Some grocery shopping in Franschhoek and soon we were packing up at the trailhead in the stifling afternoon heat. A 90 minute walk through a game farm (did I mention it was hot?) and finally a pleasant hike up a vegetated and thus shady stream brought us to a nice bivy site inside the Duiwelskloof. This would be our jumping off point the following morning for a long route called Lucifer (18 pitch, F-rated or about 5.9/9+ affair) located some 45 minutes further up the Kloof. That evening we enjoyed Ross’s cooking for the first time as well as a hip flask that was passed around.
Up pre-dawn the next morning for quick breakfast and a 45 minute hike up to the base of the route. The 500 meter wall looked quite steep (multiple roof systems up high) but we were armed with a good written description of the route as well as the knowledge that we were aiming for an obvious dihedral system some 300 meters up. I was a little apprehensive as Ross had mentioned a possible runout on a steep pitch 2. As it turned out, once we figured out the line of the route, pitch 2 was neither steep nor runout; the excitement would come later in the day climbing the afore mentioned dihedral system. We did some linking on the first 5 pitches but later switched to pitching things out per route description (mostly to try and stay on the route). The crux of the route came somewhere at the third of the way mark where a tricky face traverse (multiple options made us re-consider a few times), with protection some distance away and left of one’s feet, was required. A handful more pitches put us in position for a second traverse of the day – this one seemed easier but was in a more spectacular position. As it turned out, the traverse put us at a hanging belay on the arête of the obvious dihedral system. The two subsequent, beautifully exposed, face climbing pitches (linked into one due to lack of anchor opportunity) with somewhat sparse and finicky protection were probably the highlight of the day. A few more vegetated pitches put us on a high ledge under improbable looking overhangs. The key here was to traverse the ledge system to a trivial gully which put us near the summit.
Ross greeted us on top and, after killing off the lunch we had carried all day, we started the long (~4 hour) descent back to camp. Imagine something akin to descending off Resolution Arete but with a longer and more complex “plateau” traverse (really a series of ups and downs of the rolling wall-top summits) to reach the head of a gully. Once in the gully, we barely made it down the only technical portion of the descent just as the sun went down. Back in camp sometime later that evening.