Bond Pass

08 Jun 2014 09:17 - 08 Jun 2014 09:48 #61022 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Bond Pass
So yesterday a team of us had a shot at Bond Pass. Weather was absolutely perfect, not a cloud in the sky, and only a slight breeze.

The summary of the route is as follows:
There are basically 3 phases of the pass:
1) The lower level before the first major cliff line is quite easy, not very steep, very wide, so you can pick basically any line you want to
2) From the first cliff line to near the summit you consistently cross back and forth across the gully to find the best lines around the cliffs. This part is very steep in places - it actually reminds me of Tsepeng Pass in some ways. You can usually take either side of the gully as there are plenty of grass slopes, but sometimes choosing the wrong side got us into quite exposed positions. This section could get tricky in the mist.
3) The top section is where the pass gets a bit more difficult. With hours of searching you could probably find a better line than what we used, but ours worked just fine. You need to traverse to the left (true right) of the gully where a grassy ledge is found. The highest of the 2 grass ledges should be taken. From here you traverse around towards the gully on a relatively narrow grass ledge. You have to drop down a bit on this ledge to get the easiest line - at the corner there is a part where the ledge disappears for about 10cm with heavy exposure, but it is large enough on either side that it doesn't really matter. Once you are around this corner and above the large smooth cliff that looks like it prevents you from getting to the top of the pass - you simply walk up the obvious grassy slope till you reach the final bit of gently sloping rock which you simply walk up with the occasional requirement of using your hands (it isn't very steep though).

The pass is probably a difficulty 4, perhaps it may be a rock pass due to the traverse ledge and rock scramble at the top, but none of us had to take off our packs to get up, so by VE definition it would be no more than a rock pass (as opposed to a Rock Pass or ROCK pass). The only reason the pass may warrant a difficulty rating of higher than 4 would be the fact that navigation on the pass can be tricky. In clear weather its not too bad, but in the mist it would be incredibly difficult. A GPS may be helpful, but with the number of cliffs around, mine was not working from about 2700m.

I would rate the pass as worthwhile for someone looking for something different. The nature of the line is definitely not what I'm used to in a pass, while you spend all your time in a gully, you really have to choose your line well. E.g. Gypaetus Pass is worth it for the views ahead of anything else (as well as the fact that the line is unusual), but this pass is worthwhile for the fact that it is quite different as far as far as gully passes go. I.e. this is a pass for someone looking for something challenging, but not necessarily requiring a great degree of fitness.

As far as the first ascent claim - looking at the pass from below, we were doubtful as to whether or not the top rocky bit could be navigated without technical climbing. We had some nuts and rope with us just in case, although we never even considered using them in the end. The peaks on either side of the pass have been climbed frontally, so climbers have definitely been in the general area, but I have seen no reason to suspect that anyone has actually used this pass before. There was a plastic bag on the route (probably blown off the top)), and what may be trails (probably animal tracks) - but these are unlikely to indicate local use. I'd like to think this was a first ascent, with so many passes in this valley, I can't see any reason why a sane person would have bothered exploring this gully - but you never know.

This brings the total number of passes that top out between the Durnford and Senqebethu ridges to 6:
- Thumb Pass
- North Hlubi
- South Hlubi
- Langies
- Bond Pass
- North Jarding

I am not aware of any further possible lines one could take to reach this escarpment valley without using the summit of one of the above passes. There may be an alternative approach on Thumb Pass from the south side, but this would still use the same summit gully and thus would not be a separate pass. In other words - for the moment I can leave this valley alone until such a time as someone decides to prove me wrong...
Last edit: 08 Jun 2014 09:48 by ghaznavid.
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08 Jun 2014 09:28 - 08 Jun 2014 09:56 #61023 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Bond Pass
A diagram of the 3 phases referred to above:


How to get through the top section as seen from the contour path. The ledge isn't clearly visible until you are right near it:


Some photos from the route itself

We approached the gully from the south:


You spend lots of your time walking around cliffs. This pass requires a fair amount of planning as you go along, but there are a few clear routes through most sections


This is an example of what the rock bands usually look like. We passed this to the right (true left), but it would have probably been easier to pass to the left.


It is imporant to do this pass 1 cliff line at a time, but with an eye to what is higher up. The line to get up this pass is never really apparent until you are near the problem at hand. If you do it step by step, its not too difficulty.


There are a few minor scree fields along the way, but they are small and easy to avoid


This is the top obstacle. The ledge I referred to above and tried to draw a line showing is much easier to spot from here. The circle is "Fresca" Cave - why Fresca? Because its really nothing! You could get 2 people into it (perhaps even 3), but you would only use it in an emergency, its not a nice cave (although it does have a flat floor):


Going around the corner above the large cliff near the top:


Looking back down the pass:


The inside of Fresca Cave. I am kneeling down due to the low roof, and I am partly under the shleter of the roof.


The final section - this requires an easy bit of scrambling


The summit cairn built by Hobbit - if its not clearly visible, note the large shaddow off it. Standing at the top it doesn't really look like there is a pass down there


Ps. We returned via Langies (just trying to do something different :P ) - we had to follow the river behind the Carbineers for quite some time before there was any running water. There was plenty of ice in the rivers as well, some of it was very thick. There was also some snow left in the shadows and the top of the waterfall at the bottom of Langies was frozen.

