Things To Do in HillcrestMonteseel Rock Climbing Routes
Where? Outside Hillcrest, Valley of 1000 Hills, Durban, KwaZulu Natal
When? Daylight hours.
How much? Free
Monteseel is a rocky crag just beyond Botha's Hill, outside the village of Hillcrest, on the edge of the Valley of 1000 Hills; with views to match.
Considered one of the oldest places to climb in the province, over 300 different routes of varying difficulty provide avid climbers with a perfect climbing ground, about 15 minutes' walk from the parking area.
Many of these routes fall into the easy grade, making it optimal for beginners and children (Cain on the Think Wall, and Adam's Apoplexy on the Hallucination Wall, for starters), but there are also moderate climbs, grade 16 to 19, and for hard climbers (like Angel Dust Direct).
Monteseel is also really accessible. You do not need a permit to climb there and the crags are on public land, which makes it rather popular
The crag is divided into two main sections known as the eastern and western buttresses. They're big, at over half a kilometre each. The gap between the two crags holds the lower middle buttress.
Most climbing happens on the eastern buttress purely because it is easiest to reach, but there are many other climbs away from the central area that are worth pursuing, particularly as the eastern buttress gets busy during holidays and weekends.
Climbing routes date back to the 1940s when climbers negotiated the crags without the use of modern gear. Some of the routes are fully bolted sport routes, but most of them have remained traditional, despite the demand for easier bolted routes. Monteseel remains unspoilt by retro-bolting.
The north-facing crags face mean that the best time of day during summer are the early mornings, when there is shade. By the afternoon things can get rather uncomfortable in the heat. Rather head to the western buttress, if you want shade at this time of day. Winter is ideal weather for this climbing venue.
The Mountain Club of South Africa has written guides for the respective routes on their website.