Montagu is recognised as one of the most outstanding climbing destinations in South Africa due to the quality and number of climbing routes available. Montagu’s rock walls offer a wide variety of high quality climbing opportunities at every level from beginner to expert. The small town of Montagu is situated in the Klein Karoo (semi desert region) on the east side of the Langeberg mountain range 2 hours / 200km drive east of Cape Town.
Montagu’s recorded history dates back to the 1800’s although evidence of early man can be found in caves in the area. There are quite a few archaeological dig sites of significance. The town was cut off from the main trek routes (because of the difficulty in navigating through Cogman’s Kloof) until Thomas Bain built the pass and blasted the iconic tunnel through which we access the town today.
The town has a rich history of in terms of stories, people and architecture. There is a Montagu Museum for those who are interested is getting to know more about Montagu’s history.
Montagu Climbing History
The first official climb in Montagu was opened in 1971 on the rocky ridge to right side of Cogmans Buttress. The 7 pitch climb named “Eagles Folly” was opened in a traditional style at grade F2 (17) by Greg Mosley and Brian De Villiers. Climbing in Montagu stepped up a huge level in the early 80’s when Cape Town climbers Edmund February, Andy de Klerk (AdK), Greg Lacey, Andy Wood, Kevin Smith, Chris Lomax and Greg Mallory opened trad routes and a few of the first sport routes at an area they called “Lost Word” (about 3km out of Montagu town on the right hand side toward Barrydale).
Then, in the early 90’s Guy Holwill, Andy Davies, Jeremy Colenso, Jeremy Samson, Paul Schlotfeldt Steve Bradshaw Sr., and Sean Maasch amongst others, started opening harder sport routes in Oorlogs Kloof (about 18km North of Montagu into the Koo Valley on the left hand side) and then also in Cogmanskloof (Legoland, Bosch) and Badkloof (Supertubes).
In 1991, Jono Fischer opened L’Abraxas grade 30 (then South Africa’s hardest route) on the Wildcard Buttress in Oorlogs Kloof. In mid 90’s Jeremy Colenso and Doug Ward started developing the hard crags in Donkerkloof namely the Scoop & Cauldron.
In 2002, Stuart Brown and his wife purchased the De Bos Guest farm. Stuart and Regula addressed the need for some easier climbs to be bolted. Between 2002 -2010 they bolted over 50 routes including the classic multi-pitch “Another day in paradise” and “Magical Mystery tour” on Cogmans Buttress.
Some sad news of crag closures…
In 2006, the new owner of the Lost World crag property closed access to climbers not staying at his accommodation (Les Hauts de Montagu) because climbers were not adhering to the opening & closing times.
In 2010, the landowner of Bosch Kloof (the name Bosch Kloof is one given by climbers after the five star “Bosch” Crag) closed all climbing access to his kloof. He claimed that climbers had polluted his drinking water which he gets from the kloof. This closure is seen as highly unfortunate as we lost access to over 60 great routes! To add to the loss of the Bosch/Ramset/Forest/Skull/Twin Fin crags, in June 2011, Montagu’s Bad Kloof suffered from a flood which washed away the bases of Waterword and Lionsaid crags!
In 2010, Justin Lawson bolted the Bold & Beautiful crag with the same idea as Stuart to give climbers some easier more accessible climbs (especially with all the unfortunate crag closures).
In 2011, Justin & Ed February started opening some trad lines (with bolted top anchors) at the Guano Caves area.
In 2011, climbing on 62 otherwise known as The Farm was developed.
In 2012, after another flood, we were able to reclaim the base of Waterworld crag!
In 2014, there was another flood and Waterword was once again unclimbable.
In 2015, we reclaimed the left side of Waterworld crag (hopefully, at some time in the future, a more sustainable management plan will be put in place.)
Some happy news of Bosch Kloof RE-OPENED!
In March 2015, Bosch Kloof was re-opened for everyone to enjoy again. There is now a proper permit system in place. Permits can be purchased online here.
