This pass follows a spectacular route up the Tseketseke River and gully alongside the Pyramid and the Column. Even though it has similar route details to Mlambonja Pass (see above), the upper grassy slopes are a lot steeper and make this pass feel as if it belongs in the Mnweni area. The beautiful river section and stunning views near the top make this a classic Drakensberg Pass.


Rating:
* * * (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.

Access:
There are many ways to access Fangs Pass but the most direct route would be to hike up to the contour path via the “waterfall route” passing Doreen Falls, Albert Falls and Ribbon Falls and then to follow the contour path for 2 km to the right, descending to the Tseketseke River where the pass starts.

Details:
The distance from the contour path at the base of Tseketseke Pass to the top is 3 km with an altitude gain of 1000m.

Route:
Scramble up past the small waterfall where the contour path crosses the Tseketseke River and follow the intermittent cairns up the river. After about 1 km of boulder-hopping, a clear path veers off to the right (north) of the river and heads up the steep grassy slopes. The path stays on the northern slopes of the pass, climbing higher and higher, until about halfway up the pass. It then contours back to the river and climbs up the steep, small ridge which heads towards a huge boulder in the centre of the pass near the top. It’s simply a steep slog past this boulder and up the final grassy slopes to the top of the pass at 3000m.

Finding the pass from the escarpment:
There is a large gully heading down the edge of the escarpment to the right (southeast) of the Cockade. This is NOT Tseketseke Pass. Tseketseke Pass is a much smaller gully, a little further up the slope to the right (southeast) of this large gully. Just make sure you have the Column on your left when descending the pass and you will be in the correct gully.

Overnight Spots:
Tseketseke Hut is a convenient (though very dilapidated) shelter on the Tseketseke River, 500m upriver from the contour path. It sleeps about 6 people. There is also a small campsite at the point where the contour path crosses the Tseketseke River. As usual, there is plenty of good camping on the escarpment.

Water:
There is a lot of water when boulder-hopping along the river for the first km or so but once the path leaves the river, some small trickles can be found in summer but otherwise the next water is in a river on the escarpment, 100m from the top of Tseketseke Pass.

 

There is a variation to the south of the main gully, which is described here:
www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum/drakenberg-passes-cathedral-peak/55897-tseketseke-pass-south-variation.html

Log in to comment


GerritHuman's Avatar
GerritHuman replied to: #73196 12 Apr 2018 20:58
Wow it is a rare find to have photos of passes nearly 10 years apart.
Thanks for looking for the old photo and sharing it!
Riaang's Avatar
Riaang replied to: #73137 06 Apr 2018 20:15
Would be nice if that could happen at Ships Prow :-)
Spoke101's Avatar
Spoke101 replied to: #73126 05 Apr 2018 22:05

tonymarshall wrote: As the fun part of the VE Berg Trip 2, Intrepid, diverian and tonymarshall did a day trip up and down Tseketseke Pass, combined with felling and ringbarking pine trees in the upper Tsekeseke valley.

The previous day we departed from the hotel hikers parking area, past the stables and into the Tseketseke valley past the Blue Pools. Even low down the valley, there was evidence of flash flood damage from the March 2011 flash flood in the Tseketseke catchment.

We were to stay in the river bed the whole way to the Tseketseke Hut, our overnight spot (except for several detours out of the river to cut pine trees.) Near a large copse of pine trees which we tackled, spectacular views of the Camel, Organ Pipes and Castle Buttress were afforded from the bank above the river. Note the lone pine tree to the right in the photo.

As we approached the Tseketseke Hut from downstream, it was apparent how close the hut (in the centre of the photo below) had come to being destroyed in the flash flood, with the erosion adjacent to and downstream of the hut leaving it on an island.

Below is a view of the upper Tseketseke and Tseketseke Pass from the contour path, with Cleft Peak, Column and Pyramid dominating the skyline.



The next morning we headed upstream, and not far from the hut caught the first sight of the top of the valley and pass. It was to be a day of more boulder hopping.

We stayed in the boulder bed until about 2550 m where we found a trail on the left (southern) bank which followed the grass slope to the top of the pass at 3000 m. A view down Tseketseke Pass.


First post here, and thought I'd revive an old thread. Really found this pic interesting because I have great memories of coming down Tseketseke in late 2008 so I decided to do some digging and found this gem of a pic taken form nearly the same spot. The two pic's show resulting effect of the flood on the pass.

