Mini Hike Reports

02 Oct 2018 09:26 #74073 by Riaang
Replied by Riaang on topic Mini Hike Reports
I'm suffering from SERIOUS berg withdrawel syndrome right now! 

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07 Oct 2018 19:03 - 07 Oct 2018 19:11 #74101 by tonymarshall
Replied by tonymarshall on topic Mini Hike Reports
At the end of September I did a four day (Saturday to Tuesday) solo hike at Mnweni, doing some of the less frequently done passes in the area. On Saturday morning I left Mnweni Cultural Centre, going backover the bridge over the Ntonjelana River and started ascending the ridge up to Scramble Kop, my intention being to do the Scramble Kop Ridge route to the base of Cathedral Peak. The photo below shows the approach to Scramble Kop, with the ridge towards the Puddings and Cathedral Peak at the left of the photo. 

 

The route goes through the saddle between Scramble Kop and the ridge to the south, and leaving my pack near the saddle, I ascended Scramble
Kop (which didn’t require any scrambling, it was just an easy grass slope) before continuing on southwards along the ridge.  Walking was quite easy, with a massive pathto follow, before the path deviated away and the massive ridge up to the base of the Puddings had to be ascended, without a path. I had lunch in the saddle below the North Pudding, and the photo below shows the steep ascent up from Scramble Kop Ridge to the base of the Puddings, with Scramble Kop itself at the centre of the photo. 

 

After lunch I continued up the slopes of the North Pudding, before contouring around towards Cathedral Peak. As I rounded the base of the
peak, I got a view of the route to the summit, and couldn’t resist going up, of course leaving my pack behind. The photo below shows the summit of the North Pudding with Cathedral Peak dominating the background. 

 

There was a faint trail on the slopes around the Puddings, and the Middle and South Pudding didn’t show an obvious route to ascend either of
them, so I continued past to join the trail from Orange Peel Gap below Cathedral Peak. There was no water in the stream, so I headed downstream,
hoping to find water and a flat spot for my tent, after chatting to a large group returning from summiting Cathedral Peak. Water was available not too far down, and a small flattish spot, so I tented in the Nxwaye valley for the night. Taking enough water to get me to Twins Cave, I departed the nextmorning up the steep valley, and to the top of Buggers Gully, where I met a group returning from Bell Cave. After a short chat, I continued on my way, and stopped on the slopes of the Mitre for a tea break to avoid carrying the water I had up the ascent to Twins Cave. This spot also gave a good view of two of the passes I intended doing during the next two days. 

 

Hiding a lot of my gear near Twins Cave, I headed up to the top of Mlambonja Pass with a light pack, before descending down to the Kwakwatsi
River for lunch. After lunch it was a short trek upstream to the top of Xeni Pass, which I descended down to the base of the steep gully, where Mlambonja Buttress South Pass gully joins Xeni Pass. I ascended Mlambonja Buttress South Pass, admiring the view to the Elephant. 



After reaching the top of Mlambonja Buttress South Pass, which has three significant obstacles, I returned to Twins Cave to overnight, washing
and collecting water on the way. The third day I descended Twins Pass, the gully going directlydown from Twins Cave. This would prove to be the easiest pass of the hike, with nothing too complicated, and gravity on my side. The photo below shows the view down Twins Pass from near the top just below Twins Cave, with the interesting gorge in the middle section of the pass, and the flattish lower section (in shadow). 

 

I found the path at the bottom of Twins Pass, which I knew about from when I did Christmas Pass in 2015, and followed it to the bottom of
Ntonjelane Pass, where I took a tea break and filled up water for the ascent of Ntonjelane North Pass, where I didn’t expect to have any water. After following the path of Ntonjelane Pass upwards for a while, I found there was water at the drip a short way off the path, so had a few cups of water there before continuing upwards. At the point where I left the path to traverse into Ntonjelane North Pass, there was also a stream to cross, so I was a bit annoyed that I had carried water up all the way, but I guess no harm done. After taking lunch above a waterfall at the stream, I traversed into the pass on a steep grassy sideslope, and then started up the pass, which was quite steep. Once at the top, I hid my pack a short way down, and headed into Lesotho with a small day pack, first for water at the stream nearby, then 3 km along the ridge to summit the 3231 m peak from which the nearby khulus get their prominence. There was a neatly constructed Basotho cairn on the peak summit. 

