Book Review: Table Mountain Classics by Tony Lourens

A guide to walks, scrambles and moderate rock climbs 

I only started discovering and exploring Cape Town’s mountains when I returned from living overseas in 1997. A year or so later I received the 1998 version of this book as a gift, but at that stage, I was still getting to know the mountains and had not yet reached my adventurous stage. In my early days of hiking, I used the late Mike Lundy’s hiking books, especially his Best Walks in Cape Town edition. These were excellent guides and very useful for a relative newbie to get acquainted with Table Mountain.

Fast forward a few years and soon I had hiked my way through all the basic mountain routes; up, down and around Table Mountain. So I started looking for new routes. By now I had a good few years hiking, trail running and scrambling experience and a good idea of what I liked and was capable of. This is when I turned to Table Mountain Classics for some inspiration. I wasn’t disappointed.

Find your adventure

By the time the 2011 edition was released, I had already explored a few of Tony’s offerings but the 2011 edition is an updated and much thicker edition. With 45 additional routes. It’s almost three times the size of the original and is packed with interesting information and fascinating anecdotes related to Table Mountain; It has made great reading for me over the last seven years and is a book I always go back to. The best thing is I always find new stuff to do.

The Awesome GFC Traverse

From simple kid-friendly hikes to some fairly serious rock climbs

The walks are divided into categories, by region first, and then categorized according to their difficulty, accessibility and technical requirements. An ‘A’ walk can be child-friendly and involve no more than hiking. This could be the contour path or Newlands Ravine. Then there is a C/XX which is doable but there might be a tricky scramble so a rope may be necessary. Ledges for example. Then there are certain routes described as D+ (a rope is definitely necessary). Those I avoid as they should be left to proper climbers with the correct equipment. After a while, you will know what you can and can’t do safely and choose your routes accordingly. The point is there is a treasure trove of fun and sometimes tricky hikes or scrambles and hidden routes on Table Mountain. This book reveals plenty of them and I page through it on a regular basis, ticking off what I’ve done and marking those still to do.

Some routes I’ve done from the book include Left Face – Mystery B, Ledges, Grotto Fountain Cairn Traverse (GFC), Cairn Ravine, Valken Ravine, Valken Labyrinth and Hiddingh Ascension with a Ferny Dell Twist to name just a few.

Valken Labyrinth

If you’re a climber and capable and competent, then this book offers you even more options, many of which I have enviously put aside. I consider myself a low tech, no equipment, albeit enthusiastic, scrambler.

Tony Lourens did mention a new book coming out – something to do with adventure walks and climbs in the Cape Peninsula with a new treasure trove of adventures waiting to be revealed and explored. Can’t wait.

Get it here

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Comments (3)

Thanks for the awesome review Barry, much appreciated.
There is indeed a new book about to come out (March/April next year). Similar to Table Mountain Classics, but for the whole of the Southern Peninsula, all the way down to the tip of Cape Point.
It will be packed with hikes, scrambles (easy and tricky) and some moderate rock climbs, along with some interesting reading and history, etc.
It will also include a mini directory on some selected caves in the Kalk Bay Mountains.
Keep an eye on the SA Mountain FB page for the launch date.

Cheers Tony – looking forward to the new book.

Great review Barry. Perhaps just what I need to be a little more adventurous in 2019

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