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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:42 pm 
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Real Name: gerhard jacobs
I am planning a 5/6 day hiking and climbing trip in the drakensberg. Thinking about the column, the pyramid and any other climb that is close enough. Would appreciate any information on any route or climb that will help us in our expedition. I will also appreciate information on were to leave my vehicle, the best place to enter the berg where to sleep, what equipment will be needed etc. If there are any other suggestions on alternative routes or climbs that is a must do please let me know. Seeing forward to an hard and exciting climb and experience...


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:09 pm 
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Check out Vertical Endeavour http://www.vertical-endeavour.com/ There is alot of forums and info on the berg there. I think the column and pryimad are in the Cathedral Peak area, there is safe parking there at the guard house at the entrance to Didima/Cathedral Peak Hotel. From the car park at Cathedral Peak Hotel and Didima there are various routes going into the berg depending on the direction you wanna go. Mikes pass will probably be the easiest option: its a Jeep track all the way up. From there you can use Organ pipes pass depending on how high you want to go its probably the easiest pass in that area but don't know if it will get you to the column or the pryimad.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:23 pm 
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Do you have any Drakensberg climbing experience?

I don't know that the Pyramid and the Column are a good starting point for Berg climbing if you don't. I personally haven't done either of them - but I know a fair number of people who have. Stories including abseils at 10PM anchored off knee high bushes come to mind...

This photo may give you a better idea of the escarpment arete route on the Column:
Attachment:
File comment: Photo taken from near the top of Tseketseke Peak, just north of Tseketseke Pass. The Pyramid (left) and Column (right)
P and C.jpg
P and C.jpg [ 40.22 KiB | Viewed 1464 times ]


You would park at the KZN Wildlife Didima Offices, pay your R45 per night hiking permit fee, walk up the road to the hotel and follow the Mushroom Rock/Tarn Hill trail to reach the contour path. You'll need a map to identify the route, MMO sells these, and there should be stock at the hotel (perhaps phone them or ask them on FB beforehand). You can download bad quality copies of the map at http://www.berg.co.za

There is Tseketseke Hut near the routes - but just be warned that the hut is in a shocking state (it was worse before it got partially repaired by a VE team last year). The area around the base is also badly overgrown.

The RD's are at http://kzn.mcsa.org.za/climbing/route-g ... g-rds/xeni

Also - normal Drakensberg rules/issues:
- Bolting isn't allowed, so be prepared for full trad
- Chalk is discouraged as the basalt is very grippy
- The rock is weak and may be loose in places - the area in general that is - not necessarily this particular route, be especially careful on the walk in. I personally had a large rock landing on my leg about 10 days ago when it got dislodged while I was scrambling up a gully. Fortunately nothing was broken.
- Gear will often be poor, and big leadouts are common
- Be ready to bivy on a small exposed ledge if things go bad
- Don't forget to fill in the mountain register before you set off

Remember that you probably won't have cell signal most of the time, so be extra careful. Close to half of the deaths in the Drakensberg have been climbers, and there are substantially more Berg hikers than there are climbers. As Berg fans we all hate it when someone has a tragic accident in the Berg, we have declared that dying in the Berg is strictly prohibited - so please be careful ;)

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:35 pm 
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Real Name: gerhard jacobs
Hi Ghaz

Thank you for the reply, appreciated

I have no climbing experience in the drakensberg. I am a regular climber at the spitzkoppe Namibia because it is close to home and are comfortable climbing trad till grade 19/20. I love the extreme hiking and tough terrain but I don't want to do anything stupid. are there any alternative routes you can suggest that will include a hard hike and preferably one or two days sleep in the berg with a nice view like the one in the picture.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:26 pm 
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I think Hazelnut's advice regarding VE (www.vertical-endeavour.com) is good - ClimbZA is great for climbing questions, but VE is specific to the Drakensberg, and mostly hiking. There are also writeups and photos of many of the Berg passes.

If you are wanting to do some climbing - there are plenty of climbing routes, but you just must be prepared for the exposure, bad rock and lack of gear. Personally my Berg climbing experience isn't extensive - I have done a bit of C/D grade stuff, but nothing that I have ever used rope on (I did have to abseil down a stretch in the Inner Tower Gully 2 weeks ago, but didn't have ropes going up). In the Inner Tower Gully a large rock (slightly larger than a soccer ball) was dislodged while I was scrambling up a slope, it rolled over my leg while I was falling (only about 1m) - fortunately I only picked up a few bruises, but I have had this kind of stuff happening on a few occasions. On Thumb Pass a few months ago my fellow hiker dislodged a large rock and I had to jump out of the way, on Grays Pass I loosed an avalanche of scree - but was fortunately at the back of the group so there was no injury to anyone.

