Xeni Pass - North Fork
jsteenkamp79 wrote: Hi Guys,
Tried searching Xeni Pass but could'nt find any threads on it. I've done Cockade down twice, up once, and always wonder how Xeni looks, as the map indicate a steep section, and that ropes may be required. Does anybody have any info regarding the difficulty/grading, as its the only Pass I've not hiked in the cathedral area, and may consider it for this years winter.
You sure won't be 'hiking' it brother. Particularly not in winter.
Serious tribe wrote: Hi Stijn
That large rock between the two snow gullies is Zeni Rock. The left gully is indeed the correct pass and the worm-hole must be on that side, as i know of one one who has done he right hand side gully. You may be able to hit the steep grass bank on the lhs after Cockade off-ramp. I did walk on it for about 50 metres last year when ferreting around the area, but am not sure how long you could use it. It was certainly better than the boulder bed but at a bit of an angle. I wish i had taken some images of this section to show you but alas i did not.
We did the left dude. It was a long day!
We started from Cathedral Peak Hotel and were at Roland's Cave for the night but the 3km from the contour path to the top of Xeni Pass took us 5h. This would be significantly longer with heavy packs (we only had about 8-10kg each). It's pretty standard boulder-hopping up to the Cockade Pass turnoff, which is where the spicy stuff begins. We kept right in the gully to the right of "Xeni Rock" all the way to the top.
At about 2500m, there is a series of 3 x 10m waterfalls, the first 2 of which are turned on the steep grass banks on river left (to your right when heading up the pass) and the 3rd is turned using a steep grassy gully on river right and an exposed traverse back into the pass itself. These grassy bypasses are all steep and exposed with much hauling on that good old trusty Berg grass, while your footholds disintegrate below you...
Then once the gully has narrowed, there are 2 huge boulders choking the pass, which we could not scramble in the wet. We got around both of these using yet another steep gully on river right and an exposed traverse back into the pass just above the 2nd boulder (you should be sensing a trend about now ). There were a few more tricky scrambles (up to 5m high) higher up, but none that required leaving the main gully anymore. The wormhole is about 150 vertical metres from the top of the pass and fairly easily negotiated (almost like a spiral staircase behind a boulder chockstone).
All in all, an adventure of note, and definitely the most technical pass I have done in the Berg (note I have not done Injasuti, Hilton or Nguza yet). It is slow-going, but mainly due to all the experimenting with scrambles and bypass-options. And if you have a head for heights, plenty fun too!
I will put up a full trip report (Up Xeni, down Tlanyaku) once I have the photos sorted...
And you came down Tlanyaku Pass??
Can't wait to see the photos and report!
Day 1 was Cathedral Peak Hotel to Roland's Cave via Xeni Pass: 9km to the point where the contour path is left and the boulder hopping begins, 3km up to the top of Xeni Pass and a further 10km across the escarpment to Roland's (22km total in 12h).
On day 2, I mentioned the shortcut back down via Camel Pass and suddenly had nobody who was keen to join me for the planned route via Tlanyaku! So I chose to go solo: 7km across the escarpment to the top of Tlanyaku, 8km down Tlanyaku to the top of Didima Gorge and 15km down the gorge to the Cathedral Peak tar road where my lazy friends picked me up (30km total in 6h30m).
I don't think I'll have time to put the report and photos together soon and I'm leaving for New Zealand tomorrow. So you'll have to be patient and wait for next year, unfortunately. Here's one shot of Roland's Cave I really liked (photo by Neal Markham).
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Interested to hear about your New Zealand trip - I am going in April next year and plan to do a hike or two whilst in South Island. Enjoy, and I look forward to hearing your tips and suggestions as regards the land of the long white cloud on your return
Interesting to note that the newer hiking maps indicate Xeni Pass to be the worm-hole variation, whereas Slingsby's indicates it to be the Westerly variation which ST did. I wonder which was the original.
Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Now i want to do it again!
Stumbled into the bottom of it on our last trip into Cockade, and thought "Ullo - this looks kinda familiar." And then saw the earth wall full of pebbles and rocks that we had scrambled our way up 20 odd years ago.
Have to get Hilton pegged first though. It has thwarted three attempts. Not good!
Well done Stijn. Well writ. Now write the long one.