The Lebowski Line: a new climbing route on the granite domes of iSithumbe

On September 11th Chris Kleynhans and I finished bolting and free-climbed a new three-pitch route at Old Baldy/Isitumbe which we named “The Lebowski Line”. We propose the South African grades 19 (French 6a+), 14, and 15 for the three pitches, followed by a short scramble that leads to the top (where we placed another set of chains). The route is about 100-m-long and fully bolted. It can be climbed with a single 60-m rope, 12 quickdraws, and some slings and carabiners for the stances.

While working on the route we were reasoning that it’s a fine balance between working enough to afford climbing and not working so much that one doesn’t have time for climbing. We dubbed such fine balance the Lebowski Line, which gave the route its name.

Chris and I bolting and opening The Lebowski Line, iSithumbe.

The route starts within a few meters from coordinates 29°40’05.8″S 30°41’09.5″E and a short walking distance from the top of Frail Illusion and Quiet Desperation (-29.668326, 30.687782).The Lebowski Line is the first route to be opened on Old Baldy’s upper dome, which looks like it might offer a few other good lines with hard starts. Linking one of the routes on the lower dome with The Lebowski Line would make for a groovy day out.

Pitch 1: the crux of the route, it requires good balance and precise footwork to dance between crystals, crimps and thin footholds. It’s more of a face-climb than of a slab. Delicate, hard to read and exilarating (19/6a+).
Note: the third bolt is slightly too far to the right. It currently makes for an awkward clipping for short climbers but it is not unsafe.
Pitch 2: climb the slab diagonally. This pitch leans right towards a comfortable stance (14/4c).
Pitch 3: follow the finger-crack until it runs out, then move right and climb over two bulges to gain the chains (15/5a).
Pitch 4: easy scramble to the top. There is only one bolt to protect the first move, then it’s basically just a walk to the chains (next to a tree).