Mini Hike Reports

05 Jun 2018 08:53 #73568 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Mini Hike Reports

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05 Jun 2018 09:40 - 05 Jun 2018 09:44 #73570 by Dillon
Replied by Dillon on topic Mini Hike Reports

ghaznavid wrote:


Walk across there when it is iced up and I guarantee you will have a very different opinion :D

"Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous."
Last edit: 05 Jun 2018 09:44 by Dillon.

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05 Jun 2018 10:26 #73571 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Mini Hike Reports

Dillon wrote: Walk across there when it is iced up and I guarantee you will have a very different opinion :D


I actually had my crampons with me just in case! Sadly the snow had melted very quickly, so they stayed in my pack. I left my ice axe in the car this time.

I didn't bother with going light for this one, it was only 31km, so I knew it would be a doddle over 2 days. I would back myself to do this route in about 8 hours with a light pack (including the summits, but not the pine trees). Seeing as I was testing my new -7c sleeping bag that weighs 900g (800g plus 100g for the compression bag), I also carried a 1kg polar fleece blanket as a backup - fortunately the bag held up perfectly and the blanket made a nice pillow. Somehow still got everything into my 33 litre pack.

With my new sleeping bag, my sleeping setup is suitable for most Berg conditions and only weighs 1.3kg, including a bivy bag and an air mattress. The space savings of a more compressible bag also helps a lot. My next GT pack will probably start at less than 7.5kg, including water.

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06 Jun 2018 18:12 #73575 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Mini Hike Reports
Agreed Dillon, when dry no problem, but in the wet (or worse, iced up) it certainly will make traversing that section dangerous. 
I've gone up and over it on my last time there, quite steep but far less dangerous if iced up.

Regarding the rest of the Camel, again, very easy when dry, but there are a couple of dodgy sections. I recently witnessed a guy taking a tumble down windy gap, the rock was wet, there were loose pebbles and sand and the rest is history. fortunately the guy survived the fall.

In really thick mist you also have to watch carefully, there is one spot where I nearly walked off the edge a few years ago. I was half asleep (probably cold as well) and didn't notice the path turned sharply right - nearly stepped into thin air. No such hassles on a sunny cloudless day.

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07 Jun 2018 08:06 #73577 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Mini Hike Reports
We did admittedly have it in very good weather - no wind, a bit of ice and snow on the route, but not in any place where it would be dangerous. Naturally these things depend on the person - I most certainly would have found that route scary when I had just started hiking, but that is true of any number of High Berg passes. As for conditions - with some proper snow even Langies can become dangerous. The Chain Ladders (well, unless you take the high approach) have a few similar exposed bits which are often wet. My point being that it is all relative.

I found the trail to be very clear. By contrast, coming down Thuthumi included a lot of losing the trail and having to find it again. Thuthumi Gully was also overgrown in places.

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15 Jun 2018 13:27 - 17 Jun 2018 07:26 #73603 by Richard Hunt
Replied by Richard Hunt on topic Mini Hike Reports
Our trip report to the 3 main pools at Mnweni.  (1) Mnweni Pools/Baths (2) Mlambu's Pools (3) Embezeni pools. We visited these 3 pools at Mnweni to get a good look at them and clear up some confusion as to their positions and names  The post by Chris Sommers helped us to locate the pools   www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum/14-drakensberg-general/55702-pools-along-the-mnweni-valley.html
Please go to this blog page to see our trip report:    My Blog

 


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Last edit: 17 Jun 2018 07:26 by Richard Hunt.
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18 Jun 2018 15:39 #73610 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Mini Hike Reports
4 of us went up Ships and down Grays passes this past weekend. Will post a more detailed trip report soon.

We arrived at Moncs Cowl Friday morning and started hiking at about 9:30am. Temps were pleasant with a bit of a fresh breeze blowing. We were walking quite slowly as I had injured my left calve muscle at a Krav Maga training session earlier the week (no idea what I did but it suddenly started cramping, then started selling and the next day was much bigger than my right calve muscle). Our route took us up past the Sphinxs, then Blind mans corner where we turned left to go up Shada ridge.  Up to here we got water at the usual places (a bit a Crystal Falls, then at Breakfast stream by Verkykers Kop) but from here onwards it was dry as a bone. We got down to Cowl Fork, saw a place or two where you can camp (I read in a post recently where the writer noted that it is very bushy and couldn't see any camping spots. We found two spots, so when you drop down into the river keep as far right as possible before crossing over and you should find them).

From here we climbed up the ridge and back down into the next valley just before the Ships valley. There was a bit of water flowing so we topped up. Over this ridge, down the super crazy overgrown jungle and out we popped into the Ships Prow river. Another 700 odd meters upstream and we found the camping spot. Quite difficult to spot at the best of times, but I had two markers that has always helped me found it relatively easily in the past. As you walk upstream it is towards the left hand side of the river. There is a 80m long reddish erosion wall on the left with a couple of cycads right at the top (not sure how long they will remain before the ground below them caves in) and on the right of the river there is a section of smooth black rocks that makes a nice waterfall in summer. We built a fairly large cairn at the top of the camping site, should make it easier to find in future. Sanet and myself bivvied here, wasn't too cold on Friday night. Most amazing view of the stars, really special.

