Gypaetus Pass

24 Sep 2012 16:19 #55316 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Gypaetus Pass

ghaznavid wrote: Looking at my photos from Bannerman Pass I have notice a possible route up the side of Gypaetus Point, it looks steep but less rocky than Bannerman Pass.




Has anyone ever tried going up this route? Does anyone know whether or not it is worth looking into?


So - this weekend myself, Fitness and Hobbit tried this route. Did we reach the top? Did we get lost in the mist? Did we all get sick from contaminated drinking water? Stay tuned to find out - a thread called "I am crazy, but I am not stupid" will follow soon B)

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25 Sep 2012 08:44 - 25 Sep 2012 13:20 #55324 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Gypaetus Pass
This is what the top of the pass looks like from just a bit up the ridge towards Gypaetus Point. The summit passage can be seen on the left, it disappears behind the jutting out land and then on the right you can see where it meets the escarpment.


Our final route up the pass was as follows:


I wouldn't recommend doing the bottom section the way we did. Rather follow the contour path for a bit longer rather than heading over the first ridge...

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Last edit: 25 Sep 2012 13:20 by ghaznavid.

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26 Sep 2012 21:10 #69152 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Gypaetus Pass
Rating:* * * * (7/10)Difficulty of the pass...

In September 2012 a group of 3 hikers decided to explore a possible route up the slopes of Gypaetus Point at Giant's Castle. The goal: a non-rock pass alternative to Bannerman Pass. The result was a non-rock pass that is very steep but incredibly scenic - well worth the effort.

Read more...

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06 Jul 2016 08:50 #69066 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Gypaetus Pass
On the June long weekend Lorinda and tonymarshall ascended Gypaetus Pass, spent a day on the summit exploring and summiting some khulus, and descended Judge Pass.

We walked in from Giant’s Castle office using Bannerman Path up to the Contour Path and followed the Contour Path to Bannerman Hut before commencing the ascent of the pass. The photo below was taken from the Contour Path on the ridge before Bannerman Hut and the red line shows the route we followed up Gypaetus Pass. We chose a slightly different approach to the pass than ghaznavid’s group, going off the Contour Path past Bannerman Hut, having lunch at the stream just upstream of Bannerman Hut and then using the ridge north of the stream coming down Bannerman Pass.

Another view up the ridge from the stream, with Gypaetus Point in the background and Bannerman Pass at the left of the photo below.

We would follow the ridge almost to the lower rock band, traverse left below the lower rock band and then ascend through the rock band in the gully to the right.

Looking back down the ridge with Bannerman Hut way below.

We entered the gully just below the lower rock band and ascended up the gully to pass through the lower rock band.

We spotted the cave mentioned in ghaznavid’s write up, above the lower rock band to the left (true right) of the gully.

We stayed in the gully which was steeper than we had expected, preferring the boulders which we could use as steps to the steep grass slope next to the gully.

A view back down the boulder filled gully.

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The following user(s) said Thank You: AdrianT, Biomech

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06 Jul 2016 08:55 #69067 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Gypaetus Pass
Higher up the gully I estimated we were at about the height of Gypaetus Cave, and left my pack and traversed to the left to look for the cave. The photo below gives a good idea of the steepness of the terrain as I headed off to look for the cave. Photo courtesy of Lorinda.

It was fairly easy to access the cave, just visible at the centre of the photo below, along a sloping grass ledge.

Gypaetus Cave is quite large with a levelish area at the back where about three people could sleep, although it’s far from any water and probably not on most peoples to do list.

A view out of Gypaetus Cave over the valley below.

We were glad to be reaching the top of the steep gully, and below the next rock band began a traverse to the left.

We were now at the level of the mist that had moved in earlier in the afternoon as we traversed below the rock band for quite a long way.

At the end of the rock band we ascended a very steep grass slope, but in the mist it wasn’t possible to get any photos that showed this. Near the top of the pass we got above the mist and enjoyed seeing the late afternoon sun on the slopes across Bannerman Pass.

A short traverse left below the final cliffs and we were at the top of Gypaetus Pass, quite close to the top of Bannerman Pass. In the photo below Lorinda is at the top of the pass, the final rock band is at the middle of the photo, and Gypaetus Point is on the left.

We set up our tents at Bannerman Campsite as the sun set, and it soon got very cold, with the temperature dropping to 0°C at about 18h00.

