Castle Gorge

  • Grade context: SA

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Created 13 weeks ago


Castle Gorge is a hidden gem for hikers, featuring beautiful waterfalls, crystal clear pools and weathered rock formations that are great for swimming and photographing.


There are also a few good trad climbs for die-hard climbers. Castle Gorge has 23 trad routes between 30 to 45 metres long ranging between grades 7 to 23. A few of the routes are star graded and very worthwhile doing. Descents are via gullies.

Access issues inherited from Magaliesberg

All of the Magaliesberg is owned by private individuals. Access in the mountain is therefore sensitive. The Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA) owns property in the Magaliesberg and provides access permits. Access to other crags are provided by their owners. Most of the MCSA property is accessed by crossing over neighbouring properties so it is always important to know and follow the access arrangements when you visit the area.

For more information on routes, access, and permits please see the following websites:

  • Mountain Club of South Africa: - Look at “Who we are” for the different sections of the MCSA
  • MCSA Johannesburg Section: - Click on “Access and Properties” for more information on properties.
  • MCSA Magaliesberg Section: - Go to "Venues" for more information on properties.
  • ClimbZA Wiki: Welcome to the largest & most comprehensive online database of Southern African climbing information.
  • ClimbZA Forum: https// A south-african climbing forum where you can find climbing partners or more about different climbing areas and climbs.


1 hour from Johannesburg. While the walk in to Castle Gorge is one of the longest, it’s also one of the most beautiful. A fairly steep walk from the car (with plenty of shade to rest under) levels onto a sunny plateau before dropping into the Gorge. The path is excellent which makes the going relatively easy and as such the hike can still be done in a comfortable hour. The final descent into the Gorge is a little tricky and exposed. The area above the waterfall is slippery and dangerous, and accidents have occurred.

Where to stay

Plenty of beautiful camping spots available next to the stream and pools.


No fire allowed as per “No Fires in Magaliesberg Policy”. There is currently a moratorium on bolting in Magaliesberg.

Some content has been provided under license from: © MCSA (MCSA)


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Grade Route

The route is situated on the overhanging face immediately right of the lower swimming pool above the last waterfall. i.e. about 10m upstream of CASTLE GORGE CORNER and starts at a recess with a small tree growing in it about 15m up. It follows a line through the two lower overhangs to the top. The route was pre-practiced on top rope.

  1. 40m 23 Start at the base of the recess and climb up to the tree and then diagonally left to the roof (last resting place). Climb through the roof using the flake immediately above, and move immediately right to a mantleshelf move (crux). Climb up to the roof above and through on thin holds. Climb up to the final roof and traverse left to easier rock directly below the roof.

Note: The crux move can be protected by a Hex no 11 about a meter below the bottom roof in the recess and a Hex no 6 directly under the roof at the resting point mentioned. These protections are both bomb-proof and protect the leader from cratering from the crux. A friend no 2.5 can also be placed above the roof immediately below the crux (with difficulty). No runner should be placed behind the flake, as this would not reduce the fall factor markedly, and break the flake. The rest of the route can be protected easily.

FA: D. van Eeden & S. Isabeck, 1985

This route shares the start of THE JOY but takes a vertical line above the flake.

  1. 35m 23 Take off as for THE JOY, continue straight up left of the lichen and top out through the roof.


  1. Don't place any protection behind the flake or sling it, as it won't take a lead fall.

  2. The pitch was done once on top rope before being led.

FA: S. Isebeck, D. Neethling & E. Tania, 1985

1 7 12m
2 11 11m
3 6 15m

The climb lies up the corner on the right overlooking the deep lunch pool, opposite POOL ASCENT.

  1. 12m 7 Climb the small gully just downstream of the corner to a large earth ledge and tree halfway up the corner.

  2. 11m 11 From the tree climb up a small crack for 3m then traverse right around a nose In an exposed position to a ledge overlooking the pool.

  3. 15m 6 Climb the easy face to the top of the kloof.

FA: J. Botha, 1942

1 17 18m
2 19 12m

The climb starts at the base of the first pitch of TALMUD, on the tree roots described in that route. Instead of climbing TALMUD to the left, take the obvious line up and to the right up the sloping ramp to at pinnacle at about 15m. From the pinnacle the climb follows a line up t the left of the prominent overhang in the headwall.

  1. 18m 17 Climb ramp for 8m, moving right where angle steepens. Climb up red rock to pinnacle on good lay-away holds. Belay on small ledge to right of the 1.5m high pinnacle.

  2. 12m 19 Start from top of pinnacle. Move left and up to small ledge. Move up and left using good undercut and incut holds. Climb up and left on good but small holds to left of overhang. Ascend on easy rock to top. Being off-balance, there is no good resting spot on this pitch.