Saturday morning we started hiking at about 8am and eventually got out of the jungle which is the Ships Prow river bed. Bundu bashing of NOTE. Still the worst I've encountered in the Berg to date. My sore calf muscle made ascending the pass a bit difficult as I had to grab hold of some grasses to pull me up every time I used my left leg as I couldn't put much weight or stretch on the muscle. Told the rest of the group how high the prow itself is and they didn't believe me. Measured it for them - just under 400m high. Certainly doesn't look that high when you look at it on a photo. Got to the top just before 1pm, had a break and melted some snow we found at the top for coffee and water. O, and shortly after leaving the campsite all the water disappeared. I thought we could get some closer to the base of the pass, but nothing. First time I've seen it so dry, which really surprised me as we are just starting winter and it had rained well this summer. Veld is green though, but the river was dry. Kev and Van ran out of water long before the top, so the snow at the top was a very welcome relief for them.

From here we walked up to Ships Prow North, then up Champagne Castle (the wind was crazy, it blew all the way from the front while ascending Ships which definitely made it much harder as it was blowing strong enough to unbalance you at times, but it certainly helped going up Champagne), down the other side to go look at Moncs Cowl and then back again to Nkosazana Cave. By now it was really freezingly cold, so we got our stuff ready in the cave and started preparing food. It was so cold that the water in the grooves of my water bottle lid froze in the short amount of time it took to fetch water and walk the 100m or so back to the cave.

The cave was wet at the back where Sanet and myself slept, but we had waterproof groundsheets and bivvy bags so not a problem. All the water at the back of the cave also froze during the night. The river itself was also solidly frozen over and the top ice layer was probably 10cm thick, except the widest section right opposite Grays.

A sea of cloud covered the whole area below Grays pass as we descended it - beautifull!

The walk down Grays was uneventful and easy - seems my calf muscle had finally healed or at least loosened up properly. It was really hot going down Grays - quite a contrast to the temperatures on the escarpment. We found water in the stream below KBC and topped up at the river crossing just before you climb out of the riverbed. 

Uneventful but hot hike back to BMC with one or two small stream crossings to top up with water. I reckon they will also dry up shortly, which will make water planning important for this winter. We went down Kearlands Pass (first time for everyone except myself) and had lunch in the small forest section at 1680m ASL. We all complained about sore feet at this stage - I think our pace on the contour path was a bit too fast and we were now paying the price. Fortunately it was only another 20 minutes or so back to camp, so we hopped along and arrived back in camp for a welcome hot shower. The feeling of pulling of your boots and giving your feet its first bit of exposure to fresh air, sunshine and freedom from the cramped confines of a hiking boot is pure bliss!!

All in all a lekker hike, I might forget how bad the bundu bashing up Ships is and do it again in a year or two, but for now I'm happy to do my next hike on a clear and brush free trail!
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18 Jun 2018 15:56 #73611 by Smurfatefrog
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06 Aug 2018 08:32 #73787 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Mini Hike Reports
Over the weekend I lead an MCSA hike at Giants Castle, part of the MCSA Mountain Challenge (event 3 of 6).

Our group of 8 gradually dwindled to 3, with both of the people who signed up having never hiked to the top of the Drakensberg before.

On Saturday we hiked up to Giants Summit Cave. The weather was sporadic, with periods of wind, rain and sunshine. Mel and Chris did very well, especially considering that it was their first pass.

There was a bit of water at 2800m when you hit the final summit gully, so we filled up all our bottles. On the escarpment we also found a large amount of ice, so we broke off about 2 litres worth and took it to the cave.

On Sunday morning, as we were preparing to leave, it started snowing - so we waited for the weather to clear a bit. We summitted Giants Pass Peak (first 3000er for Mel and Chris). We had planned to go up Giants - but the clouds looked ominous, and Chris was in jeans and his raincoat hadn't been coping very well - so we opted to skip the peak.

We went down Elandshoek Pass - which was fairly scenic, and not particularly difficult (actually a really easy and short pass). Near the bottom, two Basothos at around 2900m started shouting at us and saying we must come back up the pass to them (not sure who they were and why they were saying this). This was a bit unnerving - especially with the reputation this pass has. Anyway - we didn't see or hear from them again after that. The only time I have ever had orders like that shouted at me in the Berg was when a soldier was shouting at me for going down the chain ladders before talking to him - although it would be the first I have heard of Lesotho military at Giants Castle.

The walk out from Elandshoek back to Giants is long - but we took the bypass trail that crosses the ridge at 2500m and cuts about 5km off the route. The Lotheni side is a simple grass slope, and the Giants side has a good trail (although the trail heads towards the Highmoor junction, so we made up our own line).

We got back to the car park just after 3PM. Total distance was 31km.
 

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06 Aug 2018 08:35 #73788 by ghaznavid
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