Solo hiking in the Berg

02 Aug 2010 11:36 - 02 Aug 2010 11:37 #1537 by lyslexic
Hi

I am thinking of heading to the berg this weekend and have a question regarding hiking alone.

- Is it allowed?
- Is it advisable/ safe?

The hike that I have in mind is to the top of the Amphitheater from Sentinal car park. the idea is to leave around 8am and be back by 2 or 3pm.


Any advice is appriciated.


Thanks in advance
:)
Last edit: 02 Aug 2010 11:37 by lyslexic.

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03 Aug 2010 09:03 - 03 Aug 2010 09:17 #1547 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Solo hiking in the Berg
Hi lyslexic,

at Sentinel Car Park they should allow you to go alone (as far as I am aware). You shouldn't have security problems with the Basotho as long as you don't sleep over. As far as safety goes, do take proper gear with, meaning a proper weather-proof jacket, and warm clothes, extra food and a space blanket in case you get injured or lost and need to sleep over. Bear in mind that lives have lost in that area due to cold / weather related problems. Please don't join the ranks of ignorant visitors that head up there simply with shorts, T-shirt and a water bottle. Take a cell phone along (generally good signal up there), and save some of the rescue numbers which should be posted on the wall in the office where you sign the register. Get the cell phone number of the gaurd on duty too. Fill in the rescue register properly. Also, don't depend just on the register, check in with a family member or friend when you leave, and again when you are back down (they should be aware of what time you expect to be down).

Have fun, hike safe, and let us know how it went.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 03 Aug 2010 09:17 by intrepid.

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03 Aug 2010 12:36 #1550 by lyslexic
Replied by lyslexic on topic Solo hiking in the Berg
Thanks Intrepid.

Just what I was looking for. :)

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09 Jul 2011 08:33 #3290 by Stijn
Replied by Stijn on topic Solo hiking in the Berg
So the solo thing in the Berg is something that's been nagging at me for a while. I have finally succumbed and will be doing a 4-day hike from 6-9 August on my ace :)

The route I would like to follow is as follows:

Day 1: Injastuti Camp to Lower Injasuti Cave, possibly with an extra loop via Centenary Hut and down to the cave via the vague path as marked on the maps. I've been up past Centenary Hut before but have never used the descent to LIC - is this extra loop worth it or should I just head straight to LIC and explore up the valley towards Hilton's Pass & the Triplets in the afternoon?

Day 2: Along the "contour path" past Marble Baths Cave and Old Woman Grinding Corn towards the Ship's Prow Stream. I'll keep an eye out for reasonable campsites anywhere on the section between Cateract Valley and the Ship's Prow Stream. Any recommendations for good spots?

Day 3: Continue along the contour path and ascend to Cowl Cave via Cowl Pass. From what I have read on this site and elsewhere, the cave is situated in the saddle between Champagne Castle and Monk's Cowl while the actual pass goes over the saddle between Monk's Cowl and Cathkin. Is it easy enough just to follow the left fork of the pass straight up to the cave?

Day 4: Down Cowl Pass to Keith Bush Camp and back around via Hlatikhulu Nek and Blind Man's Corner. Descend back to Injasuti Camp via the Shada Ridge and Van Heiningens Pass. Once again, should I contour around the Southern face of Monk's Cowl via the ledge used in the cave descriptions to get the actual top of Cowl Pass before descending to KBC? Or is it straightforward enough to descend to KBC directly from the Champagne/Cowl saddle where Cowl Cave is situated.

Any other recommendations?

