Column

17 Jul 2013 10:14 #57719 by DoctorG
Column was created by DoctorG
hi guys,

The long weekend in August i'm planning A trip to climb The Column. The route of choice is the Escarpment Arete as this looks like the better one. I have read the RD on the MCSA-KZN website and I do know the area however I am asking if anyone could please assist in giving me advice, tips, pics, topos or anything that may help, would be really appreciated.

climbers are welcome to join the trip.


thanks Greg.

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17 Jul 2013 10:22 #57720 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Column
Its not a route on my to do list, but I have talked to a few people who have done it:
- Hannelie Pickering says its really scary
- Bugs says he fell a lot on the route
- I think James Voortman had a nasty experience on it, but I don't have more info than that

Enjoy, take lots of photos and give us a good writeup afterward :thumbsup:

I have a descent quality photo of the Column from the right angle that I'll email to you - its too big to upload here.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins
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17 Jul 2013 10:32 #57721 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Column
Ok, Gmail is being difficult. I have chopped out half the photo to retain sufficient quality on the important stuff.


If I'm correct, the route roughly follows the line of the border of the shaddow.

(photo from Tseketseke Peak)

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

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17 Jul 2013 11:00 #57722 by DoctorG
Replied by DoctorG on topic Column
reading the RD and looking at that pic it kind of makes sense thanks man, just need to find out the best way down.
I speak under correction but I think there are recently placed bolts.


thanks Greg

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17 Jul 2013 12:02 - 17 Jul 2013 12:03 #57726 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Column
Yes the shadow line does, very broadly speaking, define the Escarpment Arete route, based on topos etc.
Greg, make sure you pack clean pair of underpants for when you get back down.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 17 Jul 2013 12:03 by intrepid.

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17 Jul 2013 12:53 #57730 by DoctorG
Replied by DoctorG on topic Column
lol Chris, I have a good feeling about this one, and I think we got the team to do it. When you back from Canada we need to sit down and plan 2 more climbing trips for the year. Devils and Mponj


PS always take fresh underwear

thanks Greg

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17 Jul 2013 12:59 - 17 Jul 2013 13:01 #57732 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic Column
I climbed the Column a while back and recall there were 2 tricky spots on the way up and one on the way down (which may now be solved).

I found the first pitch difficult because it crosses a vague, quite veged-out steep slope with no real natural line to follow. It was in the shadow and had large sections of ice on it which didn't help the case.

We aided the second pitch as it was really too windy to climb it - so that wasn't a problem.


I came close to falling off the crux on the crux pitch which wouldn't have been good. You don't want to do that. It does take a large cam or two quite high up which is helpful. The rest of the ascent is trivial.

The descent took us, after a few rope lengths, to the last two abseils which are probably the scariest ones I've done in the Berg. The first problem was that after 3, maybe 4 rapps, we landed on a reasonably wide ledge with a big drop-off and there was nothing except a small helichrycum bush, no more than shin high, to tie off. We spent nearly an hour searching for anywhere to place gear to use as an anchor but as it was getting dark, we ended up using only the bush and a bit of roof rack strap that we brought along. That rapp off took us to the last rapp of the day which was at the end of the diagonal rapp from the bush and on another face of the mountain. From there we rapped off a rattling peg which was FACING DOWNWARDS towards the ground. Because of that we basically downclimbed that last rapp. I have heard that the last rapp offs have been sorted now, which is just as well.
Last edit: 17 Jul 2013 13:01 by tiska.

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17 Jul 2013 13:13 #57733 by DoctorG
Replied by DoctorG on topic Column
Wow Mt_tiska, that sounds like a epic. I will contact Gavin and find out about the Rap off as I have heard about bolts being placed.
other than that, what did you think of the protection and route finding

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17 Jul 2013 13:28 - 17 Jul 2013 13:30 #57736 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic Column
Gear and route finding is OK.
I would say the hardest route finding is on the first pitch (beware rope drag on that one too). Once round the corner with your back to the rest of the Cathedral range (Cleft Peak side), the route finding is really quite straightforward. Its all there in front of you. From the top of the crux pitch to the actual summit there are multiple possibilities, but none of it is difficult.

The gear is OK for the Berg though you can't stitch up either the first pitch or the crux pitch.

Some mates of mine on another day rapped off the wrong side and ended up hanging over an abyss on the Cathedral Spur side of the mountain! Not good.... They had to climb back up the rope.

One final word, re-climbing what is effectively a bit of the Thompson route isn't much fun if your ropes get stuck on the rapp off. If there are good bolts, one gets drawn into longer rapps and with that comes the increased chance of getting a rope stuck. Last person down on climbs I did always had the special job of keeping her/his wrist between the two ropes just above the friction device. That so the ropes are nicely separated and move relative to each other. But you probably know that stuff.
Last edit: 17 Jul 2013 13:30 by tiska.

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17 Jul 2013 13:39 #57737 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic Column
Great photo Ghaz - but that photo, together with the name of the route (escarpment arête) rather misleadingly suggests you go up the knife edge - which you don't. If the photo was taken about 90 degrees round towards the east (i.e. from a chopper somewhere in Tseketseke pass), then you would be looking onto the details of the route that you actually climb. Best photo is probably in Malcolm Pearse's black and white photography book of the Berg.

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