Winter hiking in the Drakensberg

17 May 2011 13:05 #2903 by Frosty Ice
Frosty Ice created the topic: Winter hiking in the Drakensberg
Okay so, winter is coming and we are considering which hike we should do...

Ciretia are as follows roughly:
3 days
A pass of some sort to get above 3000m
No alpine climbing (Although some may be considered)
Decent level of fitness required
A peak would be a bonus
Something that you will remeber all of summer

If there is heavy snow fall can a "path" be followed, or d you have GPS data?

:-)

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20 May 2011 10:13 - 20 May 2011 10:19 #2923 by intrepid
intrepid replied to: Winter hiking in the Drakensberg
Consider the Giant's Castle area - several good 3 day options there. I tend to save this area for winter because most of the shepherds move away. You can work out various combinations of passes from Judge Pass all the way through to Giants Pass, with some worthy 3000m peaks along the way. Then there is the Giant's Castle massif. The summit itself is a very worthwhile destination - most 3300m+ peaks are away from the edge...not this one! You can use Giants Pass up and down, or combine it with Elandshoek Pass coming down the South Ridge, or do Eastern Gully if you feeling really adventurous (does get filled with snow, requiring gear). You can also check out some of the classic ice routes while there. Mind the violent winds that seem to hammer the massif though. GPS data for many of these passes are in the Downloads section.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last Edit: 20 May 2011 10:19 by intrepid.

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23 May 2011 22:47 #2953 by Bigsnake
Bigsnake replied to: Winter hiking in the Drakensberg
I suggest Lotheni.It has a far more 'remote' feeling than Giants.
Day1: Up Butress Pass. A doddle really!But gets you to the summit quickly.
Day2:Walk north bagging Redi Peak, 3rd highest.Continue 'north' camping near summit of eNtubeni Pass.
Day3: Down eNtubeni Pass back to Lotheni Main camp.Awesome waterfall en route.
Happy hiking!

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16 Nov 2012 21:56 #55629 by Oneye
Oneye replied to: Winter hiking in the Drakensberg
I live and work in Colorado (Western slope) and have been given an air ticket which expires next November. Problem is I only get off June and December, this December is spoken for and next December is too late.

What are conditions like in the berg in June? I assume that usually the snows have not yet come, and water is hard (perhaps extremely hard) to find. I assume that a hiker must be prepared for full winter conditions. But I am guessing, experienced hikers please give me facts!

Perhaps I should consider Umfolosi and/or St Lucia?

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17 Nov 2012 08:23 #55630 by Smurfatefrog
Smurfatefrog replied to: Winter hiking in the Drakensberg
Do both, those are two of my favourite parts of SA!

There is often snow in June, most does fall a bit later in winter though
Regarding water, it all depends where you want to go. There will be water around, it just a matter of how far you need to walk to get it, but if you plan your route & know when to collect water it won't be an issue

Which part of the berg are you looking at?

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17 Nov 2012 15:11 - 17 Nov 2012 15:12 #55633 by HFc
HFc replied to: Winter hiking in the Drakensberg
Off course the weather is never perfectly predictable, but based on previous experience I would say June is a decent time to go to the Berg. It gets cold and the winter winds already start picking up 2nd half of May. However, properly clothed and kitted and you should be fine. And yes, in June water is still available most seasons.

December, if that were an option, is not exactly ideal due to the extremely fierce thunderstorms in the afternoons and early evenings. The berg has served up many uncomfortable situations for me, but none more so than some thunderstorms in summer on the escarpment. We have in fact decided, because of this, to avoid the escarpment hikes in December.

Just my opinion off course.
Last Edit: 17 Nov 2012 15:12 by HFc.

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17 Nov 2012 17:11 #55634 by ghaznavid
ghaznavid replied to: Winter hiking in the Drakensberg
My personal experience is that April to early July is when the weather is amazing for hiking. It gets very cold at night, you can get terrible wind or snow, but you have the best odds of getting good weather. Also, security issues are usually not at this time of the year as the shepherds move further inland due to the cold.

Water isn't always too reliable at this time of the year, but usually there will be water in Lesotho - less so in the Northern Berg.

If you are coming to South Africa, there are worthwhile features other than the Berg - St Lucia, Cape Vidal, Umfolozi area is amazing. If you go to the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal there is also Oribi Gorge which is also really worth a visit (and its the place to go if you want to do the highest gorge swing on earth).

"Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory." - Ed Viesturs

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19 Nov 2012 06:04 #55638 by Serious tribe
Serious tribe replied to: Winter hiking in the Drakensberg
Go for it, definitely d.berg, other if you still have the time.

Cold (avg min is -8 at about 1800m in july) with a chance of snow, but mostly heavy snow dumps happens aug and sep.

Water can be a problem, it depends how much it has rained during summer leading into april may. Best to check out with people who have hiked a month before you leave. July/ Aug is usually the driest month ito of stream flows, but if you have a snow dump, there can be plenty of melt-water for about a week or two.

Wind, worst about aug.

Definitely fully equipped with a good layered clothing system and robust boots, snow gaiters and tent.

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19 Nov 2012 12:57 #55641 by Trev
Trev replied to: Winter hiking in the Drakensberg
My advice: Base yourself in Durban, its warmer than most other places in SA in winter. From there you can make excursions to the Berg, Umfolozi or the beach. Prepare for the time of your life.

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21 Nov 2012 20:03 #55658 by intrepid
intrepid replied to: Winter hiking in the Drakensberg
June is not a bad Berg-wise in my books. This year it was fairly mild temperature-wise though it can definitely get much colder other years.

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

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