Elephant Gully

22 Apr 2015 06:54 - 22 Apr 2015 06:59 #63459 by tonymarshall
Elephant Gully was created by tonymarshall
In mid March intrepid, ClimbyKel, Harry and tonymarshall used the Elephant Gully on our summit route between Cockade Pass and Mlambonja Pass.

The Elephant Gully is a route that traverses the Elephant Cutback on a grass slope ledge below the escarpment cliffs, and is sometimes referred to as the Elephant Shortcut, as it a shorter route than the alternative higher route along the summit. It is a very scenic, dramatic route, with the view dominated by the Elephant on the left and Cockade on the right, and the narrow gap between these two peaks affording views into KZN below.

I have added in some older photos from January 2012 and April 2014 to illustrate the summit route.

When approaching from the north west at the head of the Kwakwatsi valley, the north entry to the Elephant Gully is the square cornered notch at the left of the photo below, while the summit route takes the low point above the hikers at the centre of the photo. The summit route has a clear trail the whole way.



The Elephant viewed from the summit route, clearly named after the rounded shape of an elephant head with the tusk to the right.



The Plume, the lower peak on the left, and Cockade viewed from the summit route, with the positions of the Cockade Passes and Elephant Gully south entry marked.



The summit route passes close to the summit of the khulu Mahout, the peak in the photo below, and descends quite steeply into the valley below towards the Elephant Gully south entry.



Descending the ridge towards the Elephant Gully south entry on the path that zig zags down, with Elephant in the background.



The south entry to Elephant Gully and grass slope ledge, as viewed when approaching from the south west.



All the above photos are from the previous hikes via the higher summit route, while those below are from March 2015 on the Elephant Gully route. The Elephant Gully has a good trail the whole way, although near the top of the north entry it fades a bit, and disappears at the top and doesn’t connect with the trail from/to the Kwakwatsi valley, while there is a clear trail from Cockade Pass to the south entry, and split in the trails where the summit route trail goes up the ridge.

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Last edit: 22 Apr 2015 06:59 by tonymarshall.

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22 Apr 2015 06:56 #63460 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Elephant Gully
A misty view with the Elephant tusk on the left, the gully, The Plume and the cliffs of Cockade on the right.



The lower part of the Elephant and the tusk.



The Plume and Cockade.



Looking back along the Elephant Gully route to the south entry. The lowest point on the horizon is the Cockade Pass gully, and just to the left is the Cockade Pass variation.



Looking ahead towards the Elephant Gully north entry, although the upper portion is hidden in the mist.



The climb up towards the north entry is quite steep, a view back down.



Looking ahead to the Elephant Gully north entry, the low point is the top of the north entry.

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The following user(s) said Thank You: intrepid, Christine, JonWells, DeonS, Captain, Dillon, Riaang

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22 Apr 2015 08:18 #63463 by Dillon
Replied by Dillon on topic Elephant Gully
Thanks very much! Prior knowledge of this route would've been a game changer for us on our first trip to the escarpment there in March last year. The mist blew in so quickly and we decided to bail down Cockade rather than push on for Twin's Cave.

"Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous."

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22 Apr 2015 08:44 #63464 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Elephant Gully
Thanks for sharing Tony :thumbsup:

I rate the Elephant Gully isn't quicker or easier than Mahout, but it is definitely more scenic and worth the extra bit of effort.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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22 Apr 2015 16:45 #63476 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Elephant Gully
I would certainly tend to agree, but the Elephant Gully route is a bit shorter and I think from north to south it could be quicker with the shorter steeper descent. A bit subjective maybe, and dependent on personal factors such as an individual's downhill speed and ability, but lots of people I've done GT's with preferred using the gully over the Mahout summit route.

From south to north it is definitely more effort and slower.

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23 Apr 2015 09:40 #63487 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Elephant Gully
I wonder if it is possible to connect this gully with Cockade Pass? It looks like there are cliffs most of the way from the side, and coming down the pass in the mist didn't give me a good view - but all you need is a clear break in cliff lines and you have another pass variation route.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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23 Apr 2015 11:53 #63498 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Elephant Gully
I have heard other's say it isn't possible, but don't know what those remarks are based on; whether detailed exploration or observation was done or not. Again with us coming up Cockade in the mist we also didn't have the chance to see, and neither when doing the Elephant Gully with the swirling mist.

From the general terrain, it wouldn't surprise me at all if there is a clear break in cliff lines and another variation is possible.

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23 Apr 2015 11:55 #63499 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Elephant Gully
Sounds like a good excuse to go exploring :thumbsup:

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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03 May 2017 13:19 #71467 by Nicodb
Replied by Nicodb on topic Elephant Gully
Good Afternoon I am planning a trip to Cathedral Peak and I am specifically looking to explore and find this spot pictured in the photo by John Hone in his book Encounters with the Dragon.

I know it is Elephant / Cockade area.

According to my mapping skills, A is cockade, B Elephant, C is plume?

Or was it taken from further north?

Any help is appreciated.

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03 May 2017 13:25 - 03 May 2017 13:26 #71468 by Nicodb
Replied by Nicodb on topic Elephant Gully
Perhaps the map can help, are we at a, b or c?

Thank you

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Last edit: 03 May 2017 13:26 by Nicodb. Reason: Adding picture

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