Stupidity – 17 D.C.Marshall & C.Bester 24 Dec 2006

About 120m R of the cave is a gully, which is capped with a monstrous block to form a black hole.

P1 – 17 32m Start on the LH blunt prow of the gully, on what seems to be a sweet doodle. Continue up over blocky ledges to a sweet stance below a roof.

P2 – 17 29m Up the under-cut-wideopen-book in the roof. Move R into a shallow recess. Up for a few meters, before moving L onto easy ground. Up the grass slope to belay from blocks under a massive cave. To exit traverse the big ledge L or R to the scree slopes.


48. Pimp’s Delight – 17 D.C.Marshall & C.Bester 24 Dec 2006

This route starts about 90m L of the good water cave, opposite a fairly large “tooth” that sticks up on the edge of the ledge.

P1 – 17 39m Start up the easy looking ramp prow that curves R & narrows higher up. Soon after it narrows move L into a nasty chimney. Up to a nasty stance.

P2 – 15 35m Continue up the nasty chimney to the top. To exit walk to the West side. Scramble down as low as possible, then abseil to the Upper Terrace. Move North & down the scree slope to the Sun Terrace.
49. Can you find an Easter Egg? - 19 J. Orton, G. Du Toit 23.04.2008

Start: At the very base of the eastern buttress at a mini-buttress that sticks out at the base of the wall about half-way along. Start on the left side of this small buttress and about 20 m right of the large lower roofs and 4 m right of a tall flake/pillar.

P1: 35 m (16) Climb the short face and crack to the top of the small buttress. From the left end of the ledge climb the face diagonally rightwards to pass right of some roofs. Move back left above the roofs to a groove which leads to a ledge. Belay here or at the next ledge.

P2: 35 m (19) Climb straight up the crack that splits the smooth face. Move into the small corner then back onto the arête. Continue up through the left-facing corner, traverse 2 m left then go up to the roof. Traverse right to a small airy ledge.

P3: 28 m (19) From the right side of the ledge, move onto the nose then traverse 3 m right onto a good face. Balance up left to cracks which lead to a ledge. Climb to the next ledge which is the main ledge across the east face.


50. Don't Mention the Cam - 18 R. Halsey, J. Orton, G. Du Toit 22.04.2008

Start: About 35 m left of the NW corner of the buttress in a shallow corner below a tall vertical crack.

P1: 50 m (18) Climb straight up the crack, finishing up a small chimney. Scramble back to the big ledge.

P2: 48 m (17) Starting just right of the big chimney, step up right onto the shelf then back left onto the prow. Climb the face right of the chimney following the obvious line until forced left to the chimney 5 m below the ledge. Climb up to the ledge. Exit carefully or else move up right.

P3: 35 m (16) Chimney up a few moves to a rail on the left wall at 3 m then climb the left wall to the base of the V-groove. Traverse right then climb the face to the ledge. Scramble up and belay above the next rock band.


51. Gorilla in the Mist - 19 J. Orton, R. Halsey 21.04.2008

Start: At the base of the NW arête of the western buttress.

P1: 25 m (17) Climb directly up the arête to a ledge.

P2: 35 m (19) Continue up the arête till forced right into a shallow scoop. Move up this, then back to the arête and scramble up to the next ledge (the one that runs off in both directions. Continue on one of the other west or north face routes.


Please also click on the link for Derek Marshall's comprehensive Towerkop route guide:

(Page update: Feb 2017)