Teseke-Cockade-MlambonjaButtress-Pineapple hike

12 Sep 2018 18:13 #73982 by Riaang
Carrying on you will soon arrive at a spot where you are forced to decide as to where you want to go. It is about 60m or so from the previous rock obstacle. We kept to the far right and then climbed up a steep grassy slope, basically traversing in a “Z” pattern. We got to the side gully,climbed to the right but backwards (towards Cockade side) and when high enough to see the golden grassy gully ahead proceeded forward (north) again. The climb up to where you can see the grass gully is very steep and over a bit of loose sand but quite manageable. However, the grassy side slope is steep with a huge
amount of exposure risk. We all got off this section as fast as we could. The photos below shows the more “manageable” section of this grassy slope. If you slip here, you would fall I don’t know how far as I couldn’t see the bottom of the abyss below. Do not attempt this section in the wet or in high winds unless you are a very confident and capable hiker. I wouldn’t do it with snow and ice around either.

Nico and myself had gotten up to this point earlier
when we gave the pass a quick glance over without our packs, and we couldn’t see the last obstacle in our way from this point. We walked another 50m or so and came face to face with a showstopper. That is, if the rock was wet. And today it wasn’t. You have a slick piece of rock at a 70-degree angle about 3m high to get over. Fortunately, at about 1,8m high there is a super comfy hand hold that you can grab to pull yourself up, and if you get up to this point and can split well you can anchor yourself easily enough to reach the handhold higher up to climb above the rock. We all made it up this rock obstacle, but Sanet (at 1,6m high) had to use a different technique to the taller hikers in the group. She wedged her back against the sloping rock and kept her legs pressed horizontally against the other rocks until she got to the 1,8m high handhold. She then turned sideways and wedged her one arm under
the rock and pulled herself up sideways. She then had to switch arms and use her left arm to grab hold of the top of the rock and pull herself up. Quite a
lot of effort but it worked, and she emerged victorious. The ice queen had beaten the rock!

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12 Sep 2018 20:26 - 12 Sep 2018 20:28 #73987 by Riaang
From here it was only another 150m ASL to the top of the pass over an easily traversable grass gully. By 15:21 we were all assembled at the top. What a view! What a day! Mlambonja Buttress south gully was finally conquered. This gully doesn’t get much sun and it was so nice to sit and bask at the top in the sun. We hoisted our packs again and made our way down to the river. Filled up with water and then headed up over the top of Mlambonja pass and down to Twins cave. It was a relief to finally take our packs off and rest properly. It had been a tough but super rewarding day. It was time for dinner. However, before touching food or drink we had to change into warmer clothes as a freezing wind was blowing. There was no visible snow around in the area, but I knew the weather forecast
was for temps down to -5 deg tonight. We changed into warm clothes and then had a nice warm cup of soup. By now it was dark when I saw a headlamp approach. None other than Gaz and Ross arrived to share the cave for the night. We finished up with dinner and then got into bed. By 8pm only Gaz and Ross were still chatting, and the Ice Queen told them to go to bed as she wanted to
sleep. 

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Last edit: 12 Sep 2018 20:28 by Riaang.

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12 Sep 2018 20:32 - 12 Sep 2018 20:34 #73988 by Riaang
The freezing wind blew right through the night. I was glad I had brought my bivvy along as I could completely cover my head with it to keep the wind off my face. My blue kazoo is just too short, so I can’t hunker down in my bag like shorter folks can do. Sanet can curl up in a ball in the middle of her bag! Oh well, at least I find the climbing sections a bit easier. Getting out of bed the next morning was difficult. I ignored the British lady voice and decided to stay in my sleeping bag for another 30 minutes. Sanet eventually demanded coffee so by 6:30am I was ordered out of the shelter. Wow, putting on my pants was not fun. They were frozen stiff! All the drips in the cave had frozen, forming frozen stalactites. Sanets sweat on the underside of her sleeping bag (or water vapour that got caught on the inside of the bivvy bag) was frozen. My waterbottel was half frozen. Our water bladder pipes and mouthpieces were frozen solid. I eventually had to take the mouthpiece off and put it in my pocket, where it eventually defrosted at 2400m ASL. Only water that didn’t freeze was inside the Source bladder in my pack, next to me at the inside of the cave. Anything left in the open froze during the night.

When we got out of the cave a really really freezing wind was blowing. The little section from Twins cave up to the col is steep and covered in loose rocks and pebbles, but the wind was blowing so strong and cold my eyes were watering and I couldn’t see much. I was literally crawling up the path as the wind was too strong to walk in. First time I’ve experienced such strong wind at Twins cave. My exposed face was literally burning from the frigid wind. It was  so nice to get down into Mlambonja pass where there was some sunlight. 

 

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Last edit: 12 Sep 2018 20:34 by Riaang.

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12 Sep 2018 20:36 #73989 by Riaang
The freezing wind continued to blow (although much softer)till we got down to the hotel, which made for super hiking conditions. We left the cave at 8am and was enjoying a burger after a very refreshing shower at the hotel by 13h30 Sunday afternoon. It was a super hiking weekend and probably my
best hike ever. The question now is, how do you improve on a pineapple hike?

 

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13 Sep 2018 06:29 #73991 by Stijn
A big day and a super write-up! Congrats guys! :-)

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13 Sep 2018 07:41 - 13 Sep 2018 07:45 #73992 by tonymarshall
Well done Riaan, Sanet and team.

After your Xeni Pass write up, where you mentioned the Mlambonja Buttress Pass was given a good look, I didn't think you would be back so soon. I had already realised then that you were a sucker for punishment, not many people would include Xeni Cave and Xeni Pass in the same hike, never mind the same day, with that section of inappropriately named "contour path" in between.

I also had a good look at that gully both times I did Xeni Pass and from the summit, and reckoned it was doable, now I will have to go and do it too.

Thanks for two excellent write ups.
Last edit: 13 Sep 2018 07:45 by tonymarshall.

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13 Sep 2018 12:42 #73998 by elinda
A great write up and what an adventure!  Well done guys and hats off to Sanet!

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14 Sep 2018 10:53 #74000 by riaan300
sound like one awesome hike, sorry I missed it.

hope the Hotel had warm water this time round

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14 Sep 2018 13:00 #74002 by ASL
not so much! Damn, that shower was ice cold!

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14 Sep 2018 13:32 - 17 Sep 2018 09:39 #74003 by ASL
Hey Riaan

Thanks for a great write up of our little mission! I thought (new) Nico might be craaazy when he suggested the route for Saturday but we all seemed okay and on schedule the whole day so I guess the "stupid" aren't so stupid. At around 5pm near Twins Cave I noticed a couple of donkeys on the edge but...

You made a big effort to document the trip so I tried to capture you in action too:



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Last edit: 17 Sep 2018 09:39 by JonWells.
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