If you're keen to start doing some rock passes in the berg, this is probably the pass to start with. It's relatively short and quite easy to access from both Injasuti and Giant's Castle in a day. The scrambles on the pass are fairly easy and there is no exposure to worry about at all. There is no path to speak of but the route finding is quite straightforward due to the narrow gully one has to follow. This is another great pass to use for an ascent of Mafadi and is much more interesting than it's neighbors (Bannerman and Langalibalele).

Rating:
* * * (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.

Access:
From Injasuti, it's about 15 km to the base of Corner Pass. Climb the grueling hill to the Centenary Hut and follow the contour path for about 4 km to the south until you cross the river coming from the obvious, narrow gully higher up. From Giant's Castle, head up to Bannerman Hut and continue north along the contour path for another 4 km to get to the same spot.

Details:
The distance from the contour path to the pass summit is about 2 km with an altitude gain of 650 m.

Route:
The contour path climbs up a ridge along the river for about 200 m in the Corner Pass valley. At the point where it swings left again on the contour, leave the path and head up towards the narrow gully high up in the basalt cliffs above you. We stayed just above the river on the left (south) banks until they became hilly enough to force us into the river. Cross the river near a waterfall and head straight up a ridge dividing the river in two. This ridge takes you directly to the start of the steep, narrow gully filled with large boulders. All that remains is to stay in this gully and follow it right to the top of the pass at 3100 m. There are 3 short (3 m) scrambles in the narrow gully. They are slightly more tricky with packs on so if you are struggling, have your pack passed up for an easier ascent. Once you've climbed up the last chimney, you reach the top about 50m higher up.

Finding the pass from the escarpment:
Head to the edge of the escarpment just south of Corner Peak. Just below the last rocky band on the upper slopes of the peak, a small cairn indicates the way down the steep gully.

Overnight Spots:
There are some very rough camping spots at the contour path level on the ridge which the contour path ascends. The escarpment itself has loads of space to camp.

Water:
The river flowing down the pass is fairly strong until just before heading into the final gully. There is also a river on the escarpment about 1 km into Lesotho from the top of the pass.

 

Forum Post:

More info on Corner Pass can be found here:

www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum/11-drakensberg-passes/86-corner-pass.html

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Serious tribe's Avatar
Serious tribe replied to: #76727 13 Apr 2021 12:56
Certainly don't want to be in the pass when it is 'rearranging' itself!

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  My first overnight was a 2 day up Zeni and across the Cathedral traverse back to the Hotel.  Also was quite a start for me, but loved it som much, still hiking 30 years later

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Riaang's Avatar
Riaang replied to: #76724 13 Apr 2021 11:31
Tony,

I like your photos of Corner pass in the mist. It's how it often looks for a number of months in the year, so a very realistic portrayal of what hikers will find.
I love this pass. Was my first pass in the Berg (talk about a shock for an unfit newbie!) so it holds a special place in my heart. Ascending from the contour path is not to be taken lightly, this pass makes you work for every centimeter of altitude gain :-) I've done all the variations numerous times in all kinds of different weather, still can't decide which I prefer, although I would probably have to concede that when feeling unfit I prefer the NHA :-)

Do I hear this pass calling me back again?
tonymarshall's Avatar
tonymarshall replied to: #76714 12 Apr 2021 03:45
During my descent of Corner Pass on the Easter weekend, I noticed that the rocks above the lower waterfall scramble (the chockstone) have been rearranged from how they previously were.

The previous arrangement can be seen in the photo vivo 101 used in his earlier post, and in the two photos below from when I did Corner Pass in June 2016 with Harry and Ruan. 

 


There is now a long, thin rock perched at an angle above the chockstone, as seen in the two photos below from this Easter weekend.

The photo below is from above the chockstone looking down, with the long, thin rock above the chockstone and scramble very visible. 



The photo below is a view up the scramble from below the scramble and chockstone, with the rock showing above the chockstone. 



This rock has not affected or changed the character of the scramble at all, I am just showing it as an example of a natural change over the years at a specific place in a specific pass.
tonymarshall's Avatar
tonymarshall replied to: #76702 10 Apr 2021 03:34
On the Saturday of the Easter weekend I did an ascent of Around the Corner Pass and descent of Corner Pass, from and back to the contour path as part of a three day hike at Giants Castle. 

Previously I had ascended Corner Pass twice, both times via the Northern High Approach, so I was pleased to be able to do the contour path approach, and also a descent of Corner Pass after the ascent of Around the Corner Pass - even though it was without a pack. 

It was misty and wet, so unfortunately with the limited visibility I could not get photos of the view to Corner Pass from the contour path, or photos with much background. The terrain was fairly straight forward, just going up (and later back down) the valley of the stream coming down Corner Pass. There is no trail, and I ended up doing a variety of the grass side slopes next to the stream, or the boulder bed in or near the stream, whichever was easiest, and there were no obstacles or difficult sections at all from the contour path to the base of the passes. 

Below are some photos of the terrain of the contour path approach to the base of Corner Pass and Around the Corner Pass. Apologies again for the limited background in the photos due to the mist.   









