To Hell & back

The original. The legend. Since 1995.
2

days

120

km

3,750

up

3/5
To hell and back | South Africa | logo | three mounatinbikers and text as a drawing | MultidayMTB
CS Lewis said that ‘the road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.’ In this case, the road to the Hell is a rocky dirt road with steep slopes, sharp switchbacks, ups and downs, dropping a hair raising 3000 feet down into a valley. This race proudly is the first MTB stage race in South Africa.
  • South Africa
  • recreational tour, stage race
  • maximum 350 participants
  • E-MTB participation options unknown
  • date 2020 unknown
  • date 2021 unknown
  • www.tohellandback.co.za
To hell & back Placeholder
To hell & back
To hell & back (overlay) Placeholder
To hell & back (overlay)

stage

km

ascent

trail

1
60 km
1,790 m
Swartberg Mountains, Into the Hell
2
60 km
1,970 m
Up Elands Pass, Out of the Hell
Die Hel (The Hell) is the colloquial name for a remote green valley in the Swartberg mountains. Twenty-five kilometres long and half-a-kilometre wide, the valley was once home to a thriving community of self-sustaining farmers whose only access to the outside world was a sketchy bridle path on the western end of the Gamkaskloof and the rugged Gamkapoort itself. It was only in 1962 that the first “real” road, and the one used currently, was built into the valley. It remains the only road.
Its twisty hairpins form the route for the infamous there-and-back two-day sojourn that is the To Hell & Back Extreme MTB Tour. It was in 1995 that Wikus Van Der Walt and his colleague, John Sharples, decided after riding the route themselves, that it would be a great idea to organise an event to Gamkaskloof and back as a way of promoting this remote valley. At that stage, Wikus and John were still government officials working for Cape Nature. In 1996 Wikus left Cape Nature and started an environmental consultancy called EcoBound, with mountain-bike eventing as a small sideshow, and To Hell & Back the only event in the portfolio at that stage.
The limit on the number of participants still remains the same today. The secret to experiencing the soul of the event, is to tour and not race the scenic 120km, over the two days. It is known as the longest mountain pass in South Africa, the road either going up or coming down. The sheer remoteness of Gamkaskloof, no electricity, no cell reception, no TV, not even radio reception creates a unique wilderness atmosphere at the overnight stop in The Hell.
Endurance
3/5
Overall
3/5
Technic
3/5
Days
1/5
Distance
1/5
Up/down
4/5

Explanation

Overall ​Upwards rounded rating baesd on the avarage score of ​endurance, technic, ​days, distance and up/down. Unfortunately the judgment undoubtedly contains subjective elements, please make your own assessments and prepare well!

Endurance Requirements for endurance (unfortunately the judgment undoubtedly contains subjective elements, please make your own assessments and prepare well!).
1 star basic endurance required. 2 stars above average endurance required. 3 stars above average endurance required, partly due to extreme or changing weather conditions (hot, cold, rain, mud, etc.). 4 stars more than above average endurance required, including due to extreme or changing weather conditions. 5 stars way above average endurance / professional endurance, including due to extreme or changing weather conditions. 

Technic Indication of the technical difficulty of the average stages (unfortunately the judgment undoubtedly contains subjective elements, please make your own assessments and prepare well!).
1 star flat or slightly sloping roads with a level surface and/or asfaltos, no or hardly no singletracks. 2 stars mainly off road, but flat or slightly sloping roads with a level surface and some singletracks. 3 stars mainly off-road with single tracks, roots and / or rocks and / or sandy parts in hilly surroundings. 4 stars mainly off road with singletracks, roots and/or rocks and/or sandy pieces including steep climbs and/or downhills in mountainous surroundings. 5 stars mainly off-road, technical passages, steep climbs, fast descents including natural jumps and drops, changing surfaces both up and down.

Days Number of days of the event.
1 star 2 days or less. 2 stars 3 days. 3 stars 4 days. 4 stars 5 days. 5 stars 6 days or more

Distance Average kilometers per stage.
1 star 40 km or less. 2 stars 40- 59 km. 3 stars 60- 79 km. 4 stars 80 - 99 km. 5 stars 100 km or more. 

