Grays and Ships round trip Oct 2014

22 Oct 2014 14:20 #62124 by Riaang
As Ships Prow North fork came into view Charles discovered that his bladder’s water pipe had pulled off and half his water leaked out into his bag and by now his sleeping bag was quite wet. He had to decant the remainder of his water into my foldup Nalgene 1,5L bottle and repack his bag and strap his sleeping bag on top of his backpack to allow it to air dry a bit. We all decided to have a break here and I had some Game and Rehydrate. Works quite well if you mix them together (same flavours of course). I don’t particularly like the taste of Rehydrate so this way I can get it down and keep it down.
By now we were definitely running behind schedule (with taking the wrong route on Grays and spending time with fixing the broken bladder), it was 13H00 and we were about to start the decent down Ships Prow South. Totally amazing view below:



When I was planning the hike I specifically looked on Google earth to see if I could identify specific markers that will assist me in not getting lost. One such marker was what looked like a rock or something on a 35 degree slope about 100m further downstream from where you exit the river and campsite as you then get back onto a proper path on route to the contour track.

Please login or register to view the images attached to this post.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
22 Oct 2014 14:22 - 22 Oct 2014 14:29 #62125 by ghaznavid

Riaang wrote: I always find it amazing that my backpack generally seems to be fuller on the start of day 2 than it does on day one.

Common problem - what happens is that we all pack so carefully before leaving on a hike, then we rush packing in the morning. With some practice and a few long multi-day hikes you will get good at this with time :thumbsup:

Riaang wrote: Looking back at the starting point I could clearly see the real KBC a little to the right of where we camped for the night, closer to the river. The look I got from Sanet was not very loving when she saw it too.


Show her these photos, she'll be happy you found such a good spot:

The first cave I ever slept in, we thought it was Curtain Cave - it wasn't. We now refer to it as "I'm sure its not a" Cave. I woke up about 2m further down the bank than I was at the start of the night.


The view from Fitness' tent on night 1 of Gypaetus Pass. This is what happens when you start up a pass at 2PM and realise you won't get up the pass before dark and notice a vaguely flat spot around 2500m. We only got to the top at 3:30 the next day, so a good thing we didn't keep going...

Riaang wrote: Having never done rock climbing before I found this rock wall a bit scary.


Is this the rock wall you are talking about?


You can't avoid that unfortunately.

Please login or register to view the images attached to this post.

Last edit: 22 Oct 2014 14:29 by ghaznavid.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
22 Oct 2014 14:23 #62126 by Riaang
I could actually see this marker from the top of Ships, so I used this to pace myself. What an amazing view from the top, this pass is really high. It wasn’t as steep as I thought it would be, there is a faint path but basically you just step down on rocks covered with grass so it’s fairly easy going. Easy on the lungs but hard on the leg muscles.



By now Charles had developed a couple of blisters, making progress painfully slow. I nearly stepped on a little Berg adder, the rest of the group walking carefully around the rock where the little snake took refuge. As the day progressed we had cloud cover on and off, with some low hanging clouds then descending down the pass at the top. Really pretty but I was a bit concerned that they would catch us before we got to the bottom of Ships. Fortunately we beat them to the bottom.

Please login or register to view the images attached to this post.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
22 Oct 2014 14:25 #62127 by Riaang


On Google earth there are two large rock formations towards the bottom of the pass. When I first saw them I thought they were quite close to the bottom of the pass. In real life I can tell you that this is not the case, they are probably a good 350 – 400m in altitude from the bottom where you then climb into the river of boulders (no water here on our trip). This pass wasn’t so tough in terms of steepness, but it is definitely longer than anything I’ve ever done before so it messes a bit with your timing. You think you’ve made good progress and an hour later it doesn’t look like the bottom is any closer. We got to the bottom of the pass at around 3pm, and now the only thing that stood between us and the campsite was the last 3km or so down the river.

Please login or register to view the images attached to this post.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
22 Oct 2014 14:27 #62128 by Riaang
This was by far the most difficult part of the whole trip for me. We followed some sort of path downstream, but it is very much overgrown. I tried to follow the most logical route downstream but due to the constant changes in terrain you have to constantly adjust your route. You would have a 50m section of rocks to climb over, and then a 50m section of trees to fight through. This is then repeated many many many many many times. Problem is that the trees are very low (well, for me being 2m tall they were very low, but even Sanet at 1,6m tall complained about it being low), they were too overgrown to go over so you have to go through or under them. At a couple of places I had to sort of do a push-up and knee crawl scramble (not sure if such a term or concept exists but that’s what I had to do) to get through and underneath the branches. And then I’m not even talking about those sharp grasses (same as on Leslies) that puncture your skin ( I looked like I had a rash on my hands, arms and legs, full of many red little marks). Next time I’m simply doing rock hopping down the river, it will be easier and faster.



