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Climbing Mlambonja Coulior, Southern Drakensberg

Climbing Mlambonja Coulior, Southern Drakensberg. Cold enough to make the snow hard but in places ice a bit missing leaving some tricky mixed climbing.

Photos by: Samuel Chowles

Route Location

Route Description

Mlambonja Couloir II (WI 2) (snow), F2 *****

FA: Gavin Raubenheimer, J. Farquharson. July 1990
excerpt below from Blue Mountain Publishers Drakensberg Select guide book

When in optimal conditions, this fine route gives one of the best winter snow climbing experiences in southern Africa. Confident mountaineers would not usually need a rope, but where some people are not confident on this kids of terrain, a rope can be used for safety.

Approach – 1h30min (from Pillar Cave Annex)
From the Cave, hike over into the next valley south of Mashai Pass. This very quiet and beautiful valley runs up between Mlambonja and Wilson’s peaks. At a point below the two peaks, it is split by two distinct gullies with “panic pile” standing between them. The the right-hand gully up Mlambonja Peak (the left-hand gully on Wilson’s Peak has been climbed on snow until the final rock bands and chimneys, but never completed). After about 200 metres of boulder hopping, you will reach a very narrow section at the base of the mountain where you will find two huge chock stones with ice in between; in good conditions this is usually ramped with snow.

The route proper starts here
Climb straight up these blockages and continue up the snow gully to the top.
Note: If the rock is exposed at the chock stones at the base of the route, they can be rock climbed (F2) but a few cams will be necessary.

Descent – 2hr30min (to Pillar Cave Annex)
Turn north-east and hike 1.5 kilometres to the top of Mashai Pass and follow the hiking trail back down to the campsite.

Climbing Time
1 hour 30 minutes from the narrow bottom section to the top if on hard snow.

South-facing shady

Best Time
July to August, several days after good snowfall

1x 50m single rope
Small rack (if necessary)
Ice axe

Next course - fully booked!

The course essentially is aimed to equip a SA climber with limited ice and snow experience to go do some big mountains with a guide such as Denali, Elbrus etc. Contact to book the next course.

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