Oceans of Fear, Klein Winterhoek

Klein Winterhoek, South Africa
33⁰12’14.86”S 25⁰53’27.06”E
Leo Houlding, Joe Mahole, Chris Rabone
March 2010

One of the biggest and steepest walls in Africa, the route has only received one free repeat in almost 20 years, awarding it legendary status.

In March 2010, Leo finally got the opportunity to attempt the mythical climb with Joe Mahole (ZA) and Chris Rabone (UK). Finding very little information about the climb, Leo had failed to locate a topo (climbing term for a graphical representation of the route) and was disturbed by rumours of aggressive Afrikaans Farmers, boulder-rolling baboons, and a desperate ‘blunder bashing’ approach. He could see why most would-be summiteers had stayed away!

Subsequently armed with local knowledge and after a brutal hike, Leo made it to the wall and climbed the astoundingly steep 12 pitch route over two days. Sleeping in hammocks, hauling all their food, water and equipment, they were on a tight schedule, and there’s no doubt that Leo was pushed right to his limit. Happily, he succeeded in making the third free (and by far the fastest free!) ascent of this awesome route.

Without doubt the steepest route Leo had ever done, it winds its way through massive overhangs and over huge roofs, resulting in some incredibly exposed, airy climbing. The trio climbed the last pitches by the light of the moon, and were treated to the wonders of Western Cape sandstone under a magical African sky.

It so happened that they were then trapped for a week in Cape Town by the Icelandic volcano that grounded flights across Europe. With an abundance of world class ‘trad’ (traditional) climbing, bouldering and clubbing, the team felt that there was no better place to be stranded than ‘The Mother City’.

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