Riaang's Avatar
Riaang replied to: #72520 27 Dec 2017 12:14
Easy or difficult is of course very relative (dependent on things like fitness levels, experience, temperature, weather etc.), but for the sake of benchmarking, we took a complete novice hiker (who was very unfit) up Tseke pass earlier this year, in perfect weather, and he completed it in 3h45min, so in my opinion a day seems overly conservative. In mist it would take longer and route finding could be a bit more tricky, but as stated there is a "path" on the true left (on your right as you ascend the pass). It starts at the bottom waterfall section, and you climb out of the river bed and onto the enbankment.

There is definitely a few dodgy places on this route, on one particular section you walk very close to the edge and should the ground give way (it is unstable close to the edges, especially when water logged) then you are in for a nasty slide down the walls into the riverbed about 20m or so below.

I found Tseke to be a really nice pass, lots of varied terrain to keep things interesting with a grassy section the last 300m or so to the top. Unlike something like Ifidi which has miles of rock hopping right to the top, and 3 climbing sections to boot in the last 100m to the top of the pass.

Other than the timeframe allocated for this pass the lessons learnt are all very valid points. Fully agreed on the lack of clear paths here. Last hike here a few months ago was in the mist and if you don't know where to go or don't have a gps track then climbing out of the riverbed it is difficult to see the path. Is it just my imagination or are the paths in the (especially lower) berg becoming more overgrown? Did a hike in Moncs Cowl 2 weeks ago and on the North side of Newmans' ridhe there were long stretches where the contour path is completely overgrown. Would be interesting in the mist.........
Dave's Avatar
Dave replied to: #72516 24 Dec 2017 13:50
Tseketseke is not an easy pass, but, for general reference, please note that, after the riverbed, there is a path which begins on the right-hand side (true left) and goes all the way up, as described in Tony's write-up here . As with similar passes such as Leslie's and Ship's Prow, the rocky riverbed requires care and some independent navigation, though, as far as I remember, there are cairns at all the critical points. Tseke can be done in half a day (6 hours or less) if you're relatively fit.
brettross32's Avatar
brettross32 replied to: #72513 21 Dec 2017 12:37
We have just completed Tsekitseki pass top to bottom. A few points worth noting. The grass section even though steep was very managable and required good balance and trust on boot grip. The first rock section can be misleading with few markers. We went left (north side) only to find a shear drop off. We traversed right approximately 20m and found a trail with markers and headed into the river rock section. Beware of staying or descending next to embankments. One of our tream was lucky to get away with just a bruised thigh when she dislodged a boulder with her hand. Rocks are unstable in the river section and all 5 of our group lost balance and fell a few times down the pass.
About 500m from the hut the markers run out but keep going down till you reach a timber cross marker and the stone markers re appear. From the hut to the path connecting to the contour path is about 500m just past the collapsed river bank on the south side of the river bed. Look for the stone markers leading to a cleared camp area in the bush. Worth noting is more than one path leading off through the bush. These paths are very over grown and it is important that you dont select the wrong path and get lost walking in circles. Spend a few minutes checking out which track is the right one before dragging the while group with you.

Lessons learned.
Take enough drinking water from the top to last for at least 3 + hours.
Don’t under estimate the time it will take to do this pass (one day from the top to the little berg is a safe estimate )
Concerntrate on your foot positions. Nothing is stable and minor falls could result in a twisted ancle or worse.
Stay together as a group within visual sight.
Our 10m rope came in handy when we needed to drop our packs over a steep section rather than climb down with packs on your back.

We have done Shipsprow pass more than 21 years ago, but having done this pass (even though way shorter and less height drop) rates well up there as one of the toughest and demanding decents I have done with a full load. Don’t attempt this if you are not physically and mentally up to the challenge. The views of the rock spires and cliffs around the pass are spectacular but know the price you need to pay in blood sweat and tears when attempting this pass
tonymarshall's Avatar
tonymarshall replied to: #65158 21 Sep 2015 06:59
The trail crosses the stream at S 28° 59.537 E 29° 09.962 to the true right, and in the photo below the group can be seen ascending from the stream crossing on the left (true right) of the stream.



The photo below is taken from the same point as the previous photo, back downstream to the stream crossing. When heading upstream the crossing is very obvious, but when heading downstream it is not so easy to find, and there is a bit of a false trail staying on the true right, so look out carefully for the correct trail.



The trail keeps to the true right up to the top of the pass, with several zig zag sections.





