Christmas Pass

24 Apr 2015 06:59 - 24 Apr 2015 07:10 #63515 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Christmas Pass
Over the Easter long weekend, Lorinda and tonymarshall did a five day trip in the Mnweni area, ascending Christmas Pass and doing an extended summit and khulu exploration before descending Mnweni Pass.

For the background and basic route information of Christmas Pass, please read the preceding posts.

We had driven down on the Good Friday morning, and with Waterfall Cave on the Ntonjelana Pass route as our overnight destination, obtained a lift to the shop where the road crosses the Ntonjelan’ eshonalanga River, before a leisurely walk in afternoon rain up the Ntonjelan’ ephumalanga valley along the Ntonjelana Pass route to the cave.

The next morning was clear, and we headed about a kilometre upstream along the Ntonjelana Pass path to the main river crossing at the bottom of the pass, where we turned off to the left on another path going up the next valley to the west. This can be seen in the photo below, with the main crossing at the bottom right of the photo, the Ntonjelana Pass path zig sagging up the ridge to the right and the
path we followed crossing the sidestream and heading to the left.



The path was very distinct, following the true left of the stream, and the route afforded good views of the ‘back’ of the Cathedral Range; Cathedral Peak is obscured in mist on the left, The Bell, Outer and Inner Horns, Chessmen and Mitre all clearly visible. Twins is the two summited peak at the right.



A panorama of the same area, with our destination, the top of Christmas Pass becoming visible as the low point towards the right of the picture, with Easter Cave Peak the peak at the right.



The path we had followed went to a small overhang, before crossing the stream and going off further to the left to the next valley, so we left the path here and continued up the valley on the right (true left) of the stream. The shelter was being used and was ‘littered’ with clothes, pots, some wooden stools, various containers and even a portable radio, although it appeared that no one had been there for a few days.



Following the valley, we had a clear view ahead up Christmas Pass, the low point on the horizon at the centre of the photo, and we headed up the ridges virtually straight into the picture, to the base of the upper cliffs at the right of the top of the pass, before contouring to the left along the grass slope just below the cliffs which would get us into the final gully to the summit.



The route was really scenic with valleys and waterfalls everywhere, and at this point we started on the steep slope up to the cliffs above, following a sort of anticlockwise circle up the ridge behind us, first to the right and then to the left.



A view back down the slope, showing the increase in steepness from the lower reaches of the valley.



We had lunch near the top of the slope at a point with some running water, and grand views of the Cathedral Range. Again note the steepness of the grass slope we were ascending, and the sustained thick grass and low bushes/shrubs the whole way up the route which made it very tough going.

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Last edit: 24 Apr 2015 07:10 by tonymarshall.
The following user(s) said Thank You: diverian, Richard Hunt

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24 Apr 2015 07:01 - 24 Apr 2015 07:16 #63516 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Christmas Pass
Soon we were at the base of the upper cliffs and traversed to the left along the grass slope towards the final gully visible at the left.



There were several tricky grass ledge traverses along the way, and the constant steep sideslope to contend with.



A view back along the traverse below the base of the upper cliffs, still with the thick grass and low shrubs.



At last the final gully was within reach.



Entering the final gully, with a short section of scree before the final grass slope to the top.



The view back down the gully, with Cathedral Peak and Bell in the background. Compare this view with the similar winter one in my post from August 2013 with the winter burnt grass view.



A short grass slope up to the top of Christmas Pass.



The view from the top of the pass, the slopes of Easter Cave Peak on the left, a merged Cathedral Peak and Bell at the centre, and Outer Horn at the right background.



We headed up the slopes to Easter Cave, where we would overnight, and then summited Easter Cave Peak before descending to collect water from the Kwakwatsi River and returning to the cave for a comfortable night.

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Last edit: 24 Apr 2015 07:16 by tonymarshall.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Serious tribe, JonWells, DeonS, ghaznavid, Smurfatefrog, Richard Hunt

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