Appendix 1: Preliminary
overview of mountains in South Africa
MOUNTAINS: THE ACCESS AND CONSERVATION SITUATION IN SOUTH AFRICA - A State of the Nations Report to the UIAA Access and Environment Commission
Date: 3 August 2001
M E SHROYER (CORRESPONDING MEMBER:UIAA ACCESS AND ENVIRONMENT COMMISSION) THE MOUNTAIN CLUB OF SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa comprises approximately 10 percent mountainous terrain and isolated mountains, based on the criterion that a mountain constitutes an area elevated by at least 450 metres (m) from the local relief. Distinctive hilly terrain and distinctive coastal and river relief makes up approximately 13% of the land surface.
Mountains in South Africa either form part of the Great Escarpment or are free standing. The Great Escarpment extends from the mountainous regions of the Northern Province southwards to the Drakensberg, past Lesotho and the Eastern Cape into the Southern Cape. It then continues north of the Cape Folded Mountains (sandstone) to Sutherland in the Karoo, before turning northwards towards Springbok in the Northern Cape. It is a large escarpment formed through upliftment of the centre of the continent and erosion of the coastal areas, dividing South Africa into two distinct shapes or basins. The Great Escarpment is the last remnant of a large interior plateau which existed many millions of years ago and today is only a narrow, planed surface, functioning as a watershed between the Orange River system and all the other rivers (DEAT, 2000).
The highest mountains in South Africa are located in the Drakensberg with peaks reaching 3 400m with local relief up to 2 100m. The extensive Cape Folded Mountain range (totaling about 21 000 square kilometres) also have many peaks with local relief close to 2 000m. Many other less extensive mountain ranges exist throughout South Africa (Blignaut, 2000).
Key mountains in South Africa, with relief over 450 m include.
In the Northern Province
§ The Soutpansberg and Strydpoortberg forms part of the Great Escarpment. The Wolkberg is the northerly arm of the Strydpoortberg with Iron Crown at 2 126m as the highest point.
§ Blouberg. The 300 m sheer north wall is home to prime big-wall climbing of South Africa.
§ The Waterberg mountains and surrounds support large numbers of mega-fauna.
§ The Lebombo Mountains are on the border between South Africa and Mozambique, in both the Northern Province and Mpumalanga.
In Mpumalanga Province
§ The Mpumalanga escarpment.
§ Steenkampsberg contains the highest point in the province at 2 331m (Die Berg).
§ The Lebombo Mountains (in both the Northern Province and Mpumalanga).
In the North-West Province
§ The Magaliesberg stretches from past Rustenburg in the west to Nooitgedacht where it enters Gauteng Province. At more than 2000 million years old, the quartzites of which it is composed are some of the oldest rocks in the world.
§ Pilanesberg forms a circular enclosure from south-east to north-west. Sun City is located in the area.
§ Enzelsberg, located near Groot Marico.
In Gauteng Province
§ Gauteng is not mountainous as such but contains many hilly areas such as at Melville Koppies, Northcliff escarpment and the Suikerbosrand, which reaches an altitude of over 1 900m. The east-west orientated Witwatersrand, although not dramatically mountainous, reaches an altitude of 1 800m and forms an important watershed between the northwards- and eastwards-flowing rivers that feed into the Indian Ocean via the Limpopo River and the southwards-flowing rivers that feed into the Atlantic Ocean via the Orange River.
§ A large part of the Magaliesberg falls in Gauteng, stretching from Nooitgedacht east to Bronkhorstspuit. Pretoria is situated in its midst.
In Free State Province
§ The Maluti Mountains, on the border between South Africa and Lesotho forms part of the Great Escarpment.
§ A part of the Drakensberg - at Sentinel Peak - falls into Free State Province.
§ Rooiberge. High points include: Snymanshoekberg, Ventersburg, Pieringkop, Drie Susters.
