Mlambonja Pass - Organ Pipes Pass link-up & escarpment traverse

05 Mar 2015 21:26 - 05 Mar 2015 21:41 #62968 by tonymarshall
Hi Susan,

The suggestions are spot on.

Just be aware that you may battle to find water between Orange Peel Gap and Cathedral Peak unless there are some good rains between now and Easter. Your last water may be at the stream just past Sherman's Cave, and next water may be the Kwakwatsi River past the top of Mlambonja Pass, unless the drip in Twins Cave annex is dripping.

When you get to the top of Mlambonja Pass you drop down the ridge into the Kwakwatsi valley, and head upstream to the left. Note that you cross the river, and there is a good path on the south east side of the river, not on the north west side as shown on the map and your track. There are lots of suitable flat spots for tenting along the river.

Following the same path along the river will take you all the way over the Elephant ridge past Mahout and back down into the valley on the other side to the top of Cockade Pass, and the path eventually peters out near Tseketseke Pass. As mentioned by Smurf, the Elephant gully can also be used as an alternative route. From Tseketseke Pass you can head around or over Cleft Peak, I would suggest over, as the views from the top back to the Cathedral range and Column and Pyramid are stunning, and then drop down and tent somewhere along the stream between Cleft Peak and Castle Buttress.

It is quite a steep climb up from the start of the hike to Cathedral Peak, and then your other obstacles are Elephant Ridge and Cleft Peak/Cleft Peak ridge.

I've just been assisting Laila1492 from Romania (via email) with information and a gps track and waypoints on the exact same route, if you would like the track, pm me your email address.
Last edit: 05 Mar 2015 21:41 by tonymarshall.

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03 May 2018 23:32 #73375 by Dhinesh
Dear members,

Thank you for a fascinating and informative community!

I am 'leading' a trip of 6 experienced hikers (Everest Base camp, Kili, Fish River Canyon, Otter, etc) in a 5 day, 4 night hike in the Cathedral Peak area.

Unfortunately I'm the only one of the group that has experience of our route, but is has been more than 15 years since I've been in this part of the 'Berg; so I would like to ask some advice.......

Our proposed route is:
- Cathedral Peak Hotel-contour path -Mlambonja pass bottom (night 1 here)
-up Mlambonja Pass to Kwakwatsi River (night 2)
-traverse toward Windy Gap (night 3 somewhere here)
-down the Camel (if safe) or Organ Pipes (night 4 at the old lookout or campsite at bottom of Camel)
-return to Cathedral Peak Hotel.

A few questions:
-is this a reasonable itinerary?
-does anyone have GPS waypoints for this route?
-where would be a good spot to spend night 3 on the way to Windy Gap?
-if we decide and shorten the trip by going down Tseketseke....can anyone help with GPS nav? I believe it has become very eroded and difficult to navigate.

I last visited the 'Berg in 2015. Can't wait to return!

I would appreciate any assistance.

Cheers, dhinesh

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07 May 2018 12:06 #73394 by Dave
Hi Dhinesh,

- Your plan is definitely feasible.
- GPS data may be found in the Downloads section (link on the right of the page).
- For your third night, if you decide to go down Organ Pipes / The Camel, I'd say push to Roland's Cave (if you don't mind heights) or the lower Ndumeni Dome Caves. Camping near the top of Organ Pipe's Pass is not advised. If you decide to go down Tseke, you'll probably find camping spots down by the Maloreng, but I haven't camped there myself.
- Tseke has a path the whole way down on the true left, which bypasses all the waterfalls, etc. ( see Tony's write-up ). It's boulder-hopping once you get down into the riverbed, but it's well marked with cairns.

Enjoy and be safe.

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13 Mar 2019 13:31 - 13 Mar 2019 13:34 #74776 by Calvinragg
Hi fellow Vertical Endeavour  members.

Does anyone have access to a .gpx file with a route from  Rolands Cave / Organ Pipes vicinity  to Twins Cave vicinity that they wouldn't mind sharing? I have been searching for the past couple months and have had no luck. Any other info about the route would be greatly appreciated. 

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Last edit: 13 Mar 2019 13:34 by Calvinragg.

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13 Mar 2019 14:09 #74778 by Stijn
I've attached a GPS track for Roland's to Twins... this route goes over Cleft Peak summit and takes the escarpment route around the Elephant, rather than the Elephant gully route. Hope it helps!

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14 Mar 2019 10:39 - 14 Mar 2019 10:40 #74791 by Riaang
Welcome to VE, Celvin

Quick route description for you:
As you exit Rolands cave you will descend down Ndumeni dome towards the valley between Ndumeni dome and Cleft peak. Nice spot here for coffee and possibly topping up with water. You can either go towards the escarpment edge side to tackle Cleft Peak head on (it's rather steep but the views are stunning), or you could go around it to the left. You will notice (in good viz) that there is a neck towards the left, and there is a sheep trail all the way up the valley to the top of this neck. 

Either options now take you over Cleft peak and you start descending into the valley towards the top of Cockade pass. As per Stijn he went to the left up mahout, alternatively you could traverse immediately below the elephant - both routes come out in the next valley. I've done both and it's much of a muchness. Roughly the same amount of altitude gains on both, although, going over Mahout you have spectacular views all round, and especially when looking south. The Elephant gully at first glance looks like less of an ascent than Mahout, but what you can't see is the climb on the other side waiting for you :-) Also, the last part of this gully is properly steep - last time I did it in the snow with a headwind that was strong enough to blow you over, so it was quite tiring to get to the top.

From here you turn slightly to the right and follow the curve of the valley to the left a bit later on. On your right is Xeni peak, and you can peek down it's various passheads for some spectacular views. Another good spot for water can be found here, or you could walk a bit further onwards and top up with water before crossing over the ridge towards Twins cave. There is no stream/river at Twins cave, so you have to top up with water at said stream as your next water spot is way down Mlambonja pass. Once pass Xeni peak and after turning left, the top of Mlambonja is just after the 3rd stream coming down from your left. There are kerns at the top indicating the start of the path leading down to Twins Cave, but sometimes these kerns are broken down. Not to worry if you don't find any, just look around on the ridge, you should find the path as it is fairly distinct. However, if you are unable to find the path, the very next gully on the escarpment edge will also take you down to Twins cave, although it is quite steep and the path is very eroded in places - prepare for a bumslide or two :-)

Last edit: 14 Mar 2019 10:40 by Riaang.

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14 Mar 2019 18:03 - 15 Mar 2019 00:27 #74796 by intrepid
Hi Calvin,

have a look at the GPS track for the Grand Traverse which is available in the Downloads, and pick out the section of the route that is relevant, it should give you an indication. You can get the pass summits along the escarpment as a download too.

Also please note the Mlambonja Pass - Organ Pipes Pass link-up & escarpment traverse thread. Essentially your question falls under that thread. (Post edit: threads have been merged)

Note the two major route variations in the Cockade/Elephant area which is described in detail here .

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 15 Mar 2019 00:27 by intrepid. Reason: removed redundant link

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14 Mar 2019 21:28 #74797 by Calvinragg
Wow! Thank you everyone for the wealth of info. I didn't expect to receive such positive feedback ! I really appreciate guys taking their time to share this info. I should of just done this in the first place. Would of saved myself a lot of time. Looking forward to any awesome time in the berg!
All the best guys and safe hiking for the future! 

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