The Bell Traverse

26 Aug 2008 14:11 #128 by Magan
Magan created the topic: The Bell Traverse
Hi

I havent been on the Traverse in years. Can someone tell me what the condition of Bugger Gulch Gulley is.

Cheers

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30 Aug 2008 12:23 #133 by intrepid
intrepid replied to: The Bell Traverse
Haven't been myself recently but should make it out there again sometime this year still and will submit an update.

Did speak to a friend of mine that did the Bell Traverse 2 weeks ago. He did not report anything out of the usual. It seems the gully is its usual eroded, exposed self but is not posing any major problems. Apparently there is a little ice in the gully but nothing serious.

The route has been used for cattle rustling for some time and I can only hope that Bugger Gully will stand up under the strain.

Water is of course in short supply on the Traverse currently. He did not encounter any fresh signs of the Basothos.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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04 Mar 2009 11:55 #352 by Magan
Magan replied to: The Bell Traverse
in response to Balarka

Let me give you an “average hiker’s“ perspective :

The Bell Traverse is a continuation of the hike to Cathedral Peak.

I’ve done it from the other direction, and my description is such : Twins Cave to Cathedral Peak.

The path is mostly clear, you traverse high up on the Northern slopes of the Mitre, Chessmen, Inner Horn and Outer Horn, you drop to the Sisters and then on the Southern side of the Bell, and Cathedral Peak, you climb up Bugger Gulch Gulley and then down the North side. Then you head down to the hotel via the normal route.

The views are on a clear day stunning all the way North and later South.

Any advice always include “sure footed” and “not for the feint hearted” cos there’s huge drops at times. There’s about 3 rocky areas of a few metres on the path, one around the Chessmen which I found looked too tricky and I dropped to a lower path, but even to do this needs caution as a heavy backpack can make one unsteady on steep slopes. The drops around the Bell gets steeper, and to get the adrenaline really racing, you need to ascend the very loose Bugger Gulch Gulley. Footing needs to be careful here. The top part of BGG on the Northern side is also quite a bit worn out.

There’s NO water along the way until way down near Shermans Cave. Carry extra water from the Escarp.

Also, doing the Traverse from CP Hotel to Twins cave can be a very long day, which can be broken at Bell cave which is on the path.

I must admit as one who is not totally comfortable with heights, I found it a touch scary at times but the rush from being on my edge made it very exciting. Also I did the traverse solo which may add to my caution. Yet, I wouldn’t hesitate if given the opportunity to do it again.

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05 Mar 2009 08:52 #353 by intrepid
intrepid replied to: The Bell Traverse
I had a good chuckle about your reference to an "average hiker's" perspective Magan! I have a lot of people ask about the Bell Traverse, and I will try produce a write-up sometime featuring pics of the exposed bits etc.

The path is more good than it is bad. I liken it to the Camel route of Organ Pipes Pass. I agree with Magan, the worst bits are Bugger Gully, some washed away sections on The Bell, and a short exposed bit somewhere below the Chessmen/Inner Horn.

I don't think the cattle rustlers and smugglers should scare anyone away from the BT. Problems are more likely to happen at night. If you want to take all the precautions you can, then don't sleep in Bell Cave and Twins Cave, since they are right on the trail. There was apparently an isolated incident in Bell Cave some years back. An alternative to Bell Cave is camping well off the trail on the grassy plateau below Cathedral Peak, before Bugger Gully.

You can use Twins Annexe Cave as opposed to the main Twins Cave, which is reached via a faint trail continuing on from there. I've seen signs of use by the Basothos in this cave too, but it somehow feels better being away from the main trail. You could also check out a cave which we refer to as Bellevue Cave, which is further up near the top of Mlambonja Pass. May be drippy in summer. Get the GPS co-ordinates in the downloads section.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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30 Jul 2009 13:15 - 10 Jun 2013 19:24 #529 by gollum
gollum replied to: The Bell Traverse
Hi

We are planning to hike the Bell Traverse next weekend, though we'll probably take a different route if it snows, as ice might make it dangerous (or am I being a little over-cautious?). One of our group has already done this route.

In any case, I'll post some pics DV if the trip is successful. Meanwhile, I found this via Google. Is this the famed Bugger Gulch Valley?

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Last Edit: 10 Jun 2013 19:24 by intrepid. Reason: Fixed broken image link
The following user(s) said Thank You: Beard

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31 Jul 2009 13:44 #530 by Magan
Magan replied to: The Bell Traverse
That sure is Bugger Gulch Gulley !!

Yup, snow or ice could make the Traverse pretty tricky .....

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02 Aug 2009 08:59 #532 by Hermann
Hermann replied to: The Bell Traverse
Hi, we (aMajuba,mcsa) did the Traverse easter weekend.its a great hike with a few scary places. we continued from the top of Mlambonja pass to the top of Cockade pass,camped there and then down to hotel.awesome trip indeed. We avoided Twins cave, camped on a flat place under the Mitre. much better than Twins..the views were awesome.Cockade pass was a killer bcause of the flashflood in February....we didn't know about that!!!!

Enjoy and be safe

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04 Aug 2009 15:05 #538 by Stijn
Stijn replied to: The Bell Traverse
Ha! The internet is a small world indeed - that photo you posted is from a UCT Mountain and Ski Club hike we did back in July 2004. :P That's the Western side of the gully, i.e. as viewed when coming from Twin's Cave.

The rest of the album (including some more shots of the Bell Traverse) can be found here:

www.mountain.uct.ac.za/gallery2/gallery/2004/2004-q2-drakensberg-mnweni/?g2_page=7

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04 Aug 2009 16:03 #539 by gollum
gollum replied to: The Bell Traverse
Heh, yup, I got that from the UCT site (good thing I didn't claim ownership! ;) ).

It snowed on Saturday and the peaks are still pretty white. What's the chance that the traverse will be iced up or wet on Saturday/Sunday?

I'd just like to take a different route altogether instead of having to turn back after completing two thirds of the route...

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04 Aug 2009 18:35 #541 by intrepid
intrepid replied to: The Bell Traverse
The Berg just had a really good dump of snow so chances are good for encountering it. It depends a lot on how much the weather warms up now obvioulsy. Bugger Gully is on the south facing side and is generally in a protected area from the sun. I expect that the western side shown in the photo will be particularly snow covered still, though not sure if it will be hard ice. The areas directly below The Bell could be snow covered too. After that the trail flips over on to the sunny, north-facing side of the range. Theoretically the snow will melt quicker there. Depending on how warm it gets this could prove to be a problem too in that the melted snow will freeze to form hard ice. You could encounter this in one or two places below the Inner Horn and Chessmen.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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