Who is doing or has done the Grand Traverse

25 Apr 2016 06:32 #67964 by jeremyeb
Their spot track seems to show them by Giants Castle - they seem to be delayed but hope all going well otherwise!

A team of 3 of us are heading up to Witsieshoek today, and will set off on our own GT 5-day attempt early tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. We aim to finish on Saturday. Weather forecast is generally good but looks like a front might move through Fri night/Sat am ... hoping that doesn't cut us short at Giants or Sani! Not carrying a spot device but will have a Sat phone. Report to follow on our return.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Stijn

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25 Apr 2016 12:28 #67978 by Biomech
Looks like they are off the escarpment and near to Giants Castle camp.

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25 Apr 2016 14:37 - 25 Apr 2016 14:38 #67979 by ghaznavid
Almost back at Giants Camp now. Great effort nonetheless. A GT isn't easy, and they clearly decided to push as far as they could before bailing - otherwise they would have bailed at Bannerman or Langies - so well done team :thumbsup:

Looking forward to reading about how it went!
Last edit: 25 Apr 2016 14:38 by ghaznavid.

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30 Apr 2016 13:39 #68113 by jeremyeb
Report Back:

Our planned 5/6 day GT did not go off as planned, but was still a great experience.

On Tuesday 26th April, 3 of us set off from Sentinel car Park at 4.45am, and reached Mont Aux Sources at 7.35am. All went well for the first 20km, but we were then enveloped in mist. Our pace slowed right down, and we did a nice big loop in the misty drizzle and wasted about an hour before getting back on track. When darkness fell we were ascending Ntonjelana ridge, and visibility was reduced to max 2m. The descent was a bit hairy, and we were reaching the end of our tether, but we finally found our objective for the day; Easter Cave, at around 8.45pm, after around 48km.

When we had settled in to the cave and warmed up a little, we received a message telling us about the savage attack on another GT party 3 days prior (as detailed in the Berg Alerts 2016 thread). A friend of the attacked party sent us the message to warn us to be careful. We had passed through the area of the attack that day completely oblivious to what had happened there. We now felt a bit unsettled and depressed as we mulled over the nature of the incident and the deteriorating security situation in this wonderful wilderness region.

We were a little slow out the blocks the next morning (Wednesday) as a strong cold wind was blowing and we took a while to thaw out. We decided to revise our objective for the day to Upper Didima cave (or a bivvy in the upper Yodellers valley if the weather was good) rather than the planned push to Upper Injasuthi cave or thereabouts. The sun was shining and our pace was good initially. We had a quick chat with a party of 1 man and 3 ladies (@Gkotzee) who had set out from the Sentinel 5 days previously. We told them about the attack but couldn’t give them precise details. They looked a bit unsettled as they had been in the vicinity of the attack.

We were aware that the weather forecast for the weekend was not looking favourable for us, with strong winds, low temps and snow predicted for Friday night and Saturday. We received some sms updates from our wives which confirmed that the forecast was unchanged. In our minds we knew that we were thus unlikely to get further than Giants Castle on our GT attempt, as we simply didn’t have the gear to cope with the forecast conditions thereafter.

Still, we pushed on and got a big boost from summiting Cleft Peak. The weather was good and we savoured the incredible views. I was familiar with the rest of the days route, and tried to explain what still lay ahead for the day. I could sense that our team had lost a little drive judging by their facial expressions (and comments) when faced with the Ndumeni Dome. We made shorter than expected work of it though, and were soon surveying the next valley and the high ridge-line above the Yodellers valley; our revised objective for the day.

At this point we had a quick discussion, and suddenly our whole perspective changed. It’s incredible how in the space of 5 minutes, you can go from still aiming to finish the GT (or at least getting to Giants before the weather chased us off), to deciding to bail right then and there. The penny dropped that mentally we weren’t all on the same page, and that the drive to continue wasn’t there anymore due to a number of factors. The enjoyment factor had evaporated. We decided it was not wise to split the team up, and to rather stick together and treat this as a valuable training exercise for a future attempt.

