Wilson's Pass

26 Jan 2010 11:04 #919 by Harrisc
Wilson's Pass was created by Harrisc
Does anyone have any information on Wilson's Pass in the southern berg.? I would like to come down it in a few weeks time. Many thanks.

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29 Jan 2010 12:39 #923 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Wilson's Pass
Info on it is scarce and I've been curious about it myself. My guess is that, unless the smugglers have claimed it already, it does not have a trail, and that you generally walk alongside the river on grassy slopes. Hopefully there are no boulders and bush to negotiate.

Please do give us an update and even post some pics once you've done it - that would be greatly appreciated.

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

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05 Jun 2010 15:15 #1354 by SeriousTribe2
Replied by SeriousTribe2 on topic Wilson's Pass
Hi HarrisC

Your post is 4 months old, so not sure if you ended up doing the pass.
2 weekends ago we descended the pass on a day summit trip from the valley of Sleeping Beauty cave.
I will post pictures at some time [just have to fiqure out how!]

Some points to note.
Access from the summit is marked by a small cairn set low. On the new maps the spot height is marked as 3087m. The head of the pass is the one at the source of the MASHAI river [lesotho] and not that at the head of the last tributary (see Un-Named Pass Mashai river by same author).The top ramp is crisscrossed by many livestock paths but these soon disappear after about 40-50m in.
One needs to stay in the gully. As the grass on the right descending comes up against stepped cliffline.
Traverse in left on the first large grassbank.
Very loose broken rock everywhere. If you look up you'll see where it comes from!
I felt highly exposed to rockfall in here, far more so than Corner or Minaret. A very loose narrow gully continuing down until you reach the first of 2 chockstones [waterfalls] about 3/5ths of the way down. Go Back up about 15m and take the left hand bank [facing down] up over and down to below this point. The same procedure is required at the second chockstone. Bank left, around a bulge and into a small rocky gully and so down. There is a large sheet of rounded basalt on the right that was completely frozen over on our descent.
Once out of the gully KEEP RIGHT. Take the long grass contour to the ridge above hidden valley, then along to above Engagement cave, down into Sleeping Beauty valley and 3kms back to Hermits Wood station. [going LEFT at the bottom will take you over to Swiman and a whole epic of ups and downs.] The distinct path at the base of the LH spur is likely Eland Path, dont be tempted.
Some Notes:
We had daypacks which made manouvering/downclimbing easier.
The footing is rotten.
Keep out of this pass if heavy rain is expected or in high summer, as it will be a torrent of note [as is evidenced by the size of some of the boulders jambed everywhere] Surely a gloomy one but splendid anyway.

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19 May 2011 10:16 - 19 May 2011 10:18 #2912 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Wilson's Pass
Having descended this pass myself recently, here is my 2 cents worth.

Except for one brief crossing, the gully itself can be totally avoided, which eliminates lots of clambering and boulder hopping. After descending beyond the initial grass slopes near the summit, a small scree field on the true right is reached, where there are two cairns and a very faint track. This is the only bit of trail and cairns (other than summit cairn) on the entire pass. We were curious about this bit of trail and wondered if it was meant to lead you out onto the grassy slopes on the true right. But these have way too many cliff bands further along, as ST2 already mentioned. The track disappears as quickly as it appears. I think these cairns indicate that one should descend roughly parallel to the gully on the true right at this point. This bypasses the top-most blockage in the gully. Thereafter very sharp observation is called for since there are two very specific points at which a narrow strip of steep grass allows for carefully clambering through otherwise precarious cliff and rock bands. This is the crux section of the pass. Shortly after the second access the gully can easily be crossed. This is very close to another major blockage/waterfall. Crossing over to the true left brings you onto a long stretch of soft, padded, manageable grass slopes, well above the gully. We followed this all the way down. It contours for a long way with only a gentle gradient, to loose altitude much quicker at the end. I must add that my partner found this grass slope to be an irritation since he had a knack for stepping into hidden holes, but personally I found it very easy going and quite padded - I was glad not to be hopping and clambering in the gully.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 19 May 2011 10:18 by intrepid.

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20 May 2011 07:21 #2919 by diverian
Replied by diverian on topic Wilson's Pass
Hi Chris

Will you be posting a track ?

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20 May 2011 09:42 #2921 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Wilson's Pass
Yep, will get it up soon!

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

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02 Dec 2011 08:38 #5081 by Cave Man
Replied by Cave Man on topic Wilson's Pass
Hi all.

I might be DESCENDING wilsons pass in a few days. Can anybody give me some important inforrmation about this pass? Like difficulty, what to expect etc. Some pictures would be great if anybody has aswell. Thanks in advance.

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02 Dec 2011 08:56 #5082 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Wilson's Pass
@Cave Man: I merged your post onto this aleadt existing thread on Wilson's Pass, some info here already. GPS data also available in the Downloads section.

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

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06 Jun 2013 23:37 #57199 by hansenah@absamail.co.za
Does anyone know if it is possible to use Wilsons Pass & if you can access it from the Engagement/Sleeping Beauty Caves path that originates from the Swiman Hut in the Garden Castle/Drak. Gardens area ?

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07 Jun 2013 09:57 #57202 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Wilson's Pass
I haven't done Wilsons Pass in its entirety, but I have done the bottom half back to Sleeping Beauty/Swiman Hut and have stood at the top of the pass in thick mist. The summit cairn is surprisingly large for such an obscure pass...

To go down the pass, as you cross over the Leqooa ridge, begin to contour around and loose altitude gradually from 3200m down. You will see a big M shape on the escarpment edge, the left side is close to Wilson's Peak, the middle is an impressive unnamed "khulu top" and the massive peak on the right is the Bollard. The left pass is Wilson's Pas, the right one is Bollard Pass. Once you see it, its hard to miss. If you take the wrong gully you'll be fine, so its not that worrying.

No comment on the pass from 3100m to 2700m as I have only looked at this part from the bottom to half way up - looks easy enough, but looks can be deceiving.

From 2700m down its just a case of following the south bank of the river (true right), get onto the nose of the ridge between the 2 passes by about 2500m and drop over toward the river on the south side before you reach the 4 massive rocky outcrops in the middle of the 2 rivers.

Follow the river till you hit a large overgrown area, move across toward the rocks on the true right/south bank and hug the rock line to find a not particularly overgrown stretch that gets you to the path that passes by Sleeping Beauty Cave.

The other way round you would simply not walk into the cave, just follow the path through the back of the cave, cross the river, slog up the insanely steep bank on the other side and traverse toward the pass. Not sure which side of the river you should use above about 2700m, but below there I would use the south/true right bank.

It is possibly to follow the river from Wilson's Pass to where it joins the Mashai River (around the Monk), but this route is difficult to follow, I had a less than comfortable experience trying to find a way through there on a day hike there in June 2011. Fortunately we were able to back track to Sleeping Beauty Cave and just followed that route back to the car park.
The following user(s) said Thank You: diverian

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