Book review: Lines of Least Resistance

Lines of Least Resistance

Riaan Vorster


Review: Karen Watkins

António de Saldanha became one of the first Europeans to climb Table Mountain in 1503.

Two centuries later thousands have followed climbing via Platteklip Gorge and seven other routes.

This left the remaining area unexplored until the early 1890s when climbers begin a systematic exploration in their quest for new routes.

Lines of Least Resistance tells the story of Table Mountain’s 101 hiking and scrambling routes opened prior to 1952, from A to C+ grade.

Drawing on his knowledge as a mountain guide and with extensive research, Vorster follows in the footsteps of early mountaineering pioneers examining their psyche and philosophy, and answering questions as to why some routes became popular and others slipped into oblivion. He provides background into the naming of these routes, their geology, fauna, flora and the people who lived and worked on the mountain.

Vorster’s writing is often poetic, humorous and always easy. In the preface he states that the book is not a climbing guide.

There are no maps of the routes which are not always in chronological order and only a few pictures to illustrate the characters.

This book is recommended for anyone with a love of mountain matters, from hikers, climbers and trail runners to historians and tour guides.