Pass index of the Northern Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal.

List of passes presented here.

Pass

[1]    [2]    [3]    [4]

Height

[5]

Co-ordinate

(WGS84)   

[6]

Difficulty rating

1-10

 [7]

Description

[8]

Used by locals

[9]

GPS data
Photo
Chain Ladders 3010m S28 44.863 E28 52.827 1
  • major trail
  • chain ladders
yes gpx Chain Ladder Pass
Beacon Buttress Gully 3109m S28 44.723 E28 53.439 4
  • trail
  • gully
unlikely gpx Sentinel Gulley
Sentinel Gully      
  • no trail
unlikely    
Gudu Pass 2205m S28 41.147 E28 53.963  
  • Little Berg
  • trail
?    
Inner Tower Gully (Western/RNNP Approach) 3047m S28 45.950  E28 55.810  
  • technical
  • no trail
unlikely    
Inner Tower Gully (Eastern/Busingatha Approach) 3047m S28 45.950  E28 55.810  
  • scramble
  • no trail
unlikely    
Ifidi Pass 3040m S28 47.257  E28 56.361  10
  • rocky gully
minor gpx  
Icidi Pass 3100m S28 48.463  E28 55.965  10
  • bushy at bottom/approach
  • no trail
  • steep, grassy slopes
minor gpx  
Mbundini Pass 3150m S28 50.695  E28 56.765  7
  • steep grassy slopes
  • no trail
unlikely gpx Fangs
Madonna Pass      7
  • boulder bed approach
  • no trail
unlikely    
Fangs Pass 3037m S28 51.687  E28 56.407  7
  • boulder bed approach
  • no trail
unlikely gpx
Fangs
Tata Ma Chance Pass      
  • no trail
  • route finding challenge
unlikely    
Rwanqa Pass 3088m S28 52.595  E28 57.426  7
  • steep grassy slopes
  • no trail
minor gpx  
Black and Tan Wall Pass North     8  
  • no trail
unlikely    
Black and Tan Wall Pass South        
  • no trail
 unlikely    
Pins Pass 3196m S28 53.476  E28 58.466  8
  • steep grassy slopes
  • no trail
unlikely gpx  
Manxome Pass
3169m S28 53.475  E28 58.859  9
  • no trail
unlikely gpx
Piercing through the clouds
Hanging Valleys Pass      
  • no trail
unlikely    
Mnweni Buttress Pass
     
  • no trail
unlikely    
Mnweni Pass 2888m S28 53.659  E29 00.721  6
  • major trail
major gpx Mnweni Pass
Ledgers Pass      8
  • no trail
unlikely    
Mponjwane Pass
     
  • rocky gully
  • no trail
unlikely    
Mnweni Needles Pass      
  • not on escarpment
  • no trail
?    
Rockeries Pass 2901m S28 53.833  E29 01.696  5
  • major trail
major gpx Rockeries Pass
Nguza Pass 2923m S28 55.113  E29 03.502  7
  • no trail
  • route finding challenge
  • rocky gully
  • traverse of interest
unlikely gpx
Action At Nguza Pass

South Saddle Pass

     
  • bushy at bottom/approach
  • no trail
unlikely    
Ntonjelana Pass North      
  • no trail
unlikely    
Ntonjelana Pass 2883m S28 56.334  E29 05.613  4
  • major trail
major gpx Ntonjelana Pass
Christmas Pass 2894m S28 56.893  E29 06.062  
  • steep grassy slopes
  • no trail
  • route finding challenge
unlikely gpx  
Twins Pass      5
  • not on escarpment
  • no trail
unlikely    
Mlambonja Pass (Bell Traverse)      
  • trail
  • traverse of interest
yes gpx  
Mlambonja Pass (Gully)      6
  • trail
yes gpx
Heading towards Mlambonja Pass
Mlambonja Buttress South      
  • no trail
unlikely    
Xeni Pass (North Fork) 3016m S28 58.221  E29 07.373  8
  • no trail
  • rocky gully
  • short scramles
unlikely gpx Xeni Pass
Xeni Pass (South Fork)      7
  • no trail
  • rocky gully
unlikely    
Elephant Gully 3099m S28 58.803  E29 07.739  
  • trail
  • escarpment link-up
yes    
Cockade Pass 2964m S28 59.052  E29 08.237  6   minor gpx
Cockade
Cockade Pass - Southern Variation      6
  • no trail
unlikely    
False Tseketseke Pass      
  • bad route option
  • source of confusion
  • no trail
  • route finding challenge
unlikely    
Tseketseke Pass 3001m S28 59.445  E29 09.097  6
  • trail
  • boulder bed approach
? gpx
Tseketseke Pass
Tseketseke Pass - Southern Variation      6
  • vague trail
?    
Organ Pipes Pass (Camel) 2960m S29 00.632  E29 10.948  4
  • major trail
  • traverse of interest
major gpx
Camel Ridge in the Mist
Organ Pipes Pass (Thuthumi Ridge) 2960m S29 00.632  E29 10.948  4
  • major trail
major gpx
Organ pipes
Thuthumi Pass 3074m S29 00.815  E29 11.217  5
  • trail
major gpx  
Smuggler's Pass
2952m S29 00.847  E29 11.957  
  • trail
major gpx  
Didima Pass      
  • no trail
unlikely    
Mike's Pass 1846m S28 58.115  E29 14.080  
  • road
  • Little Berg
yes    
Tlanyaku Pass 2756m S29 02.919  E29 13.512  5
  • trail
major gpx
Pampiring

