The Thumb (Drakensberg)

New Areas. New routes. Retrobolting. Add-ons. Re-grading. etc.
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Ghaznavid
Posts: 427
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 6:37 pm
Real Name: Ghaznavid

The Thumb (Drakensberg)

Post by Ghaznavid » Thu Jun 29, 2017 1:50 pm

There was no documented RD or FA on the 3000er at Giants Castle known as the Thumb, so we set out to bag it on Saturday.

The approach requires heading up Langalibalele Pass, and then dropping down to the peak. The climb is 2 pitches, the rock is properly solid (almost entirely slab moves). The gear is also mostly great - although the crux of both pitches is on the ground, and the pro is above the crux, so not overly helpful.

We had hoped it was an FA, and the lack of tat implied we were right. But alas there was a summit cairn - possible that it was from a helicopter landing on top, or someone who climbed it many years ago.

I suck at grading - so I say F1, odds are it is actually E and I just suck at climbing! Views are awesome.
Thumb Standard Route
First ascent: uncertain. Our ascent Mike van Wyngaard and Jonathan Newman, 24 June 2017. We ran out of time, so only Mike got the top pitch and bagged the summit.

Use Thumb Pass summit gully to drop down to a grass ledge. Traverse to the gully up to the nek between Thumb and the unnamed peak attached to the escarpment.

First pitch. Take the obvious line up from the saddle. 15m, crux sequence is F1, rest is B/C. A few good cams and one medium nut.

From the top of the first pitch, walk left around the top cliff. 5m before the ledge comes to an end, there is a line of weakness (protected by only 1 nut) which goes up 5m before it hits an easy ledge. On the ledge, walk left till you hit the grassy gully. Walk to summit from here. A few cams will go in on the traverse. Crux is F1, traverse is B/C.

Descent: walk back along the ledge used to access the summit and abseil back down the crux via a large block. Ab the lower pitch off one of the large boulders above the first pitch. Check that the boulders are stable as most aren't - and try to avoid abseiling over the massive drop just north of the nek (a 50m rope will only just reach the nek when doubled if you extend the ab point on top to ensure the rope is retrievable - our rope only just reached the nek, consider taking 2 ropes).
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Lower pitch from the saddle
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Slide1.JPG
Top pitch. Yellow was our planned line, white was a line we tried but didn't go, and red was the actual line.
Slide1.JPG (169.2 KiB) Viewed 325 times
"There is something fundamentally wrong in treating the Earth as if it were a business in liquidation." Herman E Daly

Ghaznavid
Posts: 427
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 6:37 pm
Real Name: Ghaznavid

Re: The Thumb (Drakensberg)

Post by Ghaznavid » Thu Jun 29, 2017 1:55 pm

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Thumb from the approach
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Top.jpg
The top pitch from below
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"There is something fundamentally wrong in treating the Earth as if it were a business in liquidation." Herman E Daly

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