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General Setting, Aspect
"The 'Hell' is now burning
its lonely way through the summer months whilst climbers wait longingly
for cooler days." - John Anderson Jnr (MCSA Journal #66)
John's observation above captures
perfectly the essence of The Hell, not to be confused with The Hell down
in the Cape which is probably even hotter. This winter climbing venue is
located at the confluence of the Hellspruit and Olifants river upstream
of Loskop Dam. The Hellspruit slices through the escarpment in the spectacular
Hell Gorge. The two wing-walls of the gorge, the North and West faces are
the climbing areas. The north facing aspect of the area makes it delightful
during winter but unpleasant in summer.
The area is typical african
bushveld offering exciting wildlife including buffalo, eland, black eagle,
ostritch, baboon, fish eagle, crocodiles and leopards.
Rock, Routes & Gradings
The rock is red Waterberg quartzite
of excellent quality. As the rocks dip about 15 to 20 degrees to the south,
cross-strike weathering has lead to a rather unusual rock faces. There
are many horizontal rails and sloping ledges, friends tend to be very useful.
Of the 41 routes there the grades vary from 7 to 22, mostly 4-6 pitches
long and all naturally protected.
Camping, Access etc.
For access restrictions and
directions please see our MCSA Access
page, the MCSA has been working hard over the years to keep the access
to this area open. Please be quiet, dont litter or do anything else that
would upset the owners of the property and possibly close access in the
future. The area is about 2.5hrs from Johannesburg including about 20km
of dirst roads. The dirt road can be pretty bad sometimes but is usually
passable by normal car. The campsite has several long-drops, a good camp-fire
area and a simple shaded area. Unfortunately no water is available and
the Olifants river is infested with Bilharzia - that means dont drink,
swim or even touch the water or you can risk Bilharzia which is a serious
disease that often cannot be cured. The area is very remote and there is
no first-aid dump or stretcher nearby. Call Metro
on (011) 315-0203 in case of any climbing accident where assistance is
A big thank you to Russ Dodding
for helping compile this route guide.
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