The Mountain Club of South Africa

Zuurberg (University of Cape Town)

The final approach to Mount Superior on Zuurberg in the Hex River Mountains

The final approach to Mount Superior on Zuurberg in the Hex River Mountains

Zuurberg is in the Waaihoek region of the Hex River Mountains. These are some of the Western Cape’s most rugged mountains, with high peaks, often snow-covered in winter, and the Witels River valley below. It’s owned by the University of Cape Town (UCT), and managed by UCT’s Mountain and Ski Club (UCTMSC). A servitude agreement allows MCSA members to explore Zuurberg (except for the Witels River and riverbed during the summer months, November to April), or undertake a traverse of the Hex River Mountains.

The property can be considered as two areas – the Witels River and riverbed, and the rest of the demarcated Zuurberg area in general. The servitude may not interfere with the rights of the UCT community to use the property, and in particular, the servitude does not allow access to the Witels River and its campsites during the summer kloofing season.

In 1961, after two years of negotiations, Neville Pells (son of Eddie) secured the purchase of Zuurberg at a cost of 2000 pounds (which was donated to UCT). This required contacting the seven scattered sons and daughters of the late Captain Heindrich Ludwig Scharmberg, who had owned Zuurberg at the time of his death.

In 2004, the MCSA made a financial contribution which assisted UCT to buy a portion of the farm Vredehoek, adjoining Zuurberg, at a cost of R705 000. This purchase secured access to the Waaihoek ascent path, which had been plagued by access difficulties for more than thirty years. In exchange for its contribution to the purchase, the MCSA gained a servitude for its members to access Zuurberg.