Giants Castle hikes - 3 days

24 Jun 2015 18:58 - 24 Jun 2015 19:24 #64378 by Ryan
Howdy,

Awesome site this.
Planning a trip up this weekend 26-28th June. 3 guys.

Intended route is variable based on whats going to happen with the weather, but the plan is:
Day 1 - leave camp 9-10am due to travelling - Giants Castle Camp to Bannerman Hut, onto base of Corner Pass (overnight day 1)
Day 2 - Up corner pass an towards top of either Bannerman, Langies, Hlubi or potentially Giants Pass (overnight 2)
Day 3 - back to Giants Camp

I've done Bannermans, Langies before (and others like Cockade, Greys, Organ Pipes amongst some others) - but never Corner, Giants and Hlubi

So my question is, if it is snowing or there is still snow up there and its icy - is Corner pass doable as an ascent and do we need ropes and slings for the small climbing sections in the wet, or can we do it with some scrambling?

I don't want to schlep into and up Corner to find we need to turn around and go back to Bannermans if I can visibly see snow in the pass, and we do want to make it to the top as its been a long 3 years since our last adventure out there.

Lastly - I've never had issues with the locals in the past in Lesotho, even when a mule train passed by our tent late in the night, we're always friendly to them and have a conversation. And it would seem most of the issues that have happened are a good few years ago on the forums, but just checking if there is any recent experience or activity in the area we are heading for. (We will probably find a little spot to camp close to water away from the actual tops of any of the passes)

Looking forward to it(even though a bit nervous about my current fitness levels :) )

Oops- sorry, reading Intrepids last post on winter hiking thread, this post should perhaps have been made on that thread - feel free to move it
Last edit: 24 Jun 2015 19:24 by Ryan. Reason: Wrong Thread?

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24 Jun 2015 20:21 #64379 by Richard Hunt
Hi Ryan, yes there could be snow or ice in Corner Pass this week end as there is a change in the forecast and the cold front could materialize during Friday evening and Saturday morning. Up the standard Corner Pass route there are 2 obstacles that will need rope to haul up packs with icy conditions. Attached are photos of the 1st obstacle so you can get an idea. The second obstacle is nearer the top and is easier than the 1st. Myself and Elinda will be tenting near the Corner on the right of the pass, off the smugglers route via Centenary Hut for photographing the Trojan Wall. Take care....Richard Hunt




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25 Jun 2015 08:15 #64381 by ghaznavid
From the bottom of Corner to the top of Giants is one very long day! Even longer if there is snow.

There are 2 Hlubi passes, the south one is the easier one (you can tell the difference by the angle of the top - perpendicular to the escarpment edge is south and parallel is north). There are no trails on either, but you basically just follow the grass slopes next to the riverbed until you hit the contour path - on the north one you are forced into the riverbed for a short bit.

I have done more hiking at Giants than anywhere else in the Berg and have never had a significant problem with locals. Just be friendly, take some photos with them and give them some food. Most of the friendliest locals I have encountered were at Giants.

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25 Jun 2015 09:24 #64382 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Giants Castle hikes - 3 days
Ryan,

We went up Corner pass last weekend in the snow. Done it previously when it was dry, much easier. The section with the chockstone is the only real potential showstopper. It was covered with ice and it was quite slippery when we went up, a bit more difficult than when it is dry. We had to send the lightest guy in our group up first, I was able to place my hands on the rocks so he could step up using my hands as footholds. We the used rope to hoist the packs up.

It is only really the first bit that is difficult, from about 2m up there are plenty of hand and footholds. However, if it is iced up it will be as slippery as snot and you will battle to get up without climbing gear. Fortunatley the chockstone is not that high up in the pass so if you want to decend you can try Judges or Bannermans.

It's a chance you take as it is impossible to know exactly how the conditions in the pass will be like beforehand.

We went from Bannermans hut, up Corner pass, over Popple peak and halfway up Bannermans pass on the second day. If you want to get to Giants pass on the same day you are in for a seriously loooooooooooooong walk, especially if it snowed as it will slow you down. Our group wasn't very fast so we took day 3 from Bannermans ridge to Giants pass. Remember that, after Bannermans ridge you also have to go over Durnford ridge (do you know where to pass over the ridge, at Durnford gap? If not you are in for an additional stretch into Lesotho to get aroud the ridge) which is about 400m vertically, and thereafter you still have to climb up to the long wall (another 250m odd vertical ascent). Another problem in winter is the limited amount of sunlight available, so you might end up walking in the dark.

