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The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (The Restaurant for short) is one of SA's best sport climbing areas which attracts many overseas climbers all through the year. It has over 400 bolted lines and about 100 trad or semi-bolted routes. The wide variance in grades allows beginners and hard-core climbers alike to climb for months on end! Good quality rock, cheap camping facilities and chalets all within walking distance from the crags make this an excellent area.
How to get there
One can drive, take the Greyhound bus or even take the train which stops in the town. People taking the bus or train can arrange to be colleted by Roc 'n Rope, see their contact details under Accommodation. To drive to the Restaurant from Johannesburg take the N12 (or N4 from Pretoria) eastward towards Witbank. These highways merge after Witbank (take care on the way back to take the correct one). Once they have merged you will be on the N4 travelling eastward towards Nelspruit. Pass Middleburg and the R20.60 toll gate. Once you pass Machadodorp you are about 20km away. Another toll gate must be passed, this time R30.60. Keep looking right for the sign "Waterval Boven" where you should turn right. If you pass through a tunnel you have missed the turn by a few kilometres. (The journey is about 275km from Johannesburg all on fairly good highways with two toll gates.) Once you are have turned right off the N4 travelling into Waterval Boven drive through the town. At the second stop street you will see the Roc 'n Rope house on your left. To get to the campsite turn right here into 5th Street. Two kilometres later you will see the Elandskrans Resort (camping and chalets, see details under Accommodation) on your left just where the tar ends. To bypass the second toll (R30) take the second turnoff to Machadadorp, follow the road until you get to an intersection, take the left turn, not the right one marked Carolina. Follow the road for a few km until you see a dirt road marked "Slaaihoek" to your left. Follow this road taking the next turnoff to Waterval Boven, this road passes the Wonderland crags & when it again meets the tar you will see the entrance to Elandskrans on your right. This alternative is mainly dirt and takes about 30 minutes from the highway. After heavy rains this road can be 'fun'!
Accommodation, Food & Rest Day Stuff Etc.
The Elandskrans resort is a good base while at The Restaurant since it is central to most of the crags and offers cheap camping facilities & chalets including a heated pool. You can contact their central reservations on (011) 825-4304. Remember to ask for a discount if you are an MCSA member and have your membership card with you. Usually you do not need to book, except for the chalets. Roc 'n Rope also offers good, cheap accommodation in a house in town. This makes a good base especially if climbing at the Gorge, Railway & Wonderland areas. Contact them on (013) 257-0363 or 082 753-3695 try email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. They also supply several other services including a climbing guide service. There are two restaurants in the town, the "Whistle & Trout" and the "Shamrock Arms". There is also a Sentra supermarket, bottlestore and now bank teller (ATM) in town. If you wish to travel further afield 20km back towards Johannesburg you can eat at Millys Star Stop just off the highway where there is a BJs with cheap food in a lakeside, thatched restaurant that also serves excellent trout. There is a Star Stop shop here where you can also get provisions (including bottled water) and of course fill up with petrol. There is a scenic steam train ride to Waterval Onder on weekends and plenty of hiking in the area. The Sudwala caves are a good bet as are many other toursit destinations including several stunning waterfalls. The famous Kruger National Park is about 2-3hours away and makes for good rest day activity. Also about an hour away is a bouldering area called Kaapsehoop with plenty of easy to moderate bouldering. Many other areas in this province offer unclimbed crags for kilometres on end...
Safety & Medical
Take care when parking or climbing away from the Resort at "The Gorge Area", "Railway Crags" and "Wonderland" areas. Make sure you lock your car and leave nothing visible in the car. When at "The Gorge Area" dont leave anything at the top of the crags, clip it into a bolt on the cliff, petty theft is common here. All other crags are generally safe and no-one should steal your gear. A first aid dump is usually kept at the main gate to the resort. There is a fairly good clinic a few hundred metres from the resort on the way to the town for minor injuries. For serious accidents call the MCSA Metro Rescue on 011 315-0203 or call the local police.
If you are opening new routes please make sure they are safely and adequately bolted. Stainless steel only and make sure there are two lower offs. Avoid creating led out routes they are usually avoided, this being unfair on other climbers. Rember too that led out routes are often unsafe at The Restaurant since there are sometimes ledges etc. that you will hit on the not so steep routes when you fall. When you bolt a route please do it safely.
A big thank you to Barbara Curson for providing all the original route information.
Remember that you can buy an excellently produced print version of the route guide from Roc 'n Rope at Waterval Boven or at most of the climbing stores.
If you spot errors in this guide or hear of new routes going up please email us at email@example.com
This is one of the best areas at The Restaurant with some of the longer (30m+) routes including many classics like Snapdragon & Jabberwocky. The property was purchased by the MCSA recently and they have opened access to all climbers. Over a kilometre of cliff face exists and there is a great deal of new route potential here.
There are 135 routes here at present ranging in grade from 12 to 33. The Theatre & Left/Right Wings also have a few trad lines. So far a few open projects exist that will be both hard and awesome.
Triple Tier Crags ***
When looking out from the campsite you will see a valley with crags starting at the river. The crags are spread out, starting from The Gym, He-Man Area, Foundry then Acid House and finally The Far Side. Many of these routes require abseiling.
There are 56 routes here, all bolted, ranging from 12 to 28.
Gaper Area ****
The cliff just below and going around half of the campsite. Some good long lines.
There are 59 routes here, mostly bolted, ranging from 11 to 28.
The Island ****
When looking out from the campsite back towards the town and slightly right you will see an island of rock close to the main road (N4). There are one or two natural lines here as well.
There are 49 routes here, almost all bolted ranging from 13 to 28.
Sport Valley ****
The crags in the small valley on the town side of the campsite. These crags include some excellent beginner crags with many easier lines.
There are 79 routes here, almost all bolted, ranging from 8 to 27. There are also a few open projects that will be pretty hard.
Gorge Area *****
The most spectacular crags are here with views of the waterfall and in a beautiful setting. Classics like Unlimited Power are found here. Tricky access in places with bolted & trad lines. Take great care here due to the long routes, (30+m) please tie knots in the end of the rope!
There are 21 routes here, mostly bolted with a few trad lines at The Junkyard, grades range from 13 to 29.
Railway Crags *****
These are mostly undeveloped and are the continuation of The Gorge Area moving rightwards for a few kilometres along the railway lines. The Toon Town area has many trad lines and a few bolted lines. There is still scope for hundreds of good and long bolted lines here and development has started again on The Last Crag of the Century. Some crags are quite a distance from the campsite.
There are 56 routes here, both bolted and trad lines, ranging from 3 to 26. An open project can be found here too.