Cowl Cave

23 Mar 2015 20:48 - 23 Mar 2015 20:53 #63148 by HFc
Cowl Cave was created by HFc
There is some info on Cowl Cave at the Berg.co.za website, but was thinking some of you guys may know it well.
- Does anyone have GPS coordinates for it?
- Any additional description that can aid in finding it, i.e.
  • Do I understand correctly that is is situated in the saddle between Monk's Cowl and Champagne Castle Ridge?
  • Subject to above, it sounds like the route described on Berg.co.za suggests staying in the gully heading up to the saddle between Cowl and Cathkin: so is the gully going up directly to the aforementioned saddle (Cowl - Champagne Castle Ridge) not passable? (I have only walked on the contour path far below this, so is obviously none the wiser about how tough the going is up the Cowl Fork area).
- In your opinion, is this doable as a day hike from Injasuthi (will go via Van Heynigens probably, the route up to contour path below Cowl Fork I know very well). Cowl Cave is not intended as an overnight for me, merely a lunch spot in a very spectacular place. End of May, early June somewhere.
Last edit: 23 Mar 2015 20:53 by HFc.
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23 Mar 2015 21:27 #63150 by Stijn
Replied by Stijn on topic Cowl Cave
Yes, Cowl Cave is in the saddle between Monk's Cowl and Champagne Castle, while the easiest way to pass over from Cowl Fork to Keith Bush is through the other saddle between Monk's Cowl and Cathkin (this is due to the descent down to Keith Bush being significantly easier from that saddle).

So if you just want to go to the cave(s) from the Injisuthi side, head straight up to the Monks-Champagne saddle and ignore the other saddle completely. The trickiest parts of the pass from the Cowl Fork side are below the fork anyway. It's plain sailing (but steep) up to the caves from the fork itself.

I did it when it was choked with snow, but stuck to the true left grassy slopes until the valley narrows and then crossed over to the true right, negotiating a steep gully (side tributary on the true right) to access the grassy slopes up to the caves. It may very well be easier to head up the main river from the narrowing in drier conditions.

It would be a long day as a return day hike from Injisuthi, but quite doable with the right approach, fitness and experience. I reckon about 2-3h to the base of the pass and another 2-3h up to the caves.

If you haven't seen it yet, here's my write-up from that trip, with some photos: www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum/8-drakensberg-hiking/3290-advice-for-solo-berg-hike.html?start=20#3555
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24 Mar 2015 03:23 #63151 by Smurfatefrog
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24 Mar 2015 09:29 #63158 by HFc
Replied by HFc on topic Cowl Cave
Thanks for the info Stijn and Merv, @ Stijn, I recall this trip you mentioned also in the Monk's Cowl photo comp last year.

I have not made my mind up on doing it from Injasuthi side, I am just looking for a lekker testing outing in the process. Also pondering on doing it from Monk's Cowl via BMC and perhaps adding some fun by going over a passable section near Sterkhorn (Have not researched this, but recall some guys mentioning this can be done instead of following contour path connection to Keith Bush).

Still some time before I'll be doing this so have so time to research it properly. It will be a solo hike (unless some VE member wants to join, usually on short notice and middle of a week :) ).
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24 Mar 2015 13:17 #63163 by Balthazar1
Replied by Balthazar1 on topic Cowl Cave
I have mentioned this on a different thread- How is the contour path south of the split-- towards Cowl Fork and beyond? We are going over Easter- tenting- a leisurely meander back to Injasuthi in a circular route- Van Heynngens- Grindstone-. We plan a day hike up to Cowl Cave from our camp- with less energetic folk perhaps chilling below. Is the contour path in good nick? Like the one going North? Potential camp spots ? Escarpment views/vistas? Your input will be appreciated.

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24 Mar 2015 16:53 #63169 by HFc
Replied by HFc on topic Cowl Cave
I think none of us would be really sure about the condition of the contour path, well that particular section anyway. Probably the reason for the slow reply. I'll take a stab at it.

That section of the contour path (below Cowl Fork Valley and going south) receives no regular maintenance as far as I know. It is mostly only used by hikers starting at Monk's Cowl, heading up Gray's pass, heading down Ship's Prow south and back to BMC via Shada Ridge (from here (Shada Ridge) the contour path looks very good). As such there is no real effort from Injasuthi side, and Monk's Cowl's guys reckon it is not in their backyard. Sort of no-man's land really. (With all of this said, the contour path as per pure definition is mostly maintained through use ONLY, as such a lot of sections has fallen into poor shape from what I've seen and heard.

Given the rather irregular use of that part of the contour path it is probably well overgrown on afternoon-sun ridge sides. I have last hiked there in August 2012, way too long ago to give a current assessment. It was in decent nick at the time, although not as good as for instance Judge's to Centenary Hut section.

I may offcourse be wrong, and being overgrown does not stop you from using it, it can just slow your progress and cause you to loose the path on occasion.

Not the definitive answer I'm sure you were looking for, sorry bud.
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26 Mar 2015 13:52 #63199 by Balthazar1
Replied by Balthazar1 on topic Cowl Cave
Thanks- we are working on a plan B down south too...

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26 Mar 2015 13:59 #63202 by ASL
Replied by ASL on topic Cowl Cave
I also hiked from Cowl fork stream back in 2012 and the path was pretty good but further South is an unknown entity for me...

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04 Jul 2016 18:19 #69053 by Papa Dragon
Replied by Papa Dragon on topic Cowl Cave
I thought there was more info than this, but can't seem to find anything.
Apologies if I've missed it. Cowl Cave to Monk's Cowl office via Cowl Fork
Campsite and Blind Man's Corner in a day. Hectic or okay?

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04 Jul 2016 19:07 #69055 by Papa Dragon
Replied by Papa Dragon on topic Cowl Cave
Guys that know the route, with a Friday after work night start. what would you suggest?

MC to BMC friday evening, and then up Cowl Fork to the saddle for overnight, or MC to near Mhlwazini Friday night, up to Cowl Cave Saturday night, and out via Cowl Fork Sunday?

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