This pass is one of the more difficult passes in the Cathedral Peak area but is still used quite often. This is probably due to the fact that it is the most direct route to the escarpment from the hotel, has a large and comfortable cave at it s top (Twins cave) and is often used as the third day of a popular weekend route between Mlambonja Pass and Organ Pipes Pass.
* * * (6/10)
Difficulty of the pass is rated from 1-10 (10 being very difficult, only to be attempted by the fit and experienced). A subjective quality rating is indicated by the number of stars (1 being low, 5 being the highest). Factors such as scenic beauty and overall experience come into play here, which may differ from person to person.
The base of Mlambonja Pass can be reached from the Cathedral Peak Hotel by heading up the Mlambonja valley and climbing up the ridge which gets you to the contour path. Mlambonja Pass starts 2 km right (west) along the contour path when the path rejoins the Mlambonja River.
The distance from the contour path at the base of Mlambonja Pass to its summit is 3 km with an altitude gain of 1000m.
Where the contour path crosses the Mlambonja River, there are some cairns marking the path up the Mlambonja Pass along the river itself. The path is very vague and overgrown at first but as long as you keep climbing up along the river, you are on the right route. About 500m (in distance) up the river, the path heads up a small ridge on the left (south) side of the river. Reaching the top of the ridge, it contours to the right and descends quite steeply back to the main river just above a waterfall. From this point onwards, the path follows the river until the steep grassy slopes near the top of the pass are reached. It then follows an easier line of wide zigzags all the way to the top of the pass at 3000m.
Finding the pass from the escarpment:
The top of Mlambonja Pass is well-marked by 3 cairns and is situated at a high point on the edge of the escarpment, just south of where the Cathedral Range joins the escarpment.
There is no good camping near the base of the pass except on a contour path ridge about 1 km before the pass itself. This campsite is, however, very exposed to wind and lightning. Twins cave is very roomy cave with good shelter and is situated about 100m in altitude below the top of Mlambonja Pass. To reach it, turn right off the main path to cross over the saddle between the Twins and the escarpment. A faint path then descends down the other end of the saddle and Twins cave can be found about 50m to the right (east) of this saddle. There are many good camping spots on the escarpment itself.
In Summer, there is water in the river all the way up the pass until the grassy slopes are reached just past the halfway mark. The next water can be found in the Kwakwatsi River on the escarpment, about 500m from the top of Mlambonja Pass.
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