Xeni Pass - North Fork
There is a gps track for Xeni Pass in the downloads section on this site which you can download. We loosely used it for our ascent of the pass, but with good visibility we were able to find our way without really using it in detail, and noticed that in the lower reaches of the pass the track appeared to follow the gully, while we were more inclined to follow the grass slope on the left (true right) of the gully. In the upper section of Xeni Pass you are confined to the gully anyway, and the gps tracks become a bit inaccurate because of signal problems in the gully.
This last Saturday Elaine, Thora and myself left Didima on route to the bottom of Xeni Pass. The cold front took its toll on us and from the contour path walked in freezing cold rain to the Xeni Valley junction. The hike up the Xeni valley was difficult as we dodged through the thick undergrowth, mist and very slippery rocks. Our rain proof gear did not keep the wet out and by the time we got to Cockade/Xeni Pass junction we were freezing and wet to the bone. We were hoping to go further to a camp site Tony showed us in a photo but had to put up our tents fast. We found a tiny space for our 2 tents (see photos on the link) and climbed in to try warm up. Everything was damp and wet the entire night and were relieved to see sunshine in the morning. We got going on Sunday morning with everything still wet and within an hour passed the camping spot Tony showed in his photo. From this spot the fun and games began!!!! We had to bypass a waterfall up an extremely steep steep slope and from this spot to the top of Xeni Pass the difficulties did not stop. All the slopes were extremely steep and a slip could have ended in death. After negotiating our way on the slopes into the pass gully we thought the worst was over!! To make matters worse from the 1st waterfall the mist enveloped us and thanks to Tony’s photos were able to find the correct way. As we got into the main gully the mist lifted and we could see clearly the way up. Up the gully we encountered numerous obstacles and actually lost count of how many times we had to haul backpacks off and with difficulty climb up and over rocks. Our greatest mistake was not to take rope as we believed it was not necessary. I dont know how many women have ever climbed this pass but the obstacles were an huge challenge and their strength was not enough to climb up and over these obstacles so I became exhausted in assisting them and the backpacks up time and time again. It looks like another group must have climbed this pass after Tony’s group because alot of the rocks that were used as foot holds and hand holds became loose and because of this became rather dangerous (there were marks of hiking poles and I think that Tony and his group do not use them) On one of the larger obstacles I was busy climbing up with one of the ladies back packs and in a narrow passage wide enough for one person a huge knee high boulder came loose....As I pushed and held the boulder with all my might, backpack in hand.... thought my life was over. It was a miracle and as I jumped over this boulder it came tearing under me....to make matters worse it dislodged 2 more huge boulders which I had to jump over. The passage was too narrow to step to the side and if one boulder had collided with me would have broken my legs and maybe knocked me off the drop off. The one boulder went crashing over a 6m drop off and broke into pieces as it hit the ground. The other 2 boulders are still stuck in that passage and could be lethal for anyone attempting to climb this pass. After this episode I sat for some time shaking with relief that I was still alive. The only other way would be to go down this pass and dislodge these 2 boulders to make this passage safe. In my opinion this pass is a death trap and accident waiting to happen and would not recommend it to any hiker....only those who are daring, strong and have some climbing experience. We camped that night next to Xeni Pass South exit and this pass appears to be much easier. Can anyone who has done Xeni South please comment. The next morning we made our way to Cockade Pass and enjoyed the magnificent views (see photos on the link) The top section of Cockade is becoming badly eroded and beginning to look like Judges Pass. After a long tiring day we finally made it back to Didima. Thanks to Elinda and Thora...we made one hellof a team
Link for the photos goo.gl/photos/pTX9WqYkKkLu4xVE6
Richard Hunt wrote: To make matters worse from the 1st waterfall the mist enveloped us and thanks to Tony’s photos were able to find the correct way. As we got into the main gully the mist lifted and we could see clearly the way up
A "from above" pic of this This was taken at 11am
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Andrew calls Apes Pass a death trap - so one can only imagine how dangerous that route truly is
Stijn wrote: I think this is an important reminder to take care in how passes are described on a public forum. In other words, take anything AndrewP says with a serious pinch of salt.
But jokes aside, good to hear you guys are ok. I think passes differ on the day. Grey's Pass in the wet felt rather dangerous this weekend, I can only imagine how actual rock pass like Xeni must be when wet!
Thanx for sharing, looks like you had some good early morning cloud action. Nice images.
Glad that you are still in the land of the living, rolling boulders are not fun. Had a similar experience going up the final stages of Buttress Pass, but fortunately it passed through and under my legs.
As i mentioned to you recently, I did Zeni Pass back in 1991, it was my first overnight hike, so it was hard. Harder still, because it is not an easy pass. We took the left (south) fork, and had to haul some of our friends packs up some sections. I and my mate were able to do these sections with our packs on, mind you i was not carrying much weight and no camera gear. It is a pity because i don't have any images of that pass. It also helped that my friend was a climber, and both of us are rather agile. We had looked through bino's at both forks, and had decided that the left would be easier.
I recall though that the pass even back then was rotten, with huge rocks ready to avalanche onto us. My one mate, who is not so agile , almost fell on one section when the rocks he was standing on just collapsed . The sections we had to haul up were quite steep and at least 3 - 5m high. There were also steep grass sections, where we were literally pulling ourselves up with the tufts of grass. I think likely due to my inexperience I just assumed that this was what hiking up a pass in the berg involved. I only found out afterwards, that it is one of the more difficult passes.
We started from the contour path at about 10 and summited at about 18:00 that night, and the whole party were well and truly knackered. My mate fell asleep at least three times with his spoon still in his supper bowl, and had to be nudged a few times.
I have not done that pass since, even to document it with images, not sure if i will. C'est la vie