Cowl Pass

11 Feb 2016 18:58 #66994 by jackson
Replied by jackson on topic Cowl Pass
Hey guys

Just some notes regarding the talk of Champagne Castle frontal route. I know it's a bit late into the conversation, but hopefully it will be of interest to some of you.

First off there is a documented route in the KZN Route guide "Champagne Castle: South East Ridge", that appears accessible from Cowl cave. Afraid you'll have to search for the link, until I learn how to copy it in here, technology's not my game :blink:

It seems to proceed a way down Cowl fork, and then traverse out and up, but the RD is there to read for those interested.

As mentioned by Intrepid and Andrew P, there is the "Champagne Castle Frontal route". Many years ago, it was a birthday trip that I gave myself, I headed down there alone to go check this out. From KBC, the route does not seem that obvious, but by following the RD, you will be pleasantly surprised! Follow the RD to the gully that splits, to the left is the gully that goes up between Monks Cowl and Champagne. From my notes, you proceed up this gully past 3 rather large obvious boulders lying in the gully. At the 4th boulder is where the traverse onto the face starts. It rises with a staircase like effect, until you turn back on yourself, and repeat basically the same staircase like scrambling to the bottom of an obvious easy gully which gets you to the top. I didn't take a rope, and never once thought I would need it. It really is not as intimidating as one would think, and it all becomes more obvious when you are actually on the route. It might (is) a good idea to take a rope just in case (as long as you know how to use it(!)), but anyone who has a bit of berg scrambling under their belt should be fine. The old adage applies of course - never scramble up something that you can't scramble down. Or something like that anyway...From KBC, up this route, 3 of the highest summits in the vicinity ticked, and down Grays pass to KBC took 6 hours. On a side note, it may be possible to get to the gully between Champagne and Cowl and down it from Cowl cave, but I have never done this, or even had a look at it so I can't really comment.

Another interesting route, that has also been mentioned, is "Champagne Castle: South gully route". Once again, very easy to find if you follow the RD, and a very pleasurable way to the top. I did it in winter a few years ago, with a mate this time, we needed crampons and axes, but didn't break out the rope once. It might be recommended to take one if the conditions are different as in hard compacted snow, but we got up no problem, even the ice at the top was a pleasant angle. Although a slide down the top section might be a bit painful. For the most part on the rest of the route, a fall would be more embarrassing, than do you much damage! In the dry without snow/ice/wetness there should be no difficulty for most mountaineers imho.

Both of the described routes offer very enjoyable day trips from KBC, and I recommend them highly. Go check them out guys and girls, satisfaction guaranteed!

I will attempt to attach a picture of Champagne Castle frontal. Not the best photo, from a point and shoot I'm afraid, but there is the rough route drawn in. Hope it helps, enjoy...

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11 Feb 2016 20:34 #66995 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Cowl Pass
Thanks for the info :thumbsup:

Do you have any photos from the route by any chance?
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13 Feb 2016 18:39 #67017 by jackson
Replied by jackson on topic Cowl Pass
Hey Ghaz

I took a look, but there's nothing that's really helpful in the photos. Nothing on the route at all in fact. Just the views when I topped out. Sorry man
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13 Feb 2016 18:56 #67020 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Cowl Pass
Thanks for looking :thumbsup:

Perhaps I need to put on a pack and check it out for myself...
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24 Mar 2016 11:30 #67458 by Jandaan
Hi everyone, just want to say hi as I am new to the forum.

So I took a group of guys through the pass between Monks Cowl and Cathkin Peak. Quite a hectic climb and descent in one day. Just want to know what is the rating of this pass. It was hectic for us... :blink: Hahahahaha

Anyone hiked they before?

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24 Mar 2016 12:02 #67460 by Jandaan
Replied by Jandaan on topic Cowl Pass
It is an incredibly challenge. But the view!!! OMG

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24 Mar 2016 13:07 #67462 by ghaznavid

Jandaan wrote: So I took a group of guys through the pass between Monks Cowl and Cathkin Peak. Quite a hectic climb and descent in one day. Just want to know what is the rating of this pass. It was hectic for us... :blink: Hahahahaha

Nice :thumbsup:

I haven't done it, but it is on my to-do list.

Please share some photos and a writeup :thumbsup:

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24 Mar 2016 15:08 #67469 by Biomech
Replied by Biomech on topic Cowl Pass
I am also super keen to do this one. I was up on Shada Ridge recently and the pass looks like a proper challenge.

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25 Mar 2016 18:09 #67476 by Stijn
Replied by Stijn on topic Cowl Pass
I've only done it from the Injisuthi side, and it was quite tough! I did have very snowy conditions, so it's difficult to compare, but I'd guess about as difficult as something like Leslie's Pass or Tseketseke Pass.

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17 Apr 2016 17:31 #67862 by Papa Dragon
Replied by Papa Dragon on topic Cowl Pass
Long shot here, any idea if it's possible to traverse from somewhere on the hikers' route up Sterkhorn, across to the Cowl Pass southern side, leading down to Cowl Fork Campsite? Or is the only option to drop to the contour path again?

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