Note: A sustained and clean route. Protection on the whole climb is good. Spectator value is good. Wear clean underpants.

FA: Terry White & Chris Ziranek, 2002

1 15 12m
2 10 12m
3 11 18m

The climb is situated about 30m downstream of the last waterfall and CASTLE GORGE CORNER. It finishes up a prominent open book which is more closed than open - hence the climb's name. Clamber up to a tree (with many exposed roots) about 6m to the right of a point beneath the right-hand containing wall of the open book.

  1. 12m 15 Traverse left for gm over a delicate slab. A tree growing at the base of the slab can be reached from this slab and used as a sling placement. At the end of the slab ascend steep rock with good holds to a narrow ledge where a small bush serves as a belay point.

  2. 12m 10 Traverse about 2.5m left and then ascend a steep face until a small overhang is reached. Traverse right under this overhang and then ascend to a large ledge which is below the open book.

  3. 18m 11 Ascend the open book and climb out to the right at the top (or to the left which is more difficult) .

FA: R. Davies, T. Bright, D. Gilham & D. Williamson., 1953

1 15 12m
2 10 12m
3 19 11m
4 15 11m

On the left of the open book of TALMUD is a prominent vertical ridge which starts about 30m above the bed of the stream.

  1. 12m 15 As for first pitch of TALMUD.

  2. 12m 10 Start as for second pitch of TALMUD and before reaching the small overhang. Climb out left onto a small stance on the ridge 6m above the start of the ridge.

  3. 11m 19 Ascend the ridge by means of a slightly overhanging slit, into which one cannot get one's whole body. A small platform is reached a few metres above the slit.

  4. 11m 15 Continue directly upwards through a cleft on the ridge (strenuous) and then ascend easy rock to the top. The cleft can be avoided by climbing the greenish face to the right (easier).

FA: R. Davies & R. Kinsley, 1954

1 15 6m
2 13 12m
3 17 30m

The route takes a near vertical line midway between the crack of PIDGEON HOLE and the ridge of TALMUD DIRECT. The start is below a pronounced overhanging recess which appears at first glance to offer little chance of a route. A crack runs up this recess. 1. 6m 15,A1 Take off from a shoulder. Then by of means of one piton and an etrier ascend within reach of the handgrips. Strenuously pull-up into a small recess at the bottom of the overhanging crack. Piton belay.

  1. 12m 13,A2 Traverse right and ascend 2.5m up a narrow chimney closed at the top. By means of a sling in the roof, lean out and climb past the overhang, then diagonally left of an eyehole sling point in the crack which runs up from the previous stance (approximately four pitons). Free climb from this point to a small stance with a piton belay below the overhangs.

  2. 30m 17 Ascend the cracked recess until forced left by the closure of the crack. The short traverse left is followed by a quick move up onto a sloping ledge (crux). Continue up to beneath a small square-cut overhang. Turn this to the left and continue more easily to the top.

Note: Strenuous climbing and small stances.

FA: R. Davies & J.H. Graafland, 1969

1 8 12m
2 19 8m
3 11 12m
4 16 9m

The climb is situated 20m downstream of TALMUD. It starts in a crack/chimney in which are some chockstones.

  1. 12m 8 Ascend the crack behind the chockstones to the roof of a large overhang. Eye belay.

  2. 8m 19 Traverse left onto the face by means of a stirrup placed on a fixed piton about 1 m away from the stance and at the same level and ascend using the stirrup, or climb up strenuously without the aid of the sling. Climb a few metres of steep rock to a good stance at the base of the chimney.

  3. 12m 11 Climb the chimney until the chockstones at the roof are reached.

  4. 9m 16 Continue to the top of the chimney and step right onto the ledge. The chimney actually becomes a shallow recess about 5m up and this is strenuous and exposed.

FA: D. Crabtree, R. Charlton, E. Adcock & H. Rolfes., 1953

FFA: L.P. Fatti, 1974

1 13 30m
2 11 5m
3 8 30m

Situated 5m downstream of PIDGEON HOLE.

  1. 30m 13 Start in the recess. Climb 15m on a slightly overhanging section with the help of the roots. Then continue up the recess. finally moving right and up to a large sloping ledge.

  2. 5m 11 Squeeze through an impossible looking opening between two chockstones in the cave-like recess above and at the right hand end of the sloping ledge. Belay from immediately above to prevent the rope snagging.

  3. 30m 8 Proceed upwards and then out right and up to the top.


2 ?m 15 Ascend the face on the right and traverse left into the recess above the chockstone move.

FA: S. van Rensburg & sons, 1974

1 20 25m
2 13 21m
3 6 18m

Starts just to the left of the very steep recess with roots coming down it, to the left of PIDGEON HOLE recess. There is some thick tree cover around the start.

