Up with Grays Pass down with Ships Prow

16 Jul 2017 10:59 #71866 by abrahamvlok
abrahamvlok created the topic: Up with Grays Pass down with Ships Prow
Hi!

Its that time of the year when I get to spent some time with some friends in the best place in the universe. If anybody have comments about this (doability/safety/water) then please share with me.

(We are three guys, around 38, with many hikes in the Drakensberg behind us, we have done things like summit a iced Corner Pass at night...so we are not new at this)..nevertheless, none of us have done Grays Pass or Ships Prow. With that being said..here is the plan
* Day 1 : 20 July'17 : hike from Monks Cowl parking to Keith's Bushcamp via Blind Man's corner.
* Day 2 : 21 July'17 : up with Gray's Pass and move as close as possible to the top of Ships Prow.
* Day 3 : 22 July'17 : down with Ships prow and get as close as possible to the contour path back to Blind Man's corner (ideally sleep at Cowl Fork - but that may be a stretch).

Has anybody done this recently ? Do anybody have GPS tracks / waypoints ?

Have a nice day!
Abraham Vlok

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18 Jul 2017 09:58 #71881 by Dave
Dave replied to: Up with Grays Pass down with Ships Prow
Hi Abraham:

I did this route recently (see my hike report here , but see the whole thread, which contains lots of useful info, as well as the other Ship's-Prow threads). I don't have a GPS track, but it's not a route that needs one.

1. The hike to KBC is straightforward. The path is clear the whole way. KBC is right at the top of the valley on the left (true right).

2. The Nkosazana Valley is not long, so you will have a lot of time to spare on Day 2. There are good camping spots below the saddle and I believe there are also good spots on top of Champagne Castle. There is also Nkosazana Cave, but that is at the bottom of the valley near the top of Gray's Pass, and it is sometimes damp.

3. Your goal of Cowl Fork is quite manageable, but please note that it is rocky, bushy, and slanted, so you will have better options further on, where the contour path meets Van Heyningens at the Blind Man's Corner marked on Slinsby's map, or at the official campsite just behind the split to KBC that everyone calls Blind Man's Corner. (I was also aiming for Cowl Fork, but I tried to take a shortcut at the bottom of the Ship's Prow Valley and wasted a lot of time. Avoid this - I describe it in my write-up.) The only flattish areas before Cowl Fork are where the contour path goes round the ridges, but the grass there is thick and clumpy.

Ship's Prow has a daunting reputation, but I didn't find it much harder than Leslie's going down. The pass itself is well-marked with cairns. In the valley, keep to the true left - there is a path and cairns all the way to the bottom, and only there does it get a bit vague. Here you simply stay in the riverbed, go round the bottom of the last spur, head up the narrow valley, and you will start to see the contour path coming down the hill to the river on your right. There are also good cairns in this section.

Take care and enjoy!

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