All the ice climbing areas were in reasonable condition up to a week ago. As of the last 4 days, much snow has fallen over large parts of South Africa. This should serve to improve and fatten up all the existing ice routes and should make for a longer ice season this year. I would expect that there will be good conditions on all the routes till at least mid August or longer. At present it may be difficult to actually get to areas such as Bokong, Sani Pass and Giant’s Castle, simply due to deep snow on the walk in or road closures.
The heavy snow will bring all the existing snow climbs into condition. I suggest leave these gullies to compact and harden up for at least a week before trying them. These routes can give very good Alpine climbing conditions without the usual hazards of avalanches that are found in other mountains. Most of them require nothing more than crampons, one long-shafted ice axe and perhaps a rope.
The following climbs should be very good by the 7th of August:
- The Devil’s Knuckles Passes
- Mashai Peak South Gully
- Mlambonjwa South Gully (just south of Rhino Peak)
- Mashai Pass, Giant’s Castle Eastern Gully
- Cathkin South Gully
- Champagne South Gully
- Cleft Peak Frontal (ie. via the Cleft).
Report by Gavin Raubenheimer of Peakhigh
Below: Pictures from a trip that Tristan Firman did earlier this month – all photos by Tristan Firman unless specified.
Tristan is sponsored by Edelrid
A note on the pics: Due to weight considerations a DSLR was not used, but a G9 type Lumix was. The distant views of the ice are really hard to capture, and actually require multiple, bracketed, layers as the ice / gullies are South facing and in shadow, while the plateau is sunlit.