The top of Tseketseke Pass with the distinct trail.



A gps map of the route, showing the salient points, with our track of the pass descent.

tonymarshall's Avatar
tonymarshall replied to: #65157 21 Sep 2015 06:56
Further to the previous two pages or so of posts relating to the Tseketseke Pass trail, during the VE Berg Trip 7 on the last weekend in August, six VE members, intrepid, Andrew P, Viking, smurfatefrog, Lorinda and tonymarshall, part ascended (we summited via Tseketseke Pass South variation) and descended Tseketseke Pass, taking particular note of the trail on the pass.

We had walked in up the Tseketseke valley the previous day, past the Blue Pools. There is a trail from the turnoff up the Tseketseke valley from the main path to Mlambonja Pass, up the Tseketseke valley to the vicinity of the Blue Pools. Further upstream the trail vanishes, but it is easy enough to boulder hop on the boulders of the stream bed. This is necessary all the way upstream to the Contour Path crossing of the Tseketseke River, and further upstream to the Tseketseke Hut.

Upstream of the Tseketseke Hut there is a trail developing in the wide boulder bed of the river, but if you miss it just keep following the boulder bed upstream. The developing trail isn’t strong and comes and goes a lot. Heading upstream, a small remaining cluster of ring barked dead and dying pine trees is visible on the left (true right) of the stream, and it is necessary to stay in the boulder bed to just past this cluster of pine trees before the pass trail begins. The pine tree cluster is approximately 1 km upsteam of the Tseketseke Hut, and the beginning of the trail about 100 m upsteam of the pine tree cluster.

Since our group ascended and descended the trail, I have combined photos below from both directions to show the detail of the trail, although I will describe the route heading upstream up the pass.

We took a break where the trail starts, and filled up with water as the trail leaves the stream here and the stream was dry when we crossed it again higher upstream (although in summer there should be water at the upstream crossing). The photo below shows the gully exit from the stream, at the start of the trail on the right (true left) of the stream, with the exit from the stream bed at the right of the photo. The gps co ordinates of the stream exit to the trail are (WGS84) S 28° 59.540 E 29° 10.059 at 2255 m. The stream exit is marked with cairns.



Just upstream of the trail exit, looking back downstream to the pine tree cluster, which is a useful marker to judge the position of the trail exit. We have ring barked all of the trees now, so hopefully they will soon all be dead.



The group heading up the trail on the true left.



Higher up the trail with Column in the background.



Further upstream the trail comes back into the stream bed as the stream crossing is approached.

ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #63690 08 May 2015 21:32
Just a thought - Hi-Tec just got me to fill in a survey for an article they are writing. My response to one question was that people often use a standard gear list, but often don't know how to use the gear. A classic example of this is a space blanket, and there is a detailed thread where AndrewP shared some gems about how to survive an emergency bivy. A thread on how to set up a backup belay off limited gear might be useful as well.

This is what I did for the belay shown above - I would like feedback from the climbers on the forum as to the correctness of my technique:
1) I tested the only suitable rock by giving it a good kick, push and seeing if I could get it to budge in any way. It was solid
2) I used a triple fishermans knot to make a loop in the end of my rope.
3) The rock didn't have any form of catch to get the rope around, there was a small notch in the rock which held the rope in place, so this was used.
4) Before anyone went, I pulled down with all my weight on the end of the rope to see if the knot and rope placement was solid. It was.
5) I tied the other end of the rope into a rope harness. I would usually use a sling, but didn't have one on this occasion.
6) Everyone was instructed not to fall as the system would only stop them from hitting the ground, but a rope harness will give you a monster wedgy!
7) After the rope harness was put onto the first person, a locking biner and belay device was attached to an overhand knot tied just past the anchor (if put through the loop, a fall would just pull the loop around the rock loose). Standard belay procedure was followed (with the normal command words).

No one fell, so the system was never tested, but I rate this precaution was necessary. A watercourse can be slippery...

I rate that a few sessions at a climbing gym is a good idea for all hikers. Even if just to learn some basic knots, how to belay and also how to secure an anchor (although that would be best learned at a crag).

A harness can be improvised on the end of a rope, although a sling is slightly better (I have abseiled off a sling improvised harness once, it was painful, but did the trick). A munter hitch can be used in place of a belay device. But, to the best of my knowledge, you can't get away without a caribiner. And the biner must always be a locker as ropes do funny things when you load them!