  1. 25m 20 Climb a small steep recess for 5m to a rusty fixed piton. Traverse left for 1.5m and then diagonally up steep rock for 5m to a small block above which there is another fixed piton. Move up the steep shallow recess above for 1,5m and then move strenuously up right onto some blocks. Step back left into the shallow recess and move up to 1,5m below an aloe where there is a fixed piton. Traverse right for 1,5m and then climb steep rock to where the angle eases. Then diagonally right to a stance in the main recess.

  2. 21m 13 Climb the recess for 9m and then traverse left onto a large ledge. Move up from the left hand side of the ledge onto an open face and the up easier rock to a large ledge with a tree belay.

  3. 18m 6 Continue to top.

Variation: 2 25m 19 Step back down left from the stance and traverse delicately left into the corner. Move up strenuously on good holds and continue up the steep corner to the large ledge. Climb the crack above for 3m and then step left on to the easier angled face which is climbed to the large ledge and tree belay. (1982 C. Edelstein and party)

FFA: J. Holding, 1982

1 15 12m
2 19 9m
3 19 8m
4 17 8m

Start 6m to the left of the pink-white face, right of CATERPILLAR.

  1. 12m 15 Up the crack using the roots then up the tree trunk to a ledge. Belay on the same tree.

  2. 9m 19 Traverse right 3m around a corner to the bottom of a narrow chimney and ascend the chimney. The crux is at the start. The difficulty is due to the narrowness of the chimney at the bottom and the paucity of grips. The pitch ends at a narrow ledge just past a large overhang on the right. Piton belay.

  3. 8m 19 Up the right-angled corner. At the overhang, move left by a layback move to a good ledge.

  4. 8m 17 Up the recess through the final overhang.

FA: R.F. Davies & Merv Prior, 1968

FFA: A. Margetts & Stewart Middlemiss, 1986

1 8 3m
2 7 15m
3 10 12m
4 11 20m

The climb is on the face immediately upstream of Castle Gully. It starts about 15m upstream of Castle Gully and about 10m left of a prominent white-pink patch at the base of the krantz.

  1. 3m 8 Climb up the little buttress to a ledge with a block belay. Scramble to the left for 8m.

  2. 15m 7 Climb (straddle) the recess and ascend easier rock to a ledge with a tree belay.

  3. 12m 10 Up a 3m thin crack, then over easy rock to a large ledge below an overhang. Belay on a tree.

  4. 20m 11 Up into obvious chimney through the overhang and out to the right when upward progress is blocked by a tree growing in the face. Up to a second overhang and then right across a thin face to a ledge, then up a thin slab to the top.

1 17
2 15
3 19
4 19


  1. 17 Instead of first pitch as described, ascend the diverging overhanging recess 5m to the left.

  2. 15 From the block at the top of pitch 1, go up an angled overhanging recess (difficult) 3m high to a small cubby hole in the left hand wall of the recess. Then move diagonally on easier rock to join pitch 3 at the bottom of the 3m crack.

  3. original

  4. 19 (Direct finish). On reaching the second overhang in pitch 4, climb directly through the overhang and on to the summit (15m).

FA: T.J. Louw

1 17 18m
2 18 15m

Three-quarters of the way up Castle Gully there is a prominent buttress, which in fact separates Castle Gully from Rock Gully. On the buttress, on the Castle Gully side, there is a prominent wedge-shaped ridge on top of which there is a small pinnacle. The climb is situated on the downstream face of this ridge.

  1. 18m 17 Climb the face, starting near the outer edge, for about 5m on small flat holds. Then move diagonally left into the recess at the junction of the ridge with the buttress. Ascend the recess to a tree belay.

  2. 15m 18 Traverse right across the face on small grips to a narrow crack near the right hand edge. Ascend the crack, (mainly on arms) as far as the base of the pinnacle. Thence traverse to the right and up the back of the pinnacle to the top.

FA: R. Davies, D. Reid & Miss E. Chadwick., 1949

1 11 18m
2 8 18m

This climb is situated on the buttress referred to under THEME AND VARIATIONS. It starts about 12m down and to the left of THEME AND VARIATIONS and follows a ridge on the buttress.

  1. 18m 11 Commence on the steep face to the left of the ridge, and work upwards and to the right, reaching the crest of the ridge at a tree.

  2. 18m 8 From the tree ascend the ridge immediately above (steep but with good holds) and work out on to an easy face on the right.

FA: R. Davies, I. Keith & Miss J. Slinger.

1 7 21m
2 8 15m
3 8 10m

Start in the same gully as DIVERTIMENTO, directly above a steep rock incline. To the left of DIVERTIMENTO is a sub-gully and the climb starts on the buttress to the left of this.

  1. 21m 7 Take off and pull up to a ledge at 3m. Traverse left for 10m and then up 8m to a ledge below a smooth face.