Notes

1. By Drakensberg standards the majority of passes are those which provide access to the escarpment, and this is naturally where much of the interest by hikers lies. Some trails that provide access to the Little Berg plateau have been designated the status of "pass" in the names that were given to them. This list simply honours that historical designation, and no attempt it made in determining whether other trails that provide access to the Little Berg should be given the same designation. Some passes provide passage over a range, but not to the escarpment. These are included in this list on a case-by-case basis that is mainly driven available documentation provided by those who explore these options. Finally, some unusual routes, such as ones that link up the summits of two different passes via a traverse are also included here on a case-by-case basis.

 

2. Some passes can be considered classic in the sense that they offer a good, recommended route that has a well-worn trail. Other passes may have less of a trail, or no trail at all, but may still be good options for reasonably fit and competent hikers. Then there those routes which are very adventurous, often being strenuous, crossing difficult terrain, and with challenging route-finding - some routes are even described to be "technical". This list, in seeking to be comprehensive, lists all of the above. It could be argued that some routes listed here cross over to being mountaineering routes and should not be referred to as a "pass". The reader is asked not to use this resource as an easy-to-use menu for hike planning, especially where they may lack experience in the Drakensberg. Many routes listed here could land a party up in serious trouble if they are ill-prepared or if they have wrongly assessed their own competency This list is a powerful resource which helps in doing proper research when planning a hike, but it must be used soberly and with caution. It may also still be necessary to ask questions on the forum.

 

3. Passes may have more than one route leading to the same summit point. Others have routes that converge well below the summit. On the other hand there are passes that are considered distinct from each other yet share common approaches, while others are described as variations of a main route. While attempting to draw attention to what options are available to hikers, this list currently does not follow strict definitions in how these distinctions are made.

 

4. The names provided have a variety of origins and should by no means be considered final or official. While many names used here are well established and documented in classic Drakensberg literature and maps, there are a significant amount that have arisen in more recent times. Indeed many have been put forward and utilised by hikers who are active on Vertical Endeavour's forum (or who at least follow the forum). There is currently no system for documenting these origins. There is also no framework or set of guidelines whereby such names can be proposed, researched, ratified or even revised. There may be other names in use that could be more appropriate - even among hikers different names may be used. It is equally acknowledged that even in the absence of alternate names, the ones put forward may not always be the most appropriate ones.

 

5. Heights are drawn from maps wherever possible, and in some cases from literature. In the absence of these, the heights are drawn from hand-held GPS readings, which may not be accurate. Currently there is no system for indicating where the figure comes from. Figures may be adjusted from time to time. Contributors: Chris Sommer.

 

7. The difficulty grading system is developed and maintained by Stijn Laenen, Jonathan Newman and Tony Marshall on a voluntary basis. Effort is made to maintain accuracy and eliminate bias but readers are reminded that any sort of grading system is always subject to interpretation and opinion. One person's experience on a pass will differ from another due to a variety of reasons. The ratings are a comparison of Berg passes relative to each other - always bear in mind that all Berg passes should be considered challenging hikes in a mountainous environment. A good level of fitness, resilliance and competency is required for any Berg pass. While aimed at being a useful guide, neither the authors nor Vertical Endeavour can in any way be held responsible for the way this information is used, nor for any adverse outcomes resulting from decisions which were made using this information.

 

8. Keywords are used to convey important ascepts about each pass in a succinct manner. They help paint a picture of what a pass may be like with the limitation that they may not always present the entire picture.

 

9. "Locals" here refers to other people who make use of these passes apart from hikers. They may be from South Africa or Lesotho and can include smugglers, rustlers, herdsmen, traders and migrant workers. The knowledge of which passes are used by them, and to what extent, helps create a realistic picture for hikers to know what to expect when exploring these mountains. This is particularly relevant for helping hikers make informed decisions to reduce their risk to crime. For example it is generally a good precaution to try not overnight directly on busy trails as much as possible. However, just because a pass is used heavily by locals does not necessarily mean that incidents are taking place there. The security-related discussions on our forum keep track of the "where", "what" and "why" of these incidents. Vertical Endeavour has always sought to portray an accurate and honest picture of what is going on in the Berg - not to frighten people away but rather to help them make good decisions to reduce the risk of problems. We also encourage positive interaction between hikers and locals in the Berg as these interactions can be very rewarding. Those who have contributed to these assessments include: Chris Sommer.

 

10. This page is always being updated, edited and improved as more or better information becomes available. Those who have contributed to the maintenance of this information include Chris Sommer, Merv Gavin and Andrew Porter.

 

 

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