Nguza Pass

02 Sep 2013 19:41 - 02 Sep 2013 19:47 #58340 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Nguza Pass
The image below the caption ‘trickiest section’ in the write up shows the place, and here are some more images of this spot.

The photos don’t really give a true perspective and seem to show an easy path through the grass on the ledge and iced rock outcrop; you don’t get a true feel for the considerable drop off below, and feeling of stepping over empty space between the grass tufts and steps on the rock described by Richard above, compounded by the slippery ice underfoot. The body postures in some of the photos also give an indication of the difficulty and concentration required. One of the group later described this spot as terrifying.

Thora and Tony at the iced rock outcrop ledge. I was waiting to help Thora down to and across the rock footholds. (Photo courtesy of elinda.)



The ledge with Richard and elinda descending down to it. This photo probably gives the best impression, although it still doesn’t look that steep, of the drop off below.



Richard and elinda at the ledge.

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Last edit: 02 Sep 2013 19:47 by tonymarshall.
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16 Mar 2015 21:04 #63029 by AndrewP
Replied by AndrewP on topic Nguza Pass
One of my goals for this year is to tackle a few new passes. Having done so few, it is not hard to find one I have not done before :)

On Saturday evening, I had a great time in Twins Cave meeting up up Intrepid and Tony Marshall. Both have done Nguza Pass before, so I sucked out enough info from them to know I would not die descending the pass by myself.

Here are a few snippets of info I managed to work out on the descent.

Finding the top of the pass is really easy - it is the lowest point on the escarpment for miles. I found a very feint tracking leading up to it, but no summit cairn. It was initially a little spooky heading down, but soon enough I noticed that other people have been this way and it encouraged me to continue.

It does not take long to reach the waterfall. I did not even bother looking down it and immediately traversed onto the grassy ledge. With the benefit of clear weather, looking out along the ledge from just above the waterfall, it looks like this. When traversing out on it, pass over the first gully (which contains the exposed rock slab) and continue along to the 2nd major gully.



There is a tiny overhang on the ledge near the main gully that was dry enough to sleep in (at the same time when Twins Cave itself is mostly damp). It could sleep 2 comfortably.

When I did reach the second gully, I looked down and saw this - it is obvious that this is the gully you want to descend, and it is equally obvious that you will drop a lot of altitude on it.



The scree is pretty stable and I made my way down steadily. Interestingly, even though the main pass itself had flowing water within 5m of the summit, this scree slop was bone dry. The chockstone near the bottom can be bypassed on either side. I used the true left which is balancy with a pack on. It may be useful to have 10m of rope to lower packs.

Once in the main gully again I boulder hopped all the way down the stream until I reached the Rockeries Path. For a few times I had to exit the boulders into the bushes to bypass a waterfall, but on each occasion the route was obvious and normally accompanied by a vague path through the vegetation.

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06 May 2015 22:07 #63662 by AndrewP
Replied by AndrewP on topic Nguza Pass
Route followed as seen on Google Earth. The ledge you traverse along is pretty obvious and large.
X = the main waterfall
Y = the North Peak of the Saddle. The gully is thus the one leading up to the saddle between the north peak of saddle and the main escarpment
Red line: this gully is very vegetated. If coming up the pass, go past it - the gully you want is almost free of vegetation and full of scree
purple arrow: way up Rockeries Pass

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06 May 2015 22:07 #63663 by AndrewP

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19 Jan 2016 21:00 #66573 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Nguza Pass
Nguza Pass from half way up Nguza Pass Peak. The red circle is the "death scramble" near the end. Looks so un-scary in the photos, I'm guessing it is rather hairy in reality!


For years I had written this pass off as being out of my league, but I am getting more and more tempted to give it a go - especially after AndrewP showed me the entire route from Nguza Pass Peak. That being said - every pass looks easier when you aren't currently doing it!

