Itineraries for doing the Bell Traverse

03 Sep 2016 10:57 #69679 by Smurfatefrog

AdrianT wrote: 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 :)


nah, there's plenty space there Adrian, you guys were just lost there too :P
If you aim for the biggest tree you can see next to the river you'll find space for 6 or 7 tents around there and just down from the tree

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04 Sep 2016 13:40 #69683 by ghaznavid
As the others have already mentioned - I assume you guys are planning on heading up Mlambonja Pass, not Bell Traverse.

I assume your 7 day GT will include tents staying behind at home? Even with tents, you are unlikely to camp between Giants Castle and Thabana Ntlenyana anyway - so you need to be ready to do 35km days. If this hike is a "let's see where we are" or just a starting point for training, then this is a good route. But if you are doing it to get ready for a 7 day GT, go with one of the very easy passes (Organ Pipes or Smugglers will do) and add a lot of distance.

For my 5 day GT last year, my first training hike was a 16km day hike that didn't even go to the top. I gradually upped what I was doing, eventually doing a 51km day hike shortly before the GT. So don't get discouraged if you are not at the necessary level when you start, but remember that a fast GT (or a regular GT) requires a lot of training, and more importantly, the ability to keep going when things aren't going so well.

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05 Sep 2016 07:53 #69687 by AdrianT

Smurfatefrog wrote: If you aim for the biggest tree you can see next to the river you'll find space for 6 or 7 tents around there and just down from the tree


Impossible when you don't know about the tree :silly: Next time! Thanks for the tip.

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05 Sep 2016 11:43 #69689 by advocate_gerrie_nel
Thanks everyone. The information must have gotten relayed wrongly regarding the first two days. I must apologise. We are very keen to do the Bell traverse however, alternatively go up Mlalambonja to the top.

Regarding the DGT - the reason why we decided not to attempt the DGT is we are not ready yet! Only our organiser knows some of the area, so we are carrying tents, adding weight. On our big training hike our packs came in heavy and two of us got humbled by bad blisters - we realised that we are not experienced enough with long treks and the tricky bits of packing light while doing it safe, keeping warm, eating enough, etc etc. This will take years to perfect, so the "training" requirement is very subjective at this stage :)

What I do gather from the posts is (1) this is at most a 4 night trip and (2) its not really hard training for a self-supported 7/8 day DGT. Will have to relay this to the team. The other option is still to do somewhat of an extended Northern Berg traverse and "see how far we get", although it is nice to start and end at the same spot for logistical reasons.

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05 Sep 2016 15:44 #69694 by ghaznavid
A nice training loop (if you are happy to carry passports) is to loop the Giants Cup trail and matching escarpment section. It can be done in 6 days, and is relatively difficult if done faster (4 days would be roughly on par with a 7 day GT). If you start at Garden Castle, take the Giants Cup Trail to Bushman's Nek, head up Thamathu/Bushmans Pass, up Isicutula Pass, traverse to Sani (and apologise profusely for only getting stamped out of SA and not into Lesotho at Bushman's Nek), walk down the road pass, and then follow the Giants Cup trail back to the start. If you are struggling, there are plenty of spots to bail along the way - hence the idea of starting at Garden Castle.
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04 Mar 2017 10:45 #71078 by ralphcopeiv
Hey guys! A friend and me have 5 days and 4 nights to do a trek, and I was thinking something along the lines of the Bell Traverse to Monks Cowl, or vice versa. Here's my proposed itinerary:

Day 1: Hike to Twins Cave via Bells Traverse from Cathedral Hotel
Day 2: Hike to Rolands Cave
Day 3: Hike to Reido Cave
Day 4: Descend via Grays Pass to Keith Bush Camp
Day 5: Monk's Cowl Parking Lot

Please let me know what you think and how practical this hike is!

Cheers,
Ralph

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04 Mar 2017 16:51 #71083 by tiska
Hi Ralph,
The route takes in some great parts of the Berg, esp so the Bell Traverse.

Day one is quite long but that may not really matter as you can stop for the night at Bell Cave if the going is slower than you thought it would be and catch up the 2 hours or so that it takes to get along the traverse to Twins and on to Rolands the next day (which would also then be long). Day 5 is easy, as you know and Day 4 wouldn't take more than about 5 hours.

If you are going in the next few weeks there should be plenty of water around. The route up to Bell and along the traverse to Twins is the driest bit normally but given the recent rain, there should be lots of drips and some flows.

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07 Mar 2017 15:35 #71089 by ghaznavid
Just did the Bell Traverse this weekend - there is plenty of water right now. From the Inner Horn/Chessmen saddle to Twins Cave is mostly dry, but Twins Cave is full of drips. Bell Cave is surprisingly dry, considering that there are rivers flowing down the slopes of Cathedral Peak at the moment.

Incidentally the trail has changed slightly, the scramble below the Mitre is much shorter and easier than it used to be. Buggers Gully is also at the ideal mix of damp and solid right now - not dry and loose or wet and muddy.
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16 Mar 2017 14:25 #71162 by petroengel
Hello everyone
I plan to do Organ Pipes-Bells Traverse the Easter weekend. I read somewhere that there is a shuttle service up Mikes Pass. Does anyone know anything about that? If I can avoid that slog on a gravel road, I definitely am going to take the option of a lift!
If the lift up Mikes Pass dissolved into thin air, can anyone tell me how long it will take from the car park to the Old Fire Lookout?
Much appreciated.

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16 Mar 2017 15:42 #71163 by ghaznavid
Last time I actually managed to get a lift up Mikes Pass was 5 years ago (give or take 20 days - incidentally it was my first time hiking with a VE member).

Bear in mind that you are starting and finishing at different car parks, so expect to walk about 5km on the tarred roads (roughly half at the start and half at the end, if you park at the hikers parking by the boom gate). You can always do the Camel route from the hotel and cut out the road. If my memory serves, the fire lookout lacks a roof, so I am assuming you are tenting - you can always find a spot on the contour path and camp there.

Mikes Pass has a nice bypass trail that cuts up the nose of the ridge, if you leave the dirt road at the right place, it is easy to follow.

How long to the hut? Depends on the team, weather, pack weight, weather, stops etc. Much like one person may do a park run in 20 minutes with little difficulty and another will struggle to do one in under 50 minutes - it really depends on a lot of variables.
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