The Bell Traverse

28 Apr 2021 11:48 - 28 Apr 2021 13:26 #76810 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic The Bell Traverse

 I have the habit of scanning through the mountain register every time and a notable observation from my recent visits to the Didima area (in comparison to previous times), is the growth in the number of groups that do the Bell Traverse. When I started out hiking, the route had a bit of stigma to it and before I got to know the likes of Basecamp and VE, I can vividly remember looking at the marked red section of the route on the map and being a bit "afraid" of the unknown. 


 


Interesting thought and I would agree. The hardcopy maps have the marking of which shows climbing/ropes/difficulty which did used to keep people on other routes and away from the Bell Traverse. There was even a set of years when the rangers at Cathedral Peak declared the section 'closed' or 'to be closed' - the latter with some intentional ambiguity I seem to remember. In other words enough to keep people away without having to do anything at all.

I wonder if the security situation on the escarpment has led to the Bell Traverse becoming more popular? You get 2-3 days in among the mountains with the best of views onto the escarpment but without having to contend in a direct way with potential trouble on the escarpment or in Lesotho itself. There are not many non-escarpment, high traverses like this one in the Berg. Perhaps this is the only contender.

Another possible explanation for the popularity of the Bell Traverse may rest with the relative solitude that the route provides. During the summer months and shoulder seasons, the escarpment has lost its remoteness. In places it is now more like walking through a farm yard.
 
Last edit: 28 Apr 2021 13:26 by tiska.
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28 Apr 2021 12:36 #76811 by Jax
Replied by Jax on topic The Bell Traverse
Over the years I have become more cautious. Having done the BT a few times I never blinked in the past, but decided against it over the last couple of years. I also flipped through the register and see on Facebook as well that large hiking groups are spending more and more time in the mountains. None of the trails out of the first couple of km have seen any sort of maintenance over the last few years either. We were at Cathedral Peak when the pathology van left, and we found out what had happened. We had just walked in from a 40km round trip not incl BT and were quite concerned with a few of the sections we traversed. Attached a couple of pictures to make the wary cautious.
Sincere condolences to the family and hiking party for their loss.

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17 Aug 2021 12:45 #77093 by nicovdwatt
Replied by nicovdwatt on topic The Bell Traverse
I am planning to do this with a guide at the end of December this year. Would that be a bad/dangerous time of year to do this weather-wise?

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17 Aug 2021 13:02 #77095 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic The Bell Traverse
It depends on the weather! :-)

Decembers are typically hot with thundershowers in the afternoon. There are a couple of spots you have to be careful in the wet, but if you take your time at these obstacles and go slow, you should be fine.

Buggers Gulch could be "interesting" in the rain. I've done it in the wet a couple of times, and I've found that a small amount of moisture actually compacts the loose sand nicely, making it easier to get up and over it. Slippery mud could be dangerous here. On the other hand, I've also done it a couple of times in winter and can warn you to be careful of ice in the gully, which makes it slippery. Also, when completely dry, it can be slippery.

So as you can see from the above, there is never really a "perfect" time to hike in the berg. Go whenever you want to, but just be cognisant of the conditions you can experience on the trails, and prepare accordingly, and you should be fine.

Whenever you go, enjoy!!!

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17 Aug 2021 14:30 - 17 Aug 2021 14:32 #77096 by nicovdwatt
Replied by nicovdwatt on topic The Bell Traverse
Thanks for the info. I have told my guide that I would like to start at 06h00 each morning. Hopefully we can reach the respective caves before the showers start in the afternoons.
Last edit: 17 Aug 2021 14:32 by nicovdwatt.

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