Up/down Average uphill meters per stage.
1 star 500 meters or less. 2 stars 501 - 1,000 meters. 3 stars 1,001 - 1,500 meters. 4 stars 1,501 - 2,000 meters. 5 stars 2,001 meters or more.

To Hell & back

The original. The legend. Since 1995.
2

days

120

km

3,750

up

3/5
  • South Africa
  • recreational tour, stage race
  • maximum 350 participants
  • E-MTB participation options unknown
  • date 2020 unknown
  • date 2021 unknown
  • www.tohellandback.co.za
CS Lewis said that ‘the road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.’ In this case, the road to the Hell is a rocky dirt road with steep slopes, sharp switchbacks, ups and downs, dropping a hair raising 3000 feet down into a valley. This race proudly is the first MTB stage race in South Africa.
To hell & back Placeholder
To hell & back
To hell & back (overlay) Placeholder
To hell & back (overlay)

stage

km

ascent

1
60 km
1,790 m
2
60 km
1,970 m
Die Hel (The Hell) is the colloquial name for a remote green valley in the Swartberg mountains. Twenty-five kilometres long and half-a-kilometre wide, the valley was once home to a thriving community of self-sustaining farmers whose only access to the outside world was a sketchy bridle path on the western end of the Gamkaskloof and the rugged Gamkapoort itself. It was only in 1962 that the first “real” road, and the one used currently, was built into the valley. It remains the only road.
Its twisty hairpins form the route for the infamous there-and-back two-day sojourn that is the To Hell & Back Extreme MTB Tour. It was in 1995 that Wikus Van Der Walt and his colleague, John Sharples, decided after riding the route themselves, that it would be a great idea to organise an event to Gamkaskloof and back as a way of promoting this remote valley. At that stage, Wikus and John were still government officials working for Cape Nature. In 1996 Wikus left Cape Nature and started an environmental consultancy called EcoBound, with mountain-bike eventing as a small sideshow, and To Hell & Back the only event in the portfolio at that stage.
The limit on the number of participants still remains the same today. The secret to experiencing the soul of the event, is to tour and not race the scenic 120km, over the two days. It is known as the longest mountain pass in South Africa, the road either going up or coming down. The sheer remoteness of Gamkaskloof, no electricity, no cell reception, no TV, not even radio reception creates a unique wilderness atmosphere at the overnight stop in The Hell.

To Hell & back

The original. The legend. Since 1995.
2

days

120

km

3,750

up

3/5
  • South Africa
  • recreational tour, stage race
  • maximum 350 participants
  • E-MTB participation options unknown
  • date 2020 unknown
  • date 2021 unknown
  • www.tohellandback.co.za
CS Lewis said that ‘the road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.’ In this case, the road to the Hell is a rocky dirt road with steep slopes, sharp switchbacks, ups and downs, dropping a hair raising 3000 feet down into a valley. This race proudly is the first MTB stage race in South Africa.
To hell & back Placeholder
To hell & back
To hell & back (overlay) Placeholder
To hell & back (overlay)
Die Hel (The Hell) is the colloquial name for a remote green valley in the Swartberg mountains. Twenty-five kilometres long and half-a-kilometre wide, the valley was once home to a thriving community of self-sustaining farmers whose only access to the outside world was a sketchy bridle path on the western end of the Gamkaskloof and the rugged Gamkapoort itself. It was only in 1962 that the first “real” road, and the one used currently, was built into the valley. It remains the only road.
Its twisty hairpins form the route for the infamous there-and-back two-day sojourn that is the To Hell & Back Extreme MTB Tour. It was in 1995 that Wikus Van Der Walt and his colleague, John Sharples, decided after riding the route themselves, that it would be a great idea to organise an event to Gamkaskloof and back as a way of promoting this remote valley. At that stage, Wikus and John were still government officials working for Cape Nature. In 1996 Wikus left Cape Nature and started an environmental consultancy called EcoBound, with mountain-bike eventing as a small sideshow, and To Hell & Back the only event in the portfolio at that stage.
The limit on the number of participants still remains the same today. The secret to experiencing the soul of the event, is to tour and not race the scenic 120km, over the two days. It is known as the longest mountain pass in South Africa, the road either going up or coming down. The sheer remoteness of Gamkaskloof, no electricity, no cell reception, no TV, not even radio reception creates a unique wilderness atmosphere at the overnight stop in The Hell.