Some advice - don't know about sage.
This pass gets very little sun - ever.
It is a C-D grade ice climb in winter.
When we descended it (about 22 years ago - but bear in mind that is nothing in geological years) we had to abseil after about only 20m into the gully.
Having only a short length of rope; about 15m if i remember correctly; and having to double it and leave behind a sling I would guess that to be about 5m.
The next overhang was way higher, and we had to do an up/over/ACROSS and down. The "ACROSS" was on a sloping slab with a horizontal crack filled with tenacious berg grass. Tenous grip above allowed us to traverse cautiously over. At this point a thermal waterbottle on a sling slipped down my arm, and i let it go as i had other things to concentrate on.
As I heard nothing behind me I assumed it had landed on grass below. HOWEVER, some seconds later a resounding clang announced it final landing.
It was an extremely sobering moment ( I have yet to fiqure the mathematical calculation for rate of fall ) as the pause between letting go and CLANG was lengthly, and announced clearly the air under our feet.
Below this hairy section the gully is extremely rocky and broken but passable.
This is a ROCK pass.
It is a winter ICE CLIMB route.
It requires rope, gear and 'bottle' if you wish to do it safely.
It is an epic pass, and exits/enters close to the Hut.
PS: The thermal bottle survived [being empty] although I found the screw on lid about 30m from the point of impact.
Whilst in the gully we kept hearing a strange whistling sound. It turned out to be a fixed wing glider, white with lumo orange wingtips and nosecone, that was doing repeat passes along the length of the gully.An awesome sight.
Have fun. Let us know how it went.
Do you think it can be soloed when it isn't iced up? I can understand needing rope on a descent, but can one get up it with reasonable safety without gear?
Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Soloed, as in 'you'r on your own'?
As a climber I would say yes u can. The first vert pitch [waterfALL/CHOCKSTONE] on the way up is obvious, and overhanging, so you would be forced to go up and over left. Mostly grass and rock, as in Berg grass is safer than berg rock.
I can not comment on the last bit though as we ab'd down it and it is too long ago to recall. I do not recall that this was overhanging though.
I can recall that the gully is fairly narrow at that point and the left or right wall may offer an up.
lET US KNOW.
Thanks ST2 for the info. I will write this off as not worthwhile for the moment.
MCSA has the following on it:
The easiest route to the top [of Giants Castle] is via Giant's Pass. However, as a descent after climbing, this may be a somewhat lengthy detour depending on the location of the chosen base camp. A direct descent is down the Eastern Gully. This gully has some very dangerous loose sections near the top, and helmets are advised. At least one abseil is necessary down this route. To attempt it without a rope would be very dangerous (if not impossible). It can be climbed, avoiding the waterfall by keeping to the left (South). This gully makes an excellent snow route in the right conditions.
My possible-next-project of every pass at Lotheni may require a qualification that ROCK passes don't fall within its scope (but rock passes naturally still would be part of it - wouldn't leave much otherwise). The northern gully and Giant's Pass variation gully (Long Wall Pass?) both look pretty dangerous as well.
The top part of the gully above the first waterfall is rather loose, as you would expect from something that is covered in snow much of the year and thus has no grass to hold it together. I had a few patches of snow that had frozen over, so had to take it gently.
Not too far down you hit the first waterfall. It looks very improbably from above and the walls on both sides are rock in all directions so no chance of bypassing it. I found a way to downclimb on the true right side of the chockstone - this is on good hand holds, requires stemming with your feet and full commitment at a point where you cannot yet see what is below the overhang. If you do go for it, another chockstone underneath the first offers a landing point and a tiny squeeze through a hole allows you to sneak into the back of the gully underneath the chockstones. Its easy from there.
A while later, you reach another waterfall, still while in a very narrow gully with no option to bypass. A flaring and sloping squeeze chimney gets you down this.
I did not look carefully, but there is enough around that the 2 waterfalls could be easily abseiled. I suggest a 30m rope even though only about 5m down to make the rope pulling easier. And, plenty of tat. Climbing up will be easy enough. I did not see what gear is about, as the chockstones were mostly flaring.
Below this, the gully starts opening up and you can dodge another waterfall on the true right. This takes you to a 20m waterfall. If you go to the true right, you could escape by going back up 20m vertical and then traversing close to 1km to the first possible break in the cliffs. It might be possible to scramble immediately down next to the waterfall. I though went left up a long narrow ramp that includes 2 easy but exposed scrambles, and then down another steep grass ramp that is fortunately a little wider by now.
I got back into the now fairly wide gully and bypassed the next waterfall on the true right. I now stayed on grass which gets easier as you go and you soon reach the contour path.