Bouldering
Cederberg Ridge - Stadsaal caves
Cederberg Ridge - Bouldering Lamiche

BOULDERING IN THE CEDERBERG

I want to talk about bouldering…

What’s that you say? Well it’s a ‘’Thing’’. In fact it’s a HUGE thing in the northern Cederberg. The Cederberg is one of the top 5 places in the world for it. Some people are now saying that it is the number One place in the world. And the season is about to start...

What is Bouldering?

Bouldering is free rock-climbing, without ropes, typically relatively close to the ground, with mattresses used to cushion any falls.

So though the top guys are truly expert climbers, we are not talking Alex Honnold-type climbing here. (The chap who free-climbed El Capitan over several hours and starred in the Oscar-winning film Free Solo.) 

The whole ethos of bouldering is around doing short technical climbs which are only a few metres off the ground. At the heart of bouldering are large boulders (3 to 5 metres in height) and “high balls” which can be up to 8 metres.

Caveat: I am not a boulderer, I am a hiker. So I write this from an outsider’s perspective. And for other non-boulders like me. So please forgive me (or even better, correct me in the comments) if I say something slightly incorrect. 

Cederberg Ridge - Bouldering Lamiche

Why is the Cederberg, and Rocklands, so fantastic for Bouldering?

This is the question that most fascinates us locals. How did our beautiful mountainous wilderness get discovered by the international climbing scene?

The Cederberg is a unique body of rock. The colour – orange and maroon in the evening light – is the first thing that strikes you. Then the unique snarled formations. Gnarly is an apt description in all senses of the word. But sheer beauty is not enough.

What we have are boulders and ‘hi balls’ galore, as far as the eye can see. The quality of the rock, especially in Rocklands, attracts not only boulders but traditional climbers as well. There’s variety with steep and flat sections and so many boulders that you can grade them from easy to really hard.

And the sheer quantity of attractive ‘problems’, as routes are known, is also a draw-card. Many of the ‘problems’’ are well-documented. Some even have names such as Phronesis, Manuskripte (manuscripts), Die Skild (the shield). Plus, being one of the top 5 places for bouldering, the climbers meet each other at Rocklands to exchange bouldering problems and their solutions.

Just for interest, some of the other top Bouldering places in the world are:

- Bishop, California, USA
- Fontainebleau, France
- Squamish, British Colombia, Canada
- Ticino, Switzerland
- Horse Pens 40, Alabama, USA

Note: Cederberg Ridge is one of the closest lodges to Rocklands. It is an easy 15 minute drive from us to the Rocklands car park... 

Cecily in cEderberg Wilderness Reserve

Bouldering - when is the best time to visit?

This is a winter pastime (May to September) mainly because our summer temperatures are too hot. But our mild winters (which are also relatively dry), offer the perfect climate.

So climbers can spend all day climbing in the mountains quite easily. The nights are also epic with so many stars to view because of our lack of light pollution.

Many climbers spend several weeks here (4-6 weeks is probably the norm). There is plenty of backpacking accommodation in the Agter-Pakhuis (See – why visit the Cederberg in winter for more about our “winter” months). But recently we are seeing some climbers coming for a shorter period of time (1 to 2 weeks).

Who likes bouldering?

You will know a bouldering group when you come across them.. As they will typically be carrying giant fold-up mattresses on their backs as a form of giant crash pad. The mattresses are there to cushion the inevitable falls. But remember that they rarely fall more than a few metres.

It is also a social sport with a big community feel. The focus is on strength and skilful moves rather than the sheer endurance of traditional rock-climbing.

Other tell-tell signs are that most people are in the early twenties, thin and wiry (i.e. a good power to weight ratio). Other distinguishing characteristics would give away my age (distinctly middle-aged). But I  certainly thank them for making sure that the sushi bar in our local supermarket is thriving... as is the range of healthy plant-based foods. 

Can Novices do it?

Absolutely! The great thing about bouldering in the Cederberg is that the climbs are well-documented in climbing circles so novice routes are easy to find. Plus many ‘problems’ have easy to moderate grades. So a mixed party of climbers can enjoy themselves here. Other climbers also share info readily and remember, you are not climbing high…

Bouldering in the Cederberg
Photo credit: Ryan Cloete

Do Boulderers destroy the peace of the Cederberg?

The simple answer is 'no'. Sometimes when you see a bursting car park full of climbers’ cars at Pakhuis pass, you do worry ... 'where has the wilderness gone'?

But here’s the thing. Once you start walking, you still rarely see the boulderers. Or anyone else for that matter. That’s because the bouldering sites are hidden in the mountains and cracks, off the main hiking paths. (All you see are tell-tale well-trodden little paths to select rock faces.)

Cape Nature is also getting better at making sure that the Boulderers pay the daily conservation fee. This extra revenue is so important to maintain the Wilderness Reserve in its pristine state. For example it helps to support our alien species eradication efforts. And remember, all the bouldering activity is very concentrated around the Rocklands area. This is only one small part of the Northern Cederberg. And the whole Cederberg Mountains extend 60km from north-south.

Finally the boulderers use no ropes, nails or any artificial device. They take their sport, and its ethics around this, very seriously.

Calling all Boulderers - Special Long Stay Offers at Cederberg Ridge

We understand that a luxury lodge such as Cederberg Ridge is not the place that many climbers are interested in. They are on a tight budget and want to spend as little per day in order to stay as long as possible. We get that!

But we actually do have some boulderers who like to stay with us. And we have a number of long stay offers to make it more attractive for you. These start from 4 nights for the price of only 3, to our Week in the Peak special of 7 nights for the price of 5

Long Stay Offers 

These can also be doubled up. Alternatively why not come and relax for a couple of nights and enjoy our superb rooms, the deep baths with a view, the top-notch food and our new spa. Or simply treat yourself to dinner at the end of your stay!

We are so pleased that you enjoy the Cederberg mountains and we love hearing about your epic tales of adventure!   

Bouldering in the Cederberg - Links to more Technical Info

If you want some more technical know-how on bouldering in the Cederberg, see our links below

The Crag