Itineraries for doing the Bell Traverse

06 Nov 2015 18:17 - 06 Nov 2015 18:20 #65692 by john mark 1
Hey Supertramp

1. Bell cave was a disappointment for me. I've just looked to see if I could dig up a photo of it, seems as if I didn't even bother taking a picture as I couldn't find any in my records. Unless you really want to avoid sleeping in a tent I would camp at the base of Cathedral Peak.

2. I've only done the BT down (Twins to Cathedral Peak) so can't comment on what the reverse is like. It never occurred to me though that it may be much more spectacular opposite way around. I don't think you will be disappointed whichever way you do it.

Oh, and I can't really see why one way will be harder than the other. Unless you are referring to the slight overall uphill vs slight overall downhill. But its more just a nice long flat section with great views.
Last edit: 06 Nov 2015 18:20 by john mark 1.
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08 Nov 2015 15:01 - 08 Nov 2015 15:04 #65700 by ghaznavid
Ok - so I can revise my previous post about having not done the Bell Traverse part. I can even go one better with very up-to-date data :woohoo:

The escarpment river is flowing nicely, so no stress there. The drip at Twins Cave is dry, but we did see 3 small drips on the traverse itself. They are very slow, though, so you may need to wait about an hour to get anything meaningful. We passed the drip near Orange Peel Gap after dark, so we didn't check that out, but the river crossing an hour before the hotel was very slow and the water looked rather murky.

Re Bell Cave: it has 1 fundamental problem: there is no water source anywhere near it, so you will be carrying water from the escarpment right through to the end. It isn't the best cave I have ever seen, but it isn't the worst either. Wouldn't be my first choice in cave though. You can't miss it as the trail drops right down to go past it, before climbing again.

Camping below Cathedral will have the exact same problem regarding water.

Regarding view per direction - I have only done the route once, but considering the fact that I was on it exactly 24 hours before writing this, I would say I can comment on this. The view of the escarpment is great, and you wind in and out of corners quite a bit, so you won't exactly miss the view of Mnweni. I thought the best views were of the peaks on the Cathedral Ridge anyway, and these views are immediately above you the entire time - so no problem there. For that matter, Cathedral Peak is rather impressive from above the Sisters, and you have this immediately in front of you for a while.

I will post some photos with the story in the next few days.
Last edit: 08 Nov 2015 15:04 by ghaznavid.
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10 Nov 2015 18:08 - 10 Nov 2015 20:17 #65747 by supertramp
Thanks a million John Mark, your inputs are appreciated.

Have then decided to do the route as planned and camp at the base of Cathedral Peak on the 2nd night. Just hope that everyone is prepped for the slog up Mlambonja :) From there onwards it is heaven on earth (with full appreciation of everything the Berg can throw at you).

By your guesstimate, how long will it take us from Twins Cave to Cathedral base. I would really like it if we could summit on the 2nd day.
Last edit: 10 Nov 2015 20:17 by supertramp. Reason: Spelling error :-)

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10 Nov 2015 20:50 #65750 by supertramp
Hey Ghaz,

Thanks a million! Now that is some textbook "up to date" information.

Read your hike report - seriously impressive!!! :thumbsup: To go up Cockade and down the BT in one day takes some doing. Love the photos too! Other than the first day up Mlambonja pass I’m really looking forward to spending two days going down the BT and to absorb the views.

The plan is to take it slow and to fill up with LOTS of water in Lesotho to last us for the 1.5 days. Will just have to find a way to limit my group’s endless consumption of coffee. I am used to taking my 6kg camera and tri-pod along so for me I’ll be more than happy to substitute that weight with water this time around.

With regards to the views: I’m really looking forward to seeing both the Mnweni and Cathedral Ridge peaks from that perspective as I’ve hiked extensively on either side of it. Can quite vividly remember the awe seeing the Cathedral Ridge for the first time when we descended via the South Peak of the Saddle on our Northern Berg Traverse.

Your verification of the state of the stream above Sherman’s Cave is a live safer in case we ended up deciding to do the route in the other direction.

