Madonna Pass

12 Oct 2013 17:59 #58780 by tonymarshall
Madonna Pass was created by tonymarshall
On the September long weekend, intrepid, ClimbyKel, Sabine, Lorinda, Thora and tonymarshall descended the gully at Madonna & Her Worshippers, which we call Madonna Pass. elinda and Richard Hunt, the other two members of our group that had ascended Pins Pass the previous day had decided to descend the gully past Fangs Cave into Fangs Pass, and join up again where Madonna Pass joins into the Fangs Pass route. We had overnighted near Rwanqa Pass the previous night, and some of us went up to Rwanqa Peak the next morning to view Madonna Pass, and the position in relation to Fangs Pass.

We then traversed around to Madonna & Her Worshippers, spending some time viewing the Fangs and Rat Hole Cave, before taking in the classic view of Madonna & Her Worshippers, glad to have clear weather and good visibility unlike our ascent the previous day.

We descended the grassy slope from the top, which many of us had looked down before, wondering if this was a possible pass. No doubt this route has been used before, and could easily be mistaken for Fangs Pass or Mbundini Pass, but we are unaware of any recorded use of Madonna Pass.

We were amazed to see a group of baboons descending from the summit down the sheer cliffs near the Worshippers, marveling at their climbing skills, as we descended the upper grassy slopes of Madonna Pass.

The slope remained grass until roughly the level of the base of the Worshippers.

The slope then changed to more boulders, and with steep sideslopes our route down was restricted in the gully.

The sideslopes became quite bushy.

We continued down the boulder bed, but when the valley opened out a bit some of the group moved out to grass sideslope on the true right.

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12 Oct 2013 18:02 #58781 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Madonna Pass
Lower down the boulders became larger and trees were growing in the valley.

Some interesting rock formations occurred in the valley, and as with Fangs and Mbundini Passes the Mnweni Needles dominate the view down the Pass.

Lower down we could see to the junction of Madonna Pass with Fangs Pass and there was water flowing in the valley.

The valley sideslope became steep again, concentrating the group back into the boulder bed.

The boulders had become quite large, with Madonna Pass having virtually identical characteristics to neighbouring Fangs Pass.

Near the junction with Fangs Pass the trees and bush became thick, but there was no problem making our way down.

Then we were at the junction with Fangs Pass, a bushy area, where we met up with Richard who was waiting for us. Fangs Pass is the route up the centre of the photo below, with Madonna Pass coming in on the right (true left) behind the eroded slope at the right of the photo. The thick bush and narrow valley camouflages Madonna Pass very effectively, and it is hardly visible from the Fangs route.

We had successfully achieved the first recorded descent of Madonna Pass, without encountering any obstacles at all, although we were prepared with rope and some climbing gear just in case. We continued down the Fangs route, overnighting at Five Star Cave, before walking out back to MCC the following day.

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03 Feb 2020 07:49 #75668 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Madonna Pass
On the first weekend of 2020, myself and AndrewP day hiked/climbed the Mbundini Abbey Spire. We used Madonna Pass as our descent route.

It isn't a commonly used pass, but I have to say it is one of the nicer passes at Mnweni. You get the towering cliffs of Mbundini Abbey above you, and the top half is actually on pleasant ground. The lower section is a mix of overgrowth and rock hopping - pretty standard for an obscure pass. What surprised me was how long the section from the Fangs junction to the Mbundini junction was. I had done both Fangs and Mbundini Pass back in 2015 - so it wasn't new ground. I just didn't recall such a slog between them.

Our line was simple - we followed the ridge in the middle of the gully till it became too steep, then moved left into the riverbed and boulder hopped till we found the trail just above the Mbundini Junction.

Most hikers who are likely to attempt an unmarked pass would probably figure out this route easily enough - and Tony has already put up a lot of detail, so no need for a mass of info about it. But here are some photos.

Full story at this link.

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