Bell Cave

16 Jan 2017 10:10 #70641 by WarrenM
Bell Cave was created by WarrenM
Hi all

I've been a member of VE for all but a month now, but I've been using the forum for some time now when planning trips to the Berg and assessing routes etc. This will be my first contribution to the forum :) .

I had planned a trip which we went on this last weekend which took us to Bell cave for over night portion of the trip as we were aiming, amongst other things, to climb Cathedral on Sunday and head home as early as we could.

When reading up on the forums I couldn't find anything that stood out with regards to Bell cave, other than it was exposed and right on the path and faced buggers Gully, we had gone past it during December '16 and on of the guys that was with us remembered it to be reasonable, I didn't remember and I couldn't find a pic of the cave on the forum (I may have just been looking in the wrong place).

So my aim by posting this is one, to confirm get confirmation that this was in fact Bell cave and two, so that someone else has more of a reference if they are looking to use it for the first time. There is a fair bit on I guess what are more popular caves so this is adding to the information on the forum.

As we were approaching Cathedral from the Twins Cave side of the Bell traverse our first expectation was that the cave would be directly under the Bell, after 34ks of "speed hiking" in a day, we were ready for it to be!! we eventually approached it after contouring around the bell and at the start of the contour around the base of cathedral on the south side, still following the Bell Traverse route. And sure enough it looked onto Buggers Gully.

We had had a huge amount of rain the night before so we were not expecting a completely dry cave, but when we arrive the floor was wet and there were many drips. There are then almost two sections to the cave, which I will stop referring to it as a cave as it was more of a overhang, but if you are looking into it, on the left side there is a nice open patch that you can sleep just over a handful of people if there was not drip, it is as flat as you can get, and I would say that most of the year round there probably shouldn't be any dripping, outside of summer where there has been good rainfall. for us, it was a matter of trying to find a spot that we could lay our mattress down, while scattered across the cave avoiding as many of the drips as we could.

Then there is a right side which is separated by some big rocks, but is really unusable, it was very wet with strong flowing trips of water which we used to full our bottles quickly (very grateful for that though). When we passed the cave the last time it was also wet and it had not been raining so it would be safe to say that it is unusable in Summer, there may be a chance that it would be dry in winter, and this right side may actually provide better shelter from the wind, but for only 3-4 people max.

Unfortunately the mist and rain started during the night and there was nothing we could do, the cave is just to exposed, so while we got wet we were not drenched, but our faces which were against the back of the cave got wet and there was no hiding from the wind. We made the best of what was a wet cold and miserable night from that respect. We also heard what we assumed to be Basothos and their dog (not close but not far either), the one dog actually sounded like it was being beaten, but we are fairly confident that they didn't come past us. If you sleep with your head at the back of the cave, your feet are only about 1m away from the Bell Traverse Path. At a point in the night we heard a owl, that must of hooted for at least an hour, which was ready great to hear.

By 4am our alarm went off, some of us had had a worse night than others in the wet, but we sat up in our sleeping bags as we could see the red of the sun starting to be visible on the horizon with Cathkin in the backdrop, as we continued to watch the sun rise it washed away the troubles of the night. The cloud was very low in the valley so the view that we had was unbelievable, it was truly spectacular, and I would sleep in a wet sleeping bag to see it all over again (this may not be the case for everyone that we were with)



The Pic below (sorry about the quality),is looking at the cave from Bugger Glutch Gully


For those that know about Bell Cave, I hope you also have got some pics of the sunrise from there, for those that don't I hope this helps you know a bit more about the cave and the challenges but also the beauty.

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16 Jan 2017 11:30 #70642 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Bell Cave
Most caves have drips after a wet spell like the one we have just had. Sandleni Cave is a classic case of a cave that becomes practically unusable in summer - even though it is large enough for 30+ people (if there wasn't a 12 person limit to cave users due to the environmental damage caused by large groups).
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16 Jan 2017 11:51 #70644 by WarrenM
Replied by WarrenM on topic Bell Cave
Thank you ghaznavid

So I was looking around a bit more this morning after my post and came across the below reference to Bell Cave, I probably had seen it before but it didn't mean anything until after we had been there, outside of the warning etc that we were aware off, the unusable right section because of the rain and dripping is Bell Cave proper, and we then used what the below site calls Bell Cave Annex, and they describe it exactly as it was, "a level platform against a rock face" the two are right next to each other.


www.berg.co.za/bell_cave.htm

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16 Jan 2017 12:15 #70645 by WarrenM
Replied by WarrenM on topic Bell Cave
I forgot to add the pics of the actual section we slept in, this is the Annex to Bell cave.


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16 Jan 2017 12:47 #70647 by ASL
Replied by ASL on topic Bell Cave
thanks for that.. a lot of Berg Caves are like this

I acquired a bivy bag just for this reason and highly recommend it. Mine offers really good wind and water protection and keeps my sleeping bag completely dry
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16 Jan 2017 13:48 #70648 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic Bell Cave
Thanks for the update on Bell Cave - all v.useful to know.

I wonder where the Basuthos were? perhaps on the Mnweni side of the neck between Cathedral Peak and the Bell or making their way from the valley on the Cathedral Peak hotel side to the neck?

I've always taken a bivvy bag along for summetime Berg caves. The bags make the caves useable as even a dripless cave can get misted out in summer. Useful also in winter if you've ever seen the amount of snow that can stack up on the far inside wall of Upper Injisuthi Cave.
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16 Jan 2017 14:00 - 16 Jan 2017 14:03 #70649 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Bell Cave
Jip, that's Bell cave/annex. Not much protection, as you said just an overhang. As Tiska and ALS mentioned, a BREATHABLE bivvy bag helps a lot is this is your only shelter and it rains or if sleet is falling :-)

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Last edit: 16 Jan 2017 14:03 by Riaang.
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