We found a couple of locals, both on the long wall and at the head of Giants pass, they shouldn't present you with any problems. The one group asked us for food, the other simply avoided us and walked around us towards Durnford. Never had any problems with locals.

Enjoy the hike

Looking down on the chockstone area


Directly above the chockstone

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25 Jun 2015 14:42 #64385 by Ryan
Replied by Ryan on topic Giants Castle hikes - 3 days
Thanks for the comments,feedback and pictures guys - gives me a good idea that unless its totally snowed/iced under it is doable for us
Will attempt Corner pass with some ropes and then take an easy down on Hlubi, Bannermans or Langies , and not attempt to get to Giants

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25 Jun 2015 15:39 #64387 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Giants Castle hikes - 3 days
Correction to my earlier email: We took 4 days from Giants camp, to Bannermans hut (night 1), Bannermans ridge via Corner pass (night 2), then over bannermans ridge, Durnford ridge and the Long wall for day 3, camped at the head of the pass and on day 4 descended.

The only way it will take 3 days from Bannermans ridge to giants pass is if you tried crawling the distance backwards, through 90cm deep snow and dragging all your team members packs along behind you in the snow :woohoo:

Also, the chockstone was covered in snow and not ice, else we would probably also not have gotten up. The ice was pretty cold though, trying to get warmth back into them after clearing some of the snow off the rocks took a while...

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25 Jun 2015 15:40 #64388 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Giants Castle hikes - 3 days
Getting warmth back into my hands I meant to say. Clearly I need the weekend badly!!! :laugh:

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25 Jun 2015 15:55 #64390 by ghaznavid
I have hiked the entire way across Giants Castle Nature Reserve 3 times - twice on GTs.

1) S-N GT we did Hlathimba Pass to Langalibalele Pass in a day, then to Leslies Pass in a day.

2) Giants Castle loop last year we did Bannerman Hut up Corner Pass to the top of Bannerman Pass in a day, then easy day from Bannerman to near the top of Long Wall in a day, then up Giants Castle peak and down Giants Pass back to the car in a day.

3) N-S GT we did Upper Injisuthi to North Jarding Pass in a day, then on to Hlathimba Pass in a day (complete with mist and heavy rain).

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30 Jun 2015 12:34 - 30 Jun 2015 13:26 #64421 by Ryan
Replied by Ryan on topic Giants Castle hikes - 3 days
Thanks again for all the info, I thought I would close off with some feedback.

The trip up was a bit problematic, with local service delivery protests going on just before entrance to Giants Road, so had to loop around towards Mooi River and Hidcote for a 1h30 delay. On that road hit a pothole, and punctured a tire :)

Eventually we only got off at 12h00 from the Car Park, so we ended up staying at Bannermans Hut, and decided to take the chicken run up Bannermans Pass in the morning instead of going up Corner.

At the top we hit the cold front, high winds, sleet and snow. We made our way towards Langies. I think if it wasn't for the wall we camped behind, we might not have had a tent come morning :) - because it was pumping up there, and it was cold.

Come morning, we had clear skies, which was quite nice, as was dreading to have to break camp in the driving snow that lasted most of the night. Dug ourselves out and cracked the frozen tent out of its ice igloo. Strolled to the top of the pass, and made our way down Langies.

Was good to be back up there after 6 years - and interesting to recall the physical/mental bits required to get to the top with a pack - seems the mind blanks out a lot of stuff that happens in between hikes, just to be sure you plan the next one and come back again :)

To the next one then!






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Last edit: 30 Jun 2015 13:26 by Smurfatefrog. Reason: embedded pics

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02 Jul 2015 19:48 #64456 by Richard Hunt
Hi Ryan. Thanks for your write up. You mentioned (I think if it wasn't for the wall we camped behind, we might not have had a tent come morning :) - because it was pumping up there, and it was cold) myself and Elinda planned to go to the ridge near the Corner that week end to take photos of the Trojan Wall. When we got to Centenary Hut the mist was too thick to continue upwards and it was bitterly cold with half rain and sleet. We decided to call it a day and tented in a spot 500m from the hut. That night the wind woke us up at 1am and blew gale force till approx 5am. We have a K Way Nerolight tent and it did not fair well, snapping and bending the poles in many places. What tent did you have, I cant make out the name in your photo....boy it looked cold there in your photos!!

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