Organ Pipes Pass - Camel Route
firephish wrote: interesting, anyone got further experience / info on this one?
ghaznavid wrote: 5) There is some spot in the town before the reserve where people sometimes park if they want to hike up Didima Gorge. It isn't an official spot, but is included for completeness.
I think Ghaz is referring to the spot near 28 deg 55 min 56 sec S, 29 deg 16 min 04 sec E - the ruins of the old Brotherton Store about 2km south of the Mhlwazini-Mlambonja river confluence.
Good access point to the Didima Gorge and Mhlawazini Valley, but I wouldn't park there.. not an "official" parking spot and nobody around to keep an eye on things. I've usually just walked down the road or caught a lift to access that path.
Can someone please comment on the water situation at the top of the pass?
It mentions there is water 500m from windy gap. In which direction is this? Is it easy to locate?
If it rains you can find water on the pass itself, but generally there isn't anything reliable until you top out on the escarpment. Here you have 2 choices - (which will depend on how much water is available in the veld) - you can either head up a bit to the left (as if going to Rolands cave) and find water in the top of the stream, or if it is dry you will have to walk straight forward into Lesotho where I've always managed to find water in the stream that is in the valley in front of you. Normally you don't have to descend too far down the valley to get water.
I think you are referring to the small stream just before you start the climb to Windy gap while ascending Camel. To answer your question, I would not put my hopes on reliable water on any part of the route, especially in winter, as none of the streams are Perennial. That includes the stream I just mentioned. Fill up at the stream above Ribbon falls, as if you are not going to find any water from there to the escarpment.
"To those who are enthralled by mountains, their wonder is beyond all dispute. To those who are not, their allure is a kind of madness." - Mountain
We just did the Organ Pipes Pass Camel Route over Easter.
There was water in a small stream just before you start climbing towards Windy Gap. I have marked the location below on a map snippet attached.
We had some trouble getting to the escarpment before dark as some of the newbies in the group were a bit unfit, we had to make do and slept on a small section just before Windy Gap without tents just bivies and sleeping bags as there were not enough space for everyone's tents. We dozed off quite early.
At 22h00 two people sneaked up on us, they were probably on the route to the escarpment (as it is a used smuggling route) and they saw the opportunity. It was not a nice experience with 2 faces standing over you when you open your eyes. I suspect they were looking to steal some items lying around, fortunately everything was in our packs and our packs were covered with drybags and we were using it as headrests. Everyone was screaming when we woke up and everyone got a fright, including the two basuthos/smugglers, I don't think they expected the large group. Everyone in close vicinity most certainly knew that we were there after the screaming. After the encounter they held their hands up showing that they were peaceful, they then greeted us and left. They disappeared very quickly through the Windy Gap. We could not believe that they were walking in slops and and without torches. The one guy wore knee high gaitors and a very expensive First Ascent jacket.
After this encounter no one could sleep and we decided to take 1 hour shifts to keep guard. The next encounter happened between 04h00 and 05h00, everyone was sleeping peacefully except for the people on guard duty shining the torch every few minutes to keep watch. Then in the Windy Gap, coming from the escarpment, 2 guys stood watching us. They only left after we shone the torches on them for a few minutes. We could not see if it were the same to guys or possibly other people who heard us screaming earlier the evening and came to investigate an opportunity. The second encounter gives me chills because they watched us for a while.
The rest of the hike we saw some basuthos from a distance away ontop the escarpment but they were peaceful. Due to bad weather conditions we only explored Cleft Peak and descended via Mike's Pass(one of our backup plans) and not Bell Traverse as planned. But I'll be back later to do that.
Hope you enjoy your hike!
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Because you asked so nicely, I decided to go check first hand what the water situation currently is on the camel/Organ Pipes pass. We went up last week Friday. The reality is that there is virtually no water on the Camel at this point in time. At the spot marked on the map (or in that vicinity) we could hear a small amount of water trickling over rocks, but nothing close to the path, so if you are prepared to down-climb quite a distance you can possibly find water, however, it was too far down to be able to see the volume of water. Also, the wind was blowing up the pass so it carried the sound a bit - the trickle could be far down and it was very faint - I only heard it while I took a short break while waiting for the rest of the group.
Your best bet would be to fill up at the stream above Ribbon falls. We ascended via mushroom rock and filled up at the small stream about 100m before mushroom rock. Wait, the tarn on the way to the base of the Camel also had water in it - not sure how safe it is to drink tarn water. Anyone know? This was the last water we found until we topped out at Organ Pipes pass and we then found water in the stream about 250m inland, on our way up Ndumeni dome towards Rolands cave. There was very little water higher up the rocky section, but a couple of nice pools about 10m vertically higher than the pass head.