Giant's Castle Pass
One of the most identifiable passes around, Giant's Castle Pass is a short, steep and loose pass which is most often used to climb Giant's Castle itself. The gully can be seen from as far back as the lodge and looks fairly bland. Once in the throat of the pass, however, some very impressive buttresses and cliffs tower above you.
Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
We used the Oribi Ridge route to access the area, and had the morning view of the ‘berg from Giant’s Castle to the Cathkin Range, still with some snow on the high ridges, although this soon disappeared.
Near the end of the ridge we passed the old Lammergeier hide. Giant’s Castle is the peak behind the hide, and Giant’s Castle Pass is to the right of Giant’s Castle, behind the ridge coming down to the right from Giant’s Castle in the photo below.
After a leisurely lunch break near where the Oribi Ridge route joined the Contour Path, we passed the newly roofed Giants Hut. See the ‘Giants hike report’ thread by Geordie and Jax for a picture of the roofless Giants Hut a few months ago.
We tented on a large flat area next to the Contour Path below Giant’s Castle, and had a great afternoon view of the peak and part of the pass.
Early the next morning, we departed from our camp, following the contour Path to cross a stream, and then heading diagonally up the ridge towards the Giant’s Castle Pass gully.
We kept to the left (true right) side of the gully on the ridge, crossing a large patch of scree and boulders.
After entering the gully, we found the trail which was on the right (true left) side and led us upwards into the pass.
A view down Giant’s Castle Pass, showing a steep section in the loose scree and gravel.
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The view down the pass from the top, showing the upper section of scree.
The view from the top of the pass (in the opposite direction) to the escarpment, the Tent visible in the foreground with the Hawk to the left, kaMasihlenga Pass behind these two peaks and Redi the high point to the left.
From the top of Giant’s Castle Pass, we contoured around the peak to the south of the pass and got a good view of the Giant’s Castle high point from the ridge near the Makhaza ice climbing waterfall.
Soon it was just a short scramble up the final slope, and then 15 of us stood on the small summit of Giant’s Castle.
On the way back down the pass, some of us visited one of the Giant’s Caves, a short detour off the route into the largest gully entering the pass. The cave appeared well used and although the front area was on a slope, there was a flat area at the back of this cave where 4 to 5 could sleep.
After returning to our camp and packing up, we retraced our previous days route back along the Contour Path for a short distance before taking the path to our return route along Giant’s Ridge.
Near the Giant’s Castle Main Camp, we had a last view back to Giant’s Castle and the pass up the Bushman’s River.