Yeeehaaa - can't wait! :woohoo:

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10 Jul 2011 11:42 #3291 by thomas
Replied by thomas on topic Solo hiking in the Berg
Stijn,

It is a breath of fresh (Berg) air to hear a hiker going solo. I truly appreciate the desire and initiative it takes to do so, as I have enjoyed the Drakensberg solo more than many times over 30 years and prefer it. Nearly did 2 months solo once. Did not see a single person or say/hear a single word for an entire week at a time which is probably a rare event in this world. Given the pressures facing "wilderness" areas such as this mountain range, it is hard to find singular solace and one has to check the calendar to make sure you dont have to share it with marathons, challenges, competitions, competitors, sponsors, helicopters, hotels, noise, bells and whistles, etc. I just stayed atop Mont-aux-Sources the first weekend of July alone and enjoyed it. While hard to nail down one particular facet of the Berg I like the most, it is truly the s-i-l-e-n-c-e that grabs me (especialy in winter). My finest book reads in snug caves over days of sunshine and snow will forever colour my hiking memories. Happy trails alone.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Vynbos

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12 Jul 2011 05:32 #3297 by Hermann
Replied by Hermann on topic Solo hiking in the Berg
Hi
Went for solo hike july 1st....hiked up the valley past LIC to the base of Hilton Pass,well worth it! Day 2 I hiked up the ridge(top of LiC) and then to Marble Baths. The plan was then to hike to shada Ridge and overnight there and then back to injisuthi...i went down past grindstone caves to the camp and booked in a bush tent.
It was 2 degrees and i decided to come down. solo hiking is awesome sometimes..(most of my 30 years of hiking is solo)

Thursday i'm going back to finish it...up Cataract Valley past bottom of ships prow pass and maybe up to Cowl Cave and back to Injisuthi. the cowl ravine is very rough going up,but the views is worth it when your at the cave...another great solo hike is Stable cave area---Kieth bush camp---over the gap to cowl cave and then back to Monks cowl

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12 Jul 2011 05:47 #3298 by Stijn
Replied by Stijn on topic Solo hiking in the Berg
Thanks guys for the inspriring replies! :)

I'm particularly interested in the approach and exit to Cowl Cave - am I correct in assuming you would follow the left fork up from the Injasuti side straight to the cave and then contour along the ledge to the Cowl/Cathkin saddle before descending to KBC the next day?

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12 Jul 2011 06:03 #3301 by Hermann
Replied by Hermann on topic Solo hiking in the Berg
the route from contour path winds up all the way on the right hand side and then near the fork you go left. From cave,down and then contour ledge. some cairns that will show you the way. Going down to KBC you keep left

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12 Jul 2011 16:20 #3305 by MountainGoat
@Herman: When you said left to KBC you mean from the right fork or straight down the back part of the left fork from the cave? We did that & it was tough ( & on the knees)

@ Stijn: Solo is great, but obviously dangerous in many regards. Not too sure about the 'contour' from the cave to the right part of the fork, but you should be able to find a pretty clear path as we saw some climbers (on our trip up the left fork) & when we set up camp at KBC the afternoon (after the left fork descent) they came down the right hand side of the fork.

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12 Jul 2011 16:51 - 12 Jul 2011 16:58 #3306 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Solo hiking in the Berg

Stijn wrote: Thanks guys for the inspriring replies! :)

I'm particularly interested in the approach and exit to Cowl Cave - am I correct in assuming you would follow the left fork up from the Injasuti side straight to the cave and then contour along the ledge to the Cowl/Cathkin saddle before descending to KBC the next day?

Yes Stijn, on the Injasuthi side I would follow the left fork straight up the cave as soon as you can get onto it. It is grassy, as opposed to the scree filled right fork. You will still have to navigate through a messy section at the start though. From the cave you need to drop about 50m in altitude back down towards Injasuthi and then contour around the base of the Cowl (Injasuthi side) to the Cowl-Cathkin neck. This traverse does have exposure, but just take it slow and deliberate and you'll be fine. I would not attempt descending to KBC directly from the Cowl-Champagne neck.

You will notice that there is a smaller, 2-man, tunnel-like cave not far away from Cowl Cave, right at the Champagne-Cowl neck, which you may prefer.

I've got GPS data for Cowl Pass which I will post when I get a gap.

Enjoy the solo hike and take care!

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 12 Jul 2011 16:58 by intrepid.

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