The Mt Aux Sources - Amphitheatre - Tugela thread

13 Jun 2012 06:33 #54306 by Outpatient
Recently one of my work collegues showed me photos of their trip to Mont Aux Source and I just had to visit the area. I was in the area about 2 years ago when I hiked up Sani Pass. My brother and I are getting ready for a day trip and will we will start our trip on the 16th of June 2012.

Based on what I read so far on the forums, we start at the Sentinal Car Park and take it from there. I have also checked the weather websites suggested on the forums and listed the sights we would like to see. We have a hugh appetite for adventure and good walked-in boots and hiking gear. We will spend the night at Witsies Mountain Lodge and hopefully have a lot to talk about.

The forums have been very educational and if any one would like to part with last minute advise please feel free to comment.

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13 Jun 2012 07:15 #54308 by Boerkie
I will then see you there this weekend. Was there last weekend and can tell you that it was flippen cold, well below zero at noon. Witsiehoek is busy with renovations and I've looked at the plans and it will be a great place April next year, but for now they are overpriced as the place is worn down and very old. Dont expect much except for AWESOME views.

The road up to the carpark can now only be done with a bakkie or SUV. No cars!

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13 Jun 2012 19:47 - 16 May 2013 12:30 #54330 by HFc
Hi Outpatient
This is a very rewarding hike to do. It is (relative to most escarpment ventures) quite easy, but is still requires some fitness. Not to worry though, if any members of your hiking party is not fit they should make it but will 'heave' a little at times.

The hike starts off at the Car park and heads towards Sentinel. Below Sentinel you will start using the cut zigzags upwards. (Pic 1, Intrepid, please help to embed?). On top of the zigzags head off to your right (on picture) to traverse around Sentinel peak.

Once on the western side of the Sentinel there are two paths, the lower one is easy but seems to disappear on the smooth slab of diagonal rock. Do continue here by traversing over this rock slab as the path re-appears on the other side (Should really have taken of photo of this). If however you can't find the path, head upwards by scrambling through the grass bands as the upper path is quite clear. Head south for a short while until you pass the gully between Sentinel and Beacon Buttress. (Do walk up the short way here as the view down the Sentinel gully on the east side is magnificent). A little further south on the path, still alongside the westface of the Beacon Buttress, you will notice a rocky gully heading to the top. This is the Beacon Buttress Gully (second pic show the gully top down) and is, in my opinion, a much more rewarding way to get the top. It requires scrambling all the way but there is no vertical exposure so is not dangerous at all. It tops out on the Beacon Buttress with a magnificent view towards Eastern Buttress, Devil’s Tooth, Inner Towner and Mt Amery.

Should you want to get to Mt Aux Sources, this is still another 4km hike from here, but relatively easy terrain. Mt Aux Sources is the one at the back of the third picture (as viewed from Beacon Buttress). I would however recommend rather going to the lip of the Tugela Falls as the views are out of this world from here. (Major vertical exposure here so take care on snow and ice close to the edge please).

You do mention you have proper gear, so I assume you know to take several layers of clothes here. Weather is extremely interchangeable but with sufficient clothing nothing to stress about. Enjoy!






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Last edit: 16 May 2013 12:30 by intrepid. Reason: embedded attached images
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11 Sep 2012 07:47 #55196 by JeffD
Hi,

I'm looking at taking my girlfriend up the Amphitheatre via the chain ladders over the Sept long weekend. I've been up twice but the last time was in 97 or 98 when I was in school & didn't do any of the planning.

I've searched the forums & have found a lot of answers to my questions but I have a few more & would appreciate some help.

1. Can some one please give me the GPS coordinates for the Sentinel Car Park as I'm not sure whether I'd find it under a Point of Interest on a Tom Tom XL.
2. I'm thinking of driving through from Jhb (West Rand) on the Sat morning to the car park. Can someone advise how long that will take me with the current state of the roads. Jhb to Sterkfontein Dam normally takes me about 3:15 but from there I'm not familiar with the route.
3. Back in the nineties we camped in the Tugela Valley, but reading other posts (and even back then) security is an issue. I've read that I should rather look for the Ribbon Falls or Bilanjil Valley area. I've read that if you walk along the edge of the Amphitheatre you'll find these areas but that is a bit vague. I don't have a GPS so what should I be looking for? Or where can I find maps?
4. I'll be taking my girlfriend out of her comfort zone so I'd like to repay her by spending Sunday night at a nice resort/lodge/hotel with preferably a nice view of the Amphitheatre. Any recommendations on something that is a) good value for money b) easily accessible from the car park as I read the roads are a nightmare/non existent, bearing in mind I have a Navara 4x2 so a dirt road is not the biggest challenge. If it has a trout dam for me & a spa for her that will be a bonus :P

Anyone else going up the Amphitheatre that weekend?

