Judge - Langibalele pass 4 day loop

01 Jun 2018 13:45 #73562 by Espee

From left to right, Martin Els(Martin; VE name), Gustav Thiele(Gudstff; VE name), Espee Meyer (Espee; VE name)
Day 1:  Distance: 10.1Km, Ascent :740m, Descent : 217m, Max Elevation: 2260m
We started hiking around 9 in the morning on the 24/05/2018 Thursday after our trip from Newcastle. Just before starting, Martin's hip buckle broke... so he improvised and attached two climbing C-hooks to the end of his hip belts and attached them to each other in front of his waist. This was in fact a big problem through out the course of the whole weekend as his pack continued to slip down due to his pack weight of 20kg plus and the lack of straps that can adjust around his waist. His wife packed him some nice snack packs, believe me, I know! As I helped eat most of the food during the weekend to fill my never ending empty stomach and to lighten his load.

So off we went up in the valley on the route to Bannermans hut. 
We had a quick break after climbing the short incline. I have read people seeing Eland in the area, unfortunately we didn't see them although we saw a group of about four Vaal Ribbok but couldn't get a clear shot of them. They make the hills look so easy when hopping along.
Bannermans hut was a nice welcome after our first day and everyone was feeling good at this stage of the hike, except when we wanted to sleep and a small mouse in the hut kept us awake and ate some of Martin's peanuts through the plastic. Shame, poor guy must have been very hungry.

Day 2:   Distance: 10.8Km, Ascent :1212m, Descent : 503m, Max Elevation: 3251m
We had a nice rest and ate like kings for supper , rose around 5 AM and started packing around 6 while drinking coffee and chatting. A thing to note is that we saw that a lot of people do their business right against and around the hut as there were toilet paper everywhere. I would suggest taking a walk into the hills and off the paths when doing your business please!
In the morning the wind was blowing a bit but we were in the road around 7. The grass was dry and we were ready for what the day would bring.

Martin and Gustav with the Judge Pass behind them. We had a lovely sunny day and the wind started to die down as the day progressed. Water was the only concern as we neared the pass but with the good rain that the berg had it was absolutely no problem as there was water in the pass as well.
We started to climb slowly but surely, we took a break at a rock beside the road and then again where a stream crossed the path. Made contact with our loved ones and continued on climbing the pass.

On top of the Judge pass looking down into South Africa. This was a good feeling after climbing the pass in the mist a small portion of the time and the surrounding area was hidden for a while.

Cooking up a storm as I am preparing for the night ahead which was a cold one as we were about to find out, except Gustav with his Down sleeping bag.. We pitched camp next to a running steam close to Gypteas point on a flat spot. There were a lot of horses in the vicinity and we tried to keep a low profile by pitching later the afternoon.

Day 3:   Distance: 9.2Km, Ascent :445m, Descent : 974m, Max Elevation: 3211m
In the morning around 3AM I stood up and filled my water bottles up for coffee and found out that the shallow water pools were frozen, but can be broken when stood upon lightly with a boot. Not for the faint hearted to wash your face in this water.
Just before we started hiking we took this picture and set off on the unmarked path ahead of us. By this stage everyone was feeling ok, until we hit the hill. Then all the little sleep, lack of training and not the best quality of gear started to speak up. When one of our members did his business, there were some decision making to do and then we decided to ditch our original loop which would have been down Giants Pass. We discovered that this route would not be for our group, fitness level and pace that we are hiking at. So we took a long break at the last stream before hiking down Langiebalele pass and pitching our tents on a ridge close to the water pools at the base of the pass.

Day 4:   Distance: 8.9Km, Ascent :173m, Descent : 874m, Max Elevation: 2447m

The view that we had when we awoke from our tents was amazing on the last day as the sun arose, this was one thing about the weather that we could not complain about for the whole weekend. The berg treated us like guests, and I would like to thank my two mates that joined me on this hike for an awesome experience in the berg. Hats off to Martin for completing this trail with us younger blokes, with a rotten backpack and a lot of food in it. A lot of guts and a lot of glory.

On our way back we had a few stops and an easy stroll back to the reception to drink something cold,sign the mountain register and get on the road to Ladysmith for some KFC. LEKKER!!

To everyone hitting the Mountain, enjoy it and be safe!

If anyone wants our GPS tracks, just clink on the .gpx file below. 
Inbox me for more waypoints if needed.

Take care

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11 Jun 2018 09:56 #73590 by Nicolaas
Hi Espee,

Thanks for the write-up and photos. What was the contour path like between Banenrman's hut and the bottom of Judge pass?

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13 Jun 2018 12:39 #73595 by Espee
Hallo Nicolaas, thanx for the comment and question.
The path was a bit hid in the beginning when starting from Bannermans Hut but as soon as you cross the first stream close to the hut it becomes more visible. Be prepared for a small section of some bush whacking as the path is not that visible but as soon as you find it, its easy to follow. The path goes much lower in the beginning(from Bannermans hut's side) as expected.. My friends wanted to cycle the contour path until they walked that small section between the hut and the Judge Pass, then they reconsidered.The path is not that flat as it may seem on a topographical map and a few "steek grass" may also be encountered in the valleys. There is also a section that is eroded quite badly.. 
Over all its a nice winding path all along the contour line of the berg with a nice full eastern face of the berg facing you. Make sure to fill up your water bottles before climbing the pass, as you are not guaranteed to get water in the pass. There are a few streams before the pass and this year there is no need to worry about water as the berg had a good rainfall during the beginning of winter.
Attached you will see the elevation gain from the Hut to the beginning of the hut until the foot of the Judge Pass.  

Hope this helps

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13 Jun 2018 17:21 #73596 by Nicolaas
Hi Espee,
Thanks very much for the info, it is much appreciated. 

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15 Jun 2018 07:54 #73600 by Espee
100% Nicolaas, I am glad that you asked.
Enjoy your upcoming hike, hope all planning goes well.
Kind Regards

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18 Jul 2019 12:41 #75161 by Stephenv
Hi Espee,
Why did you choose Judge Pass as a matter of interest.
How good is the path in the pass itself?
Regards Stephen

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18 Jul 2019 14:08 - 18 Jul 2019 14:17 #75163 by vivo101
Hello Stephenv

I did a variation of this route over the Easter weekend (Judges-Giants Loop). There is a distinct path leading up the pass which is easily navigated mainly due to it being a smuggling route, no need to ascend in the river gully. The first bit of contour path below Bannermans hut is overgrown and unclear during summer as it does not see much activity from the Giants side (or not nearly as much as Bannermans). 

There is a discussion on the  https://www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum/drakenberg-passes-injisuthi/53466-judge-pass.html?start=10  thread about the pass itself.

"To those who are enthralled by mountains, their wonder is beyond all dispute. To those who are not, their allure is a kind of madness." - Mountain
Last edit: 18 Jul 2019 14:17 by vivo101.

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19 Jul 2019 10:42 #75166 by Stephenv
thanks this is useful

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