But don't get me wrong - the Berg is awesome, just be careful and if you don't like what I describe above - there are still over 60 passes were you won't have to deal with this!

If you specifically want to go climbing - Sentinel is rated as an awesome peak, there are plenty of routes, certain anchors for belays on the more popular routes and the walk-in isn't hectic. The standard route is 2 pitches, but I think everyone would recommend Angus Leppan. Otherwise there is Cathedral Peak (roped or unroped routes), Inner Horn and Outer Horn both have some routes and potential for new ones too.

tuna wrote:
I love the extreme hiking and tough terrain but I don't want to do anything stupid. are there any alternative routes you can suggest that will include a hard hike and preferably one or two days sleep in the berg with a nice view like the one in the picture.


Plenty of them! Tseketseke Peak can be reached on a 3 day hike - I rate it as one of the Best views.

It depends on whether you are driving in from the north or flying to Durban and driving from there. The Southern Berg has some really awesome views - but is very far if you aren't coming from the Durban side.

Some options:
- Sentinel Car Park provides easy access to the top. You can hike from there via the escarpment edge to the Icidi are (which has incredible views) and return via the rivers. This also has plenty of good caves along the way.
- The Mnweni standard loop of going up Mnweni Pass and down Rockeries Pass is also a nice one. I did it in 2 days last year, a 3rd day would have been good. This also has caves, and you can hire a guide from the Mnweni Cultural Centre
- From Didima you could head up the Mlambonja Pass and down Organ Pipes Pass. This also has caves along the way, although - even with a GPS you will probably struggle to find Roland's Cave, and the walkin on that is crazy! This would give you the view from the spot in that photo.
- Up Gray's Pass and down Ships Prow is a pretty awesome, although tough. Only 1 usable cave on this route.
- Plenty of combos of hikes at Giants Castle in 3 days. I'd go up Giant's Pass down Langalibalele Pass
- The Sani/Hodgesons loop at Cobham is a good one
- Up Mzimude Pass and down Mashai Pass is another great one, but unlike most of the passes listed above, there is no trail on Mzimude Pass.

If you google "Vertical Endeavour Mashai Pass" (switch the pass name with any other one of them) you should get a writeup and photos of the route.

Hope that helps!

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 9:44 pm 
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Real Name: Gavin Raubenheimer
Tuna. Send me an email at gavin@peakhigh.co.za I will send you the RDs for Column and Pyramid and the other access info and topos.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 10:25 pm 
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Real Name: Gavin Raubenheimer
"Remember that you probably won't have cell signal most of the time, so be extra careful. Close to half of the deaths in the Drakensberg have been climbers, and there are substantially more Berg hikers than there are climbers."

Please gents, lets not throw around rubbish statistics. Since 1976 exactly 1 (one) climber has died as a result of injuries sustained due to a rock or ice climbing accident in the Drakensberg. (December 2000) There have been 8 rescues of climbers since 1976 and one of those was the fatal accident.

Infact injured overnight hikers account for about 68% of all rescues in the Berg and 37 % of the fatalities occur with overnight hikers.

Cell phone coms are wide spread in the Central and Northern Berg, including on Pyramid and Column.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:52 am 
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Gavin wrote:
"Remember that you probably won't have cell signal most of the time, so be extra careful. Close to half of the deaths in the Drakensberg have been climbers, and there are substantially more Berg hikers than there are climbers."

Please gents, lets not throw around rubbish statistics. Since 1976 exactly 1 (one) climber has died as a result of injuries sustained due to a rock or ice climbing accident in the Drakensberg. (December 2000) There have been 8 rescues of climbers since 1976 and one of those was the fatal accident.

Infact injured overnight hikers account for about 68% of all rescues in the Berg and 37 % of the fatalities occur with overnight hikers.

Cell phone coms are wide spread in the Central and Northern Berg, including on Pyramid and Column.


My apologies! I was referring to the stat in Dragon's Wrath that 20 out of 57 deaths in 80 odd years (trying to quote from memory so I may have the numbers slightly wrong) were climbing - mostly abseiling I think? But actually its a bad point seeing as that too is less than 50% - although the highest single cause. E.g. compared to 1 death at the fangs of a snake.

All I am saying is that you must be careful and aware of what position you are putting yourself into. Make sure you know bivy protocol when on a narrow rock ledge, how to handle hypothermia etc. And remember that - even though an F3 may only be about a 17, a 17 on lead in the Berg will not be the same as a lead 17 in normal conditions.

My personal experience on stuff up to D-grade is that you often end up pushing on rock rather than using conventional holds. Not much in the way of crimps either. Grass tends to be more solid to pull on than rock in places!

