The Bell Traverse

07 Sep 2019 19:25 #75301 by MarkT
Replied by MarkT on topic The Bell Traverse
Hi Ethan,

You can get your permits at Cathedral Peak where the hike starts, when you fill out the hiker's register. That's they way everyone does it.
The weather in October can be windy and still a bit cold, perhaps some rain but not like summer time. Not as cold as mid-winter, typically.
I don't think it's possible to get there using public transport. You'd have to organise a guide with transport, or a private shuttle. Send me a private message if you want a recommendation for a guide.
Maps are available from the store at the gate, usually, but they are often out of stock. Check Cape Union Mart who also often have them. There are 6 maps in the series.
I would not recommend doing the route by yourself. Definitely go with someone experienced and familiar with the area. It's very exposed and steep, dangerous in the mist or bad conditions. 

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09 Sep 2019 10:20 #75308 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic The Bell Traverse
Hi Ethanb,

Welcome to VE

Seeing that Mark has already answered most of your questions, I'll just focus on the route itself. Firstly, there are quite a number of trip reports right here on VE covering the Bell traverse. Have a read through them as they would answer most of your questions.

You didn't mention which way around you want to do it. You can either go up Mlambonja pass (or further south, depending on how grueling you want to make the hike :)-) and then down the Bell traverse, or you can go up it and then down any of the other passes to the South of Twins Cave for the return leg.

Route finding is pretty straight forward, but having a gps track will help, especially if the mist rolls in (you can find it here on this website under the downloads section). There are a couple of dodgy exposure sections on this route, so if you (or anyone in your group) has a fear of heights it could possibly be an issue. That said, I've taken people with a fear of heights on this route and they were fine. Just don't lose your concentration as a tumble down the side would be, er.......problematic.

I would suggest going up via the Bell traverse. You can complete the route in 2 days, but if you want to take it a bit easier you can arrive the Friday afternoon and walk the short distance (less than 4km) to Shermans cave, which will get you up to just under 1900m ASL. There is a nice waterfall about 150m further up the path where you can top up with water. From here you go up via Orage peel gap and then onto the rigde. Then you approach Cathedral Peak itself. You might find water here, but don't bet on it, so rather fill up at the waterfall near Shermans. October can be hot so take enough water.

Buggers Gulch is getting more interesting every time I do it. Pretty steep and on loose ground, but the berg grasses will help you get up it :-)
Just over Buggers Gulch is where the Bell traverse starts. If you arrived earlier on the Friday you could also sleep over in Bell cave, which is about 350m after Buggers Gulch. From here the path takes you around the Bell and the outer and inner horns. There is this one tricky spot between the two horns where the path looks like it continuous straight ahead, but you actually have to climb up to your left. There's a couple of cairns at this spot. You then traverse below the chessman, where the dodgy exposure section is located. Don't worry, you'll understand exactly where this spot is when you get to it. You have to go around a rock that juts out a bit, with a high and low step around it. Interesting section, not difficult but don't slip here.

There is now one more nasty steep little climb to get to Twins cave. There is no water at the cave, so you will have to go over theescarpment edge and down to the river below to get water. There are a number of caves in this area to choose from. Twins, or Twins annex, or a bit further north Easter cave or the overhang at Christmas pass.

The next day you can easily go down via Mlambonja pass or any other pass in the area that takes your fancy.

Enjoy!!!

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12 Sep 2019 21:13 #75321 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic The Bell Traverse
Hi enthanb and welcome to VE.

If you scroll down to the bottom of the page you will see a link for Frequently Asked Questions for the Berg. There you will see some info which will help you with maps and with planning your Bell Traverse.

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

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20 Sep 2019 11:46 #75337 by BREA
Replied by BREA on topic The Bell Traverse
Hi everyone, 
Going for the Bell Traverse and struggling to find GPX file usable on smartphone in the download section.
Thank you for your help
Best
B.

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20 Sep 2019 16:32 #75338 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic The Bell Traverse

BREA wrote: Hi everyone, 
Going for the Bell Traverse and struggling to find GPX file usable on smartphone in the download section.
Thank you for your help
Best
B.

This is the link .

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

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24 Sep 2019 16:20 #75345 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic The Bell Traverse
Smurf,

Please advise exact location of the spring below Twins cave. This will save me a lot of time and effort in the future! :-)

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26 Sep 2019 11:27 #75354 by BREA
Replied by BREA on topic The Bell Traverse
Thank you !

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06 Nov 2019 15:14 #75438 by BergBug101
Replied by BergBug101 on topic The Bell Traverse
Hello,

I plan on hiking the bell traverse in December. I plan on hiking very relaxingly and splitting the hike up over four days. it will be my first time doing the route. I will be camping below Mhlambonja the first night. The second day I will be ascending the pass, collecting water on the summit and then heading to Twins Cave for the second night. The third day will be spent doing the traverse to Bell Cave, where the third night will be spent. The four day will be going up Cathedral and then down. my questions are as follows:

1) If we approach the Gulch from the Mhlambonja side, will the descent of the gully be dangerous?
2) Is the path leading from the gulch towards Cathedral safe?
3) During December, can I expect to find water along the Traverse?
4) Are there any things worth noting, like highly eroded zones along the route? 
5) Will the hiking day from Bell Cave up cathedral peak and then down, be a long day of hiking? 
6) Are Basotho a problem in the area? 

regards 
Berg Bug 

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07 Nov 2019 06:32 - 07 Nov 2019 06:34 #75442 by firephish
Replied by firephish on topic The Bell Traverse
Did that route in january this year,  except day three we pushed on all the way to Cathedral peak hotel and did not ascend Cathedral. My thoughts:

1. Ascending the gulch from the Bell side is the more dangerous bit. Just take it slow and careful.

2. Yes,  I would say so. Never heard of any issues.

3. In January there was plenty of water around the horns,  depends on rainfall.

4.  Besides the gulch there are two places around mitre where some care is required. Depending on your experience and head for heights you may barely notice them or find them terrifying.

5. Not too bad if you are up and down Cathedral quickly.

6. No recent issues I have heard about. You might see some basotho around the top of malambonjwa and twins cave,  sleep in the annex if you want to minimize the chances of this.
Last edit: 07 Nov 2019 06:34 by firephish.

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07 Nov 2019 07:13 #75443 by BergBug101
Replied by BergBug101 on topic The Bell Traverse
Thankyou for the help!

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