 

Returning to the escarpment, I retrieved my pack, and found a nice spot next to the stream near the top of South Saddle Pass to set up my
tent. It was a windy night. Tuesday morning I packed up, and descended South Saddle Pass,glad to get out of the wind. The top section was quite standard, but lower down the pass has a lot of bush.  

 

Descending lower, I was in the valley below the ridge with the Ntonjelane Pass path on it, so angled up the slope and joined the path. Just
past Waterfall Cave I crossed the Ntonjelane River, and followed the path all the way on the true right of the river back to the road up the valley from the Cultural Centre. There was no traffic on the road, and I walked all the way back, finishing in the early afternoon.  

It was an awesome four days, and I only realised afterwards thatI have never done more than four passes on a hike before. I will post some write ups on the passes in due course. 

Special thanks to:        AndrewPfor providing navigational assistance on the Scramble Kop ridge route;                                   
   Riaangfor doing Mlambonja Buttress South Pass and proving it was doable;              
   ghaznavid for providing navigational assistance on theroute on the true right of the Ntonjelane River.

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Last edit: 07 Oct 2018 19:11 by tonymarshall.
The following user(s) said Thank You: elinda, Stijn, Magan, JonWells, ghaznavid, Smurfatefrog, Richard Hunt, Riaang, Dave, grae22, Christinejvr, WarrenM

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07 Oct 2018 20:06 #74102 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Mini Hike Reports

tonymarshall wrote: I ascended Scramble Kop (which didn’t require any scrambling)


That has to win the award for VE quote of the year :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Nicely done, sounds like an epic trip!

I rate South Saddle Pass is the least pleasant route I have ever done (even more so than a badly overgrown section between Ships Prow and Cowl Fork). Hopefully the vegetation wasn't too bad for you being just after the dry season, but when Hobbit and I did that in 2016, it was really bad. When Andrew did the pass, I believe he traversed over to the gully above Waterfall Cave, which would make it far more pleasant.

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07 Oct 2018 20:22 #74103 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Mini Hike Reports
On 6-7 October, I lead the 4th installment of the MCSA Mountain Challenge - a hike up the Knuckles, well, one of them anyway.

We had a group of 9 for this one. We hiked up to Tarn Cave via Tarn Cave Pass on Saturday. 3 stayed behind in the cave to look after packs while the rest of us went up. There was no water near the cave, so I collected all the spare bottles to fill on the way down from the Knuckles.

We went up the pass between the Middle and South Knuckles (which is the route marked on the maps) - and with that, I now have all the marked KZN High Berg passes south of Rhino (no comment on the section between Rhino and Giants). There was a bit of snow near the top of the pass, so we had a bit of a snowball fight. Prof took a snowball to the head, but basically all the other throws were dodged (or more accurate, they missed).

We made it to the top of the South Knuckle (the highest of the 3) in about 3h20 (from Tarn Cave). After some celebratory chocolate - especially seeing as it was the first khulu for a few members of the team - we headed down the South Knuckles Pass. The bottom of the pass was much rougher than I remember, and we lost a lot of time on this.

At the bottom of the pass, we filled up all the bottles we had (I was carrying 6, so about 4kg extra) and set off back to the cave. We got to the cave just as we started needing headlamps, so it was perfectly timed.

We had a trivia contest in the cave last night - and much like the previous one in Mzimkhulwana Hut last year, Alison's team, the "Chocoholics" won. Teams could score double points if they answered without hearing the multiple choice options, or half points if the options were reduced to just two. The scores were exactly tied going into the last question, but the Knuckleheads got their question wrong leaving the Chocoholics with a chance to go for the easiest option, only needing to score a single point to win. The question was "Who recently achieved the first free ascent of the Dawn Wall?" - and the Chocoholics got the answer right.

We walked out this morning via Tarn Cave Pass, with an obligatory stop at Cedric's Pool. We managed to get from the cave to the car park in 3h30, even with a long stop at the pool.

Total distance was 35km, total vertical was about 1.7km.

