Corner Pass / Judge Pass, Mafadi, Leslie's Pass Loop

05 Jun 2017 16:45 - 05 Jun 2017 18:01 #71696 by Wok
What Beard said. Thanks guys for all the info!

Just some extra details to add: (3 days/2 nights)

Day 1: We tented on top of the ridge past Centenary Hut on the Northern High Approach... Very nice flat spots up there and it made day 2 a little shorter. We collected water by the hut first. (There's a path that leads to a stream).

Day 2: We continued on the NHA to Corner Pass. There was icy snow in the pass but we managed to use the grassy tufts on the left side to get up quite quickly. The two climbing sections had some small spots of ice, but with helping hands it was fine. Very cool pass. Then we trekked over Mafadi Peak, passed some horses, Cape Vultures and one Bearded Vulture, and ended at the top of Leslie's Pass (we tented down closer to the river). It was a long day (about 20km) but so worth it, as it made our last day much more pleasant. I can imagine the sunrise from Upper Injisuthi Cave being amazing though... but we weren't that keen on a super long last day. Alas. The views were incredible anyway... the Trojan wall was epic.

Day 3: Exactly what Beard said. Down Leslie's, a nice lunch, relax and chill at Marble Baths, and we got to our cars by 2:30pm I think.

Thanks again. W
Last edit: 05 Jun 2017 18:01 by Wok.
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05 Jun 2017 19:31 #71700 by emilburger19
Hi

The route sounds great. Planning more or less the same path later this month.

Do you guys maybe know where I can get a hard copy (printed) map on this specific area?
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08 Jun 2017 17:14 #71718 by Biomech
Hi Emil,

You can order them online from Slingsby's Maps.

www.slingsbymaps.com/old/drakensberg-info.aspx

Get the Giant's Castle one for Injisuthi area.
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13 Jun 2017 17:38 #71735 by Riaang
Hi Ant/PhillipG,

We did a slightly different route with the kids a few weeks ago, but it will answer some of your questions above.

Day 1 we went from Injasuthi camp to the foot of Leslies. Went past Marble Baths caves, the annex (the one closer to camp) is the nicer of the two in my opinion. Would make a lekker overnight spot for a return to camp down from Leslies. Next day we went up Leslies, kids did great, managed it in 4 hours (which included a 3 min detour when my son reckoned that the riverbed would be faster than that first steep section left (true right) of the riverbed once you get to the river bed. We called that first green bushy section "Africa" - check it out from the bottom of Leslies, looks quite a bit like the outline of our continent). At the top there is a fairly large cern, but if I remember correctly this is difficult to spot when you are down below near the river. However, the easy way to find it (if there is no mist or fog or smoke) is that there are two kraals a little less than a kilometer apart close to the river and the passhead is closest to the most southern one). Both kraals are on the western slopes on the left of the river.

Day 2 then continued south all the way to Upper Injasuthi Cave, walking all along the ridges. The kids were still fine going over Injasuthi dome but were very glad to get to the cave. It was occupied so we tented below the cave on one of the many flat spots available. I'm not sure if mentioning the route my kids covered is a fair indication of what an adult should be able to do as they are quite fit, but nevertheless it gives you some sort of benchmark. We did however carry quite a bit of their gear (can't say I like hiking with a 23kg pack) but my son at 12 years old carried a 10kg backpack (he weighs about 53kg) and my daughter aged 10 carried 6,5kg (at a bodyweight of 36kg). She sang all the way up Leslies, I couldn't join her song (if you see a cern, you know you must turn.....) stating that I had to concentrate on finding the route. The rest of the group had no excuses so suffered her wrath when they fell silent :-)

Day 3 we went over the Trojan wall dome , over Popple and over Bannermans ridges to sleep over in Bannermans cave, which was a bit crappy in my opinion (floor was sloping so every hour or so one of the kids would end op on my head). Going over Bannermans Ridge thick mist came in. I've done this route before but without viz it was quite tricky. I had to go on memory from 2 years ago and got it right, but it would have been so much easier and faster to walk on a gps track (which I had on my laptop but didn't load on the gps). If I had to do it for the first time I very well might have gotten it wrong - get the GPS Ant, it is a long term safety investment.

Day 4 we went down Langies and on the contour path to Centenary hut. Was a long day and the kids were pretty bushed by the time we got to the hut, about 10min before sunset. I was quite relieved to have made it before sunset. There are a number of passes to go up or down in this area, Bannermans, Judges, Around the corner (nice variation on corner pass but also with a bit of scrambling involved), and then Leslies (ignoring the rock passes in the area as I assume you aren't interested in them).

Corner pass was my first pass in the berg so it holds a special place in my heart, and I always love doing this pass. Even without climbing experience it is fairly easy to do. My wife managed it on her first attempt in the snow (1,6m tall) so I wouldn't rate it as very technical. She had zero climbing experience at that stage. We did, however, hoist the packs up at the bottom obstacle (the chockstone). Without doing this it would certainly have been much harder. There are 3 short climbing sections on the pass, the bottom one being the toughest (the one mentioned a few lines up). You could also go up the Northern high approach, which is a nice and shorter variation up the pass starting directly in front of Centenary hut.