We reached the car around 8PM in the end.

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Last edit: 08 Jun 2014 09:56 by ghaznavid.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Serious tribe, diverian, Stijn, kliktrak, Balthazar1, brio, Smurfatefrog, tonymarshall, pfoj, Iano2

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08 Jun 2014 13:32 - 08 Jun 2014 13:36 #61024 by andrew r
Replied by andrew r on topic Bond Pass
Nice going Ghaz; who were the others in your team (obviously apart from you & Hobbit)?

p.s. useful detail in your report and great pics well annotated (is that a word? I mean I like the route & stuff you added)

make a difference. today.
Last edit: 08 Jun 2014 13:36 by andrew r.

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08 Jun 2014 13:39 #61025 by Stijn
Replied by Stijn on topic Bond Pass
Nice one Ghaz! Looks like a fun route.

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08 Jun 2014 18:37 - 08 Jun 2014 18:43 #61026 by Viking
Replied by Viking on topic Bond Pass
@ andrew r: the other members were myself and my brother Jacques (not on VE)
kliktrak was also there but unfortunately had to turn around as his hammy was playing up.

Viking and Ghaz plotting a route


Team shot at the head of the pass


Long shadows while still at the top of Langies


Langies waterfall and pool


(Above photos courtesy of Jacques Dreyer)

Here is the gps track from the car park to the top.

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”

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Last edit: 08 Jun 2014 18:43 by Viking.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Serious tribe, diverian, JonWells, kliktrak, ghaznavid, Smurfatefrog, tonymarshall, andrew r

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09 Jun 2014 09:34 - 09 Jun 2014 09:38 #61030 by kliktrak
Replied by kliktrak on topic Bond Pass
Yeah I'm really disappointed that I did not make it :thumbsdown: , was really amped to be part of a "new" pass opening.

I ended up doing 18km round trip in the lower berg, took in some interesting sights:


Patches of snow still to be found in the shaded gulleys and deeper footpaths:




Snow-flake pattern in this plant:




Icicles



Icicles




Berg Adder - I think its trying to swallow the end of its own tail, not sure if it bit the tail off, or it came off some other way.
The body is not distended so it doesn't seem to be a lizard that its caught...

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Last edit: 09 Jun 2014 09:38 by kliktrak.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Serious tribe, JonWells, Balthazar1, ghaznavid

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10 Jun 2014 21:18 - 04 Apr 2019 19:34 #61053 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Bond Pass
Nice going guys. I've noticed the Giant's area does seem to have a lot of room for these kinds of unknown passes, so well done in persevering and picking them off.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 04 Apr 2019 19:34 by intrepid. Reason: Removed reference to Bond Pass link

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10 Jun 2014 22:35 - 10 Jun 2014 22:37 #61054 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Bond Pass
@Stijn: I think I actually said while going up the pass that this is the kind of pass that usually appeals to hikers such as yourself. Although I doubt you would take 4h30 to get up it with a day pack like we did :laugh:

intrepid wrote: Nice going guys. I've noticed the Giant's area does seem to have a lot of room for these kinds of unknown passes, so well done in persevering and picking them off.


Thanks!

Its funny - after all these gullies I have tried I still have 5 more that I have identified as possibles, and at least 3 that I want to take a shot at. There is also Around The Corner Pass which I definitely need to have a go at some time.

The 2 I'm not really keen on are both split offs of Giants Pass (technically both top out within Lotheni) - I think the one is called the Northern Gully (i.e. it definitely wouldn't be a first ascent), the other tops out somewhere under the Long Wall. I have had a good look up both, the eastern one looks dangerous but doable, the western one looks steep but grassy.

The ones I want to have a go at are:
- Katana Pass, similar setup to Bond Pass, but south of Katana Peak. I need to scout out the top before I take a shot at this
- Auditor Pass, I have had my eye on this for ages, still haven't scouted out any part of the route properly
- Popple Pass/North Gypaetus Pass, when doing Gypaetus Pass we noticed a possible alternative line that tops out north of Gypaetus Point. This also needs to be scouted from the top before I can give it a go

It will take a while before I actually get tired of Giant's Castle, although I really need to hit the Southern Berg again later this year...
Last edit: 10 Jun 2014 22:37 by ghaznavid.

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11 Jun 2014 08:06 #61055 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Bond Pass
Katana and Long Wall I've checked out before too, looks like there might be something there. Have fun. B)

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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11 Jun 2014 18:14 #61064 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Bond Pass
Just for completeness - the reason I don't rate there is a pass up the gully between Bond and Potterill:


If you stand below and look up it looks like the top rock obstacle is quite substantial. From below Bond Pass there seems to be a similar problem, but Bond Pass' cliff lines are much smaller. Also notably - Bond Pass is in a much wider gully.

If you took some gear along you could probably climb this saddle - I would love to be proved wrong about a walkable pass, but similarly to the gully north of Katana, I don't think there is a pass up the gully between Bond and Potterill.

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