Shops, Restaurants & Amenities
There are are quite a few grocery stores in Montagu. Most people shop at the Spar in Long Street (next to the Caltex petrol station) as it is open every day till 8pm with an adjacent Tops bottle store. There is also a Checkers store in Bath Street. The bakery at Spar is nicer, but the milk & yogurt at Checkers is cheaper.
Most supermakets only sell a limited range of wine. A bigger selection of wines or beer & hard stuff needs to be bought at a dedicated “bottle store”. Bottle Stores (Liquor Shops) are all closed on Sundays and only open till max 5pm on Saturdays. However, on a Sunday till 5pm in Ashton (8km from Montagu), you can buy wine & brandy from the Platform 62 farmstall. They have a HUGE selection of excellent wines from the region.
There are a range of banking ATMs in Montagu. Checkers does Capitec. There is also an Absa as well as Standard Bank branch in town.
All of the butcheries in Montagu are great. The Sentrale Slaghuis (blue bull) does the best boerewors. Krause butchery is best for lamb & steaks. The steaks from the Spar butchery are also excellent.
Montagu offers 4 star fancy restaurants as well as budget friendly/family dining.
Check out this page for all info for recommended restaurants in and around Montagu.
There are many many places to stay in Montagu that suite any budget.
Check out our recommended places to stay in Montagu. If all of Montagu is fully booked, then there are also some really great spots just out of town. e.g. Pat Busch Nature Reserve – www.patbusch.co.za
Seasons & Weather
The climate in Montagu is ideal for climbing! It is easy to find either shade or sun, and conditions can be perfect in any season. We have hot summers and crisp winters. Rainfall in the klein karoo is significantly less than in other parts of the Western Cape. When it does rain, it is usually a brief shower, and normally doesn’t interfere with climbing.
|Month||Avg. rainfall||Avg. Midday Temp.||Avg. Night-time Temp.|
|Jan||6 mm||29 °C||14 °C|
|Feb||7 mm||29 °C||15 °C|
|Mar||15 mm||27 °C||13 °C|
|Apr||21 mm||24 °C||10 °C|
|May||24 mm||20 °C||7 °C|
|Jun||26 mm||17 °C||5 °C|
|Jul||26 mm||16 °C||4 °C|
|Aug||27 mm||18 °C||5 °C|
|Sep||17 mm||20 °C||7 °C|
|Oct||19 mm||23 °C||9 °C|
|Nov||15 mm||25 °C||11 °C|
|Dec||7 mm||28 °C||13 °C|
Other things to do in & around Montagu
The Montagu surrounds offer excellent quality mountain biking. There are many beautiful and accessible dirt roads to enjoy. Montagu was voted one of the favourite towns of the Absa Cape Epic. De Bos offer bike rental for those who want to have a gentle ride around town. The more serious mountain bikers would want to bring their own equipment.
The unpretentious Robertson Valley wine farms are well worth a visit. Unlike Stellenbosch or Franschhoek, there is normally no fee for tasting, but it is always appreciated if you buy a bottle or two if you have enjoyed the wines.
Paddling on the Breede River
There are a range of activities around the Breede River. Fishing, Swimming, Waterskiing, and Paddling. Robertson Backpackers do commercial daytrips in inflatable 2 man boats. It’s a nice relaxed day out where they provide all the food & drinks whilst you soak up the sun & enjoy the beautiful Breede River.
The Viljoensdrift Breede River Picnic Cruise
Nice food & Nice wine – on a boat. For more info & bookings visit http://viljoensdrift.co.za/
The most up to date online topos for Montagu can be found in the Climb ZA Wiki here: http://www.climbing.co.za/wiki/index.php?title=Category:Montagu
Western Cape Rock, published by Tony Lourens in 2005 is a climber’s guide to sport climbing in the Western Cape, South Africa. This book can be purchased from us in Montagu or online here.