Tlanyaku pass

31 May 2011 16:44 #3027 by anthony
Tlanyaku pass was created by anthony
Hi guys
Has someone done the pass recently as i was wondering how technical it is to do and if if it has snowed would it be quite easy to follow the path.The plan is to come up organ pipes descend thuthumi and drop into the Windsor valley then descent tlanyaku pass ,and can any one please tell me how to find roland's cave i would love to spend a night there,i know one has to traverse a ledge to get to the cave, just how exposed is that ledge?

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01 Jun 2011 13:28 - 01 Jun 2011 13:32 #3029 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Tlanyaku pass
Last time I did it was 2 years ago. Not technical at all, rather a well established smuggling route. It does get a little steep and eroded at places, with the underlying rock quite exposed. This can make it a little slippery. It follows a ridge and then traverses at the top - no gully. I can't think that snow will cause major problems, unless its particularly heavy and covers all the trail markings. Just ask the smugglers if you need help :laugh:

The trick with Rolands Cave is to get to the Thuthumi Pass summit. Its about 70m from there, accessed by the ledge coming in from the North. I could try explain more in words, but the I find the best is to see it first. To do that descend Thuthumi Pass about 30m and scramble up the grass slope to your left. There is a grassy shoulder somewhere around there where the cave suddenly comes into view above you - that should put things into perspective for you.

The ledge is exposed, no bones about that. You can't see the bottom of the cliff though. I've walked hikers with height issues along the ledge on several occasions, carrying their packs for them. Can be done.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 01 Jun 2011 13:32 by intrepid.

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01 Jun 2011 14:25 #3030 by Stijn
Replied by Stijn on topic Tlanyaku pass
That view intrepid is talking about is this one below (from www.berg.co.za/roland%27s_cave.htm ):



To find the start of the ledge to the cave, stand at the cairn marking the top of Thuthumi Pass facing down the pass towards KZN. To your right there is a smooth basalt rock band on the slopes of Ndumeni Dome which is about 10m high and runs at a contour around the peak towards Lesotho. You'll have to head up the slope at about the 4pm direction to cross through this rock band via one of the grassy ramps. As soon as you reach the top of the rock band, walk along the top of it back towards the East (facing KZN again), where you should find the start of a faint path which takes you to the Roland's Cave ledge a few meters further on. The problem is that at the start of the ledge, you still can't see the cave. It only comes into view once you have walked along the ledge for 5-10m.

To be sure, I'd suggest having one of your party stand at the viewpoint intrepid suggested, to direct the others to the correct ledge just to the right of the cave.

Good luck! It is certainly worth the scouting to find it! :thumbsup:

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01 Mar 2012 18:49 #53133 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Tlanyaku pass
Last weekend seven of us descended Tlanyaku Pass, having ascended Organ Pipes Pass the previous day and overnighted in Roland's Cave.

As Intrepid indicated, Tlanyaku Pass is a ridge pass, and the top of the pass is on the slopes of the Sphinx, where the well trodden path can just be discerned in the photo below, where it rounds the left hand corner of the Sphinx about half way up the slope.



The whole pass has a very well defined path.



On the steeper sections of the upper reaches, the soil has been denuded from the underlying Basalt and the exposed Basalt can be quite slippery in wet conditions. Ghaznavid, who was in the group, is seen below near the top of the pass



The photo below shows the Tlanyaku River, with the pass predominantly following the ridge to the right, once the upper traverse section meets the ridge.



A section of the traverse near the top of the pass is shown below.



In the picture below, looking up the pass, the path traverses in front of the prominent rock spire.



Almost along the entire pass, spectacular views of Didima Falls can be seen.



The path is clearly visible descending the ridge.

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01 Mar 2012 19:22 #53134 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Tlanyaku pass
Darn, Tony beat me to it :)

Not a pass that I would recommend for anything other than the view, its slippery, exposed and the bottom of it is rough, overgrown and slippery. But yes, the view is amazing, and the pass is probably worth doing once for the same reason that its worth doing Roland's Cave at least once...

Note to anyone planning on doing this pass for the first time in the future:


The pass doesn't follow the river at all, get water at the top or bottom (depending on whether you are going up or down), if going down, the top of the pass is South of the river, straight before the peak (north of the peak) with a round top in Tony's first photo (the Sphynx is immediately south of this unnamed rock formation).

And if anyone is interested, Didima Falls appears to be the 15th highest in the world at 600m.

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01 Mar 2012 19:33 #53135 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Tlanyaku pass


Some views looking down the ridge, with the bottom of Didima Falls visible in the picture above. The prominent ridge in the background is Eastman's Ridge.



A view up the ridge to the top of Tlanyaku Pass. The path on the lower sandstone section is very eroded in places.





Although the photos don't show it very clearly, the ridge path steepness varies considerably from relatively flat to quite steep sections.



Nearing the bottom of the pass on the last part of the ridge, before a welcome cooling off in the Didima River.



The first section of the path along the Didima River after crossing the river passes through quite thick bush, and is overgrown in places, despite the high traffic on the route.



The route follows the Didima River downstream, crossing the river once, and passing Schoongezicht Cave before meeting the contour path at the bottom of Phillip's Folly and the beginning of Didima Gorge.

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01 Mar 2012 19:48 #53136 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Tlanyaku pass
Wow, that just bumped the value of this thread and the forum up a few notches! :thumbsup:

That area and pass has some special memories and impressions for me. The views are good and I really enjoy the Didima escarpment. I share that sentiment with a friend who is conspicuously inactive on this forum :huh: . We often talk of going back, even though we've done it more than once.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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03 Mar 2012 16:15 #53141 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Tlanyaku pass
I think Tony has covered that topic very well, just to add one more pic to the list:



This is the pass from the bottom looking up...

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06 Mar 2012 09:50 #53160 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic Tlanyaku pass
Great set of photos of the pass - thanks very much for posting these. When we did this pass it was so misty you could hardly see your shoes, so its nice to take in what we missed that day.

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06 Mar 2012 12:09 #53166 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Tlanyaku pass
It's remarkable how many people have said the same thing to me, 'did Tlanyaku Pass in the mist and couldn't see anything'. Andre in our group had done Tlanyaku Pass up before in the mist, and couldn't recognise features on the escarpment when we were looking for the top of the pass. Seems we were indeed priviledged to have the views and to be able to post photos to share the experience.

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