Xeni cave - Xeni pass north - Mlambonja pass trip report

11 May 2018 15:23 #73461 by Riaang
Most of the other milder rock passes I’ve done only had 2 or 3 scrambling sections, like Corner or Ifidi, but I eventually stopped counting them in Xeni. Could be as many as 10. Most of them are not serious stuff, but if iced up could be a problem. Lots of large boulders to get over. This is how I like to go up passes, all the scrambling makes ascending the pass so much more interesting than just walking up a path. The thing with Xeni is that from bottom to top it is really steep, and the gradient is sustained all the way right to the top. Steep, rocky, lots of loose scree, scrambling and up we went till we eventually arrived below the slab of rock just below the wormhole. This obstacle was the one that scared me the most. It looks like it is held in place by just a couple of small rocks on which it leans, and if they came out (I was thinking of my soccer ball rock episode an hour or two earlier) it would squash us like bugs on a windscreen. The thing that worried me was that we had to pull on some of the supporting rocks and step on them to get around on the left side of this rock. Sanet took what felt like forever to get up and over it, and I was very relieved when we all got over this obstacle. One more to go, the one we all came here for – the wormhole.

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11 May 2018 15:25 #73462 by Riaang
The wormhole was quite a bit of fun to climb, like a spiral case, but without the stairs. I found it a bit cramped at the top, I had to get down on my knees and sort of worm my way through the hole (no pun intended). Fitting my 2m frame through tiny spaces has always been a bit of a challenge for me, and this was no exception.
All that stood between us and a lekker cup of coffee, I mean the top of Xeni North Pass, was another 120m ASL of steep climbing. This was duly dispatched of and before long we all congregated at the top and looked down the toughest pass we’d all done in the berg.

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11 May 2018 15:26 #73463 by Riaang

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11 May 2018 15:28 #73464 by Riaang
We walked down to the stream below the pass, had a berg shower (jislaaik, the water was freezing with a fresh wind blowing) and enjoyed that long awaited cup of coffee. The walk to Easter cave felt like it took forever. When we crossed the river directly below the top of Mlambonja pass I found a blikbord (enamel plate). This was beginning to feel like Christmas! Quite appropriate seeing that we were near Christmas pass. However, with this “gift” I reckoned Santa was a bit cheap so I left it there for the next hiker to collect. I was running out of carrying space as it was.

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11 May 2018 15:31 - 11 May 2018 15:32 #73465 by Riaang
For the first time EVER there was no wind blowing at Easter cave, and we had a great evening preparing dinner, chatting and by 20H00 the last person fell victim to Klaas Vakie’s sandlorry (if you don’t get this, pm me and I’ll give you the full story ;) . Oh, and just before we all tucked in for the night I found the third gift of the trip, in Easter cave of all places. I never knew it existed, always laughed it off as a child’s fable, but now I have proof that it exists. I found the Easter bunny :laugh: (Sanet’s gonna strangle me for this, that’s for sure!!! I was honestly just trying out some of my new phones image rendering functions)

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Last edit: 11 May 2018 15:32 by Riaang.

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11 May 2018 15:33 - 11 May 2018 15:34 #73466 by Riaang
At midnight I awoke to strange noises outside. Turns out the infamous Easter cave wind had arrived – it was blowing so hard it sounded like trucks driving pass the cave entrance. Oh well, just tuck into the sleeping bag hoody and turn your face away. Van had a different approach. He simply turned his sleeping bag over and had the hoody cover his head from the top! I’ll remember this for next time.
We got up at sunrise and took a couple of gorgeous pics of the rising sun painting the inner and outer horns in hues of pink and orange. So beautiful, I never get tired of this setting. But, alas, we had to get going and so set off at 7H30am for the trip down to the hotel

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Last edit: 11 May 2018 15:34 by Riaang.

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11 May 2018 15:36 #73468 by Riaang
The mission for today was simple, we just had to do 2 things, no, make that 3.
• Get down to CPH as quickly as possible for some awesome cheese burgers – the best in the world! (and no, they don’t sponsor me for saying this – wish they would)
• Stop collecting gifts along the path and
• Stay out of the way of the Easter bunny

By 13H20 it was mission accomplished and we had an uneventful trip back to Pretoria.


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11 May 2018 15:37 #73469 by Riaang

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11 May 2018 15:38 #73470 by Riaang
In summary, Xeni pass was probably the most difficult pass I’ve done to date in the berg.
It wasn’t that it was:
• THAT far (Ifidi pass was nearly double the distance), or
• THAT high (Going up Organs from CPH to Roland’s you do a bit more ASL over roughly the same distance) or
• THAT technical (the scrambling sections on Corner pass is about the same level of difficulty. Ok, maybe not quite on the same level but close enough) or
• Involved THAT much bundu bashing (Mmmhh, the Ships Prow riverbed approach section was in a league of its own)
What made Xeni pass north difficult for us was that it took all of the above and combined it in one condensed, extracted package. It took us from first light to literally 2 minutes of usable light left in the evening to get from Xeni cave to Easter cave. There were many overgrown sections both on the contour path, the approach and up to where the pass starts proper that tires you out. Lots of high boulders to get over as well. Sanet probably worked the hardest of us all, being 1.6m tall, or perhaps it was Van with his heavy backpack (I told you to leave the tent and pack the bivvy bag boet). It was STEEP in lots of places, steep enough so you had to crawl up sections and use tufts of grass to pull yourself up, and it had enough obstacles to increase the risk profile significantly. Not to mention slippery rocks near waterfalls.

If you like adventure and a bit of danger, this pass is for you, but if you prefer to get to the top on a nice clean path then STAY AWAY.

Now there is another gully, to the right of Xeni North Gully that looked, uhm, “very interesting”. It has appeared on my radar B)
The following user(s) said Thank You: elinda, Stijn, ghaznavid, tonymarshall, pfoj, Andreas, Dave, Gudstff, WarrenM, riaan300

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12 May 2018 11:27 #73475 by Adventurekim.com
looks amazing would certainly like to hike this one. Cave looks fantastic and clean!! As to your alarm, I could not help but feel your pain. My alarm went off at 04h16 while on my very first hike with some of the VE guys on our first night at Fun Cave recently. I wanted to die. Was the time we had left Jozi to come down to Garden Castle.

adventurekim.com

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