Rolands Cave Hike September 2015

18 Sep 2015 14:55 #65149 by Drakensbergie
The short version:

The long version:

Over the weekend of 11-13 September, myself and my two friends, Mark and O’Connor, hiked up Organ Pipes Pass to overnight in Rolands Cave, the most perfect of Drakensberg caves. With the most perfect of Drakenberg sunrises…

Day 1
An early morning start followed a difficult night’s sleep that was punctuated with frequent bathroom breaks, due largely to the sound of the Mlambonja river dribbling past the campsite to our unfamiliar city ears. O’Connor displayed some good mountain sense on the way up Mikes Pass that lead to some adventurous scrambling up a shortcut that he spotted. We stopped for a break at the top of the pass and stared up at our destination for the day, hidden in the clouds. We made such good time that we arrived at the Old Fire Lookout much earlier than anticipated and each enjoyed a very heavy beer, a warm meal and a tot or two of Jack Daniels before turning in at about 16:00 in the afternoon. By then the mist had settled, the temperature had plummeted and we had to get into our sleeping bags to stay warm. That night the Drakensberg reminded us of where we were by raining on us.

Day 2
Waking up with our heads in the clouds we proceeded to put our feet on the ground as early as we could. Though it wasn’t as bad as it could be, we were pretty wet and needed to break through cloud-level so we could dry our sleeping bags out properly. Several hours of making our way through mist, accompanied by the songs of frogs and guided via GPS, the skies opened up and we started getting into some serious mountains. You seriously cannot take a bad picture of these mountains. Walking up Organ Pipes pass with 50km/h winds determined to blow you backwards also made for a good tussle before a welcome break next to the river behind the top of the appropriately named Windy Gap. From there it was a final push up the side of the Ndumeni Dome to Rolands Cave. We drank the last of the very heavy beers and enjoyed some delicious cheesy garlic tuna noodles. We spent some time staring at the silence and the sea of clouds as the sun went down and settled to a tired and sheltered sleep.

Day 3
Just look at the pictures, you really can’t describe the sunrise from Rolands Cave. Every time you go there, it will be wonderful in an entirely new way because no two sunrises are the ever the same. A lingering coffee and about a million photos later, we made our way down to the top of the pass again. We descended back into the heavy clouds and scrambled, slithered and occasionally swore our way down the Camel Route as it gently rained on us for the rest of the morning. Bands of flora changed with altitude in drifts of yellow, white and purple as we wound our way down the mountain. We reached the Didima campsite just after 14:00 and scrubbed our muddy, wet and sweaty selves into presentability. Three epic days and another epic Drakensberg trip came to an end at the Amphitheatre Backpackers, where we could have some beers that we didn’t have to carry, and stare at the stars for a while…

Thanks for an awesome time and some sore legs dudes.

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18 Sep 2015 19:00 #65150 by elinda
Great video and write up @drakensbergie! Roland's is one of my favorite caves and and this is a reminder that I need to visit again :)
Well done guys.......

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21 Sep 2015 10:01 #65159 by LouisvV
Awesome video and write-up! Got me even more excited for our upcomming hike on the same route.

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21 Sep 2015 10:22 #65160 by Drakensbergie

It was pretty special, enjoy your hike and stay safe B)

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