Knuckles Pass North

20 Feb 2017 11:24 #70930 by advocate_gerrie_nel

Another GT?? Seriously, dude, there are so many wild, remote, spectacular mountain ranges in this country - get out there and explore a bit! :thumbsup:

I take your point, but the logic is as follows - I have a rule: you can't abandon a goal because you find it is too difficult or don't get it on the first few tries.

I have set myself a goal of doing a GT sub 4 days, and two tries later (my 127h GT was always going to be a 6 day, so it doesn't count), I still don't have this. It will be harder to get back into speed GT mode after I get out of it, so it makes sense to push for it now.

Non-Berg SA peaks on my short-term to-do list:
- Kompasberg
- Seweweekspoort Peak
- Du Toits Peak
- Table Mountain, Lions Head and Devil's Peak on the same day (no cable cars allowed)
- Mount Gilboa and Inhlosane are long overdue, being within an hours drive of where I live

Open to recommendations on worthwhile routes. A day-hike of the Otter Trail sounds fun.

I will gladly provide input /show you around on Table Mountain routes if you are ever in this neck of woods. The 3 Peaks is an obvious one to tick off but there are many weird and wonderful and well-graded routes to choose from. Even for 3 Peaks you should be able to piece together something a bit more spicy than the dreaded up/down times 3 on the main tourist carriageways
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20 Feb 2017 12:51 - 20 Feb 2017 12:53 #70936 by TheRealDave
Replied by TheRealDave on topic Knuckles Pass North
I can recommend the spectacular Ledges route from Devil's Peak to Maclear's Beacon, but take care: the route is not always obvious (there is a variation to the right which cannot be done without climbing gear, I believe), and the normal route ends in a short rock-climb where a fall could be fatal. It's advisable to go with someone who knows the route.
Last edit: 20 Feb 2017 12:53 by TheRealDave. Reason: Phrasing

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22 Feb 2017 19:11 - 23 Feb 2017 08:29 #70985 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Knuckles Pass North
Update: as it turns out, our source of info that the north middle pass exists has not personally done the pass, but confirmed the existence by peering up and down the gullies from bottom and top respectively. He did mention that there had been a rock fall on it, so it may have gone once, but not any more.

I would suggest that this pass should either be removed from the passes list, or given a large bold red warning that it is rock-technical and should be avoided by all but the very experienced (i.e. hopefully someone with experience won't push on if it is too dangerous to continue).

Further update: Paul Roth and Murray Sanders did this route a few years back, Paul rates the chockstone an E-grade climb, and recommends roping it. He has also suggested that the route should not be attempted without a helmet. He classifies it as not being a hiking route.
Last edit: 23 Feb 2017 08:29 by ghaznavid.
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08 Oct 2018 10:10 #74107 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Knuckles Pass North
For the purposes of completeness - now that I have done all 4 gullies, here's a summary of them:

Gully north of the Knuckles: the easiest of the passes. From this summit to the top of the North Knuckle is fairly far with a lot of vertical. Make sure you are in the right gully if you are descending.
Gully between north and middle: technical rock climbing route, not a pass.
Gully between middle and south: the hardest of the passes. A very steep grass gully with a fair amount of scree/boulders.
Gully south of the Knuckles: a fairly gentle grass gully, the bottom has a bad washaway that is not too pleasant and requires a bit of scrambling and some loose ground. Be careful of the side gullies, there are large overhanging cliffs where they join the main gully.

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17 Jan 2019 21:46 - 18 Jan 2019 07:27 #74561 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Knuckles Pass North
I would like to reach a consensus about the various passes around the Knuckles - how many are considered to be passes and how do we refer to them? There are 5 associated routes that I can identify and have labelled them as such in the pic below:

Route No 1 I refer to as "Knuckles Traverse Pass" in my own notes - this is not an official name, but I think I have it referenced as such in content elsewhere on the site. I call it that because that is where the traverse route that contours below the base of the Knuckles starts/ends.  There may be better names for it.

Route 2 is the "Gully north of the Knuckles" as per ghaznavid's notes above and similarly:
Route 3 is the "Gully between north and middle"
Route 4 is the "Gully between middle and south"
Route 5 is the "Gully south of the Knuckles".

First question: have I identified the routes correctly and are there any others?

Now concerning which of these we consider to be a pass. Route 1 isn't an obvious pass like the others are, but it still technically a pass, as much as its nearby cousin is one too (Lammergeier Pass, coming up from the cave with the same name). I would submit that for the purposes of being precise, that we consider Route 1 to be a pass. Agree / not agree?

Concerning Route 3, with the information that ghaznavid has posted previously - do we consider this to be a pass or not? Its the only one of the 5 I haven't done and I can't remember what it looks like so I can't really weigh in on this based on my own observations. We do have a few other routes that we categorise as passes which have short technical bits, and arguably could also be short climbing routes, most notably Injisuthi Pass. Does anyone else have first-hand information or photos of Route 3?

Lastly, what do we call these routes? I can think of a few options here:

1) Knuckles Pass 1, Knuckles Pass 2,  Knuckles Pass 3, Knuckles Pass 4 and Knuckles Pass 5 - short and simple.

