Cathedral Peak Summit Camp

07 Mar 2017 14:39 #71087 by alexnail
Yesterday I went up Cathdral Peak from the Hotel with the hopes of camping on top.
Most of the route was fine (but badly overgrown at the start) - and I reached the peak proper after about 4 hours.
The scrambles on the route up were wet and I found some of them pretty tricky, particularly the first. Almost all of them were saturated and in places slimy. Sure footing was hard to find and at points it felt like I was overcommiting. Nevertheless I made it to the summit and was happy to find a slab of rock to pitch my tent.
The night was almost windless and I awoke to a clear sunrise.

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07 Mar 2017 15:28 #71088 by ghaznavid
We went up there on Friday - came down in the pouring rain. We used a rope on the bottom 2 scrambles, and ab-ed down 3 of the scrambles. That peak is quite scary when it is sopping wet! *

Quite brave to sleep on top there - an unexpected gale could very easily have deposited you far below.

Another great spot for shots is the Outer Pudding - it is quite a slog to get up, but has no scrambles, just grass. You could also tent on top (not recommended, though, but at least you would be able to get tent pegs in). Similar views north and south, it is over 2600m, but Cathedral Peak looks like the prow of a ship from that angle - it is surprisingly rare to see photos from that angle.

* story to follow soon - pending photos from Tony and Lorinda. My camera decided to fail on the trip.

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07 Mar 2017 17:47 #71090 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic Cathedral Peak Summit Camp
Nice idea to sleep on top of CP! There is a thread on this forum somewhere from at least 5 years ago when I asked if anyone had ever slept up on the summit. I've always fancied doing so.

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07 Mar 2017 20:28 #71092 by alexnail
Replied by alexnail on topic Cathedral Peak Summit Camp

ghaznavid wrote: We went up there on Friday - came down in the pouring rain. We used a rope on the bottom 2 scrambles, and ab-ed down 3 of the scrambles. That peak is quite scary when it is sopping wet! *

Quite brave to sleep on top there - an unexpected gale could very easily have deposited you far below.

Another great spot for shots is the Outer Pudding - it is quite a slog to get up, but has no scrambles, just grass. You could also tent on top (not recommended, though, but at least you would be able to get tent pegs in). Similar views north and south, it is over 2600m, but Cathedral Peak looks like the prow of a ship from that angle - it is surprisingly rare to see photos from that angle.

* story to follow soon - pending photos from Tony and Lorinda. My camera decided to fail on the trip.


Thanks for the tip on the pudding...I guess with no pass they will hardly ever be visited - it was clear from the path that even Cathedral Peak could hardly classify as popular!

As for 'unexpected gales easily blowing me off the mountain'...of course there is risk associated with a camp like this. I should know, I've done over 50 summit camps, sometimes in adverse weather, twice with poles snapping. However when the forecast says 1mph wind and the pressure models are favourable, with no thunderstorms, you have a good level of safety.

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07 Mar 2017 20:30 #71093 by alexnail
Replied by alexnail on topic Cathedral Peak Summit Camp

tiska wrote: Nice idea to sleep on top of CP! There is a thread on this forum somewhere from at least 5 years ago when I asked if anyone had ever slept up on the summit. I've always fancied doing so.


I think I read your comment. Actually it was a complete gamble going up there since I couldn't even find a good summit photo. I got lucky though!

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08 Mar 2017 11:55 #71095 by ghaznavid

alexnail wrote: I guess with no pass they will hardly ever be visited - it was clear from the path that even Cathedral Peak could hardly classify as popular!


I seem to recall a very small summit cairn for the Outer Pudding, the other 2 look technical, although I have only been up the outer one. I think people often forget how big the Puddings are - they are above 2600m and are rather prominent peaks. The traverse to them is very steep, not pleasant on the feet!

Funny enough - Cathedral Peak is probably one of the most commonly summitted 3000m peaks in the Drakensberg. I would guess Rhino Peak, Beacon Buttress and possibly the Hodgeson's Peaks get more ascents annually - but I can't think of any other peaks that are more popular than Cathedral Peak. Rhino and Cathedral are both done as day hikes from the respective hotels on a regular basis, which will account for the majority of the traffic up them.

Cathedral Peak is definitely one of the best summit views in the best summit views in the Berg. Icidi Peak and Mhlwazini are similarly amazing. My personal favourite remains the zone between the summits of Elephant, Cockade and Mahout.

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08 Mar 2017 20:27 #71104 by alexnail
Replied by alexnail on topic Cathedral Peak Summit Camp
Absolutely - I'm not disputing it's relative popularity but rather suggesting that the word popular does seem to apply to the high Drakensberg routes!
After all in the UK it would be impossible to pick a popular mountain on a perfect summers day and not see hundreds of hikers...
Similarly the route around the river crossing was so overgrown that I wondered how it could have been walked in weeks! A quick check of the hotel mountain register showed very few mentions of Cathedral Peak..

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08 Mar 2017 21:24 #71105 by ghaznavid
Some of the more common technical summits might only get one or two ascents every year, while the obscure ones may go a few decades without an ascent - I don't think anyone is rushing to climb King Kong. For that matter, I would imagine the average Berg hiker doesn't even know of King Kong's existence! Even a prominent rock pinnacle like The Thumb is still waiting for someone to actually claim the first ascent (notably someone could have climbed it and just didn't bother to inform everyone). I guess that is the beauty of the Berg!

On my second grand traverse, on 23 December we saw some people near the top of Tugela Falls, and aside from a few Basothos in the distance (who didn't even come to say hello), the next people we saw were at Sani Top on New Years Day. I wonder how many mountain ranges there are globally where you can go an entire week and over 100km without seeing anyone aside from your teammates.

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08 Mar 2017 23:06 #71106 by tiska
Replied by tiska on topic Cathedral Peak Summit Camp
I smiled when reading about the overgrown river crossing at the start of the CP hike. There was one year when I climbed the Bell round about 12 times and so went up and down that Cathedral Peak path a lot. On the majority of those occasions we had to scratch around looking for the path at that river crossings, sometimes finding it, most times not. A few years later I went hiking in the Tetons in Wyoming. The striking thing at the start of each hike were these ENORMOUS notice boards saying "THIS IS THE TRAIL HEAD". You couldn't go wrong. The hardest part for me on many a Berg hike is knowing where they start.....
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