Grays / Didima (and Ships Prow) hike report

01 May 2017 21:07 - 01 May 2017 21:32 #71444 by Smurfatefrog
This last long weekend 6 VE members set off from Monks Cowl on Thursday at 3 different times, on 3 different mountain registers.
Richard Hunt and Elinda left first and settled in at Keith Bush camp heading in via the Sphinx.
Papa Dragon, Nolai and myself left about an hour later heading up the Hlathikulu ridge route, and Dave left a couple hours after that also heading in via the Sphinx.

Looking up the route to the top of the little berg. It was 2km shorter, but took us about 45 mins longer than going via the Sphinx would've taken, going is very steep and rough at times. The route gains 500m inside 2km.


The plan was to decide whether to head up Grays once we were at KBC, we arrived to find Richard and Elaine settled in which suited us just fine after our longer than expected walk in. Dave arrived a bit later and joined us for a cool calm night.



The next morning Nolai decided to try get up Grays in under 2 hours, he missed out by 8 minutes, for his trouble he then had to wait an hour for everyone else to get up.
We headed for a snack stop at the river, and despite weather forecasts showing no clouds all weekend we had about 5 minutes of sleet!
Papa D, Nolai and myself were thinking of descending via Ships Prow if we had gone up Grays on day 1. Dave however still wanted to do this so he left us after the snack stop to head towards Ships Prow (he will post the rest of his story).

Looking back down to Grays Pass


We continued along the well worn path along the SA side of the ridge towards Didima with clouds over KZN, before it switched over to the Lesotho side with clear skies.
Nolai and I went up Pampiring and headed down into the Didima valley and met the others as they headed down from the ridge.
We wanted to set up camp as close to Didima / Witch Falls as possible, which was about 100m from the edge.
As the sun went down the temperature dropped quickly which made us all get into our tents for a rather early night!

We woke to perfectly clear skies, and a sea of clouds below us.
The river as it tumbles over and Witch Peak. Nolai and myself scrambled up.


Richard doing his thing


Didima / Witch Falls from Witch Peak, you can see our tents left of the river




We took plenty time to get photos in this very special place, and had no rush with a short day ahead of us.

Heading back up the valley as clouds again come in

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Last edit: 01 May 2017 21:32 by Smurfatefrog.
The following user(s) said Thank You: diverian, elinda, tonymarshall, Andreas, Dave, grae22, GriffBaker

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01 May 2017 21:23 - 01 May 2017 21:35 #71445 by Smurfatefrog
Day 3 campsite was Vultures Retreat, so we got there around noon, set up tents and explored for a couple hours.
Nolai and myself then decided to head up a peak or two... I had done Mhlwazini before so he went up before coming to meet me on top of Cowl View, he then asked me what the dome on the right was, next thing we found ourselves on Botlolong after going up Champagne Castle and Ships Prow peak. Unfortunately we didn't get much in the way of good views with cloud over KZN.
We got back to the campsite at 5pm after chatting to two other groups along the way (incl a group of 3 doing a GT)

As the sun set the temperature plummeted! At 6pm it was -1.5°C, by 7pm it was -3.1°C, so it was another early night into the tents! The minimum during the night was -4.4°C

The next morning we were up early with some great views again.




Nkosazana Falls



Heading back down Grays Pass we had some adventure with baboons dislodging / throwing some big rocks along the traverse section. They were making a lot of noise before it happened, and as the rocks came down there were vultures in front of them, so we're not sure if they were fighting with each other or with the vultures?
The rocks came rolling down and one actually hit the path about 100m ahead of us, there was a hole in the path where it had struck.


The walkout was a bit of a boring slog for all of us, who had done the route numerous times, it was also very hot which didn't help. Nolai decided to challenge himself again to 45 mins from BMC to the car park, this time he made it with less than a minute to spare.

Overall a great hike with some familiar faces and two familiar names who finally became familiar faces to me.

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Last edit: 01 May 2017 21:35 by Smurfatefrog.

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01 May 2017 21:53 #71446 by elinda
Thanks Merv..... a great write up and Richard and I enjoyed finally meeting you and also the opportunity to hike again with Papa Dragon. Good to meet Nolan and Dave too! Our aim was to get to Didima Falls again and to capture it flowing unlike my last visit when it was iced up. We will post some photos soon....
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02 May 2017 16:41 #71452 by Dave
Great to meet everyone! Thanks for the hike. Please find my notes on Ship's Prow here .
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