This is the easiest pass in the Cathedral Peak area and is very convenient to access the escarpment in a short weekend hike. The climb along the ridge gives great views of both the Cathedral and Cathkin ridges and the Old Fire Lookout must be one of the best settings for a hut in the entire Drakensberg. This pass is great to use during your first trip to the escarpment due to its relative ease and easy navigation.
* * * (4/10)
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.
Organ Pipes Pass is most directly accessed from the top of Mike’s Pass. The Organ Pipes Ridge leaves the contour path 3.5 km to the left (south) of the Mike’s Pass path.
The distance from the contour path to Windy Gap at the top of Organ Pipes Pass is 7 km with an altitude gain of 900m.
The path stays at the crest of the ridge after leaving the contour path at The Nek. After a steep climb, the Old Fire Lookout is passed and the path continues straight up the ridge going up and down over the hills on the way. The path then contours on the right-hand (northern) side of the ridge before zigzagging up to the crest of the ridge again just below the escarpment cliffs. The path then contours below the escarpment cliffs for about 1 km before descending steeply into the final gully of Organ Pipes Pass. From here, follow the steep, eroded path for about 100m in altitude to Windy Gap at the top of the Pass at 3000m.
Finding the pass from the escarpment:
The biggest gully heading over the escarpment edge between Cleft Peak and Ndumeni Dome is Organ Pipes Pass. It is marked with a clear path and a large cairn.
The Old Fire Lookout is perfectly situated near the base of the ridge as an overnight stop on the ascent although the water tank is usually empty in winter. The Ndumeni Caves are 2 small shelters found about 50m down Thuthumi Pass, 500m from Windy Gap. Roland’s Cave is a great cave right on the edge of the escarpment above Thuthumi Pass but a very narrow ledge has to be negotiated to reach it. There are many good camping spots on the escarpment itself.
The water tank at the Old Fire Lookout has got water in it for most of the year excluding winter (since the time of writing, this tank has collapsed). There are also a couple of streams crossing the path when contouring below the escarpment cliffs. Water can also be found in a river on the escarpment, 500m from Windy Gap.