Royal Natal National Park - beyond the usual routes?

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Stockhausen
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Royal Natal National Park - beyond the usual routes?

Postby Stockhausen » Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:49 pm

We are regular visitors to the Royal Natal National Park and usual do the obligatory Tugela gorge and Policeman's helmet hike. My wife is not into hardcore climbing, but for our upcoming trip we would like to get off the popular routes and hike/scramble up to some different high points. We are looking for routes that don't require equipment and last up to 3-10 hours.

How far can one hike up Lion's ridge/buttress without equipment? Also the peak immediately to the North-north-west of Thendele upper camp (south west of Mahai camp) looks inviting in terms of potential views - no trails seem head that way though?

Any help would be massively appreciated.

Ghaznavid
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Re: Royal Natal National Park - beyond the usual routes?

Postby Ghaznavid » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:01 pm

Lol - da-je-vu...

There's some really good bouldering at Cannibal Cave (and pretty much anywhere in the area if you look hard enough). The entrance to the cave has 2 massive boulders with inverted slopes and good holds. Didn't realise you where looking to do some climbing - but then Kliktrak's Crack and Mudslide idea is even better, see the post at http://www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum ... html#54630.
"There is something fundamentally wrong in treating the Earth as if it were a business in liquidation." Herman E Daly

Stockhausen
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Re: Royal Natal National Park - beyond the usual routes?

Postby Stockhausen » Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:23 am

Thanks Ghaznavid! Cannibal cave is definitely on the list - looks awesome for a bit of bouldering and the setting looks contrasted to other areas of the park.

We have 5 nights in the RNNP before we head to Cathedral Peak area for another 4 nights! In 5 nights we should be able to fit in 4 epic days and a short hike on arrival and departure day! I don't know what it is with this park, but I find the setting more beautiful than anywhere in the world - give me the Amphitheatre over Table Mountain any day!

Ghaznavid
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Re: Royal Natal National Park - beyond the usual routes?

Postby Ghaznavid » Sat Jan 12, 2013 5:25 am

Nice! When at Cathedral, make sure you do the Mushroom Rock hike, and follow the path for at least 100m past the Mushroom to the top of the knife edge ridge straight above it. Its steep, but well worth it - incredible views.

I'd take Garden Castle over anywhere else in SA - and yay, I'm off there right now. Rhino Pass, here I come...
"There is something fundamentally wrong in treating the Earth as if it were a business in liquidation." Herman E Daly

Camp
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Re: Royal Natal National Park - beyond the usual routes?

Postby Camp » Mon Jan 14, 2013 8:54 pm

Not climbing, but unless you have done the crack and mudslide, do it. Best walk of all.

On the way however, stop at all the boulders above Cascades and on the way to Gudu Bush. I have spent a lot of time bouldering there and setting up top ropes for the high ones. Not exactly Cedarberg stuff, but fun nevertheless.

Have you aslo boulder hopped past the Gorge? You can get high up.

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AndrewP
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Re: Royal Natal National Park - beyond the usual routes?

Postby AndrewP » Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:09 pm

Lions Ridge: If you cross the Tugela river immediately after leaving the car park, and follow the obvious route, you can get onto the ridge with a fairly straight forward scramble. I cannot recall specifics, but I did it 2 years ago with a fairly heavy pack. Once on the ridge, you can easily (and quickly) walk all the way to the base of the main escarpment cliffs. I have done the entire ridge in the dark, although on that occasion, we did miss the optimal way through the rock band.

The views of the Ampitheatre Wall from this ridge are very impressive. It is recommended!

From there, you will likely want a rope to get across to Devils Tooth Gully, and will almost certainly like a rope to get down it. It makes sense to go down the same way you went up.

Stockhausen
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Re: Royal Natal National Park - beyond the usual routes?

Postby Stockhausen » Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:05 am

Thanks so much for the advice.

@AndrewP The Lion's ridge walk sounds like a must - right up to the cliffs. From there will try and persuade the wife to be more adventurous!

@Camp - I have done Tugela Gorge up to where you can see the falls - how far can you keep going? I have waded through the gorge about 60 metres beyond the optional right hand chain ladder bypass over the gorge. Can one go even closer to the wall?!

Ghaznavid - we are also going to do Rhino Pass at the end of this epic trip in early September! When are you going?

Ghaznavid
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Re: Royal Natal National Park - beyond the usual routes?

Postby Ghaznavid » Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:48 am

I did Rhino Pass on Sunday - the writeup is at http://www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum ... html#55856

It was easier than I thought, the ground was very loose, but the pass wasn't overly difficult. The excessive water also didn't do too much to the difficulty. In September you'll probably have ice to deal with, so that should be tough - but its a very doable pass.
"There is something fundamentally wrong in treating the Earth as if it were a business in liquidation." Herman E Daly

Stockhausen
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Re: Royal Natal National Park - beyond the usual routes?

Postby Stockhausen » Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:14 pm

How far can one keep going up Tugela gorge? The walk doesn't really seem to have a distinct end to it.

If September is anything like late August last year it will be quite warm Ghaznavid, I don't especially want there to be a late winter flurry of snow at Rhino Pass!

Ghaznavid
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Re: Royal Natal National Park - beyond the usual routes?

Postby Ghaznavid » Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:23 pm

I believe you can keep going until you are at the low levels of the falls - but I don't know when it becomes technical and requires ropes. I think you can get about 500m from the falls before it gets really tough. But I'm going on words of other - I haven't been far past the chainladders - but I did the Gorge long before I took up proper hiking as a hobby. It was a hot summers day and I wasn't very fit.

Good old Rhino Pass. Drakensberg weather is always funny - it snowed in February a few years back, so don't count on there being no snow. Actually - more count on there being at least a bit of snow and ice around. The area gets more snow than anywhere else in the Berg and it lasts longest there. If you check the photos in my hike write up on Gypaetus Pass (http://www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum ... tupid.html) - Giants Castle area in September last year - notice how much snow was still around even though it hadn't snowed for 2 weeks. I don't picture the pass being impassable though...
"There is something fundamentally wrong in treating the Earth as if it were a business in liquidation." Herman E Daly


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