Easter 2018

31 Jan 2018 06:58 #72743 by AndrewP
Easter 2018 was created by AndrewP
This Easter (30 Mar to 2 Apr) I will be leading an MCSA meet to the Mnweni area. I am going to open the meet up and invite VE members to join.

Exact plans will emerge closer to the time, but my plan is to do a combined hiking / climbing meet to the Mnweni cutback area. I am thinking of setting up a base camp on the escarpment in the bowl at the back of the cutback or nearby. Climbers can tackle the Mnweni Pinnacles, or any of the numerous pinnacles (Eeny, Meeny etc; 12 Apostles; uCickane) in the cutback itself. Hikers can get a chance to do some of the more interesting passes in the area such as Mnweni Buttress Pass, Hanging Valleys Pass or just a stroll along the lip of the cutback looking at all the pinnacles. And, if you have ever wanted to get a photo of someone on top of the Mnweni Pinnacles, this is a better chance than most.

I will probably hire someone from the Mnweni Visitor Center to spend a day or 2 on top to look after everyone’s tents, thus freeing everyone up to a day with light bags and hopefully bouncy steps.

You can join for either the whole trip, or just pitch up for a few hours to say Hi.
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31 Jan 2018 08:15 #72744 by firephish
Replied by firephish on topic Easter 2018
possibly keen, will see if planets align.

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31 Jan 2018 17:58 #72747 by elinda
Replied by elinda on topic Easter 2018
This sounds great Andrew ! - we will definitely give this some thought as we were thinking of doing something in the Mnweni area over Easter. Keep us posted...................

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31 Jan 2018 18:29 #72748 by Richard Hunt
Replied by Richard Hunt on topic Easter 2018
O yes...a photo of someone standing on top of the pinnacle has got my blood pumping!!!! been talking to Elinda about exploring the Hanging Valley/Cutback area for some time now....Andrew sounds good!!!!!!

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06 Feb 2018 13:50 #72773 by Richard Hunt
Replied by Richard Hunt on topic Easter 2018
@AndrewP....is this the area you plan to tent in?

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06 Feb 2018 20:29 #72774 by AndrewP
Replied by AndrewP on topic Easter 2018
It will depend a bit on water, but yes, relatively nearby. I really like your pic, it gives a great perspective of the depth and complexity of the cutback and surrounds


I am sure we could put people or a tent at a spot that will give better pics as well.
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05 Apr 2018 16:56 #73121 by AndrewP
Replied by AndrewP on topic Easter 2018
This is the first time I have opened up an MCSA meet to other sections of the MCSA or to VE members. It led to a little confusion, and a few complications regarding things like traveling. Surprisingly few people pulled out at the last minute, which is even more impressive considering the damp weather forecast. In the end, a few independent groups converged on the same part of the hill. This meant I only had to worry about a group of 13 including a porter, Bafana, whose task was to look after our tents while we were climbing or hiking on the escarpment. Roger gave him a tent to carry, and I dumped a drill and some bolts on him, hoping to bolt an abseil line off the Inner Pinnacle.

We set off from the Mnweni Visitor Center shortly after 8am in pleasant weather. We walked at a steady pace, with a few breaks along the way. The rivers were fairly full, so we had to get wet feet crossing the river below the Dassie. That hill confused a few of the party, who really wanted to take the long low route, but in the end I got everyone up the higher, shorter line. We comfortably reached a campsite just upstream of Shepards Cave mid-afternoon.


That night we had a lot of rain and the outlook when we awoke did not inspire confidence.


A quick conference with Tony suggested we skip the climbing plans and salvage the best possible hiking options. About then, we also saw an umbrella making its way up the valley, it really does seem a winner of an idea. Rwanqa was aborted in favour of Mnweni Pass, partially because it would be easier to follow a path in the mist and partially because we had a better escape route lined up if the next day turned out to be even worse as per weather forecast. We had an honest amount of rain for the first hour of the walk and enough mist and general dampness from then on to suggest the change had been a sensible move. Upon reaching the top, I turned a little inland and selected a campsite further from the escarpment than any of the other groups in the area. It seemed to work, as the breaks we had in the mist always revealed the escarpment to be in thicker mist.

On Sunday, the weather was slightly more promising, but not by much. I was not keen on climbing, so suggested we go for a walk down the Senqu in search of sunshine and pools. We took a leisurely stroll down the valley, and at one point spent a fair amount of time exploring an empty kraal.


It helped of course that Bafana was looking after our tents and gear. We got enough sunshine that after a while the pools started looking appealing. A few brave souls stripped down for a brief dip. The Senqu has several small rapids, lots of shallow pools and even a short, shallow gorge section.


We followed the Senqu as far as the point where the speed GT crosses it and I was pleased to see my memory served me right – even with high water levels after all the rain, it was still possible to step across the river with dry feet. We followed the river heading up towards the back of the Saddle and found even more pools and small waterfalls. After lunch, we started a long grind back over the ridge we had now avoided. Just as I reached the highest point, a kind soul in the group pointed out that they had accidentally left their credit card and some cash at the lunch spot. Ah shame, I had to run all the way down to have a look. Credit card was later found back at camp, but I had a really good run back up the hill J

On Monday, the group spilt. Just about everyone set off down Rockeries Pass, and I later heard that split into various groups heading down at different speeds. Tony Marshall, Roger Diamond and I took a scenic option. My logic is that we had all the gear, so this was the time to explore the gully at the very back of the cutback. I will confess it was a bit more than expected. But, that’s a different story.

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