By 6pm (a full 12 hour day) we eventually made it to the camping spot. Thanks for the coordinates Sabine, it’s very easy to miss this spot and by now it was nearly dark. I went ahead of the group to find it (being tall has its advantages, like rock hopping ) and was really happy to find it. Halfway through setting up camp it was completely dark and we finished setting up camp and making dinner in the dark. There was a cold wind blowing which made sitting outside not much fun. Half the group was finished by now and just wanted to crawl in bed and sleep. Dinner was had (bobotie and rice, courtesy of Backcountry, and hot chocolate) and the rest went to bed. By now the wind was just blowing softly and it was a perfect evening in the Berg. I sat around outside for a few minutes, looking at the stars and moon, heard a jackal calling (saw one going down the pass earlier), feeling the fresh breeze on my skin, smelling the veld – lovely.

After an uneventful night we were all up at around 5H30 but seeing that today (Sunday) was a relatively easy day we wasted a bit of time around camp and only got going at 8H12.

Please login or register to view the images attached to this post.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
22 Oct 2014 14:29 #62129 by Riaang
The sun was up, the sky was empty and it was going to be a hot day (as predicted by Mountain-forecast.com).




Please login or register to view the images attached to this post.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
22 Oct 2014 14:36 #62130 by Riaang
The marker indicating the position out of the riverbed and back onto the path turned out to be large single pine tree and not a rock as I initially thought. (the one on the left hand slope, which is basically the only large tree in this image)



Easy to spot, so if you miss the path out of the river just aim for this tree, the path runs about 15 – 20m below the tree (doable, but good luck with fighting your way through the undergrowth up to the path).

Please login or register to view the images attached to this post.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
22 Oct 2014 14:41 #62131 by Riaang
For this trip I decided to try something new. I didn’t want to take my gaiters along (too hot), so I purchased some Nicwax TX Direct spray on and applied it to the bottom of my First ascent pants (the zip off section). It worked brilliantly, they were completely waterproof but still breathable. On the path out of the river the top section of the pants got soaked (I didn’t treat the top part as I had breathability concerns, which, as it turned out, wasn’t a problem after all), but the legs were completely dry. I took out the thread on the bottom of the pants so they go down quite low and so keeps debris out of my shoes. Will give my winter pants the same waterproofing treatment, should make them slightly warmer as well). From here it is an easy climb out of the river bed and around the large spur coming down from Cathkin peak/Monks Cowl. There was one section where the path again completely disappeared (close to the section where you have your last steep zigzag path up from the river to the contour path.) We could, however, see the zigzag path across the river so did a bit of vertical bundu bashing down to the river. Ouch, many many many stinging grasses and a really nasty little tree like plant (sorry, don’t really know my fauna and flora that well, promise to read up for my next trip report), with a leafy stingy crown on top of a smooth thin trunk. Fortunately this was a short section and we got over the river and onto the path. The only photo I have of this section, but this is looking back from where we came down.



I normally make a point of eating every 20min or so (handful of peanuts and raisins) but had somehow forgotten to consume any form of energy for the last 90minutes or so, and on this steep section I was paying the price. Sanet, on the other hand, was like a rally car tearing up the path. I simply couldn’t keep up with her and had to ask her to please slow down a bit (paying the price for laughing at her the day before on the escarpment) so I started eating again. Halfway up this slope I started feeling alive again and had energy to get to the top. Amazing how easily you can hit the wall if you don’t eat right and stay hydrated. We stopped at the top and admired the view of Monks Cowl over some lunch (Tempo chocolate bar and droe wors) and some more Game and Rehydrate. It was now an easy +/- 10km’s back to camp. This is me in the blue, sitting down, quite tired actually.

Please login or register to view the images attached to this post.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
22 Oct 2014 14:43 #62132 by Riaang
Here’s another one of me, this time without food in my mouth 



We were now back on the Berg highway and Sanet switched into rocketship mode. I didn’t know she could move those little legs so fast. I think it has something to do with her walking with two hiking poles (maybe I just need to get a bit fitter ;-) ). Charles had about 16 blisters on his feet (this is no joke, he really had that much! In fact, he had blisters on blisters!!!) so Herman walked with him while Sanet flew down (I was being dragged along by her jetstream ) to the campsite, got the car ready, showered, sat on the grass and had cold Cokes ready for Charles and Herman when they arrived. Image below close to the campsite with the Sphinx not too far below.



It was an epic hike that I thoroughly enjoyed. I think it was a bit of an eye opener for the newbies (level of fitness and leg strength required, appropriate gear etc.) but we all had a great time out in the Berg. We got home safely at 21H00 properly tired but mentally refreshed.

Please login or register to view the images attached to this post.

The following user(s) said Thank You: tiska, ghaznavid, tonymarshall, pfoj

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
22 Oct 2014 14:47 #62133 by Riaang
No shucks, this was a piece of cake. In fact, Sanet when we got to this point Sanet's comment went something like this "compared to what we've climbed so far today this is a non-event".

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
Powered by Kunena Forum