Important notes on gear:
- Don't use hardware biners, only use climbing biners which you buy from a climbing shop.
- Only use locking biners.
- The rope you use must be suitable for a belay device. "Outdoor rope" as sold by Mr Price Sport/Dischem etc doesn't bite on a belay device and isn't rated to stop a fall. Buy this from a shop that sells climbing gear and make sure the salesperson does climbing themself before you take their advice. I often hear "I'm sure it's fine" or "of course it will work for that" from people who have no clue what they are talking about. I personally will only buy the rope I use for things like this from either Bush 'n Bundu (with Cesar as the salesperson) or Mountain Mail Order (which is a climbing gym) and with them confirming that it is suitable for improvised abseils or belay.
- I use 8mm access chord for this. This is rated to take a large amount of weight, but is not a climbing rope, so it isn't designed to take falls.
- Never buy rope second hand. If it takes a major impact, inspect it before using it again. If it takes a few big impacts, replace it.
- Replace it every 5 years
- You need 20m of rope for a relatively short belay. 20m sounds like a lot, but the harness uses 2m, the anchor could easily use 5m if it is a big solid rock and could easily be 5m from the obstacle. If it is 10m or higher, you really shouldn't be using a system like this, so more than 20m is probably overkill.

As mentioned above - I would appreciate feedback on the above from the guys who are more experienced with these kind of system.
andrew r's Avatar
andrew r replied to: #63679 08 May 2015 12:49
Good pic; the bank on the true left of the steps we came down is very loose and the waterfall is likely to change again with the next significant rain, especially if it undercuts the large overhead boulder. This is probably irrelevant, as it seems that the high-route on river-left used by DeonS and others is the way to go as it skirts both waterfalls.
ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #63676 08 May 2015 10:38
A photo of downclimbing the upper waterfall (with our high angle rescue team member handling the belay)


(Photo by Martin)
Neil Margetts's Avatar
Neil Margetts replied to: #63660 06 May 2015 13:39
Hi

Not sure if this is repeated information, but you can pass both waterfalls on the true left (facing downstream), there is a trail there and this is much easier with no climbing involved. On the way up just before the first waterfall you see cairns going right, and on the way down you will see cairns leading left across the river bed about 50m above the big rock bivi site. We saw a party go down the wrong way last weekend, this may well be the same group mentioned in this post.

Neil
intrepid's Avatar
intrepid replied to: #63656 06 May 2015 09:02

tonymarshall wrote: When intrepid and I were up on the slopes below Cleft Peak last year cutting pines (when the waterfall photos were taken on our return down to the hut), we thought we could see a trail developing across the valley on the true left side in the mid section of the pass. Would that be the trail you used Deon?

On our ascent of Column last week we used this "new" trail. At "the waterfall" we clambered up the true left slope and got onto it right away, thus bypassing the waterfall totally. We stayed on this trail all the way up to the bivvy rock (more or less where the flowing water ends). You can thus effectively bypass a lot of the more clambery bits of the gully. Having done this trail now, there was one part of it which I distinctly remember on an ascent of the pass some 10 years ago (before the flood), thus some parts of this trail are not entirely new. On our way down we followed the trail all the way down to almost directly opposite the VE pine tree site. Went very quickly.
ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #63592 03 May 2015 16:45

andrew r wrote: Will wait for Ghaz to comment when he gets back.


I think I will need to recover from the epic day that was yesterday before I am in state of mind to reply :laugh:

Warning: Spoiler! [ Click to expand ]
tonymarshall's Avatar
tonymarshall replied to: #63590 02 May 2015 07:49
Yes, Andrew, I also thought so, one of your other photos showed your camp was just upstream of the last cluster of pines we need to finish off in the valley, whereas your photo above shows the area just downstream of the trees on the true right, but certainly not far out.

The trail intrepid and I saw was quite a bit away from/higher up than the stream gully.
DeonS's Avatar
DeonS replied to: #63589 02 May 2015 05:56
Andrew, I actually followed your tracks right down past the sleeping area and down into a side stream, from there I walked back up the stream again to were I showed them to cross into the stream. It was much easier to walk in the stream bed than actually follow your trail as the trail in the stream seems to follow the true right hand side early on, and then bounces around left and right. I do remember that the last time we came down here we were more on the true right hand side of the stream, but that was years ago before the flood and it was in mist so I could be mistaken about the precise path.
andrew r's Avatar
andrew r replied to: #63587 01 May 2015 19:52
I may have shown the sleeping spot a bit far down the pass, in which case DeonS may have entered the riverbed down the same side gully as we did...
(The trail must be a lot higher up the side of the slope than where we were traversing :ohmy: )