Thanks for the help.

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11 Sep 2012 08:18 #55197 by JeffD
Another question...
5.) Which reliable website do you guys use for the Berg? I need to check on Thursday or Friday whether this hike is a good idea.

Thanks!

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11 Sep 2012 10:26 #55201 by ghaznavid
1) GPS co-ords - whats that :laugh: Your GPS should have Witsieshoek, you just don't turn off into the resort. Its not hard to find Sentinel Carpark.

2) The roads are an issue if you are coming from the south side, from the north side its just N3 to Harismith, Pudi....aba turnoff (don't know how to spell the name) and follow the road to the car park. It becomes a dirt road somewhere near Witsieshoek Resort.

3) Don't camp in the Tugela valley - especially during a long weekend. You could always just follow near the escarpment edge over that big rocky outcrop thing which has the best views of Tugela Falls and a good spot on the Ribbon Falls river - the ground is really flat and it will be easy to find a spot to camp. If you would like some photos of the area, let me know :)

4) Witsieshoek Resort is well situated, has an amazing view and is very affordable (although probably fully booked over that weekend). This is the view:




5) Personally I use www.yr.no - its pretty accurate.

#my 900th post

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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11 Sep 2012 15:19 #55203 by JeffD
Thanks for the help.

Looks like I must just walk along the edge of the Amphitheatre past the Tugela Falls to the next stream to find a nice camping spot.

I've also searched more spots for "recovery" the day after:
Hlanathi
Tower of Pizza
Thendele
Diluxe rooms of the Amphitheatre Backpackers
Witsieshoek resort - Isn't there a lot of construction going on there?
Any reviews/recommendations on the above spots?

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11 Sep 2012 15:45 #55205 by ghaznavid

JeffD wrote: Looks like I must just walk along the edge of the Amphitheatre past the Tugela Falls to the next stream to find a nice camping spot.


A picture is always the easiest way of explaining things - the arrow is the top of Tugela Falls, the * is the rocky outcrop I was talking about (I think its a khulu - either Amphitheatre peak or the Binjali Bump - not sure which one though), the area inside the circle is the good camping spot. (The triangle is where the chainladders top out).


JeffD wrote: I've also searched more spots for "recovery" the day after:
Thendele
Witsieshoek resort - Isn't there a lot of construction going on there?


My mother has stayed at Thendele many times, she says its really good. Its quite a drive from Witsieshoek though (its about a 5km hike vs a 100km drive).

I haven't stayed in the Witsieshoek resort rooms before - my only night there was night 11 of the Grand Traverse. Their food is really good and well priced, you just wait a long time for it. I got something like a 350g fillet steak and chips for R75 earlier this year. I haven't stayed in a room, but I have been into some of them (we camped there and the provided us with a room so that we could use the kettle, bath, shower etc). The rooms aren't nice looking and the doors are shoddy (they are hard to open and close). The bathrooms also don't look very nice. That being said, you pay for what you get. The rooms are comfortable and I feel they are more than adequate (not to mention that the restaurant area is really nice and you tend to spend most of your time there or on the grass bank overlooking the Amphitheatre) The place looks like this:



There was construction going on, but personally I didn't even notice it when I was there.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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19 Sep 2012 05:46 #55267 by intrepid
@JeffD: Welcome to VE

In addition to what has been said:

1. S28 43.648 E28 53.451 WGS84
2. Up to an hour from there. www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum/14-drakensberg-general/2831-road-to-sentinel-car-park.html
3. Not hard to find. Head South along the escarpment. Nothing is guaranteed, but anything away from Tugela Falls in an improvement. Maps .
4. Witsieshoek is a very practical option. For the others you will have to take on Oliviershoek Pass but the R74 is in a very bad state .
5. www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum/14-drakensberg-general/1526-drakensberg-weather-sites.html

Enjoy.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
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19 Sep 2012 08:45 #55269 by JeffD
Thanks for all the help.

As of today windguru (which I use for kiteboarding) & mountain-forecast.com are showing hectic wind for Saturday (over 50km/hr) and some rain yet yr.no is showing pleasant weather.

I might have to bale this weekend then. Dammit...the kit is sorted & half packed already.

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