Old Woman Pass

08 Oct 2015 13:20 #65329 by Biomech
Replied by Biomech on topic Old Woman Pass
Central Drakensberg Panorama from Gibisila Ridge

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08 Oct 2015 18:10 #65338 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Old Woman Pass

I can see the Ape's Pass route that Intrepid is talking about, but was wondering whether the approximate location of the obstacle referred to that requires the exposed traverse is visible from the picture below?

Not possible to pinpoint in that photo, but in very broad terms its about halfway up. Also note the exposed traverse is less relevant with the steep grassy bypass on the true right which is roughly in the same location.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Biomech

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22 Dec 2015 11:34 - 06 Mar 2019 02:33 #66203 by AndrewP
Replied by AndrewP on topic Old Woman Pass
Mod edit: See this thread as to why this is now referred to as Old Woman Pass

I first used Ape Pass in April 2015 as the shortest route between the Injasuti car park and the escarpment. On that occasion I got stuck in mist and made life more difficult than it deserved.

My return in December 2015 had perfect weather. No clouds on sight. Enough water in streams to have water to drink but no treacherous wet rock crossings.

There are 2 approaches to Apes Pass. You can come up via Marble Baths and get slaughtered (I assume, but am too scared to try) in the vegetation.

The Gibisila Ridge

Or you can head past Grindstone Caves and then get onto the Gibisila Ridge. The ridge has a vague path running along its crest and there are no rock bands or bumps to cross. Head up to about 2200m where you will find a feint path that contours off to you left. Follow this. Just before the main gully it peters out. It is best to drop into the gully here rather than to try contour further to avoid steep banks later on.

Boulder hop easily up the valley with relatively little vegetation and the occasional small waterfall to dodge.

At about 2600m you hit a few waterfalls. They look hard to climb even when dry.

A bit downstream of them is a very steep grass slope on your left, looking up. Head up this until you are about 20m above stream bed to a level you can start traversing on near vertical grass. Move across and up until you reach a small but awkward side stream. I crossed this then went almost straight up through the small rockband. It would be difficult to use a rope here to aid safety.

The route I used through the steep grass. You could leave the gully lower down, but the traverse back right still needs to be negotiated.

The grass is steep!

You are now on more comfortable 45 degree slopes! From here aim up and further left aiming for a separate side gully. Go up this and the next one as well to eventually rejoin the main gully very close to the summit.

The final gully has some lose scree but is easy to get up.

I give it an effort rating of 7.
You can stick to grass every step so it could be considered a grass pass. However this pass is potentially deadly if things go wrong on the steep grass slopes. It is not for everyone.

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Last edit: 06 Mar 2019 02:33 by intrepid. Reason: Updated link to Ape Pass

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04 Jan 2016 09:11 #66267 by Biomech
Replied by Biomech on topic Old Woman Pass
This pass has been on my radar ever since I first went to Injisuthi last year. It looks like a beast from the Marble Baths area, so I agree with Andrew that the Gibisila Ridge approach is the way to go. Thanks for a great write up!

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