Up Ifidi down Fangs: Light and Fast

27 May 2012 18:55 #54090 by Stijn
...well relatively fast at least! ;)

My high-school hiking buddy (we did a GT together back in 2004), really wanted to do Ifidi and Fangs passes but couldn't take any leave and was not able to join plouw on his recent trip. I suppose we had to fix this little predicament...

Less than 2 weeks later (Saturday 26 May), we set off at a comfortable jog from the Mnweni Cultural Centre at first light. Why are we jogging? Because we have a big day ahead of us: Up Ifidi Pass and across the escarpment to hopefully overnight in Fangs Cave, a distance of 28km with 2300m of ascent and a whole lot of boulder-hopping on the way!





We stop kidding ourselves and the jogging ends a short way up the road. Our plan was to adopt mnt_tiska's light & flexible approach: we had ditched the tent, stove, pots, etc and managed to carry just 8kg each in 30-litre daypacks. Since Winter was fast approaching, those 8kg included down sleeping bags and plenty of warm kit as well. We had Ifidi Cave as a back-up option just in case, but if we couldn't make it to Fangs Cave, our survival bags would have to do...



Please login or register to view the images attached to this post.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
27 May 2012 19:03 #54091 by Stijn
The plan was to follow the highway paths on the ridge to the right of the valley before cutting in to Cycad Cave. However, we were lured across the river early by the good track to the school and found ourselves on the ridge to the left of the Ifidi Valley. Fortunately, as they say, all paths lead to Cycad Cave, and we found ourselves at said cave just under 3 hours after setting off. We took a short breather here as we knew what was coming - we had covered roughly half the day's distance, but the meat was just around the corner...





We tackled Ifidi at a steady pace, with a few breaks on the way up. The boulder-hopping and scrambles were fairly easily negotiated and we hit the summit cairn 4 hours after leaving from Cycad Cave, at 13:40. The light packs made the going so much easier!





Please login or register to view the images attached to this post.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
27 May 2012 19:10 #54092 by Stijn
"All" that was left was a 10km traverse across the escarpment to Fangs Pass, with 4 x 100-200m ridge climbs along the way. We were feeling our speedy arrival at 3000m at this point and the lack of oxygen made the progress a little slower along this section. We stopped to chat to a party of school teachers from Pietermaritzburg just behind the Mbundini Abbey before sloggin out the last section to Fangs Cave, arriving just before dark at 17:30 - a solid 11-hour day.

Two McDonalds double cheeseburgers went down fairly well for dinner and we were tucked into our sleeping bags at about 6pm for the long 12-hour night ahead of us...





Please login or register to view the images attached to this post.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
27 May 2012 19:20 #54093 by Stijn
Since we had left our camping mats behind to save packing space, the night was a long and uncomfortable one. Luckily the weather was kind to us with the temperature only dropping down to 4 degrees.

We set off down Fangs Pass just after first light at 06:40 and were greeted with a spectacular sunrise over a partial sea of clouds. The descent back to the Mnweni Cultural Centre had 21km in store for us with a descent of 1900m and some more of that beloved boulder-hopping!







Fangs Pass was enjoyable as always (especially with the light loads) and we reached the pool at the bottom after about 3 hours. There were paths from here on out and we were able to keep a good pace going past 5-star cave, the Icidi tributary, the highway paths to the Mnweni Pools and finally, the last 4km on the gravel road. We finished the hike just before 2pm.







It was such a great experience being able to do these two legendary Mnweni Passes in a weekend hike and I'm really sold on this alternative approach to Berg hiking. There are a few passes that have been eluding me over the years and I think these weekend missions will be the best way to explore them. So I'm keen for a few more of these before the end of the year - anybody keen to join me? :thumbsup:

Please login or register to view the images attached to this post.

The following user(s) said Thank You: intrepid, diverian, plouw, waldorph2000, Bigsnake, ccjoubert, brio, Boerkie, Smurfatefrog, tonymarshall

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
28 May 2012 09:42 - 28 May 2012 09:43 #54094 by tiska
Nice one Stijn. That's the way to do it!
Last edit: 28 May 2012 09:43 by tiska.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
28 May 2012 10:09 #54095 by waldorph2000
Great hike Stijn!

Next time I will put Myprodol in my Pro-nutro!

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
28 May 2012 11:17 - 28 May 2012 11:18 #54096 by intrepid
Nice one guys, good going. This style of hiking does have its appeal and uses, and I've done it for the very same reason: to get around to doing certain things which otherwise would have cost too much leave time.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 28 May 2012 11:18 by intrepid.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
28 May 2012 11:36 - 28 May 2012 11:36 #54098 by Serious tribe
Well done. I have done alpine style pass assents as part of a trip, but never as the whole trip. Could I dare not take the camera gear, and the time on a hike and run the risk of missing out on the mother of all images... :unsure:

Image 6197 is sunrise over Madonna and Her Worshipers. You slept in Fangs Cave, did you then come over to get the sunrise shot, or can you see M&HW from there?
Last edit: 28 May 2012 11:36 by Serious tribe.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
28 May 2012 13:00 #54100 by Stijn
M&HW is not visible from inside Fangs Cave but from within 50m of the cave in the side gully to Fangs Pass. Unfortunately, the view from your sleeping bag is nothing to write home about - it's a well-sheltered cave though.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
28 May 2012 13:33 #54102 by plouw
Sheez Stijn, or should i say "yowzer!" ;) you guys did very well!
This form of hiking really appeals to me too, and i suppose it's all possible when you live so close to the berg. (the only positive factor of living in joburg, i would think :laugh: )

@serious tribe: see photo below of M&WH, this was taken from just below the cave when descending the side gully:

Please login or register to view the image attached to this post.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
Powered by Kunena Forum