Itineraries for doing the Bell Traverse

10 Jun 2013 11:39 #57224 by tiska
Three days is OK for this route.
Most people would go up to Bell Cave or nearby on day 1. The traverse from Bell to Twins Cave on day 2 only takes 3-4 hours if you get the route correct. Day three descend Mblanbonje Pass, which you can get into 5 minutes from Twins Cave. Don't do Xeni Pass unless you like very technical stuff.
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10 Jun 2013 19:41 #57237 by intrepid

CobusStals wrote: Hi. How feasible is it to hike the Bell Traverse in Cathedral Peak and down another pass in 3 days? (This weekend, thus winter) And which pass do you recommend coming down? I see Xeni pass and Tseketseke pass is nearby on the 50 000 topo map. Is Xeni pass also Mlambonja pass?

Hi Cobus and welcome to this forum. I've merged your topic into this one, which caters for discussion on how to fit the Bell Traverse into an itinerary. Please have a look through the previous posts in this thread for further ideas. The classic three day option would be what mnt_tiska has already discribed. Depending on the conditions and the strength and competence of your group, you might want to push through towards Cockade Pass and descend that the next day. I don't mention this as a recommendation, simply as a possibility. The classic three route gives much more time for enjoyment and is way more forgiving. Enjoy.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
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24 Feb 2014 08:33 #59739 by petroengel
Hi everyone!
I am planning a multiday round trip up Bell traverse and down Tseketseke pass. I am though wondering which way around will be best: up Bell traverse and Mlambonja pass, down Tseketseke, or up Tseketseke and down the other way.
Any thoughts?

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24 Feb 2014 19:31 #59746 by tiska
Hi petroengel,
I've done this trip both ways a few times. I prefer doing the Bell Traverse first and descending Tseke. This is why:
1) Bell cave provides a convenient stop over on night 1. There isn't much beside tents at the top of Tseke Pass.
2) When you walk the Bell traverse, it is nice to look onto the mountains than away from them. If you go from bell Cave to twins Cave, you face the escarpment. The opposite direction is not as dramatic.
3) You can go from Twins Cave along to Tseke and back to the road/hotel easily enough in a day.

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24 Feb 2014 22:29 #59748 by intrepid
Hi petroengel, the official thread for this kind of discussion is Itineraries for doing the Bell Traverse . You may find something useful there. I will merge this post with that thread soon (leaving this here temporrarily so you can find your post still).

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04 Mar 2014 09:46 #59782 by petroengel
Hi Intrepid. Thanks. After I posted this I saw that you have an official thread on the topic. Sorry about that! :)
Mnt_tiska, thanks for the advice! The best views are indeed the deciding factor!

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04 Mar 2014 17:25 #59790 by relevitt
Hi Petroengel. If you're doing the Bell Traverse before May, I'd be very interested in your feedback on the experience, as well as your GPX track if you're taking a GPS. The two GPX tracks I've seen so far give quite a rough idea of the route - no criticism, I guess half the satellites are usually blocked by the berg.

R

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15 Apr 2014 17:45 #60379 by GerritHuman
Hi everyone,

This is my first post on this forum, hopefully the first of many.

We are planning to go hiking this Easter weekend.
Day 1) We want to go up past Sherman's cave and sleep near the Bell cave the first night.
Day 2) Walk to Twins cave early and chill there.
Day 3) Walk down Mlambonja pass to Cathedral Peak hotel and go home.

Now I have a few questions:
1) Am I correct to say it is about a 5-6 hour hike from Cathedral Peak hotel to Bell cave?
2) Is the only definite water sources at Sherman's cave and past Twins cave?
3) We are a group of 10+ people. Is there place to pitch tents near the Bell cave? Where can we sleep the first night?

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15 Apr 2014 18:24 - 15 Apr 2014 18:25 #60380 by ghaznavid
Welcome to VE :thumbsup:

I haven't done the Bell Traverse past the turnoff for Cathedral Peak, but myself and Viking did Cathedral Peak on Saturday.

Not sure if advice regarding the route is required, but the trick up to Orange Peel Gap is to pace it. Its easy, so you will be tempted to go fast - don't. Take it nice and easy and you can reach the gap in good time. Also - before you hit the gully of OPG, you will find a few spots where it looks like you have to scramble up rocks, all of these can be avoided by alternative trails to the side.

Also - if you haven't done Cathedral Peak before - you start by crossing a river, then going up a hill. The path splits near the base of a cliff and isn't sign posted. Go right there. Otherwise navigation is easy to OPG.

Regarding water - to the top of B's gully there are only 2 usable spots that I am aware of (I wouldn't drink from the river downstream of the hotel at the start). The first is a river above a waterfall. Its about 2h into the hike and is actually a really nice rest stop. The 2nd is about 2km past OPG (that is a very rough estimate of distance). The trick to finding it is to watch for a line of vegetation down the slopes above you. There is a faint trail up to a wet rock with water trickling down it. To get water from this, take something small and pointy like a stick or a pen and use it to shove the end of a plastic packet into a small crack in the rock. Funnel the packet into your waterbottle and you have water. With rain forecast it should be flowing this weekend.

I have never seen any water in the river flowing down from B's Gully - but I have only been to that river twice.

If you reach a spot where you have a view of the escarpment to your left (after OPG), you have gone about 500m past the water spot I mentioned above.

Hope that helps ;)
Last edit: 15 Apr 2014 18:25 by ghaznavid.
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16 Apr 2014 07:41 - 16 Apr 2014 08:14 #60381 by Viking
Here are the co-ords for the water trickle Ghaz mentions above.
Hopefully it is still running this weekend.

28°55'14.71"S
29° 8'55.42"E

It's in the WGS84 datum.

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”
Last edit: 16 Apr 2014 08:14 by Viking.
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