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

14 Nov 2016 11:26 #70203 by Riaang
Another option could be around the corner pass, but I'd be careful here in the snow

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06 Dec 2016 00:51 - 06 Dec 2016 19:39 #70332 by abrahamvlok
Hi...
This is my first post on this site after having joined 5 years ago...I have 3 days and will be heading off to Injesuti on 21 December. Last time I hiked in that area in December was slightly uncomfortable because we saw about three mountain adders in two days (I usually hike there in July) in the area of the Grindstone caves..it is not like any answer is going to stop me but I am interested to hear any comment about mountain adders. One always hear about them and I have seen them there but I have never heard of anybody actually being bitten in that area ?

Is anybody familiar with the security in the Injesuti area at the moment ? I have never considered emigration - but I did briefly after having read about the attack earlier the year (in the area of Sentinel?). The Drakensberg is the one "home away from home" where things just are...and I really took it very badly. Any comments about the safety ?

I cannot help myself..I need to share my story of Injesuthi in July 2011.

This is a story of me and a few friends (Daniel, Herbert, Naas, Christopher and I)

1) Day one - we started in Injesuthi car park and hiked to Centenary hut. The wind blew us away and bent some of the tent poles as we preferred the tents over the hut (the hut was badly damaged). Does anybody know what the state of the hut is at the moment ?

(we noticed a white snowy edge at the top but continued)

2) Day two - I eventually got to corner pass and I caught up with my friends as I was REALLY unfit and the snow slowed them down (we had radio contact all the time). This was about 14:00. We reached Shunt Rock in Corner pass at about 14:45. Naas (also a silver Comrades medalist and slightly tougher than Bear Grylls) climbed up the rock and helped the rest and the packs up. By this time it was about 15:30 and looking back we should have turned around then and there but instead, with the sun setting, we kept on going because it was a "no woman no cry" weekend. Yes, our wives never join these trips. They call it our "no women and only cry" weekends.

We had had no idea that cramp-ons and a climber's friend or ten and a rope and ice axes would have been great; but instead we had nothing of the sort. We were expecting snow, but not ice. I mention this because Cornerpass was frozen - ie : thick snow that melted and froze again into a 10 cm ice shell covering the snow underneath that was who knows how deep.. It was far too late by the time we realised how dangerous it was and we would have turned around if it was even a remotely possibility. It was not. I know I joke about it now - but I became really scared, more than I have ever been before or since then. The day turned into night and my clothing was wrong : I had a t-shirt with a thick fleece jacket, and over that my wind shell, and over that a ski jacket. I was sweating so much underneath all that and it had no breathing capability through the wind shell. Anyway - we had no ice equipment so the guys in front (Naas and Daniel) actually used their hiking poles to break steps into the ice. It formed a kind of staircase which was at times at an angle of about 40 degrees. We slowly moved up the pass and by this time it was dark. The guys with Petzel headlamps were ok because it did not die on us (unlike Christopher (Spacemuis)'s with his no-name brand)...he had the privilege to do this pass on starlight as it was new moon. He also did not have a proper hiking pole...he had a wooden stick(nicknamed "Bergie" that we bought on our first hiking trip in the berg at Monk's Cowl in 2003) with the words "Drakensberg" carved into it. We could also easily follow the blood trail of the ladder makers...It was about 20:00 that I realised the chance of something going wrong was real; and at this time I decided (after wondering about it for quite a few months) to ask my girlfriend to become my wife and there and then I asked Herbert to be my best man. I remember telling him that I was freaking out because I feared for our lives..and he answered something like "it is not raining, we have time, nothing is chasing us, we are healthy...the only thing that we need is to be very sure that each next step is a Van Gogh"...

This was the longest night of my life...but we lived to tell the tale.

We set up camp right on top of corner pass in the snow. I could not regain my body heat so I could not sleep at all.