Now I can finally finalize the route planning in Basecamp and send out the hike itinerary to our group. Haven't been to the Berg since July so I'm literally can't wait to get back out there :hike: :)

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10 Nov 2015 21:14 #65751 by john mark 1

supertramp wrote: By your guesstimate, how long will it take us from Twins Cave to Cathedral base. I would really like it if we could summit on the 2nd day.


I would definitely plan to summit on your second day. From Twins cave to Buggers gully should only take say 3-4 hours. That's at a decently leisurely pace with time to enjoy the views and survive carrying all your water :P You may even do it a fair bit quicker than that.

We were a largish group with a lot of girls and also a guy who was struggling a bit. We camped at the Kwakwatsi the night before. Next day checked out Twins cave, did the Bell traverse, left our packs at the base of Cathedral peak, summitted cathedral peak and then continued on for about another km towards Orange Peel gap before setting up camp. 2 other members of our group were sick of the hike by this stage, and so instead of climbing Cathedral peak with us they kept on going from Bugger's gully and made it to the hotel before nightfall choosing a soft bed over a great view from Cathedral Peak summit :)
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06 Apr 2016 18:17 #67697 by no4stopper
Anyone been on the Bell Twins traverse recently? Lots of rain has fallen since November and I was looking for a water report!

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06 Apr 2016 19:40 #67699 by ghaznavid
Sadly I can only comment on what it looked like in November. I can tell you that there is a lot of water around the Saddles, so I imagine water should be decent on Bell Traverse.

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02 Sep 2016 15:13 #69676 by advocate_gerrie_nel
Hi all

Referring to my previous posts on this forum, I joined to prep for a first attempt at a DGT. Our team however realised the initial plan of a 7-day DGT attempt off the bat is not going to work for us, so we are opting for an adventure hike in Cathedral Peak area instead. We are from CT.

I would appreciate it if you could have a look and give us some tips / advice based on current conditions and dangers (e.g. water availability / attempting the Bell without rope). We are comfortable with heights and fairly fit by coastal standards. Our plan with the Bell is to take 3-4 litres of water (heaaavy...) and hit it early in the day strictly weather permitting. Otherwise go up Mlambonja. Our organiser has the details so excuse if I relay the info incorrectly. Here we go...

Day 1 - 25 Sept: Cathedral Peak Hotel to the Bottom of Mlambonja Pass, camp where contour pass crosses river
Day 2 - 26 Sept: Bell Traverse!! Camp on the escarpment behind Twins Cave (or in Twins)
Day 3 - 27 Sept: Push for Tlanyaku Pass (DGT training day...) OR sleep at Rolands Cave
Day 4 - 28 Sept: Either down Tlanyaku Pass to somewhere OR down Organ Pipes to Tsek OR do the Camel and sleep somewhere
Day 5 - 29 Sept: Down to hotel for lunch!

We also have the option of adding another day (30 Sept) to make it 5 nights. Our priorities at this stage are mainly to do the Bell, train for DGT and have a blast.

As always, any advice and / or inputs will be greatly appreciated. Will reward with a write-up after our trip!

Regards, Gerhard

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02 Sep 2016 18:04 #69677 by Smurfatefrog

gerhardsnorbaard wrote: Day 1 - 25 Sept: Cathedral Peak Hotel to the Bottom of Mlambonja Pass, camp where contour pass crosses river
Day 2 - 26 Sept: Bell Traverse!! Camp on the escarpment behind Twins Cave (or in Twins)

I'm a bit confused here. To get to the escarpment behind Twins you either go via the Bell Traverse, or you go up the Mlambonja valley & Pass. So to do the Bell Traverse from the base of Mlambonja Pass you'd have to backtrack 90% of day 1. You could go back via a different path (One Tree Hill / Neptune Pools) but it still seems a little odd.

If you are training to do a 7 day GT; 5 or 6 days is a bit much for just Didima, unless you want to go up 2 passes and down 2 passes, or do the entire escarpment & contour path

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03 Sep 2016 09:57 #69678 by AdrianT
Talk to your organiser, as you'd have to backtrack One Tree Hill all over again, unless that is the plan - but makes little sense. Sleeping at Mlambonja is tight. We arrived at night in heavy mist and the best spot was in the river. Just a bit up was another spot but also not great. Hope your group is small :)

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