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20 Jan 2016 07:31 - 20 Jan 2016 08:38 #66577 by Stijn
Replied by Stijn on topic Nguza Pass
Ghaz, I think the difficulty of that section has been exaggerated a bit on here (I don't think anybody has called it a death scramble, just that some got nervous on it due to the icy conditions). First of all, it's not a scramble, just a narrow, eroded section of grassy ledge but with significant exposure. In my experience, it's significantly easier than the Roland's Cave access ledge for example.

The scramble on the pass is at a chockstone much lower down in the side gully. A rather large obstacle, but no exposure and about the same difficulty as the hardest scramble on Corner Pass.

Give it a go! :thumbsup:
Last edit: 20 Jan 2016 08:38 by Stijn.
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20 Jan 2016 12:41 #66590 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Nguza Pass

Stijn wrote: Ghaz, I think the difficulty of that section has been exaggerated a bit on here (I don't think anybody has called it a death scramble, just that some got nervous on it due to the icy conditions). First of all, it's not a scramble, just a narrow, eroded section of grassy ledge but with significant exposure. In my experience, it's significantly easier than the Roland's Cave access ledge for example.

No one called it that, but it is a rather catchy name :laugh:

Great to hear it isn't a scramble, but if one was to fall there, I imagine a discretely placed plaque in that individual's memory wouldn't be too badly frowned upon :laugh:

The ledge on Roland's was quite something for me - for some reason I have an issue with traverses though - even on Cathedral Peak, I didn't use the traverse line on the second scramble but rather opted to scramble up from below. But this does look fine. I survived Bell Traverse, so I'm sure I can survive this.

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20 Jan 2016 20:49 #66611 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Nguza Pass
I may not be the best person to go by, but that spot you circled is really no biggie at all, agree with Stijn.

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

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28 Sep 2016 09:55 - 28 Sep 2016 09:59 #69906 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Nguza Pass
Tony has done a brief writeup on the successful trip by Tony, Biomech, Dom and myself this last weekend. He will do a detailed writeup on Mponjwane Pass, but seeing as he has already done a writeup on Nguza Pass - here's how I found the pass.

We came down the pass, I guess this would not usually be recommended, but I rate any team that is competent to do Nguza Pass should be able to handle the terrain going down. Actually navigation is much easier going down, so this is probably the best way to do this pass.

First things first - you don't drop down the pass for very long before you hit the waterfall. But you drop to almost immediately above it before you start to traverse. There is a vague trail developing in places, and the ground is not 100% firm, there are places where you feel like you might slip - but it really isn't bad.

The "death scramble" is not at all scary when dry and un-iced. It is a bit loose, but if you are careful, it is generally ok. Actually the worst part of it was just past it, when you get off the rock and onto sand.

The traverse was also longer than I expected, but the gully is quite obvious. As Tony pointed out, there is also a distinctive rock pinnacle that marks the turnoff.

The gully is loose in places, and rock hopping is easier than trying to skip the rock on the grassy side. By sticking to larger rocks, keeping good balance and being selective on which rocks you stand on - the gully isn't particularly intimidating.

The chockstone was easier than I expected, although my pack was still passed down and Tony had to help me through the top bit. The top section has no handholds and the narrow ledge slopes gently towards the 2m drop next to it, so you basically have to crawl down it. It would be easy to climb up, and anyone half competent at balance climbing will find it a breeze. That being said - balance climbing is what I really struggle with - hence taking ages and needing help!

Once you hit the main gully again, you just follow the river, occasionally detouring to avoid a waterfall, until you hit the Rockeries trail.

The views on the pass are worthwhile, and the pass isn't exceptionally difficult. Not for newbies, but definitely worth doing.

Here are some photos from the pass:

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Last edit: 28 Sep 2016 09:59 by ghaznavid.
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16 Mar 2017 05:41 #71159 by Geordie
Replied by Geordie on topic Nguza Pass
Hi All
I need a GPS track for Nguza please.
It's one I assumed would be in my collection, or in the Downloads, but alas I have it not.

Umm, I'm off there this weekend, by the way.

Regards
Geordie

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