Both Corner and Leslies are quite steep (the chimney section of corner pass is very steep) and I landed a couple of times on my behind while going down Leslies. I've done the route both ways and I honestly can't say which one I'd prefer, both are nice. Depending from where you start (lets say upper injasuthi cave) the Corner pass route would get you back to camp faster as it is shorter. At the end of the day it is about your personal preference as well as fitness level. As a 2 day hike the route (Camp, Corner pass, UIC, Leslies, Camp) is quite hard work and best done with a light pack. As a 3 day hike it is very doable and a fun hike, but if you are not used to the Berg I would suggest a 4 day hike so you have enough time to enjoy the beautiful scenery and not kill yourself :-)

For a 4 day hike I would do it as follows:
Day 1 - Camp to Centenary hut
Day 2 - Centenary hut to UIC
Day 3 - UIC to the top of Leslies (if you want to spend another night on the escarpment) or Marble bath caves
Day 4 - Back to camp early afternoon.

Lastly, see if you can join up with somebody on the forum for a berg hike. There is a section on the forum for people listing their planned hikes (think it is called the "Upcoming hikes thread"). This way you can just tag along and will benefit from regular berg hikers experience. It is a good idea to try and find somebody that will hike your pace, else either you or they might have a less than pleasant experience.

Enjoy guys!

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07 Aug 2017 22:21 #71956 by MSH
Hi

My wife and I are looking to do the Mafadi hike next weekend in 4 days.
We were looking at going up Judges and down Leslies.

We came down Fangs pass is April this year and found it quite difficult. How would you compare it to coming down Leslies?

Thanks

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14 Aug 2017 08:25 #71975 by HenkSeevinck
Hey guys and gals,

I'm looking for some advice.

We are planning to do this trip over the long weekend in September. We want to do it over 3 days, going up Corners, over Mafadi and down Leslies.

If we overnight in Upper Injisuthi Cave the second night, day three becomes quite long, 22 km and we still need to drive back to Pretoria. I'm therefore thinking not to sleep in Upper Injisuthi Cave but rather to make our way to the to the valley just before Leslies pass and camp next to the stream for the night (Please see image below).

Does anybody know if there are some nice spots in the indicated area and what we could expect in terms of water in the stream over September?

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14 Aug 2017 08:44 #71976 by Smurfatefrog
Welcome Henk

That river behind Leslie's will be running well
There is always good tenting spots on the escarpment
Leslie's is not used by smugglers so the area should be quiet
Just a note; that valley is known to get very cold so be prepared

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15 Aug 2017 09:29 - 15 Aug 2017 09:40 #71982 by diverian
Hi Henk

I just did the Judges, Mafadi, Leslies pass route this last long weekend. We encountered a group who did Corner Pass and they said it was very iced up in the gully with sheets up to 5 m in length to cross and took them a long time. Given that the last snow fall was some time back and there is more expected now you may want to reconsider your ascending pass.

As far as the Upper cave to Marble Baths cave day is concerned it is not so bad , there is a "new" path developed in the upper section from the base of Leslies which makes it much easier than previous bundu bashing and boulder hopping that was required , it took us 1.5 hrs easy walking, making it an +- 7 hours of walking to Marble Baths cave plus another 2.5 or so back to camp. The last 50 m of the pass itself is however very eroded and ends up with some "bum sliding". PM me if you want a GPS track.
Last edit: 15 Aug 2017 09:40 by diverian.

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15 Aug 2017 12:51 #71984 by Riaang
@MSH - Fangs involves quite a bit of rock hopping and the top part is lekker steep. Leslies is not as steep at the top and there is also less boulder hopping involved, but the middle part (the section before you get back onto the ridge with a nice path) is properly steep in places with loose gravel so the chance of a bumslide is high. However, having said that there are lots of plants to hang onto, which is how we got up this section in April this year. We took the kids along for this hike (up Leslies, down Langies) with my daughter being 10 years old carrying a 7,5kg backpack, and we got to the top in 4 hours (which included a 30min wait or my 12 year old son who thought the river section would be faster than the footpath. He was wrong :-) ) so it shouldn't be too hard for you guys. Just take your time and you'll be up or down it in no time.

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15 Aug 2017 12:58 #71986 by Riaang
@HenkSeevinck,

I've done both options, the trek from UIC to the campsite is definitely quite a long one and you'll get back in Pta late (we arrived back home at around 1pm Monday morning, but that included a leasurly stop for dinner and dropping two guys off at their homes first. Also, the one guys in our group was a bit slow so we were slow - 8am starting the hike at UIC and got back at camp at 6pm in the dark).

We opted for the cave due to extremely high winds - initial plan was to camp below Leslies pass.

Last year we camped close to the pass, between the two sheep kraals just before the pass, lovely flat spot next to the river and no hassles from the locals. Was pretty freezing though as it was again windy. If my memory serves me right this is about 8km's or so closer to camp, so you will definitely save a bit of time camping here.

You can also try Judges pass if ice is a problem, or even closest to Corner pass you can try around the corner pass, but it might be dodgy on the rock slab sections.

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