3) Day three - we hiked knee deep in the snow to Upper Injasuthi cave. It took me three hours to get there because I was cold. Then we went to up to the top of Mafadi. I did not want to and the guys refused. They forced me. I went up with them, still cold, depressed and seriously wondering how the hell we will get down the mountain because it was snow EVERYWHERE. We came down from Mafadi and I thought to just quickly get this wet t-shirt (from the previous day) off and put on a dry one. I did it and almost INSTANTLY my body started warming up and I had a ton of energy. I could not believe that a wet t shirt drained the life out of me. The lesson is : when I am cold then I dont think straight and obvious things (like a down sleeping bag inside a tent on snow does not help if your t-shirt is wet) - just passes over me. We went on with the plan to pitch tents just a 2km on top of Hiltons Rock pass and go down that way the next day. The night was long and we had to melt snow for water - by that time we were really thankful to Naas aka Bear Grylls because he had energy and an MSR stove to melt enough ice. We pitched the tents on an angle...and quite happy that we did bring pens.

4) Day four - Naas and Daniel went down to check the pass out. They confirmed over the radio that we can make it easy, but it was just the first 15meters that was basically a frozen waterfall that was a problem. So we did not go down that way and decided to go to Injasuthi pass - obviously no-luck and we prayed on. I was convinced at this time that we will be flying down in with mountain rescue and that my savings for a ring would go into a helicopter ride. So we we arrived at Leslies pass and that was a nice pass with a gradual descent...we could see patches of grass in the path and we took it. By this time we realised that we needed to pick up pace because we needed to get to Pretoria. We went down rather quickly and had dinner at Marble baths at 18:00. We then, at times, started to run to get out. Our family would have raised the alarm that evening if we did not check in with them. From Marble baths to Injesuthi car park is an easy 8 km hike. From Hilton's Rock passes' top, via Leslies, via Marble baths to the car park is a complete different story. Nevertheless, we reached the vehicle at around 22:00 and then went home to be bright and early back in the office the next day.

We did stop (like always) at the spur in Harrismith for a burger and a coffee. I went to the bathroom....and I coughed up a little blood. I guess it must have been from the heavy breathing very close to a frozen pass for hours on end.

I lived to tell the tale.I got married to Nadia exactly a year after this experience...it is 5 and half years later and still a very fond memory of mine. I almost lost my life and now I have a wonderful wife. (She is obviously going to read this)

...
The point of the story is : my biggest life decisions and my most sincere prayers were made in the Drakensberg. The place is holy. I have done many many hikes in "the Berg"...and each one of them always has some surprise instore...something unexpected that takes my mind off everything else. If it is not ice then it is listening to the cracking of the rocks on the saddle between Monk's Cowl and Cathedral peak, or an unexpected rock that bounces like a ruby ball on the way to Bell Cave...or it is meat that disappears during the night close to Keith's Bush Camp...But have you heard the thunder down under while looking at the lightning from the top of Injasuthi..or listened to the rain underneath your feet while looking at the stars above ? Or have you seen the helicopter below while staring out of Twin's cave ? Have you listened to the thunder rolling from Marble baths caves ? Have you seen a cloud curtain closing and opening Wondervalley cave ? Have you seen the vally full of clouds from within Injasuthi summit cave. The Drakensberg is truly a remarkable piece of God's creation. How small are we and how big is He to have created something as beautiful as that ?

ps
Bergie was was not invited to the next trip.
Last edit: 06 Dec 2016 19:39 by abrahamvlok.

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06 Dec 2016 01:32 #70333 by hamzahkhan786
I will be conquering Mafadi this weekend . The plan is to spend a night at Centenary Hut then make my way up Judges Pass and spend a night at the Upper Injasuthi Cave. On my third day I will make my way to Mafadi and descend to Marble Baths via Leslies Pass and spend a night at Marble Baths Annexure. On my fourth day, I will return back to base.

Does anyone have this route on their GPS? It would be highly appreciated . Thanks in Advance

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29 Dec 2016 08:24 - 29 Dec 2016 08:58 #70454 by Gert101
Hi Guys

New here and have been reading all the stories and it looks very exciting.

My girlfriend and I have a week's leave next week and our other plans got cancelled so we decided to do a 4/5 day hike in the Berg.

But because we have never really hiked in The Berg accept for a couple of small hikes I have a couple of questions for the more experienced hikers.

We have done quite a few bigger hikes like the Fish River and Otter etc. so we are relatively experienced and have all the right gear. Our fitness levels are pretty good as well as we are quite active.