  2. 15m 8 Traverse left to a grass ledge.

  3. 10m 8 Follow an open book keeping to the left of a pinnacle.

Note: Appropriate for a large party of beginners.

FA: R. Charlton & H. Tyass, 1973

1 15 8m
2 17 25m
3 15 20m

Start on the upstream side of a 10m buttress on the true right hand side of the gorge, about 30m downstream from Rock and Castle gullies. This point approximately at the point where the stream makes a sharp turn to the left.

  1. 8m 15 Starting just to the right of the buttress climb up and the traverse left with difficulty to a stance on top of the buttress.

  2. 25m 17,A1 From the left hand end of the stance climb up into the steep recess above, using one point of aid to get started. Climb up steeply to the tree, where the angle eases. Continue up to a stance on the large ledge.

  3. 20m 15 Traverse right and climb the shallow recess to the top.

Note: Originally, the route was climbed by H. Vogl and party by using the tree.

FA: L.P. Fatti & R. Smithers, 1977

From the point at which Rock and Castle gullies join. traverse left(downstream) on to main kloof face. After traversing 45m, ascend 45m to top by any of several possibilities up a recess.

FA: F. Petousis

1 7 10m
2 10 9m
3 8 9m

Starts to the left of BEGINNERS' TRAVERSE.

  1. 10m 7 After a tricky take-off, ascend an easy face for 6m bearing slightly left. Traverse 3m left and then up 1,5m to a ledge. Tree belay.

  2. 9m 10 Ascend the steep face for about 2m, move around the corner and diagonally left up a sloping face into a crack. Tree belay.

  3. 9m 8 Ascend the crack for 5m and continue up an easy face to the top .

FA: J. Prior & Merv Prior, 1970

1 13 25m
2 17 30m

Starts at the shallow pool directly below the highest part of the face. Actual start is at a large boulder.

  1. 25m 13 An awkward take-off with two mantleshelfs on to 1m wide ledge which slopes up to the right. Walk right for 11m and take a direct line to a wide ledge 15m higher.

  2. 30m 17 Start at a stout tree. Up a shallow ill-defined crack bearing left past a small tree and up diagonally right to a narrow ledge resting place. Continue up the steep section on small grips to a large ledge. The final 5m red face completes the climb.

FA: Merv Prior, R. Kinsley & P. Bloomfield, 1952

In the main kloof downstream of Knight Gully a long pool extends the whole width of the kloof, so that it is necessary to wade to cross it. This section of the kloof can be negotiated in either direction, and wading avoided, by ascending the right hand wall of the kloof to a ledge about 12m above the pool. ascent to the ledge at the downstream end is assisted by "monkey ropes" hanging to a rock step at bed level. A traverse along this ledge for the whole length of the pool is possible.

This is a 15m high pinnacle on the right hand side, reached by following the stream past Castle and Knight gullies and wading through pools for about 100m. The pinnacle may be climbed by a difficult route on the stream side (15) or by a route (10) on the upstream side starting where the pinnacle joins the wall on the kloof.

1 17 20m
2 10 15m

Start in front of the big rectangular the ledge 12m upstream from the ascent to the swimming pool on the true left-hand side of the stream. (Opposite the start of CASTLE GORGE CORNER)

  1. 20m 17 Ascend the front of the block or scramble onto it from the left. Step over the gap onto the face which is marked by vertical white streaks. Continue up bearing very slightly to the left. Surmount the slightly overhanging bulge (crux) at about 17m then climb straight up past a piton to a good ledge and belay.

  2. 15m 10 Climb the recess to the top.

FA: J. van Eeden & D. Neetling, 1981

1 8 12m
2 7 15m

The climb lies on the short but clean face on the left between the last two waterfalls and above the deep pool. Scramble 9m to the base of the face at the point directly above the outlet from the pool.

  1. 12m 8 Start at the centre of the face and ascend past a small tree and then bear diagonally right to a stance behind the large block which has a tree growing against its outer side. Very exposed climbing.

  2. 15m 7 At least three routes exist from here: diagonally right, straight up or diagonally left.

50m downstream on a face opposite the pinnacle is a large and obvious 30m chimney which provides an easy climb.

The routes below need a home. Please help if you find them.

Climbs the overhanging pink corner to the left of ?

  1. 20m 22/3 Climb the awkward corner. Move right at the top. Be careful of wasps.

FA: Stewart Middlemiss, 1990

Climbs the very overhanging wall on the true right of the kloof downstream of the main climbing area. This is where the kloof makes a turn to the left, but is upstream of the pinnacle.

  1. 15m 25/6 Climb the steep corner/ crack past a peg to the top.

FA: Mike Hislop & Stewart Middlemiss, 1991

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