It seems that most hikers doing Corner Pass are now using the Northern High Approach path, and not the contour path approach. 

I have done a write up with photos of the ascent of Around the Corner Pass on the topic Around the Corner Pass.
vivo101's Avatar
vivo101 replied to: #74090 04 Oct 2018 09:06
There is a water source (river) in the escarpment valley just below the summit cave. Water was flowing steadily in mid-winter.
Brueton's Avatar
Brueton replied to: #74089 04 Oct 2018 07:50
Thanks all. Great info. 

Is there a water source close to summit cave? 
vivo101's Avatar
vivo101 replied to: #74080 02 Oct 2018 12:57


@ Brueton I agree with all that has been said thus far. The photo shows the choke stone you need to get over, with the route on the right (black arrow). We also did the route in thick snow and I had to climb it without protection in order to get the rope up (It was very dodgy as you're feet has no grip on the Icy rocks as mentioned already). There is also the fact that it took us as a group of 6 nearly 60min to haul all the packs and people over it, all the while you stand in icy wind in the shade. The pass also has a small chimney at its top , where we once again had to haul packs and people, as there was no proper footholds in the chimney. If i recall correctly it took us nearly 5 hours to do the pass ( entering from the northern high approach).  So I would also suggest rather opting form Judges. Also do not underestimate the walk from the pass summit to Injasuti Summit cave (If you are sleeping there), it is quite a slog in the snow, so leave early if you are sleeping at centenary hut.  
supertramp's Avatar
supertramp replied to: #74079 02 Oct 2018 11:41
Having done that choke stone twice during inclement weather (once with Riaang in super icy conditions and the other during a rain storm)  I second what Riaang is saying and advise to consider going up Judges (based on your friend's fear of heights & the weather forecast)
Brueton's Avatar
Brueton replied to: #74077 02 Oct 2018 09:58
I'm thinking from what you sayimg that with the forecast to rather go for Judges.  
A person with a fear of heights is real and it would be way worse to get there and have to turn back. 
Thx 
Brueton's Avatar
Brueton replied to: #74075 02 Oct 2018 09:55
Thanks for the great report! 
Riaang's Avatar
Riaang replied to: #74074 02 Oct 2018 09:44
@ Brueton, it's a fairly straight forward and easy climb in good conditions. Not very high with good hand and footholds. However, in inclement weather (i.e. wet rock) things can be a bit more tricky, mostly at the base of the climb. Have done it in snow as well, which make it even trickier as you will struggle to find grip for your boots - my boots kept slipping off the sloping rock. 

If somebody can keep your feet in place by standing below you and you can step on their hands then it's much easier. Still, the risk of slipping and sliding off is real enough - one of the guys in our group unfortunately experienced a slip and slide. Seeing as it is at the base of the chockstone the slide is only about 3m long (and high!) but you can still get injured.

My suggestion is that if you want to go up it, make sure you take some rope to hoist packs and assist people in getting up. You would need somebody in your group that is strong and confident enough to get to the top, then you are ok. However, there is a lot of snow forecasted for the next few days which could make things "interesting". Judges pass is a safer, easier option, and not much further away.
Smurfatefrog's Avatar
Smurfatefrog replied to: #74069 01 Oct 2018 22:49
I suggest reading my report from August for a good idea, I assume you've seen the snow forecast for this week?
www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum/8-drakensberg-hiking/53639-corner-pass-judge-pass,-mafadi,-leslie-s-pass-loop.html?start=60#73835
Brueton's Avatar
Brueton replied to: #74068 01 Oct 2018 21:53
Hi All, 

We attempting Mafadi Peak this coming wend. Injasuthi via Judge or Corner  and down Leslies. 
My question is: how bad is the scramble/climb at the choke stone on Corner pass? One of our crew has a major fear of heights etc? Is it difficult to climb or have some exposed elements? 
Any pics would be great too thanks.  
tonymarshall's Avatar
tonymarshall replied to: #59261 18 Dec 2013 18:10
Our group of seven did the route described by Highlands Fanatic and Selous, and I have done a write up on this as the topic “Corner Pass Northern High Approach”. There is now a strong path on this route.

Regarding the path going out of Corner Pass (to the left when ascending Corner Pass) towards Judge Pass, we saw this path clearly when we were entering Corner Pass from the Northern High Approach, although it unfortunately isn’t that clear in my photos.



The path zig zags up through the rock bands to the left of Corner Pass. Another similar photo to the one above.



In the photo below, the path is visible from above in Corner Pass. As we had planned to do Corner Pass, and were heading northwards along the summit, we were unable to explore this path.



One of our group, Tish (a very experienced berg hiker who I first hiked with almost 20 years ago, but not a VE member), had done this smugglers route in April this year, and described three or four scrambles, similar to the scramble on the Northern High Approach, just shorter and not too difficult. The smugglers route is also a much easier and quicker route to the summit than Corner Pass, and this would explain why it has been established. I have marked up the photo below with the approximate position where this path reaches the summit as described to me by Tish.