In KwaZulu-Natal Province
§ The KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg forms the high escarpment shared by South Africa and Lesotho. The main rim of the Berg escarpment averages 3 000 m above sea level. Thabana Ntlenyana near the top of Sani Pass (in Lesotho), is the highest point, at 3 482 m (Bristow and Ward, 1985; Lesotho Government, 1994). The KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg includes: Mount Aux Sources 3 282 m (on the boundry between Lesotho and KwaZulu-Natal), Mafadi Peak 3 446m (the highest point in SA), Champagne Castle 3 374m, Giants Castle 3 232m, Central Range, Witteberg, Thaba Putsoa (in Lesotho) and Maluti (in Orange Free State).
In Eastern Cape Province
§ Eastern Cape Drakensberg. It is difficult to establish exactly where the Drakensberg ends but most likely at Xalanga near Eliot. Its ridges fan out to the south into the mountains and valleys around Barkley East, where the Stormberg rises as a flat-topped range which runs from east to west between Dordrecht and Molteno. At its eastern end the range bunches back up against the Witteberg, where Ben Macdhui is the highest point. South-west of Molteno the Bamboesberg curves in an "S" shape into Cradock (Bristow and Ward, 1985). South-west of Bamboesberg, is the Bankberg. Kompasberg, located near New Bethesda is the highest point at 2 504 m of the Eastern Cape range. The highest point in the Eastern Cape is Kwaduma.
§ Cape Folded Mountains in the Eastern Cape.
Winterhoek Mountains, including Klein and Groot Winterhoek. In the east the Grootwinterhoek forms the first significant range of the Cape Fold series. It highest peak is locally known as Cockscomb.
Winterberg. The Winterberg merges into the Amatola Mountains.
In Western Cape Province
Western Cape Mountains that form part of the Great Escarpment are:
§ Nuweveld Mountains.
§ Roggeveld Mountains.
Cape Folded Mountains
§ Outeniekwa Mountains.
§ Langeberg Mountains. High points include: Misty Point, Leeurivierberg, Middelrivierberg.
§ Groot and Klein Swartberg. The Klein Swartberge has Toverkop as a high point.
§ Riviersonderend Mountains. High points include: Olifantsberg, Jonaskop, Kanonberg, Skilpadkop, Pilaarkop.
§ Overberg Mountains. High points include: Babylonstoren, Maanskynkop.
§ Hottentots Holland Mountains. High points include: Victoria Peak, Jonkershoek Twins, Haelkop, Sneeukop.
§ Peninsula Mountain Chain. High points include: Table Mountain, Devils Peak, Grootkop.
§ Groot and Klein Drakenstein.
§ Du Toits Kloof Mountains. High points include: Du Toit's Peak, Witteberg, Wemmershoek Tafelberg, Stettynsberg.
§ Baines Kloof Mountains. High points include: Groot Wellington Sneeukop, Slanghoek Peak.
§ Koue Bokkeveld. High points include: Koue Bokkeveld Sneeukop, Koue Bokkeveld Tafelberg.
§ Hex River Mountains. High points include: MostertshoekTwins, Waaihoek Peak, Sybasberg, Mt Superior, Sentinel, Fonteintjiesberg, Buffelshoek Peak, Milner Peak, Matroosberg, Roodeberg.
§ Cederberg Mountains. High points include: Krakadouw, Sneeuberg, Tafelberg, Wolfberg, Sneeuberg.
§ Groot and Klein Winterhoek Mountains.
§ Witzenberg Mountains. High points include: Eureka Peak, Medina Peak.
§ Olifantsrivier Mountains. High points include: Heksberg, Olifants River Dome, Turret Peak.
§ Piketberg Mountains.
In Northern Cape Province
§ Bokkeveld Mountains.
§ Richtersveld Mountains.
§ Kuruman Hills.
§ Pella Mountains.
South Africa offers a range of experiences to mountaineers and rock-climbers in diverse settings.