Rock Climbing in Namibia with Richard Ford


Richard Ford is an experienced rock climber and has been running an adventure and climbing company called Urban Friction in Windhoek for many years now. His company specializes in rock climbing expeditions to both near and remote parts of Namibia and recently we managed to get Richard off of the rock face for long enough to conduct a short Q and A with him about rock climbing in Namibia.

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Get elevated for a different perspective on Namibia.
(Image via Urban Friction)

Can you introduce yourself and tell us briefly how you got into rock climbing?

I have been climbing since I was a kid but only got into serious/technical climbing after my return from living in Cape Town and the UK when I was introduced to Mountain Climbing South Africa’s Namibia Section. Currently, I am an Industrial Rope Access Trade Association certified rope access technician.

Where do your climbing excursions take place? And which is your favourite spot to climb in Namibia?

The day excursions take place at sites just outside Windhoek, usually about 20 km outside of the city. We are also currently developing a site that is only 10 km from the city. Most of the climbing spots are on private farms and the right of admission is reserved. One of our sites close to the city is actually an old dried up waterfall.

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Climbing is a great way to get to remote parts of a country.
(Image courtesy of Richard Ford)

But my favourite place to climb is the Spitzkoppe and it is usually a three-day weekend climbing tour. The Erongo Mountain Range is also a beautiful and fantastic site to climb.  

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In the distance, the Spitzkoppe. A perfect place for climbing.

Briefly tell us what happens on a typical climbing excursion/tour?

Day tours like our Midgard tour – includes a hike, game drive to the climbing site, lunch, and use of Midgard Country Estate facilities.

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The climbs are usually in extremely scenic parts of the country.
(Image courtesy of Richard Ford)

Do you have to be an experienced climber to join an excursion/tour?

You don’t need any experience to join the climbing tours, they are open to everybody from amateurs to professionals. The climbing sites usually have various routes ranging from easy, to moderate, to difficult.

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A guide explains to a climber how to stay safe.
(Image courtesy of Richard Ford)

Do you have any upcoming tours that prospective climbers can join?   

On Mondays we usually have a half-day climbing excursion and on Fridays, we often have a two day/weekend climbing trip. I worked as a freelance tour guide between 2001 and 2006 so I have experience in leading tours and working with clients.

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No matter how long your climb is, it will always be rewarding.
(Image courtesy of Richard Ford)

Which kind of gear does one need to go rock climbing? Does Urban Friction provide their customers with this gear?

You need shoes (although I would recommend barefoot climbing to amateurs/beginners), a dynamic rope, a harness, and a helmet- we can provide all of these to our clients. But all of these items are also available from stores like Cycle Tec Namibia if you wish to buy your own gear.

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You can always bring your own, if you want to.
(Image via Urban Friction)

How safe is rock climbing?

Rock Climbing is actually very safe if you are well aware of all the necessary precautions that need to be taken; there are strict procedures one needs to follow. I would say that rock climbing is safer than most contact sports. However, there is a calculated risk involved similar to sky diving.

But rock climbing has been around for a long time, and the equipment we use is manufactured by big commercial companies who make sure their products are safe and trustworthy. I also check my equipment on daily and monthly basis.

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A safe climber is a happy climber.
(Image courtesy of Richard Ford)

What are your thoughts on the future of rock climbing in Namibia?

I am currently working a lot with kids to create and foster a culture of rock climbing in the community… While we are on the topic of the growth potential, it would be awesome in the near future if climbing would be allowed at the Waterberg.  It’s such a beautiful place and a lot of potential to be a world-class rock climbing site. It would be great to see that happen.

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For more information and to find out how to book an excursion with Richard and Urban Friction call them on +264 81 331 2916 or visit their Facebook page here.

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