Outdoors Magazine

Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick Group - May 2011

By Spanafrican

Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

The whole party. We had spent 5 unforgettable days together in the mountains. This is a picture to look at in 10 years time!


At the end of May 2011 I had the fortune of spending 5 fantastic days in the Drakensberg Mountains with 9 adventurous Capetownians. With 9 porters we were a big yet harmonious party. We had to endure tough weather conditions with ice cold high winds but the mind-blowing vistas made it all worth it.
If you would like to do this hike contact us at [email protected] or have a look at our website www.spanafrican-adventures.co.za for other exciting options.

Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

On the path that runs from the Sentinel Car Park to the Chain Ladder


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

The air was so clean that day that it looked as though you could touch the basalt cliffs on the other side of the Amphitheatre. The Devil's Tooth is the most prominent peak.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

The last stretch before the Chain Ladder with the Sentinel in the background.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Expectantly waiting their turn up the chain ladder. Richard looks a little bit tense.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

The chain in full display (pity of the shady bottom half). The original chain ladder had been there since 1930. It actually consist of 2 sections of 15m and 5m approximately each. Some years later, a twin chain ladder was installed.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Karen is up the first section of the Chain Ladder on the left hand side, only remaining the shorter section on the right hand side


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Everybody up. Good spot to cool down and let the adrenaline settle.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Mike Strong, at 63, is still a great mountaineer. A good role model for me.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Views of the Amphitheatre from the top of the Tugela Falls. From Left to right: Eastern Buttress, Devil's Tooth, Inner Tower and the escarpment.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Looking down the rather empty Tugela Falls, arguably the 4th highest waterfall in the world.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

And then the sunset came and brought the usual beautiful pastel light of the winter's evenings.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Everybody was blown away by the cold beauty of the twilight.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

This is my favourite picture of the trip. I find it so inspiring. So easy to dream with it.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

As the sun set the temperature plummeted. Gail and Maryka putting on some warm clothes.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

We had started the day rather late so it was decided to overnight by the Bilanjil Falls, 5km short from the planned campsite by Ifidi Pass. A shortish second day to the Mbundini Abbey had been schedule so we would have enough time to make up for the lost time.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

The last light of the day was exactly as it looks on the picture. I promise.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Leaving from our first campsite. Everybody was happy to walk spread out, with the porters at the back of the group.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Mike overlooking a gully by Mount Amery.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Karen, my hero: notice she's on a T-shirt while everybody is on a warm jacket, beanies and gloves. She was sweating while the rest of us were almost shivering. How does that work? I don’t know.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Going over yet another ridge. The porters and Karen always keeping us on sight from the back.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Clear vistas of the Mnweni Area in the middle ground and Cathedral Peak, the Bell Cathkin Peak, Monk's Cowl and Champagne Castle in the background.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Just leaving our second campsite


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Mike with the Madonna and her Worshippers, with the Mnweni Needles in the background.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Turn for John and the Needles.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

John, once again, what to say? I'd rather keep quiet.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

From this view point we could just make out the top of Mponjwane. Our cave was right next to it.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Wow!


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

John overlooking the Mnweni Valley


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Peter at the top of Mnweni Pass with the Mnweni Pinnacles in the background.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Mponjwane or Rockeries Tower. There's a huge vulture colony in this spot. You can watch the vultures for hours and hours.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

The Mnweni Needles.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Sunrise from our cave. The weather looked a bit uncertain. You know what they say: "Red sky in the morning, Sheppherds warning"


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Mponjwane Cave. a cosy shelter.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Damp air from the East seemed to want to make its way up to the escarpment. I was preparing myself for another day of navigation by GPS.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

That eerie feel of the misty peaks that I like so much.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

The Dragon was around. It ended up being another great day.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Walking down the first stretch of the Mlabonja Pass towards Twins Cave our last overnight spot of the trip.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Twins Cave where we enjoyed a magnificent evening.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

But the weather deteriorated during the night with light snowfalls and high winds blowing right through into the cave. It was a tough night. In the morning the weather hadn’t improved, so we were eager to make our way down to the comfort of the Cathedral Peak Hotel.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Colleen and Peter wisely had decided to pitch their tent in the cave to keep out of the wind.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

We had been through a freezing night. This is the proof.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Mlabonja Pass on a precarious stretch.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Surprise! The elusive Klipspringer was one of the highlighs of the last day.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

The Mlabonja is famous for its overgrown bush.


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Looking back up the Mlabonja Pass


Northern Drakensberg Traverse - Forsdick group - May 2011

Looking back up the Mlabonja Pass


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