Ps. if you are looking for a climbing guide - Gavin comes highly recommended (based on the experience of others, not from me personally). He also has done many of these routes - so listen to him ahead of what I say :thumleft:

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 12:25 pm 
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Real Name: Chris Joubert
If you could handle 19/20 on spitzkoppe I'm sure you'll be able to climb the Column and Pyramid

Mponjwane would be a good peak to try as well, long walk-in, awesome view from mponjwana cave, the route has fairly good rock, and the absails are bolted.
Angus-Leppan is an easy and good route to get introduced to drakensberg climbing and it can be done in a normal weekend.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2014 9:43 pm 
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Ghaznavid wrote:
Attachment:
P and C.jpg


Ps. Just a note on this photo: if the Pyramid and Column look like this and you are trying to go down Tseketseke Pass - you are at the top of the false pass. It leads to a cliff and has put plenty of people in a tricky/dangerous spot.

Let me repeat that: the large "obvious" pass is the false pass. To find the real pass simply walk about 500m south (toward Cleft Peak), pass (or ascend if you want an awesome view) Tseketseke Peak and follow the route that is south of the little peak. There is a descent sized summit cairn at the real top.

One more time for clarity - if the Pyramid and the Column are on your right when you stand at the top, you are in the wrong place. They should be on your left when you stand at the top of the pass.

I only emphasise this point because this has been a problem to many people. I personally haven't done this pass, but when I stood at the top of the false pass (even though I had read the above and should have known better), I thought the false pass was the real pass. Fortunately I was corrected and should not make this mistake when I hopefully do Tseketseke Pass later this year.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2014 9:47 pm 
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The Pyramid and the Column from the top of the FALSE Tseketseke Pass:
Attachment:
False.jpg
False.jpg [ 146.19 KiB | Viewed 1185 times ]

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:01 am 
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Quote:
Please gents, lets not throw around rubbish...


Following Gavin R's statement above, it would be more helpful to the guys requesting info to get info that is reliable. If you have not climbed the routes, nor climbed anywhere in the area or near the grade, perhaps it is not your place to offer advice.

Further, "...bolts are not allowed" is not correct. There are, however, guidelines for fixed anchors (found on the MCSA KZN section page).

@tuna the Drakensberg offers spectacular adventure and is, arguably, the closest we have to an Alpine environment. It is vast, serious, and awesome. Enjoy.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:53 am 
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Further, the standard approach for climbers to the Column or Pyramid is up from the Tseke Tseke hut. There is absolutely no reason to be on the escarpment (top of the pass or pseudo pass or wherever), and of no pertinence to the objective (of climbing either Column or Pyramid).


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:28 pm 
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Hi Tristan

Please read what I wrote before commenting:
1) I did say in my first post that I had not climbed either route and that my climbing experience in the Berg is very limited
2) Ref to Tseke Pass was a reply to a question "where can I get that awesome view", not to the approach to the route. I am aware that these peaks are climbed from Tseke Hut. This post may also come up in someone's google search in future, I would hate it for someone to end up on the false pass due to misinterpreting my photo.
3) I am a massive Berg fan - I did clearly say the Berg is awesome IMO. I have done 204km of Berg hiking so far this year and over 1300km (including a GT, over 30 passes, 30 caves and 40 khulus) total Berg hiking. I simply questioned whether or not such a committed route is a wise place to start in an unfamiliar environment.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 6:12 pm 
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Just for reference purposes:

mnt_tiska on VE wrote:
Quote:
I climbed the Column a while back and recall there were 2 tricky spots on the way up and one on the way down (which may now be solved).

I found the first pitch difficult because it crosses a vague, quite veged-out steep slope with no real natural line to follow. It was in the shadow and had large sections of ice on it which didn't help the case.

We aided the second pitch as it was really too windy to climb it - so that wasn't a problem.


I came close to falling off the crux on the crux pitch which wouldn't have been good. You don't want to do that. It does take a large cam or two quite high up which is helpful. The rest of the ascent is trivial.

The descent took us, after a few rope lengths, to the last two abseils which are probably the scariest ones I've done in the Berg. The first problem was that after 3, maybe 4 rapps, we landed on a reasonably wide ledge with a big drop-off and there was nothing except a small helichrycum bush, no more than shin high, to tie off. We spent nearly an hour searching for anywhere to place gear to use as an anchor but as it was getting dark, we ended up using only the bush and a bit of roof rack strap that we brought along. That rapp off took us to the last rapp of the day which was at the end of the diagonal rapp from the bush and on another face of the mountain. From there we rapped off a rattling peg which was FACING DOWNWARDS towards the ground. Because of that we basically downclimbed that last rapp. I have heard that the last rapp offs have been sorted now, which is just as well.


Full thread at http://www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum ... mitstart=0

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