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The following user(s) said Thank You: elinda, JonWells, DeonS, ghaznavid, AdrianT, andrew r, Redshift3

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06 Jul 2016 09:01 #69068 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Gypaetus Pass
Thanks for the writeup - it is great to see this pass getting a bit of use :thumbsup:

At the time of doing it, I thought it was a 7/10, but I had done very few passes at the time, so it is hard to gauge whether or not my difficulty rating was any good. That rating would be as hard as Fangs Pass - which I suspect is not the case. What would you rate it in terms of difficulty?

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06 Jul 2016 13:45 #69069 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Gypaetus Pass
I'm not that big on rating things, and expected the pass to be a bit easier than it was, mainly because I had underestimated the steepness of the gully and upper grass slope. We did the pass - from the stream crossing near Bannerman Hut to the top (including visiting Gypaetus Cave) - in 4 hours, so it wasn't that bad. My thoughts are, however, that the rating of 7 is a bit high and it should probably be more reflective to give Gypaetus Pass a rating of 6, from your example of Fangs Pass, it is definitely easier than Fangs and other 7 rating passes.
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06 Jul 2016 15:01 #69070 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Gypaetus Pass
We took 8 hours from where we camped on the pass to the top, but I wasn't very fit at the time, Fitness had done basically no High Berg hiking and Hobbit was 11.

I am planning on using Gypaetus Pass on my "Pizza and Poker on Popple" MCSA trip in October (part of their 125th anniversary 125 peaks goal) - so the difficulty and speed was worrying me a bit. But we'll do Bannerman Hut, up the pass and up Popple in a day - so that is a very short day.

So we now have 3 known uses of the pass, with 7 individuals - probably caught up to Uklebe pass then :laugh:
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14 Jul 2016 17:56 #69153 by AndrewP
Replied by AndrewP on topic Gypaetus Pass
Here is a link to a forum post for Gypaetus Pass
vertical-endeavour.com/forum/11-drakensberg-passes/3154-gypaetus-pass.html

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03 Oct 2016 12:40 #69935 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Gypaetus Pass
The full writeup for our trip this last weekend is on the Mini-Hike-Reports thread. But a few notes on the pass:
1) I'm going to give it a 6/10 difficulty rating, mostly for steepness, but partly for route finding. Farouk rated it as "harder than Mnweni Pass" - it has been too long since I did Mnweni Pass for me to make a similar comparison. I would say harder than Mashai Pass, easier than Tseketseke.
2) Clearly someone is using the general area as there is a trail developing on the lower half, and the summit traverse also have a trail now. No signs of trail in the middle, though.
3) Gypaetus Cave won't be great in summer as it looks like it will be wet, but with some rock moving and flattening out with a trowel, the cave should be quite comfortable. It is very well sheltered, and there was dripping water about 20m away on Saturday. The stream in the gully was still flowing at the height of the cave - from the car to the cave in a day would make a solid day out, and would cut the pass neatly into 2 bite sized chunks. E.g. Saturday to Gypaetus Cave, Sunday up to the top and walk out via Bannerman, one of the Hlubi's or Langies.

With a much greater degree of knowledge than what I had roughly 209 weeks ago (and 3395km of Berg hiking ago), when I did this pass the first time - it is a very different pass to most others. Scenically it is much more impressive than the likes of Bannerman Pass, but not even close to the likes of Organ Pipes Pass. I guess it wouldn't crack my top 10*, but definitely above average.

Navigation - I annoyingly forgot to get the GPS track onto my device, and hadn't read up on the pass in about 4 years (baring AndrewP and TonyM's comments on it), but was able to find my way up by memory. The directions are basically:
1) Hit the gully till 2840m when you hit a cliff
2) Turn left and traverse till you pass a waterfall
3) Climb up the ridge working around into the next gully to the left, ascend till you hit another cliff
4) Turn left and walk onto the escarpment

Not a pass for a team of newbies, but a great hike for the experienced explorer (cough, cough, Smurf :P )

We found half a rusted set of those things they use for cutting thatch (or possibly wool, not 100% sure) near the top of the lower gully, and found fresh bones with blood on them near the top of the pass. There was also a clear trail from about 2500m to 2700m in the lower gully, and the final traverse had a trail developing. So something is happening on the pass.

Here's a photo of the lower trail developing:



*= my top 10 passes in terms of scenery:
1) Cockade Pass
2) Cockade Pass
3) Cockade Pass
4) Cockade Pass
5) Cockade Pass
6) Cockade Pass
7) Cockade Pass
8) Cockade Pass
9) Organ Pipes Pass
10) Cockade Pass

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