Cathedral Peak hikes - 3 days

06 Apr 2010 19:20 - 06 Apr 2010 19:21 #1068 by drsnoobab
I am looking for an easy (read No Passes or Exhilirating Traverses!) three day route in the Cathedral area, particularly where overnight Basutho risks are minimised. Circular route preferred as out-and-back tends to have a boring factor.

Had a look at Mikes Pass>Tseketseke Camp>Xeni cave>Cathedral Hotel ... is it safe to leave vehicles overnight on top Mikes Pass, and what is the "established" manner of getting back there on completion (only one vehicle available) - does the Hotel have a vehicle for taking their regular sight-seeing guests up there perhaps ?

Any other route suggestions, in Cathedral or any other of the Central / Northern Berg areas ? Looking for a break from character-building slogs - this time I want to slow down and take it all in :)

PS. Is Tseketseke a reasonable and comfortable camping spot? From there the route to Xeni is marked on the current map as having a steep downhill section on the approach to the cave - is this the accepted route (not marked on Slingsby) ?

Thanks in advance !
Last edit: 06 Apr 2010 19:21 by drsnoobab.

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06 Apr 2010 19:41 #1070 by anthony
HI not sure about an easy route but we did organ pipes three weeks ago and we left our cars at didima camp as they recomended not to leave the cars at the top of mikes pass. We arranged transport to the top of mikes pass and phoned for them to collect us when we were done i think the cost for eight of us was R450.00 both ways.

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06 Apr 2010 19:49 #1071 by BergAttie
You can do the route you described but it does add the vehicles logistics factor. There is a shuttle service from Didima reception at a fee - can't remember but quite reasonable. It can be a problem if you return along this route since you have to pre-arange a time with them before you leave. I have opted to just let them take you up and then to let two srong hikers in the group hike in advance on the last day or morning to get your vehicles up for the rest - saves time this way. It is no longer considered safe to leave your vehicles overnight at the Mike's pass parking area. I have had no bad experiences myself but the EKZNW staff mentioned that there have been incidents of break ins.

An alternative to what you proposed is to hike up to Shermans cave - short hop for first night and then contour path to Xeni cave. Either way will be quite spectacular.

Tsektseke hut can be used and if you look around you will find reasoanble campsites in the valley.

Don't forget the Injasuthi area for easy but pristine hikes - this area is 100% safe from Basuths and truly unspoilt - definitey my favorite for little berg hikes - good caves too.

Path from contour to Xeni cave is steep grassy slope - doable but the cave can be very tough to find - there is no clear path from the contour path - it could keep you busy for an hour or so to find the cave if you're unlucky.

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09 Apr 2010 10:46 - 09 Apr 2010 10:56 #1109 by intrepid
Affirmative: don't park your car on Mike's Pass, organise with Didima Camp for drop-offs or pickups. I've even phoned one of the drivers from The Neck before so that he could meet us there by the time we got there, and he was. By the way, they'll also drop you off at Brotherton if you're heading to Ndedima Gorge.

Yet another option for the Cathedral Peak area is to continue on from Sherman's Cave along the contour path. There is a campsite below Cathedral Peak. You could come down One Tree Hill (rather go down than up...its quite a hill!), or even continue on to the campsite where the contour path cross Mlambonja Pass.

Agree with others that Injasuthi presents some good options that match what you're looking for. Link up Grindstone Caves with Marble Baths. Or head out to Lower Injasuthi Cave and absorb the wilderness there for 2 nights. Apparently Tom's Cave has been re-opened for hikers after many years of being closed - that's on the little-explored system of hills and valleys that one drives below on the way in to the camp.

There's also the area around Stable Cave and Vaalribbokkop Cave at Monks Cowl - lots of exploring if you're up for it, and more caves than are marked on the maps. There might be some smugglers around however (cause of the vicinity with the Grays Pass - Mhlwazini smuggling corridor), though chances are you won't encounter them.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 09 Apr 2010 10:56 by intrepid.

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11 Apr 2010 17:25 #1123 by drsnoobab
Thanks for the suggestions everybody. As a last question, Slingsby indicates a campsite on the Contour Path below the Column, more or less on the stream above Xeni cave - is this spot a do-able campsite ? If so this would give me an ideal route mostly along the contour path taking in the camp below cathedral peak, then the one just mentioned, then either home to the hotel, or for an extra night add on camp at Tseketseke, and then on down to the hotel.

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18 Apr 2010 19:27 #1186 by intrepid
I compared the new maps with Slingsby's, and the campsite you are referring to certainly is not in the same location as Cockade campsite (which is the only one in that area indicated on the new one). I have not done that particular stretch of contour path in a very long time and I can't remember if there is one there. Let us know if you find it and what its like, else use Cockade campsite (which, if you haven't been there) is not right on the contour path - it's a ways up the stream towards the pass).

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

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29 Oct 2014 15:55 #62199 by FOX265
Hello,

A small group of us are planning to hike from Cathedral Peak to the top of windy gap and back.
Our route was planned, first day, to start from the top of Mikes Pass via the Old Fire Lookout, Organ Pipes then top. Second day down The Camel to bottom. The Didima Camp staff have informed that it is not possible to get a ride to the top of Mikes Pass, any comments on this? We are all relatively fit but feel that that route in a 'one day up hike' is a bit excessive. Any comments/suggestions/info to do this hike to the top of Windy Gap and back in two days would be appreciated as none of us have hiked this route before.

Thanks

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29 Oct 2014 16:12 #62201 by ghaznavid
I haven't done the Camel route, but from what I read it would be better to go up that way rather than down that way. I have done the Fire Lookout route on Organ Pipes Pass - it is a really worthwhile route, definitely one of the best passes I have ever done. There is a good trail the entire way, just be aware that there is practically no water on the pass. There is a thread somewhere on VE where the GPS co-ords of the only water on the pass are given.
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29 Oct 2014 16:16 #62202 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic Cathedral Peak hikes - 3 days
Topping out in a day from the Cathedral Peak road is doable if you are fit and have light bags (12 kg) which should be possible if going for one night. The route is quite direct via Mushroom Rock and the ridge that follows. Leave early (6am latest), travel light, and accept that long rests don't help. I would aim to walk through to the contour path before resting up briefly. Rest by walking more slowly rather than stopping completely and then rest more on the pass itself when you need it. You should be up on the escarpment by 2pm or so. Check how the team is doing when you reach the contour path. You should still have a lot left in the tank. Travelling light helps enormously.
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29 Oct 2014 17:59 #62206 by Stijn
Replied by Stijn on topic Cathedral Peak hikes - 3 days
If you aim to reach Windy Gap in a day from the tar road, I'd recommend starting at the Didima reception and heading up via the Tryme Hill path, which goes straight across the contour path via a ridge path to join up with the Camel Route. It's the most direct route at 8-9km. Trying to head up Organ Pipes (unless you start from Mike ' s Pass) involves quite a distance along the contour path.
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