SeriousTribe2's Avatar
SeriousTribe2 replied to: #54647 15 Jul 2012 16:16

Thanks RRankin
We found the distinct path for the high approach while on the way up Corner Pass from the contour path on a day walk from Injasuti. It was very misty. On the way back we decided to follow the path. Your picture depict where the path is. Although the path was distinct I used my GPS that had not been calibrated and in the mist I followed the compass bearing away from the path. I regret not staying on the path and following it back to Centenary Hut, but as ST and Plouw have said it was probably better.

Out of interest if you are going up Corner Pass there is another upper contour path that leads of to the left I.e. Towards Judges Pass. Does any body know where this leads. I was under the impression that it might have linked into Judges Pass but when I came down there this weekend I looked out for it but realized that it would be very difficult to contour around the Judges Ridge I also did not see itAny thoughts...?
Regards
Selous


This one can be clearly seen on GE. I also want to know where it heads! Anyone?
Selous's Avatar
Selous replied to: #54628 13 Jul 2012 08:26
Thanks RRankin
Very interesting and thanks for the input.
Regards
Selous
HFc's Avatar
HFc replied to: #54626 13 Jul 2012 05:59
I believe there was a discussion about this on the forum a while back. I do not know anything for certain, but it seems as though there is another route up between Corner and Judge pass. Not the classical type of pass, but rather a diagonal ridge running up from south to north on the rock face. May be easy but will have DFU-zone type exposure. :laugh:

Hearsay though...
Selous's Avatar
Selous replied to: #54617 12 Jul 2012 17:28
Thanks RRankin
We found the distinct path for the high approach while on the way up Corner Pass from the contour path on a day walk from Injasuti. It was very misty. On the way back we decided to follow the path. Your picture depict where the path is. Although the path was distinct I used my GPS that had not been calibrated and in the mist I followed the compass bearing away from the path. I regret not staying on the path and following it back to Centenary Hut, but as ST and Plouw have said it was probably better.

Out of interest if you are going up Corner Pass there is another upper contour path that leads of to the left I.e. Towards Judges Pass. Does any body know where this leads. I was under the impression that it might have linked into Judges Pass but when I came down there this weekend I looked out for it but realized that it would be very difficult to contour around the Judges Ridge I also did not see it
Any thoughts...?
Regards
Selous
HFc's Avatar
HFc replied to: #54616 12 Jul 2012 15:35
The so-called Northern High Approach that you are referring to is quite an exhilirating climb.

But, as others have said, you need to know where to go. The best way to really know this is to have been up the other side as well. In your case you're gonna choose the one or the other....

On this photo, the final part of the northern high approach is shown as the red line.


From the northern side you have to look for the notch in the rockline (can be clearly seen on the photo) and you have to then traverse to the left of this notch into Corner PAss Gully. This is where the exposure and scrambling occurs that ST is talking about. We did it with daypacks many years ago and it was fine, with a multi-day pack it would be a different story. This is actually the route than gives Corner Pass it's reputation. The gully itself is tough too but limited exposure, although solid scrambling skills are required.
Selous's Avatar
Selous replied to: #54614 12 Jul 2012 13:20
Thanks Serious Tribe.

Going to head back and give it bash. Will take photo's and provide feedback of the more difficult areas. Those Basoths are incredible how they do that route at night.

Regards
Selous
Serious tribe's Avatar
Serious tribe replied to: #54613 12 Jul 2012 06:27
Ditto. Cant get lost on it and takes you directly to base of pass. Unless you have a grp of hikers all with a good head for heights and exposure, good route finding and weather, i would say it is safer on the other normal route.
plouw's Avatar
plouw replied to: #54610 11 Jul 2012 13:38
Hi Selous, when we did Corner pass we stuck to the proper contour path, and turned up into corner pass from the bottom. Worked out just fine.
Selous's Avatar
Selous replied to: #54608 11 Jul 2012 08:56
Hi all

Those that have done Corner Pass do you use the Basotho path that leads up from Centenary Hut and then contours much higher up and enters Corner Pass quite high into the Pass or do you go along the lower contour path and enter the pass further down and make your way up?

Regards
Selous
SeriousTribe2's Avatar
SeriousTribe2 replied to: #1330 31 May 2010 21:18
Half way between corner pass and the judge is a scoop in the high cliffline, defined by a diagonal grass ramp running bottom right to top left [not in this photo]. a distinct gully runs down from this scoop, but the ridge to the north of this has a possible way to the top that Basutho smugglers may be using to access the top without having to lug over chockstones etc. The cliffline running off left bisects this ridge at a break in the same cliffline. This may be a 'Grays pass' type of scenario where the pass is not so much gully as it is cliff-face. Worth exploring !?
intrepid's Avatar
intrepid replied to: #1297 19 May 2010 08:04
Re: Injasuthi Pass, it does have a short chimney near the top that is probably best abseiled rather than down-climbed. The rest is not technical but very steep and loose/slippery terrain at times. It all depends on what you are confident doing. You may want to consider doing your intended route the other way round.