Masubasuba Pass - August 2014

26 Aug 2014 13:44 - 17 Mar 2015 16:28 #61598 by JonWells
On the evening of Friday 22 August, four of us, including Kimi, Nolan, Smurfatefrog and myself set off for Cobham, where we were planning to complete an exploration of Masubasuba Pass, via Gxalingenwa cave. We arrived around 7.40pm and enjoyed a pleasant braai before settling in for the night in one of the available rooms of Pholela hut.

The next morning, after having breakfast, packing up, and paying for our hiking permits, we set off for the cave in very pleasant sunny conditions with a cool breeze blowing.








Along the way, we encountered a very large group of about 30 people from Clifton School, who were returning to Cobham after overnighting in the cave we were heading to. They were very courteous, and it was quite a strange sensation to be greeted with “Morning Sir, Morning Sir, Morning Sir” as we passed each individual!

Before long, we had reached Pinnacle Rock, a very interesting rock formation, where we rested for a while and had a bite to eat.





After our break, we continued along the path up the valley, until we finally reached Gxalingenwa Cave. Although it is rather dusty, the cave is quite large, and very well sheltered, and has a number of separate “caves” next to it which would be useful when additional sleeping space is required. After dinner and a few whiskeys, we all turned in for an early night.





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Last edit: 17 Mar 2015 16:28 by JonWells.

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26 Aug 2014 13:48 #61599 by JonWells
The next morning we were all up quite early, had our breakfast and packed a few essentials into our packs that we would carry up the mountain. Due to the very dry weather of late, we were quite concerned about water availability, so ended up packing quite a lot of extra water to be on the safe side.
There is a good trail leading up the valley, and the route is consistently steep up to the 2500m elevation mark, where we got our first glimpse of the pass itself.













At this point the the path contours for around 4.5km before it reaches the beginning of the pass. Along this section, we passed numerous frozen streams, before we finally reached the end of this rather lengthy flat stretch, and enjoyed a break once we reached the base of the pass.





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26 Aug 2014 13:52 #61600 by JonWells
We were pleased to find liquid water here, although the discovery was a little ruined by the amount of litter the smugglers seemed to have thrown into it…


From this point the route leading up looked dauntingly steep, but the paths, being rather well used, made climbing them a little easier than expected. Although there were some sections where there is a bit of exposure, there was nothing particularly difficult about the climb.










As we neared the top of the pass, we came across what looked like patches snow. Upon closer inspection, we discovered these patches were actually the leftovers of what must have been an incredible hail storm that had probably occurred a good few days previously.








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26 Aug 2014 13:55 - 04 Sep 2014 17:00 #61601 by JonWells
After around 1hr20 after leaving the river, we arrived at the top of Masubasuba Pass. It was very cold, up there. My thermometer showed it was 1.8°C, despite it being a sunny, calm day.











Due to the fair amount of time we had taken walking in to the pass, we had arrived at the top a little later than expected. Not wanting to risk walking back to the cave in the dark, we decided to head back down after a relatively short rest break on the escarpment.

The hike back to the cave was largely uneventful, but it felt like an eternity on weary legs. Eventually we arrived, around half an hour before nightfall arrived. Perfectly timed exit from the mountain it seemed.

The next morning we decided to take the alternative route back to Cobham, along the Giant’s Cup trail. It definitely seemed a little trickier than the route we had previously traveled along, with some rather steep descents in places. Even though it was mid morning, the grass and even rocks in the shade were covered in a heavy frost. It had been a very cold night by late August standards!

We arrived back at Cobham before lunch, to wrap up a long, but enjoyable 47.8km in the mountains!


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Last edit: 04 Sep 2014 17:00 by JonWells.

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20 Oct 2014 14:53 #62092 by ghaznavid
Somehow I missed this writeup - thanks for sharing :thumbsup:

It is most certainly a pass on my to do list - hoping to do it as part of a super-traverse I am planning for next year. Sneak preview: it includes 8 passes in 7 days, and 1 is Masubasuba, but I will say no more just yet...

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22 Oct 2014 15:26 - 22 Oct 2014 15:27 #62145 by elandman
Thanks for the write up and share! :)

Anyone got any info on the top of that pass regards a good nook to pitch ones tent for a night?
State of the paths from Gxalingenwa Cave?
Or got a GPS route to share?

Looks like a good trip :laugh: :thumbsup:
Last edit: 22 Oct 2014 15:27 by elandman.

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22 Oct 2014 15:32 #62146 by ghaznavid
I know the question isn't directed at me, but I will answer part of the question.

You could pitch a tent above the pass, this is what the area looks like. Would have to go down into the valley to get water though.


There is a GPS track under downloads and also on www.berg.co.za

Stijn also has a detailed writeup at www.vertical-endeavour.com/blog/38-drakensberg/passes/189-masubasuba-pass.html

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22 Oct 2014 15:41 #62147 by Smurfatefrog
So all thats left to answer is the path Q ;)
The paths are excellent, I didn't expect much between Gxa and the base of the pass but they are very clear. I spose its all the going activity down the pass to lower Sani road...

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23 Oct 2014 12:11 #62163 by elandman
Fantastic Smurfatefrog and ghaznavid! Thanks for the info.
Much appreciated.

It shall be my next trip :D

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