CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
Very quickly it became obvious that a 20-minute interview wouldn’t be near enough time to get through all that I’d hoped, but if you missed it please hit play!
We’ll look at two good examples of ‘spicing up’ a hike, one with a short variation, the other is a whole different ascent path.
You’ve hiked up Porcupine Ravine on the Twelve Apostles range of Table Mountain…the long, relentless ascent can lose its sparkle after numerous visits so adding in the traverse on Jubilee Buttress changes the dynamics of the hike.
Jubilee Buttress, one of the buttresses forming the Twelve Apostles range, acts as the southern wall of Porcupine Ravine. A nifty traverse line takes you out of the steep ravine and all the way to a place of awesome exposure! There is a fantastic B-grade rock pitch to negotiate, and then, by simply following a minor track over rocky terrain you’ll tie back into Ark Valley – the wet valley at the head of Porcupine Ravine. When on top of Jubilee Buttress the views over the Back Table are unique and breathtaking. It is well worth a tea stop just to give you time to take it in!
More often than not if someone’s hiked up Devil’s Peak, or is thinking about doing it for the first time, they’re advised to start from Tafelberg Road and hike up the Saddle Path to the summit, retrace your steps back down. Yes, it is an advisable way to tackle the peak for novices or for those wanting a simple, well-marked, and scramble-free route without any exposure to heights. But this route is hard work on the joints on your way down, lose and eroded in the upper 300m, no shade and of course, it is a there-and-back hike.
Change it up, and step it up too by setting off from Rhodes Memorial and hike the peak via Mowbray Ridge, the Knife Edge and the Direct Route to the summit. The final stretch does require careful route navigation as it is easy to take an incorrect traverse line on animal (and human error) tracks.
The Mowbray Ridge ascent offers so much good value in terms on early morning sunshine, fewer hikers, fantastic rock scrambling, brilliant views and a fun way Devil’s Peak. Once on top, return via the steep & eroded saddle path and then descend Newlands Ravine for extra Afromontane Forest shaded pleasure!
An extra 250m of vertical gain, exposure to heights, use of hands with B-grade rock scrambling and sound route navigation are all in the mix for this variation and you will also have a longer hike in distance and duration.
Where to start?
- Buy a guide book such as Off The Beaten Track by Karen Watkins;
- Join a hiking club such as the MCSA or CUMHIKE;
- Hire a pro mountain guide, like myself Justin Hawthorne, to show you new trails, and get more out of the hike.
The above sound bite asserts what I do as a mountain guide is thoroughly enjoyed! Find out more by visiting review platforms such as TripAdvisor to read about my work.
Tips for tackling more adventurous routes
- Always carry an updated map on you, and learn how to read it;
- Choose your route wisely – don’t be afraid to adjust plans according to weather conditions;
- Long pants prevent scratched legs on minor tracks.
Develop Mountain Sense
The more time you spend on the mountain, the more you develop an understanding of the weather, terrain, hike time and you will know your own capabilities in all conditions.
These piles of stones (some magnificently built) are your best friends on an off-the-beaten-track type hike. They act as trail markers, ensuring that you are on track – essentially a signboard!
Never knock down cairns, as you could create confusion for somebody else. Don’t build cairns unnecessarily as these again can create confusion for many. There will be occasions that you pass by a cairn which needs some TLC – in these cases try to rebuild if you know it is a cairn rightfully placed.
*Images are taken while on the two described route variations.