Will wait for Ghaz to comment when he gets back.
tonymarshall's Avatar
tonymarshall replied to: #63586 01 May 2015 08:27
Thanks Deon, yes that does fit well for the trail intrepid and I saw, and must be the same trail.
DeonS's Avatar
DeonS replied to: #63585 01 May 2015 06:04
Tony, looking at the photo posted by Andrew r showing the terrace where they slept - the path crosses back into the river about 50m above their sleeping area, we did build a cairn here as we first ended up in their terrace before realizing and back tracked to the crossing. Hope it helps,

This image is hidden for guests.

DeonS's Avatar
DeonS replied to: #63584 01 May 2015 05:50
Yes it could be, as it was well established but a bit overgrown but clearly have been used recently as we could see clear shoe prints that looked like gumboots. It started on the true right then crossed over the stream to the true left and then goes into the stream bed. From there you stay in the stream bed till at the hut.
tonymarshall's Avatar
tonymarshall replied to: #63583 30 Apr 2015 14:24
When intrepid and I were up on the slopes below Cleft Peak last year cutting pines (when the waterfall photos were taken on our return down to the hut), we thought we could see a trail developing across the valley on the true left side in the mid section of the pass. Would that be the trail you used Deon?
DeonS's Avatar
DeonS replied to: #63572 30 Apr 2015 06:16
Hi Guys, I just came down the Pass on Tuesday, with two clients and must have taken a different route as I did not have to climb down any waterfalls and had a ocergrown but clear path to follow on the grassy slope, did mist the crossing from the slope into the river and had to bunhu bash to get back down into the river. Ghaznavid I must have been following in your foot steps as we could see foot prints in the loose sand.
ghaznavid's Avatar
ghaznavid replied to: #63555 28 Apr 2015 21:13
The top waterfall looks the same - we downclimbed this one (lowering packs and with a support belay off a rope tied harness - took almost 2 hours to get the entire team down). The line we used the same line that Chris used in your photos. It is still ok, but the rocks true left of the route is very crumbly and felt like they might collapse on us if we pulled on them.

I don't recognise the second waterfall - it could be that I only saw it from above (sadly I didn't get a photo), but what I remember was higher, had a lot of water going over it and a big pool below. We tried to bypass the large waterfall by a trail on the true left bank, but the trail had been washed away, so it took us to a big drop, forcing us to backtrack, and eventually take a much higher (and dangerous feeling) loose grass bank - higher than the trail - I hoped to find the usual grass ledges high up, but there wasn't one this time. I find that it is safer to go higher as you have more time to react if you fall, and it is usually less steep higher up. It is possible that we missed the waterfall in your photo as we missed about 200m of the riverbed when traversing the ledge, and that you found a way around the waterfall that stumped us, but we either didn't notice the route around, or it is no longer there.

I don't think this pass has a great future, unless someone can find a route around the middle section, or the collapsing of the rocks around the waterfalls has the effect of making them more passable.

It is really just those 2 obstacles that make the pass difficult - the rest of the pass is pretty straightforward. Just stay in the riverbed till about 2650m, then find the trail on the true right bank and follow it to the top - not that complicated...

Here is the spot where we were forced off the trail into the riverbed (with the trail leading to a washaway)



Here's AndrewR helping with the lowering of packs to the side of the waterfall, while the rest of the team downclimbs the waterfall (out of frame)


Ps. I rate you could probably climb up or down by where we lowered packs, but from above this is not obvious.
tonymarshall's Avatar
tonymarshall replied to: #63554 28 Apr 2015 19:54
On all the occasions I have done the route we have upclimbed/downclimbed both waterfalls as it was easier than finding an alternative route out to one of the sides.

Last year on the VE Berg Trip, intrepid and I came down the waterfall section and downclimbed both waterfalls; I got these shots of intrepid descending after I had already downclimbed each of the waterfalls.

This is the upstream waterfall, where you climb in the water.



This one is going to be a big headache with a few more years of erosion.



The downstream waterfall can be bypassed on the true right by using a rock slope with good hand and footholds,





and then traversing across next the pool at the base of the waterfall on a narrow ledge.



Do these waterfalls still look the same, or have they got worse?
sibr's Avatar
sibr replied to: #63553 28 Apr 2015 16:51
here are some updated Photos of the pass