Gray’s Pass

22 May 2013 08:50 - 22 May 2013 08:51 #57023 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Gray’s Pass
Good to know :thumbsup: I'm not worried about this pass, Stijn has rated it as equal difficulty to Bannerman Pass (4/10), and I have seen plenty of photos from it. It doesn't look any more exposed than Thlanyako Pass, that top bit below the cliffs looks pretty exposed, but the rest of the pass doesn't look exposed or even that steep - statistically its less steep than Sterkhorn (also 2.5km, but 200m less altitude to gain as Keith Bush is around 2350m).
Last edit: 22 May 2013 08:51 by ghaznavid.

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22 May 2013 09:36 #57026 by Stijn
Replied by Stijn on topic Gray’s Pass
One thing to look out for is a significant zig-zag, to the left and then to the right, just before you traverse along the escarpment cliffs into the final gully. The path swings left just after a steep little scramble (I believe there's a cairn at this spot), but there is a minor path carrying on directly towards the gully which leads to some pretty exposed scrambling.

The reason I mention it is that it's easy to follow the "logical" direction towards the gully and miss the easier zig-zag path around the difficult bits.

Enjoy! Gray's Pass was my first Berg pass and still remains the pass I have done most often - there are some spectacular views to be had of Monk's Cowl, Cathkin and Sterkhorn on your way up. :thumbsup:
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22 May 2013 09:56 #57027 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Gray’s Pass

Stijn wrote: Enjoy! Gray's Pass was my first Berg pass and still remains the pass I have done most often - there are some spectacular views to be had of Monk's Cowl, Cathkin and Sterkhorn on your way up. :thumbsup:


Thanks, its a pass I have wanted to do for ages.

Incidentally my first unsuccessful attempt at Popple Peak was a replacement hike for what would have been my first attempt on Gray's Pass. Behind Mzimude Pass, it is the pass that I have had the most planned hikes on and it just never has happened (we were even supposed to come down it on the GT training hike last year, but came down Thlanyako instead).

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22 May 2013 10:12 #57028 by diverian
Replied by diverian on topic Gray’s Pass
@Ghaz The zig zag that Stijn is talking about is at S29 04.393 E29 19.625 and the scramble up a little bit of bare rock,(I think may be the result of a slip and erosion of the original path at some stage) doesn't look like the right way to go when there is a clear contour path leading off towards the gully !! But it is much easier than the scrambling trust me I have done it, twice.....

Enjoy the hike.
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22 May 2013 14:02 #57030 by ASL
Replied by ASL on topic Gray’s Pass
I concur with that, I once went up that section in the rain and did more face climbing than hiking. It's an easy place to get lost because the path naturally seems to go that way, so be careful at this point.

NB. There is also an exposed section right at the top of the pass where the wind can really whip through from the Lesotho side. A person got blown off an exposed section there just before my party came through and they had a very bad fall down the face. Watch out for the wind and hug the face as much as possible... even drop onto your knee if you hear the wind pick up.
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22 May 2013 14:48 - 22 May 2013 14:54 #57031 by brio
Replied by brio on topic Gray’s Pass
If you see the following, you missed the turn to the left (directly to the massive rock wall) near the top, as I did and mentioned previously.

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Last edit: 22 May 2013 14:54 by brio.
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22 May 2013 15:22 - 22 May 2013 15:30 #57032 by diverian
Replied by diverian on topic Gray’s Pass
@brio yep that looks like a familiar place !!!

Interestingly enough we did an early descent one morning of the pass, we were waiting at the top of the pass for enough light to find our way down. Another group that had been camping near us had left earlier and started off down the pass in the dark, when we met up with them later in the day we found out they had missed the path out of the gully and continued most of the way down the gully before they found a place to climb out. That must have been pretty hectic.
Last edit: 22 May 2013 15:30 by diverian.

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22 May 2013 17:17 #57033 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Gray’s Pass
Seeing as I will be pushing for a bit of khulu bagging on SA's most densely populated 3300+m khulu ridge - Mlwazini Peak is the peak true right relative to Gray's Pass, right?

If I am correct, when you stand at the top of the pass with the pass behind you, you would have Dragon's Back (3063m) to your right, Mlwazini (3305m) to your left and in front of you would be Nkososana (3318m).

I'm trying to figure out how Mlwazini and Cowl View both qualify as khulus, with less than 500m between them (looks like about a 700m walk).

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22 May 2013 17:17 #57034 by brio
Replied by brio on topic Gray’s Pass
Our attempt was in 2008. I had slipped and hurt me knee in the rain the previous day to Keith Bush Camp. I could not bend my knee to much so was not going to attempt that scramble on wet rock. The sections up to there was OK using a Monks Cowl wooden stick. Sad to say I missed the opportunity get to the top that day. Attempting it again in September. I know where the mistake happened now, after chatting to others back at the camp. The path turns onto a rocky section which was not apparent to me at the time in the mist, which cleared occasionally.

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23 May 2013 16:56 - 23 May 2013 17:03 #57043 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Gray’s Pass

ghaznavid wrote: The blue line would be the lower path is very exposed if I have this right?

Yes the blue is roughly where the trail variation is that I was talking about. Both trials have equal exposure which actually isnt't all that bad.

ASL wrote: NB. There is also an exposed section right at the top of the pass where the wind can really whip through from the Lesotho side. A person got blown off an exposed section there just before my party came through and they had a very bad fall down the face.

Did this by any chance happen in the early 1990's? I've been wanting to find out more about that incident. If you wouldn't mind sharing all the details you have?

ghaznavid wrote: If I am correct, when you stand at the top of the pass with the pass behind you, you would have Dragon's Back (3063m) to your right, Mlwazini (3305m) to your left and in front of you would be Nkososana (3318m).

Roughly speaking yes. Though Nkosazana is more accurately at about 11 o'clock from that position, rather than dead ahead...if you walk straight you get to another interesting looking peak that looks over into Vultures Retreat. And beware of the slog up to Mhlwazini, even though its just "on your left".

ghaznavid wrote: I'm trying to figure out how Mlwazini and Cowl View both qualify as khulus, with less than 500m between them (looks like about a 700m walk).

It can easily be argued that they are too close, and that Cowl View is just an extension of Champagne Castle.

diverian wrote: Interestingly enough we did an early descent one morning of the pass, we were waiting at the top of the pass for enough light to find our way down. Another group that had been camping near us had left earlier and started off down the pass in the dark, when we met up with them later in the day we found out they had missed the path out of the gully and continued most of the way down the gully before they found a place to climb out. That must have been pretty hectic.

That has happened to several groups of hikers that I've heard of, and is a critical thing to remember when descending the pass. Its kind of a similar thing with the false Tsteketseke Pass...it catches people out time and again.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 23 May 2013 17:03 by intrepid.

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