How to escape a Grand Traverse

01 Jun 2015 19:51 #64062 by intrepid
This thread is for discussion on how to abort and escape from a Grand Traverse on-route. This includes emergency protocols and best escape routes.

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03 Jun 2015 09:24 #64123 by andrew r
Here's a great first post by ghaznavid to get this thread started:

It depends on your route, if you do a speed GT route then you have far less escape options than a more traditional GT line for example.

On a more traditional line you have:
- Rockeries Pass
- Ntonjelana Pass
- Mlambonja Pass
- Organ Pipes Pass
- Grays Pass (although it is far out of the way)
- Leslies Pass
- Judge Pass
- Bannerman Pass
- Langies Pass
- South Jarding Pass
- Giants Pass
[big gap with not many suitable exits]
- Sani Pass
- Mashai Pass
- Ngwangwane Pass if you really can't handle that last 1km to Thamathu Pass :P

There is a thread that includes each of the passes above somewhere on this site.


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03 Jun 2015 19:20 #64127 by DesPorter
Personally I feel that anyone leading a GT should not need this advice. A GT is a serious undertaking and should be backed up by a good working knowledge of the berg.

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03 Jun 2015 21:07 #64128 by ghaznavid

DesPorter wrote: Personally I feel that anyone leading a GT should not need this advice. A GT is a serious undertaking and should be backed up by a good working knowledge of the berg.


I partially agree and partially disagree with you on this.

I rate that no one should lead their first GT. Even if you have hiked extensively in the Berg, you probably haven't hiked every escarpment valley and ridge. How many people do the Mlahangubo Ridge on any hike outside of a GT? Not many I would guess. For that matter - how many people hike at every reserve regularly enough to know the entire escarpment? It would be easy for someone doing a S-N GT to follow the trail along the Mohlesi River indefinitely, leading to them getting badly lost deep in Lesotho. In the mist such mistakes are much more likely to occur.

In 2012 when I did my first GT, our hike leader took a wrong turn at the Yodelers and it was something like his 6th GT and 3rd S-N - so it is easy to make mistakes. Especially when you are tired after continuous days of slogging over ridges with a heavy pack.

That being said - I rate that someone who is very experienced on mountains in other ranges, is good at reading maps and has adequately read up on the Berg could probably do a GT based on prior experience. The Berg isn't a standard mountain range, but if you know the funnies of the route, it is possible to figure it out.

The big issues are:
- Can you find your way in thick mist after your GPS broke/fell out of your pack/got stolen?
- Do you know what to do when someone in your team is seriously injured?
- Does your team know how to look after you if you get seriously injured?
- Do you know enough of the route to get through every section (e.g. Durnford and Ntonjelana Gap, ridges that are best traversed such as the Yodelers/Champagne ridge etc)?

To someone who is competent on a mountain, but is unfamiliar with the Berg - they won't know that the "may require ropes" on the map at the top of Bannerman Pass is a joke but means that Hilton Pass is basically impassable when it comes to escape routes. For this purpose I would say there is merit in discussing escarpment escape routes. Further to which - such a list may also be useful in preparing for shorter trips.

Ps. anyone wanting to do a GT but unable to find a group - Mountain Backpackers Club does an annual GT, details are on their website. It is lead by experienced hikers and is generally well supported. No excuses for being unable to find a group to join.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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