Organ Pipes Pass- Mlambonja Pass Loop Trip Report

14 Jul 2015 11:27 #64527 by LouisvV
Thanks Ghaznavid.

Head up Mlambonja? I am looking for the easiest way up and down. ( Organ Pipes )
Looking to do a 3day hike. This will only be our second time in the Berg, so I'm scouting for Passes with a difficulty rating of (4/10) and below.

Any other suggestions?

Thanks

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14 Jul 2015 11:35 #64528 by LouisvV

Smurfatefrog wrote: Louis, if I remember you did the Chain Ladders?

Navigation on Organ Pipes is not difficult, read Tony Marshall's write up though.
Escarpment navigation can always be tricky if you don't know the area, do you have a GPS?
If not then I would recommended maybe coming down via the Camel route (it shares the last 100m with the standard Organ Pipes pass)

Getting to the top on day 1 is certainly possible but just remember you'll be gaining about 1500m of altitude, make sure you have a backup plan should you not make it all the way up. Possibly Thuthumi Hut although water is a problem there


Thanks Smurf.

Correct. We did do Chain Ladders.
There will be someone with a GPS and I think my map-reading skills aren't too bad. Also thought of coming down the Camel instead.

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14 Jul 2015 11:42 #64530 by ghaznavid
Organ Pipes Pass is a great route - a true Berg classic. But if you can't get a lift up Mike's Pass, it is a real slog from the EKZN offices. Mlambonja Pass isn't that difficult, but once again, the walkin is draining and it is a long day.

Ratings are subjective - e.g. Mnweni Pass and Cockade Pass are much harder than Mashai Pass, yet all 3 are 6/10s.

What you must remember about Didima is that it has one of the toughest collections of approach routes. At the end of the day it depends greatly on the group. I think the Mlambonja/Organ Pipes route is a great route, but don't underestimate it.

There is water near the top of Thuthumi Pass - as Smurf said, have a look at Tony Marshall's writeups on the passes in the area, he has details of where water is in this valley.

Outside of Giants and Bushman's Nek, I don't think there are any areas where you can loop 2 passes of 4/10 or easier with trails in 3 days.
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14 Jul 2015 11:49 #64532 by Riaang
It's entirely doable but as others have already mentioned, getting to the top in a day on Organ Pipes pass involves around 1500m vertical ascent in about 11km's or so. If you are not fit then this will be tough. The escarpment in this area is also not flat and you constantly go over ridges. Not difficult to walk over, just tiring if you are unfit. Mlambonja down is also fairly straightforward but will involve quite a bit of boulder hopping for about 2km's or so till you get down to the contour path level.

I took two first timers up and down Mlambonja over a weekend (up the Saturday, down the Sunday) and they both battled a bit. The one guy said he will never hike again, the other one realised he was just not fit enough and really enjoyed it. If you start at first light you can do it at a leisurly pace. I find the same with my wife, we need to start real early and walk at a (for me) relatively slow pace, but we get to the top nonetheless. Thing is not to go so fast and hard that it ts them off from wanting to do it ever again.

3 days is very doable for up Organs down Mlambonja. There are also a lot of passes to do in the Giants area that are probably a bit easier and will typically not involve too much rock hopping or bundu bashing.

Langie spass or Bannermans is also good options. We did a nice 4 day hike the other day. Starting at Giants camp, we slept over at Bannermans hut (about a 10km hike for day 1), then up Corner pass (wouldn't recommend that for you guys) but you can go up Bannermans and sleep at the top (on the escarpmetn or Bannermans cave) and come down Langies. Both passes are fairly easy, route finding is not an issue and the amount of vertical ascent and descent is not too great.
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14 Jul 2015 12:08 #64533 by Smurfatefrog

Riaang wrote: Langie spass or Bannermans is also good options. We did a nice 4 day hike the other day. Starting at Giants camp, we slept over at Bannermans hut (about a 10km hike for day 1), then up Corner pass (wouldn't recommend that for you guys) but you can go up Bannermans and sleep at the top (on the escarpmetn or Bannermans cave) and come down Langies. Both passes are fairly easy, route finding is not an issue and the amount of vertical ascent and descent is not too great.

100% the best option for a 3 dayer on easier passes, up Bannerman, down Langies, and you dont need to start too early on day 1 to get to the hut. It was my first multiday hike and at the time I thought it was the toughest most epic hike possible, so yes its easy comparable to other hikes but its not an easy 2nd hike or 1st proper pass hike

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14 Jul 2015 12:29 #64534 by ghaznavid
On a side note - I used Cathedral Peak Hotel to the top of Mlambonja Pass in a day as a training hike for my GT over Christmas last year.

Seems like there is an echo on this site re easy 3 day routes, but yes - Bannerman Langies is a good one. That spot on the top of the Sanqebethu ridge where everyone stops for lunch/tea is always a special spot.

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14 Jul 2015 15:36 - 13 Sep 2015 14:00 #64538 by LouisvV
Thanks for the info.
Last edit: 13 Sep 2015 14:00 by LouisvV.

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13 Sep 2015 14:01 #65075 by LouisvV
Changed the plan a bit.

We will be heading out on Thursday 24 Sept around midday from Didima (well, Mikes Pass if we can get a lift) up to the Old Fire Lookout and camp the night there. Next day we will head out up Organ Pipes Pass to the escarpment and spend the night on top. Last day we head down via the Camel to Didima.

Only worry is where to find water once on the escarpment and where to camp? We hope to find water @ the spring on the Thuthumi ridge. Any suggestions? (I have attached a pic of the area, if someone could possibly assist in indicating suitable camping spots and where to get water)

Thanks!


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13 Sep 2015 14:45 #65076 by Smurfatefrog
The spring is quite a bit past the hut, so you'll probably want to refill water before heading up Thuthumi ridge (especially if you walk up Mike's).
The best spot to get water is to the right just after you pass the old buildings, you can either walk along the contour path or head down to where there is a little weir/waterfall

Escarpment, just keep heading into Lesotho until the river is running. There is also a stream coming from between Cleft and Castle Buttress, not sure if it will be running though.
The best camping spot is probably is this area too, away from the smugglers route


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13 Sep 2015 20:57 - 14 Sep 2015 07:38 #65080 by Dillon
I echo what Smurf said about the camping spot between Castle Buttress and Cleft. Also about the water near the old buildings; you'll need to carry enough with you from there up to Old Fire for the night and to see you through the first couple of kilometers after leaving the hut the next morning.

We might see you up there; we're at Tseketseke Hut on that Thursday night and then climbing up and over to Roland's Cave for the Friday night.

"Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous."
Last edit: 14 Sep 2015 07:38 by Dillon.

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