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A Climbers Guide to Monteseel, Ringwood and Old Baldy

East Coast Rock is a Rock Climber's guide to three climbing venues: Monteseel, Ringwood, and Old Baldy. All three venues are located midway between Pietermaritzburg and Durban. The former two are on the edge of what is called the "Valley of 1000 Hills", and the latter forms part of that region. Monteseel and Old Baldy are legendary in KZN Climbing, and have given several generations of climbers lifelong memories. While Ringwood is the lesser crag due to Its size and relatively recent development, it too has a certain old-world charm, and needed to be included due to its proximity to the other cliffs. Monteseel began as the main climbing crag for KZN climbers, with its first routes put up in the 1940's. At this time, crag climbing was seen more as practice for mountain climbing than a sport in its own right. The late 70's saw the greatest number of new routes climbed, with more than 75 new routes opened in the years 78 to 79. During the early 70's and 80's, the Kwa-Zulu Natal section of the Mountain Club owned a property and hut in Seele's Drive. The hut became the centre for much of the climbing activity at the time. With the advent of sport climbing, Monteseel lost some of Its popularity. It is now seen as the main trad climbing area, with its own Ethic and character. the hut was gradually used less, and less, and eventually became a maintenance burden. It was finally sold a few years ago. Old Baldy is an area with huge granite slabs, offering tricky "faith and friction" climbing. It was first properly explored in the 1970's and 80's. The bolts were all placed with hand drills, either on abseil or even sometimes on lead. It had a reputation for extreme run-outs and dodgy bolts, on top of a horrendous approach through thorn bush. This led to it seldom being visited, to the point where it almost died as a venue. In 2019, the old bolts were replaced and a better access route (which avoids the thorn bush) was scouted. Old Baldy is now more popular than when first discovered, and new routes have since been added.