The climbing group consisted of:
Clive Louw (leader), Greg & Cheryl Devine, Tony & Evie Bowen, Fred van Berkel, Bill Turner, Bill Uren, Peter Cattell, Dave Collett and Saartjie van der Merwe

Tierkop 1

And a botanist group of:
Di Turner, Nicky van Berkel and Sandra Falanga

We all met on Friday at the grand old Cape Dutch farmhouse at Wilgemond, where we could enjoy sweeping views of the northern slopes of the Swartberg.

 

We set off early the next morning (6h30) when our objective, Tierkop, started to glow as the first sunrays lit up the crags. Bill Turner and Fred had already left to get a head start. It was a great sunny day, but it did not get too hot as there was often a gentle cooling breeze. As we ascended, key cairns were built to ensure that we found the “gateways” through the cliffs on our return.

The ascent of Tierkop (2130m) involves a verticimage004al gain of 1200 m. We reached a large knoll about 60% of the way up where we could get grand views image006of the Swartberg and the Great Karoo. At this point Saartjie, Peter, Tony and Evie chose not to go for the top, but to explore more of the ridge that we were climbing. The remaining 7 climbers kept close together as the route finding is more complicated towards the summit. We first had to traverse two high level greenbelts before we reached a key gully, which can’t be climbed all the way as it is blocked at the bottom. From here we traversed further onto a steep rocky ridge. I had indicated that I had previously seen a variation that should keep the climbing easy enough. Fortunately it did turn out that way. By weaving our way through the overhangs we met a few challenging rock steps, but nothing that really required a rope. On reaching the summit ridge there was a short traverse to the trig beacon. We were all rather chuffed on arriving at the top at a very respectable 12h00. Anyway we deserved to be chuffed. Would you believe that the average age of the summiteers is 67 ?

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We enjoyed a long relaxed lunch with vistas all the way to Beaufort West in the north and the Outeniquas in the south. The group was in high spirits, and the “chirping” got quite energetic (almost out of hand). It was thus time to leave, as it made sense to direct the energy more constructively. We descended via the key gully where there is lots of useful grass and bush to hang onto. After a tricky rock step around a large chockstone we moved back onto the ridge to avoid the blocked part of the gully at the bottom. After all this exciting scrambling, we then descended the same ridge we had come up. The excellent views took our minds off the long trudge down. We arrived back at the farmhouse in dribs and drabs at about 17h00.

Then it was timimage002e for a big braai , a chance to reflect and to celebrate.

On Sunday the botanists went off to botanise, others went for gentle strolls in the area, and 5 went on a circular cycling trip (Greg, Cheryl, Dave, Fred andimage004 Clive). The route winds its way through interesting farm land, then along a tarred road through Klaarstroom, and back along the farm roads to the farm. The main tarred road goes just north of Klaarstroom so not many people have actually seen the town. This small dusty dorp has quite a lot of character and is worth a visit. The cycling circuit was only 30 km, but with all the hills and valleys there was a total gain of 500m. There was bit of complaint from our thigh muscles up the hills, since the previous day had taken its toll.
Another great weekend at Wilgemond was enjoyed by all. Without doubt we will be returning to this venue.

The Swartberg is a very attractive range but is not climbed often. Another interesting line has been spotted up a steep 400m arete. It already has been named as Skyline Arete. This potential route is a lot more difficult than Tierkop and will certainly be a challenge…………

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