|Brief summary of venue||Giants Castle is the best and most reliable area to ice climb in Southern Africa. Ice normally forms from early June and lasts until mid August. There are a wide variety of routes suitable for all levels of climbers, including many new route possibilities.|
|Permit/ permission info||Ezemvelo/ KZN Wildlife permit, costs R50 per person per day, inclusive of parking.|
|Approximate travelling time from Johannesburg||About 4 hours.|
|Parking information||Parking is at Giants Castle’s Camp, Ezemvelo/ KZN Wildlife. Parking is safe and fees are included in the permit cost.|
|Info on walk in||The walk in is 8-9 hours of hard hiking up a major pass with heavy backpacks, carrying all camping, cooking and climbing gear.|
|Accommodation||Overnight tent camping in a high wilderness area. Ensure your gear is suitable for very cold conditions.|
|Availability of water for drinking||Water is easily available from semi-frozen streams or by melting snow.|
|Climbing route guide||The MCSA KZN Section has published a book, Rock and Ice Climbs of the Drakensberg 3rd edition, which is available from them. Online guides are available from either http://kzn.mcsa.org.zaorwww.peakhigh.co.za.|
|Climbing information||There are about 14 routes of water-ice and some snow climbs. Grades range from WI 2 to WI 6+ and lengths from 40 metres to several hundred meters. Climbs are in the shade and accessed by abseiling down from the camping area using V threads and improvised points.|
|Other attractions||There are a range of things to do at or near the Giants Castle Camp area, including: Walking up to the Main Caves Bushman Museum, home to some of the biggest and best preserved prehistoric rock art in Southern Africa. Hiking any of the many hiking trails in the area. Mountain biking. Bird watching: The area boasts over 170 different bird species including Bearded Vulture (Lammergeyer) and Black Eagle, which can be seen from a hide specifically designed for raptor viewing. Trout fishing. Game viewing.|
|Dangers||Take the usual precautions against theft on the Lesotho plateau. Falling ice can be extremely dangerous so make sure no one approaches the climbs without wearing a helmet.|
|Contacts||Mountain Rescue in KZN, Tel: 0800 005133. KZN Wildlife for permits:http://www.kznwildlife.com.|
We are all aware how Public Health guidelines have urged the public to 'flatten the curve' of the COVID-19 virus, and our President's announcement of lockdown is a welcomed show of courageous leadership that South Africa needs at this time.
The Mountain Club of SA's Search and Rescue teams support this approach categorically.
WE URGE THE PUBLIC:
1) If engaging in some last minute pursuits this week, please engage in ultra-low-risk activities only. Please also respect closures already in place by SAN Parks and Ezemvelo.
2) Please respect the lockdown unconditionally.
Because it is the right thing to do.
...and accidents do happen, no matter how expert you think you may be.
The MCSA's search and rescue team make themselves available because we believe in the value of responsible enjoyment of the wilderness, and in supporting our outdoor colleagues and community.
Where life and limb is at stake, our members may still come to your aid.
HOWEVER, during this crisis:
- Healthcare infrastructure must be reserved for only the most critical, necessary cases.
- Your own exposure to the virus will be significantly higher while being rescued and receiving healthcare.
- Our search and rescue volunteers are not 'essential healthcare workers'. Don't be selfish!
If our members must respond to a call-out during the lockdown period, they invalidate their and their family's quarantine activities during this critical time and that may have an impact on their ability to return to work.
- S&R response may in fact be limited - our approach to incident management will be to coach and support self-rescue, or to send minimum-team responses.
We look forward to a time soon where we can all enjoy our wilderness and natural areas together, assured of the safety and well being of our loved ones at home.
MCSA Search & Rescue