An attempt at breaking the speed record of the Grand Traverse was aborted at Organ Pipes Pass due to the first major snowfall in the Drakensberg of the season. The group attempting the record took shelter in one of the Ndumeni Caves and were rescued by helicopter the following morning.

The Grand Traverse is the ultimate hiking challenge in the Drakensberg, extending 240km along the escarpment of the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg. Most hikers complete this traverse over two weeks, but a small group of people compete for the speed record which was set at 4 days 9 hours 39 minutes in 1999. Referred to as the Maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Challenge, several unsuccessful attempts at breaking the record have been made since.

The group of three, Gina Walsh, Nic Shaw and Deon Chiesman, set out on their attempt on Saturday, April 19. They over-nighted near Ntonjelana Pass and endured three thunderstorms during which two of the bivy bags they were using leaked causing their down sleeping bags to become very wet.

Just after passing Organ Pipes Pass, rain set in which started to turn into snow. Because of the wet sleeping bags, the group decided to abort the attempt and tried to descend Organ Pipes Pass but could not due to poor visibility. They took shelter in one of the Ndumeni Caves near the top of the Ndumeni Dome, a decision which saved them. They survived a very cold night with some snow blowing into the cave even. About a meter of snow fell on the escarpment at places.

The following morning members of the MCSA rescue team set out to bring them dry clothing and sleeping bags but a few hours later an Oryx helicopter was dispatched to rescue the three, bringing them down safely.

Further details are available on the team’s website: www.drakensberg-adventure.com and their associated blog.

At Vertical Endeavour we keenly feel the challenge of the Grand Traverse and wish the team all the best on their next attempt!

We have a dedicated section on the Grand Traverse for more detailed information.

{mos_fb_discuss:8}

Log in to comment


ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #66531 18 Jan 2016 18:45
AndrewP's Avatar
AndrewP replied to: #64125 03 Jun 2015 14:19
Hi guys

Thanks for all the support, encouragement and such like. Some of you seem to have spent as much time and energy following the dot as I put into the GT itself.

I will get around to a proper write up at some stage. At the moment though, I am back in Gauteng and just about everything I own is still in KZN, so please bear with me for a few days.

I will say that I am happy with my time and am in one piece even though I am a little stiff and sore in places.

I am not sure yet of the cumulated ascent or descent for the route but my GPS showed 202 km at the finish (the escarpment is shorter than the Jarateng by a good few km, but the extra ridges are some hard work)
AdventureLisa's Avatar
AdventureLisa replied to: #64124 03 Jun 2015 10:41
Any idea yet of Andrew's exact total distance and accumulative elevation gain and loss?
elinda's Avatar
elinda replied to: #64119 03 Jun 2015 06:10
Stijn's Avatar
Stijn replied to: #64118 02 Jun 2015 22:07
So well done Andrew! Glad you finally had that "perfect" run, as elusive as it may seem ;)
ASL's Avatar
ASL replied to: #64111 02 Jun 2015 13:18
:silly: insane effort this!!!

It's got to be so much harder on your own. Well done Andrew!

I'm very keen to read your race report... :cheer:
CornelvHeerden's Avatar
CornelvHeerden replied to: #64110 02 Jun 2015 12:54
Wow, what an achievement! Truly inspirational stuff guys! There cannot be a lot of people who knows the DGT that well, and be that fast! Huge congrats to Andrew.
ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #64107 02 Jun 2015 12:15
Just got a call from Andrew - final time was 45h08

He is chilling with a book at Witsieshoek right now.
ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #64106 02 Jun 2015 11:42

tonymarshall wrote: Ghaz, do you mean a Calendar year or any 365 day period?


Calendar year - I know a few people have finished a GT within 365 days of each other.

My wording is "finish" specifically as Andrew did over half of the slow GT in 2014.
Sabine's Avatar
Sabine replied to: #64105 02 Jun 2015 11:27
Well done, Andrew. Excellent effort to do solo!!
tonymarshall's Avatar
tonymarshall replied to: #64103 02 Jun 2015 09:40
Congratulations on an awesome effort Andrew.