We are looking at the following route:

Day 1: Start at Injisuthi to Marble Baths
Day 2: Lower Injisuthi
Day 3: Leslie's Peak?

From there I'm not sure if we have to come down straight away or if we can come down another path?

Then I have a few other questions:

1. Do we really need a hiking GPS? I have my phone I can use and make that section of Google Maps available Offline if required.
2. Where can I find a good map on such short notice as I see I can get it online but ordering will take a couple of days.
3. I see you need to book in the caves, seeing as its short notice can we just sleep next to the caves in a tent?
4. Is anything marked along the routes so we know when have reached a certain destination?

Thanks in advance for the help.
Last edit: 29 Dec 2016 08:58 by Gert101.

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29 Dec 2016 09:08 #70455 by Smurfatefrog
Hi Gert,

Your route is not very clear, please could you give me details so we can assist
Day 1: no problem
Day 2: Do you mean Lower Injisuthi Cave?
Day 3: There is no Leslies Peak, if you mean Leslies Pass then that is near Marble Bath.

Are you trying to get onto the escarpment, or just stay in the lower berg?

Why not try a Mafadi (highest peak in SA) loop - www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum/8-drakensberg-hiking/53639-corner-pass-judge-pass,-mafadi,-leslie-s-pass-loop.html

If lower berg then this is a nice loop, although its quite short www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum/drakensberg-trips/56049-grindstone-cave-lower-injasuthi-cave-loop.html?limitstart=0

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29 Dec 2016 10:34 #70458 by Gert101
Thanks Smurfatefrog

We are trying to go up the escarpment if possible.

You are right the Mafadi loop sounds good:

So it will be:

Day 1: Start at Injisuthi to Marble Baths
Day 2: Lower Injisuthi Cave
Day 3: Leslie's Pass
Day 4: Down Judges Pass
Day 5: Back to Injisuthi Camp?

Will this do?

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29 Dec 2016 11:35 #70459 by Smurfatefrog

Gert101 wrote: Thanks Smurfatefrog

We are trying to go up the escarpment if possible.

You are right the Mafadi loop sounds good:

So it will be:

Day 1: Start at Injisuthi to Marble Baths
Day 2: Lower Injisuthi Cave
Day 3: Leslie's Pass
Day 4: Down Judges Pass
Day 5: Back to Injisuthi Camp?

Will this do?

Nope, Lower Injisuthi Cave (LIC) is the wrong direction

If you want to do 5 days and are keen to stay at LIC then do:
1: Hike to LIC
2: To Centenary Hut
3: To Upper Injisuthi Cave
4: To Marble Baths
5: Back to camp

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29 Dec 2016 11:42 #70460 by Gert101
Thanks I'm not leaning towards lower Injisuthi cave it just seemed like a logical stop off point.

I'm struggeling to find a map of the area to map the route.

Do you know where I can find one?

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29 Dec 2016 12:09 #70461 by JSchofield
Hi Gert,

That route is good but when you're on top you will need to watch the weather. Expect a storm (rain/wind/hail) in the afternoon. So plan to reach your overnight destination (Injasuti Summit Cave?) before it hits.
To answer your other questions:
1. Do we really need a hiking GPS? I have my phone I can use and make that section of Google Maps available Offline if required.
IMHO: No. I only use a good hiking App (ViewRanger) on my phone. One can download maps for off-line use (like OpenCycle or ViewRanger Landscape maps) and make (or import) a route to follow. However the phone must be waterproof, or you will need to ensure it stays dry, because you may need it to guide you in thick mist and rain, if you're running late. Also, even in off-line mode with Bluetooth and Wifi switched off, you are unlikely to get more than two days use before the battery will be dead. So you will need a decent sized power bank - around 10,000mAH.
2. Where can I find a good map on such short notice as I see I can get it online but ordering will take a couple of days.
These are usually stocked at the Parks board office where you sign-in.
3. I see you need to book in the caves, seeing as its short notice can we just sleep next to the caves in a tent?
Yes
4. Is anything marked along the routes so we know when have reached a certain destination?
In the lower Berg some paths are sign posted but there's nothing on top.

Hope this helps.

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29 Dec 2016 12:13 #70462 by Smurfatefrog
I've sent you a PM Gert

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