Mlambonja Pass

06 Mar 2015 14:37 #62975 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Mlambonja Pass
If the image would please upload now!!! Think it's time to go home for the weekend ;)

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06 Mar 2015 14:41 #62976 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Mlambonja Pass
Let's try it in another format, looks like the previous one is simply too large.

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09 Mar 2015 12:02 #62977 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic Mlambonja Pass
Hi Riaang,
The red route might be possible - several valleys link in to the Cathedral-Twins traverse. But I would be surprised if anyone had done it before. It looks to me like the red line ends up in between the Horns. It is very unlikely to be an easy way up.

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10 Mar 2015 20:39 #62985 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Mlambonja Pass
I also think there is a chance that the red would be possible. I have been on the neck between the two Horns, and part-way down that gully as an approach for Outer Horn Standard route, and though I cannot recall accurately, there were not any obstacles in the upper part where we were, a lot of grass.

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

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20 Apr 2015 07:13 #63431 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Mlambonja Pass
In mid March intrepid, ClimbyKel, Harry and tonymarshall did a 3 day weekend trip at Didima, ascending Cockade Pass and descending Mlambonja Pass.

On the second day we had ascended Cockade Pass, and in the afternoon did the summit traverse to the top of Mlambonja Pass via the Elephant Gully (if anyone would like a write up on the Elephant Gully, please ask and I’ll do one) and past the top of Xeni Pass in rainy weather. The photo below shows the view down from the top of Mlambonja Pass, with Kelly on the upper traverse section. The path then descends the gully running across the centre of the photo, and splits, with the main path descending the pass to the right, and the other to the left going to Twins Cave and the Bell Traverse. Twins is the lower peak at the right of the photo, Twins Cave is on the other side of Twins facing into KZN, and the left path to Twins Cave can be seen at the left of Twins peak.



A view back up to the top of the pass along the grass slope traverse.



We overnighted at Twins, being joined by AndrewP who was out doing a long training run from Mnweni, and spent the night in Twins Annex Cave, and also meeting RiaanG and his group who were staying in Twins Cave.

The next morning we went up over the low saddle above Twins Cave and commenced our descent of Mlambonja Pass. The photo below shows the path descending the pass, taken from the path junction to Twins Cave / Bell Traverse.



A view down the upper grass slope section of Mlambonja Pass, the path crosses the gully as shown in the previous photo and follows the true right side down.



A view back up the pass, Twins peak on the right of the photo.



Mlambonja Pass has a good trail the whole way, and after the upper grass slope section you pass through a long section of low bushy vegetation, again Twins peak on the right of the photo.



The route follows the stream quite closely, crossing it several times. We checked and where necessary repaired cairns, so that all the stream crossings are clearly marked.



A view down the pass at this section.



There are several minor scrambles on this section.

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20 Apr 2015 07:16 #63432 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Mlambonja Pass
Another view down the stream and low bush section.



The stream crossing just below this waterfall could be regarded as the bottom of the pass.



We had a break here, the team fltr Harry, intrepid, tony and ClimbyKel.



After the waterfall stream crossing the path traverses out of the valley to miss several waterfall sections,



and then descends back down to the river through a very bushy area. The whole route here also has a trail which we managed to follow the entire way, but it is this section where many hikers lose the trail and get lost in the bush. The route descends down to the river, at the centre of the photo below is a big tree on the right of the river where the Mlambonja campsite is, and then ascends the ridge to the right on the Contour Path, another tricky section where it is easy to lose the path in the bush.



A view back upstream at the bushy section. From this height down it is apparent that Twins peak actually has 3 summits, while from most upper angles only two are visible, leading to the name. Note that the Mlambonja valley is immediately to the left of Twins peak, and not the wide grassy gully further to the left.



The Mlambonja campsite and junction of the Mlambonja Pass path and Contour Path can be regarded as the bottom of the Mlambonja Pass route. In the photo below the campsite is at the large tree next to the river, and the Contour Path ascends the ridge through the bush to the level shown in the photo, with the whole Mlambonja Pass route visible in the background. It is absolutely disgraceful that EKZNW don’t do maintenance on the overgrown sections of the Contour Path, and their excuse for not having a budget is feeble; how hard can it possibly be, and what extra funds are needed, to send existing workers out to cut the trail open? This is another section where hikers easily lose the trail in the overgrown conditions and the large number of random trails we saw in the bush testify to that.



The Contour Path is followed for about 2 km to the turnoff down the ridge at junction C5, where this classic view of Pyramid and Column is obtained.



From here we followed the same route out as we had walked in on the first day, along the ridge between the Mlambonja and Xeni Rivers, and then the path along the Mlambonja valley back to Cathedral Peak Hotel.

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The following user(s) said Thank You: intrepid, Serious tribe, diverian, DeonS, kliktrak, Smurfatefrog, Captain, Spykid, Dillon, Riaang, zwakefield

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20 Apr 2015 07:40 #63433 by Dillon
Replied by Dillon on topic Mlambonja Pass
Thanks for the excellent write up!

tonymarshall wrote: if anyone would like a write up on the Elephant Gully, please ask and I’ll do one

Please do! :cheer:

"Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous."
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20 Apr 2015 07:52 #63434 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Mlambonja Pass
Ok, will do. Give me a few days. I'll need to find some older photos to add in.

There are some good pictures on Ghaznavid's Mlambonja Pass - Cockade Pass write up too.
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20 Apr 2015 09:20 #63441 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Mlambonja Pass
I agree with Tonymarshall about the difficulty with finding the trail from the large tree back onto the Southern contour path. I only realised I missed it when I looked on my GPS and saw that I missed the turnoff - I has a track of the route and when coming down to the river on our up trek (we went up via 1Treehill) I couls see the Southern contour coming down but couldn't see the trail so I was looking for it on day 2 when we descended. I couldn't find a cairn to indicate the turnoff at this spot and found a VERY overgrown path up the hill. When I say very overgrown i mean VERY OVERGROWN. The plants were higher than my head (i.e. over 2 meters tall) and they completely obscured the trail.

I knew the trail was up above me, the issue was (as is quite often the case) just how to get there :laugh:

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20 Apr 2015 09:36 - 20 Apr 2015 09:43 #63442 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Mlambonja Pass
The peculiar thing about Mlambonja is that it isn't a particularly difficult pass (other than perhaps being quite a drawn-out slog), yet with some it has a "nasty" reputation, which seems to mainly have to do with the bushy sections where it is easy to loose the path. Having done it a few times up and down, it seems to me that it is easy to loose the trail on the uphill rather than the downhill. And it seems to be particularly around the waterfall section where the trail goes quite far over to the true right through the cycads. The pass does have an established trail throughout. If you suddenly find yourself bundu-bashing, stop immediately, look around and back-track if necessary - the trail is there.

On a descent of the pass, the contour path in either direction can indeed be difficult to locate in order to exit the valley, as the others have mentioned. Use the large tree at the campsite as a marker.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 20 Apr 2015 09:43 by intrepid.
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