We turned back a bit despondent and headed for the lower Ndumeni Caves to try and savour another night in the mountains before our descent. The next morning (Thursday) we descended the first part of Thuthumi pass before taking a steep gully down to join the track from Organ Pipes pass and on to the old fire lookout. It was then a long slog down and along the contour path. Our last hurdle was when we realised we’d taken a trail to Didima instead of to Cathedral Peak, and then tried to find a shortcut off Tryme hill to get to Cathedral (upon the advice of a worker burning tracer fire-breaks). We were tired and thirsty by then and the loose scree descent was the last thing we needed, and possibly the most dangerous part of our entire hike. The lunch at the hotel was pleasant however.

Overall we had another incredible experience in the berg, even though we didn’t achieve what we set out to achieve.

Some lessons learned:

1) Don’t underestimate the GT. In our minds we were thinking of what great base training a fast and light GT would be for the Skyrun 100km this year. In actual fact, the Skyrun 100km should be the base training for the GT.

2) No matter what the individual abilities and experience levels of your team are, it is essential to do some tough training hikes together to simulate at least 3 days of the terrain and distance you aim to cover on the GT. Although we felt just about physically prepared for this attempt, I don’t think we were mentally ready for the scale of the under-taking. Our enthusiasm waned on day 2, and we couldn’t get over that barrier.

3) We need to be more flexible with dates for a future attempt. If the forecast is unfavourable for a fast and light GT, you need to be able to shift your dates a little. We didn’t have this flexibility.

4) Security: We will obviously watch the security situation carefully before planning another attempt. It’s sad that we are all willing to take on the natural risks inherent in the mountains, but are unwillingly also faced with a more sinister threat which undermines our enthusiasm for escarpment endeavours. Let’s hope things improve in this respect.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Stijn, ghaznavid, Jan

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30 Apr 2016 16:39 #68114 by Jan
Nice trip report, I'm quite sure there's not a lot of people who succeed in a first attempt on a fast DGT. But it always teaches a valuble lesson.

And I totally agree with lesson 1; 100km trailruns are good preparation for the DGT, not the inverse.

I guess, but there others more capable of judging this, februar is the best period for a fast dgt. water in the streams, longer days, bit warmer. But you need a good weather window.
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01 May 2016 09:27 #68117 by FrikS
We are starting tomorrow from Injisuthi to Sani. Do you have any tips on the route. Should we stick to the escarp line. There are soms spots like around Injsuthi Dome and Popplepeak that it would be better to trek around and not over?
Your comments will be appraciated

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01 May 2016 16:52 #68122 by jeremyeb
Hi Frik which pass are you going up at Injasuthi? I would use Leslie's if you want to include Mafadi on your route, otherwise Judges if not. download the tracks off this site if you aren't familiar with these passes. I would take the escarpment line between Injasuthi and Giants - safer and more scenic, but some ridges to climb. Ditto for between Giants and Sani, but if you are short of time and able to move fast through the section in daylight hours, you may want to look at the Mokhotlong valley route. Others will be able to advise better for this section.

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01 May 2016 19:55 #68123 by FrikS
Hi Jeremy
Thanks for that. I was not aware of the tracks on this site.

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02 May 2016 07:32 #68125 by Sabine
Just returned from a 13 day GT, having lead a group from the Johannesburg hiking club. Here a before and after pic:





Hi to a VE member, who we met just as we finished at Bushmansnek. Unfortunately I have forgotten your name. You were just starting out on a three day trip. Would love to hear from you.

A short report to follow soon

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The following user(s) said Thank You: jeremyeb, Biomech

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02 May 2016 07:53 #68127 by Fitness
HI Sabine,
Great effort well done, met you and your team while I was about to take my son on a day hike to halfway cave, must say you impressed my son to no end when he heard you say you'd just done a 13 day hike.
Saw the other guys who were heading to Bushmans Cave for the night as well, didn't catch there names.

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