2) If we don't consider Route 3 to be a pass, then as per above but Knuckles Pass 3 would be Route 4 and Knuckles Pass 4 is Route 5. We would then need a suitable name for Route 3, perhaps Knuckles Gully?

3) If there is too much ambiguity around Route 1 and Route 3, then we can fall back on the more conventional three-pronged approach of Route 2 = Knuckles Pass North, Route 4 = Knuckles Pass Middle, and Route 5 = Knuckles Pass South. We still need a way of referring to Route 1, but it needn't be one of the "Knuckles Passes" since its less obvious and also closer to other named features from which it could inherit a name.

Let's hear your thoughts!

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Last edit: 18 Jan 2019 07:27 by Smurfatefrog. Reason: Fixed attachment

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18 Jan 2019 10:26 #74562 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Knuckles Pass North
Drakensberg Select calls gully 3 "Middle Knuckles North Gully" and grades it a D grade climb. We have consensus from 4 parties that it is not a pass (i.e. Gavin, Murray, Paul and myself) - which is a good start.

I think Knuckles Traverse Pass is a fitting name - it says exactly what it is. I agree that it is a pass by definition.

I use North Knuckles Pass, South Middle Knuckles Pass and South Knuckles Pass as names on the other 3. At least it is clear which gully is being referenced. Middle Knuckles Pass would be ambiguous as it could be either gully.
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31 Jan 2019 23:16 #74591 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Knuckles Pass North
OK so I will not include Route 3 on the various lists of passes we have going on the site.

Perhaps a bit of background about the names and why I am bringing this up. The name "Knuckles Passes" (plural in both respects) is well established and is clearly indicated as such on both Slingsby's maps and the newer hiking maps. The name was obviously borrowed from the associated peaks, the Devil's Knuckles. On my version of Slingsby's map, Route 3 was labelled "1" (of the Knuckles Passes), and was given the index number E60. Route 5 was designated "2" and E61. On the newer maps, the E60 index was shifted to Route 4 which is more appropriate (though the actual summit marker seems a bit off). On both maps only 2 routes are recognised, and our reflex is to try and extend the existing naming system for the other passes that are there (which is reasonable). For many years this is the way it was written up on, with a more distinguishing description given in parenthesis for each pass, which is a good system except that it doesn't work well as a proper title for each route.

While these passes all live happily together under the collective forum thread and title "Knuckles Passes", I wanting to split these up as part of the systematic re-shuffling I am currently undertaking. One of the things which has become more apparent to me while doing this is how there is some form of terminology and convention in existence when it comes to describing and referring to passes, though it is not standard throughout. This will make for some interesting discussion at some point. One thing I do want to touch on now though is the case when two or more passes share the same name and are distinguished by their relative position to each other (typically North and South). The way this is done can differ. For example: South Hlatimba Pass, Hlatimba South Pass and Hlatimba Pass South. There will be pros and cons and just plain old preference for all 3 options. One consideration in this can also be the written form vs conversational form. In conversation we might even say  "the Southern Hlatimba Pass". And of course we might even use shortened names like "South Hlatimba".

So far I have tried to stick to the Hlatimba Pass South convention, which may also be written as "Hlatimba Pass, South", or "Hlatimba Pass (South)", which makes it even clearer. My reasoning for going with this convention it makes the most sense to me when you attempt to systematically document the passes and compile lists. It keeps the common aspects of the names together and introduces the distinguishing part at the end. You can find that approach in other naming conventions too, like in software development. It arranges the passes together in alphabetically ordered lists and is also somewhat easier on the eyes when you look through a list. This convention also seems fairly widely used, including It also helps us in cases where there are route variations for the same pass, for e.g. "Organ Pipes Pass, Thuthumi Ridge route" vs "Organ Pipes Pass, Camel route". I am not using this convention to try and contradict all the other ways of saying the same thing. I am trying to stay systematic on VE.

Coming back to the passes in question, there is a minor difficulty in tying the name to a particular Knuckle in that Route 3 and 4 are shared by two. So "Middle Knuckles North Gully" could arguably also be "North Knuckles South Gully" (unless that name already describes another climbing route) and "South Middle Knuckles Pass" could also be "North South Knuckles Pass". Additionally, it may be better to use singular in these cases, ie the Middle Knuckle (just like we talk about the Injisuthi Triplets, but the Western Triplet).

As a revised set of options if we are to keep the established, broad reference to the Knuckles Passes going (plural form):
Route 2: Knuckles Pass (North)  - we could also say "(Northernmost)" which increases the precision of what exactly we are referring to
Route 4: Knuckles Pass (Middle Knuckle, South Gully)
Route 5: Knuckles Pass (South) - or "(Southernmost)"

Basically this is a refinement of Dave's convention on Remember, I am trying to come up with a systematic way that is suitable for VE (rather than trying to establish one official way to the exclusion of others), and its a great thing to try and shape through the community. Route 4's name as suggested above may not roll off the tongue that nicely, it may be more easily referred to as "Middle Knuckle Pass, South Gully", or whatever else people may prefer, and that is also valid.

More input please?

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06 Mar 2019 00:01 #74723 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Knuckles Pass North
I will be proceeding soon to split this thread up into separate threads as per names that I have suggested above. The naming convention is still open for discussion even after I have done this.

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