With a varied climate, spectacular cliff faces and more peaks per square kilometre than any other country in Africa, the Drakensberg is a haven for serious mountaineers and climbers from all over the world.
The Drakensberg’s general escarpment is made up of basalt formed by molten lava. The heavy annual rainfall in the area as well as the high altitude has taken its toll on the escarpment.
The rock is often crumbly which can make climbing difficult. Often, the best holds for climbers are the small patches of grass growing in the rock face. The higher you get the better the rock quality tends to be, and obviously the views too.
However challenging climbing in the Drakensberg can be, the sheer abundance of breathtaking routes to be climbed should far outweigh any reservations you might have.
Some popular climbing routes in the area include Devil’s Tooth, Monk’s Cowl and the Bell. There are also routes going up Sentinel Peak itself, and you can abseil back down. Many climbs require overnight stays and permits.
In winter there is also good ice climbing, particularly in the Giant’s Castle area. There tends to be ice on the high cliffs from late May until late August. A grading system enables climbers to match the climb to climbers’ skill levels
Before setting off make sure that you have all the right protective and safety equipment and test it. Also, bearing in mind the changeable weather conditions, be sure to be aware of your nearest descent route – mist and snow can obscure routes.
Always be sure to fill in the mountain rescue register and inform local rangers where you are going. This can be done at the Sentinel Peak car park.