Giant's Castle Ice Climbing

Name of venue

Giants Castle Ice Climbing

Information courtesy of Gavin Raubenheimer

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.


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

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.

Child friendly venue?


Swimming possible?


Camp fires permitted?


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.


  • 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.