Mzimude/Bollard/Walker's Pass area

13 May 2011 19:57 #2865 by ghaznavid
Does anyone know this area fairly well? I tried to do Mzimude Pass a few years ago via the Hidden Valley approach, but bad weather caused me to turn around before reaching the pass. The hidden valley route is very long and round about, I know that certain passes are acessable via the Mashai River and Sleeping Beauty cave, but when I went to the cave I didn't go any further (a descision which I now regret, but I hadn't been doing Berg hiking for very long at the time so I didn't know that there were passes further up the river, and therefore couldn't see a point in climbing that rock bank at the back of the cave). Does anyone know if Mzimude/Walker's Pass are accessable via this route (and when I say accessable I mean without hectic boulder hopping which would negate my intention to climb the pass via this shorter route and also without a major loss in altitude).

Any info/pics would be greatly appreciated.

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16 May 2011 09:37 #2876 by SeriousTribe2
Hi

Do a search for Bollard Pass.

Access to Hidden Valley and all the three passes (Bollard included) is very easy via the valley above Sleeping Beauty Cave.
Not sure of the rock band you are referring to, but if you exit SB cave and follow the path up through the river you can continue up that valley and access Bollard (new), Wilsons (north) and one south (forget the name). You can also drop over the ridge into Hidden Valley.
Awesome area. One of my faves.
Enjoy.

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17 May 2011 10:55 #2901 by intrepid
I don't know the area very well, but its certainly one I'll be focusing on in the future. I did the Bollard Pass-Wilsons Pass loop 2 weeks back. About 1.5 km further upstream of Sleeping Beauty Cave, you can access the ridge crest to the south without much effort (grassy). On that ridge crest you get a great view of the valley directly south - the one that starts at Tsepeng Pass and joins Hidden Valley. A fairly good trail was visible heading up this valley for about 2.5 km from Hidden Valley. It seemed to vanish at a point. I guess you could flip over the ridge at this point and get onto this trail. Not sure if it would be quicker into Hidden Valley than along the Giants Cup trail. But the Mashai River valley is an undervalued gem, thats for sure.

The other way to access Mzimude is from Bushman's Neck, getting onto the ridge that is crossed by the Giants Cup trail.

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

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17 May 2011 11:04 #2902 by ghaznavid
Thanks for the info. Garden Castle is probably my favourite reserve to do day hiking in. I've done Mashai Pass before (it was my first every high berg hike), but I haven't seen the escarpment from any other part of this area (and admittedly the escarpment from Rhino is nowhere near as impressive as it is from a place like the summit of Bannerman Ridge), my plan now is to go up Mzimude or Walker's Pass and try for the 3 3300m+ khulu's (ie Walker, Mlambonja and Mashai) in this stretch of escarpment, then either come down Bollard or Mashai Pass (hence the plan to go from Garden Castle side).

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19 May 2011 09:15 #2911 by ghaznavid
@Intrepid: you recently did Rhino Pass, right? What is the pass like, any rock climbing required? Is there a path and about how long is the pass? Where is the access to the path, do you follow the NHW?

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19 May 2011 11:40 #2914 by intrepid
Yep, did it as a day hike, up the pass, detour to the Rhino summit and down Mashai Pass. Great pass, no major complaints, but it always makes a difference when you are not carrying a full pack. Access is via the ridge directly across the river from the Garden Castle campsite. Really nice ridge this, nice views and sandstone formations. A faint track starts somewhere along it, though it is easy to loose. Heads straight for the Rhino, and eventually contours around to the North, along the base of the interesting basalt outcrop below the Rhino (the 2702m spot height). Thereafter you get almost directly under the Rhino summit and this is where you say goodbye to the trail, which vanishes as usual, and the easy walking is over. You can head straight down into the valley at this point, or maintain the contour and hit the gully further up as we did it. Brief stint on the grassy true left river bank, whereafter we were ushered into narrow gully and stayed in it all the way up. It is of course full of boulders and some clambering is called for, but nothing severe. Its maybe like Cockade Pass and Corner Pass (without the main crux though). The gully did have substantial ice build-up already and we had to be a little more careful at times. The gully twists and turns a little, making it a little more interesting, before spewing you out near the top, where there is also a 2-man version of Rat Hole Cave. Took us 7 hours from the camp to the top, so with overnight packs it would be decent day out.

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

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20 May 2011 11:54 #2924 by SeriousTribe2

intrepid wrote: I don't know the area very well, but its certainly one I'll be focusing on in the future. I did the Bollard Pass-Wilsons Pass loop 2 weeks back. About 1.5 km further upstream of Sleeping Beauty Cave, you can access the ridge crest to the south without much effort (grassy). On that ridge crest you get a great view of the valley directly south - the one that starts at Tsepeng Pass and joins Hidden Valley. A fairly good trail was visible heading up this valley for about 2.5 km from Hidden Valley. It seemed to vanish at a point. I guess you could flip over the ridge at this point and get onto this trail. Not sure if it would be quicker into Hidden Valley than along the Giants Cup trail. But the Mashai River valley is an undervalued gem, thats for sure.

The other way to access Mzimude is from Bushman's Neck, getting onto the ridge that is crossed by the Giants Cup trail.


Hey Intrepid, did you enjoy? How was the situation with ice / water in Bollard and Wilson's

Did you get to see the blowhole cave in Bollard?

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20 May 2011 12:41 #2925 by intrepid
ST2, very enjoyable indeed, and it must be said that your own account inspired me to do it! Also did it as a day loop. Water was generally still plentiful in the Berg. Roughly the top quarter of Bollard was dry, but we were also away from the gully then. There was a little ice in the gullies of both passes, and on the South-facing slopes, but not much. We didn't need to walk on it/around it. There was much more ice in Rhino Pass and Mashai Pass, which we did the day before. Yes, definitely checked out Stealth Cave, as you named it, which has now been added to the cave waypoint download. The floor was a tad damp with some green vegetation, but still very useful.

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

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20 May 2011 13:29 #2926 by ghaznavid
You say Mashai Pass is getting iced up? I am planning on using it for a day hike to climb Mlamboja Peak on 4 June. It shouldn't be too iced up to use without ropes and other climbing equipment, should it?

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20 May 2011 14:03 - 20 May 2011 15:23 #2927 by intrepid
Nah, not likely ghaznavid. Its the flowing water that freezes, which includes the smaller streams coming in from the side. There was a decent waterfall coming in from the side which is totally frozen over. You also don't spend much time in the actual watercourse in that pass, and in a wide gully like that, there should always be a way around it. The ice in Rhino Pass was more substantial, and all around where we needed to walk, and even then it was fine.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 20 May 2011 15:23 by intrepid.

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