Ghaz, do you mean a Calendar year or any 365 day period?



ghaznavid wrote:
He might also be the first person ever to finish 2 GTs in a year.

HFc's Avatar
HFc replied to: #64102 02 Jun 2015 09:03
Well done to Andrew. I feel exhausted just thinking how hard this must have been.

The weather window was timed well, I did read that he finished in mist, but a day later and this would have been really tough. Tuesday morning and the weather has gone bad here in the Central Berg (and from what I understand, to get worse as the day progresses, especially to the North).

Well timed indeed.
john mark 1's Avatar
john mark 1 replied to: #64101 02 Jun 2015 09:01

Set the time zone to Johannesburg by editing your profile:
www.vertical-endeavour.com/profile/userdetails.html (Login Details tab)
It should be using SA time as a default but for some reason it isn't for some members. Hoping this will be fixed in upcoming software updates.


Shot Intrepid.
ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #64100 02 Jun 2015 08:47

intrepid wrote: Can anyone confirm the exact official time?

I suspect Andrew won't surface before midday today - if I hear anything from him, I will let you know.

So Andrew now holds 5 GT records (that I know of):
1) Fastest overall solo GT
2) Fastest S-N GT
3) Fastest solo S-N GT
4) Fastest solo N-S GT
5) Most khulus bagged on a GT

He might also be the first person ever to finish 2 GTs in a year.

GT records that Andrew doesn't hold:
1) Fastest overall time (41h47)
2) Fastest group time (41h47)
3) Youngest to complete a GT (15 years old)
4) Oldest individual to complete a GT (not sure, but about 60 I think)
5) Fastest female time
6) Fastest mixed group time
7) Longest GT in days (37 days?)
8) Longest GT in kms (549km?)
9) Most GTs completed by one person (10?)

Anyone know of any that I have missed out?

I rate we should have a list of the GT records posted somewhere on the site. Even perhaps overall Berg records - e.g. Mnweni Marathon record (not limited to within the race), Mafadi speed record etc. The rules of each should be included in the thread.
intrepid's Avatar
intrepid replied to: #64099 02 Jun 2015 08:21
Can anyone confirm the exact official time?
intrepid's Avatar
intrepid replied to: #64098 02 Jun 2015 08:15

john mark 1 wrote: Ah, now I see its set on GM time. :silly:

Set the time zone to Johannesburg by editing your profile:
www.vertical-endeavour.com/profile/userdetails.html (Login Details tab)
It should be using SA time as a default but for some reason it isn't for some members. Hoping this will be fixed in upcoming software updates.
Viking's Avatar
Viking replied to: #64096 02 Jun 2015 08:07
Outstanding Andrew!!
john mark 1's Avatar
john mark 1 replied to: #64095 02 Jun 2015 08:05

Wow, looks like half the VE forum doesn't bother sleeping at night :lol:


Ah, now I see its set on GM time. :silly:
john mark 1's Avatar
john mark 1 replied to: #64094 02 Jun 2015 07:59
Wow, looks like half the VE forum doesn't bother sleeping at night :lol:

Awesome achievement Andrew! Big time respect.
intrepid's Avatar
intrepid replied to: #64093 02 Jun 2015 07:58
Nice one Andrew, you worked hard for it!
PeterHowells's Avatar
PeterHowells replied to: #64091 02 Jun 2015 07:28
Phenomenal. Well done.
diverian's Avatar
diverian replied to: #64089 02 Jun 2015 07:18
Inspirational !
Papa Dragon's Avatar
Papa Dragon replied to: #64088 02 Jun 2015 07:16
Congratulations on an excellent run Andrew!!
Murray's Avatar
Murray replied to: #64087 02 Jun 2015 07:04
Congratulations Andrew!
Smurfatefrog's Avatar
Smurfatefrog replied to: #64086 02 Jun 2015 06:53
Mad respect Andrew! I rate this much higher than a 2 man 42 hour GT