 

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07 Oct 2018 20:23 #74104 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Mini Hike Reports

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07 Oct 2018 20:24 #74105 by ghaznavid
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07 Oct 2018 20:46 #74106 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Mini Hike Reports
Ps. my new Mountain Hardwear 26 litre pack arrived, so I tested it out on this hike. It is an awesome pack. Also, doing a multi-day hike with a 26 litre pack is awesome :D

Here's a photo comparing my pack to Alison's:

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09 Oct 2018 18:46 - 09 Oct 2018 19:52 #74112 by hikingle
Replied by hikingle on topic Mini Hike Reports
At the end of September my husband and I did the Rockeries Mweni Pass route.
The Mweni area has always fascinated us, and with that fascination also a sense of trepidation...its remoteness, ruggedness!
So, when we arrived at MCC on Saturday morning I was already feeling more anxious than excited. Colleen arranged transport for us and and hour later we were on our way...guess there was no turning back now. As we got dropped off at the end of the road, I thought we would be bombarded with 'sweets' but surprisingly not one child asked. My husband joked and said that they were probably scared of me.

The first thing you notice when you start walking is the multiple paths. There's literally paths going in all directions, the good thing is they almost all join up in the direction you heading. On our way we met 2 ladies going back to Lesotho. After stopping to share some food with them, the older one pointed for us to continue straight and then pointed to a rather steep hill where they going to. It always amazes me to see these women walking in the mountains. We made good time and by late afternoon we set up camp at the Nguza / Rockeries fork. 




The next day we got off to a late start. It was really hot, so we stopped at the waterfall for a quick swim. Starting off late and the heat got the the better of us as we realised we were no where near the top of Rockeries! And the views just got so amazing, it was difficult not to stop to look or take a picture. We eventually reached the top, as it was getting dark, and were rewarded with the most breathtaking view of the escarpment. We had to abandon sleeping at Ledgers Cave so I found a place to set up camp and my husband went to fetch water. It was a clear night and the sky made up for my disappointment about Ledgers Cave.
Later that night, the wind picked up and literally lifted up the tent! This went on the entire night. 

 

The next morning, in the wind, we packed up and started the descent down Mweni. It was steep and slippery and I was really going slow. The wind was literally pushing us down the Pass! A little way down we realised we had left our solar power charger behind! Oh well ... these things happen. Just had to keep moving.
Mweni Pass is just a continuous downhill of slippery rocky zigzags and i remember thinking 'now I know why most hikers preferred going up' It definitely took longer than i expected as the strain was taking a toll on my knees! It had taken almost an entire day to get down and as it was getting late we decided to set up camp at the Mweni River. It was such a pleasure to soak our tired aching feet in the water.






The next morning we realised we had alot of ground to make up for the delay from the previous day. Little did I know that there would be lots of boulder hopping! Thats not my favourite and it slowed us down quite a bit. At some places my husband carried my pack as well as his. By now I was exhausted and really thought I had bitten off more than i could chew! But my husband encouraged, motivated (and shouted) at me to keep moving. After what seemed like forever we made it to the path to Mlambus Kraal and I was ecstatic! I was even walking faster!  The Protea Forest was beautiful! I knew we had to camp out another night, so we got as far as we could from the Kraal and set up camp as it was getting dark. An elderly local shepherd came by on his horse and spoke to us. At no point was i afraid but we took the necessary precautions none the less. 
The last picture I took before my battery died.


It started raining during the night but I had the best sleep. Maybe it was the tiredness or knowing that the next day would be the final stretch. We awoke to more rain but packed up and headed for the MCC. We were soaked, muddy and tired and I can only imagined what we looked like to the locals. Just before the MCC we met a young man, Wiseman, and he accompanied us and told us about himself and life in Mweni. 















 

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Last edit: 09 Oct 2018 19:52 by hikingle.
The following user(s) said Thank You: ghaznavid, Smurfatefrog, pfoj, Papa Dragon, Dave, WarrenM

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09 Oct 2018 18:52 #74113 by hikingle
Replied by hikingle on topic Mini Hike Reports
Mweni really pushed me to my limit and beyond. Its good to have a hiking partner / leader that know what you capable of even when you doubt yourself!

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09 Oct 2018 19:47 #74114 by hikingle
Replied by hikingle on topic Mini Hike Reports
Some pictures taken by my husband


This lady was picking grass on the opposite hill




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The following user(s) said Thank You: JonWells, tonymarshall, pfoj, Richard Hunt

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