In March 2021 Derek Odendaal led a group from our section on a traverse from the Wyenek of the well-known Donkey Trail in an easterly direction as far as Boesmanskop (Pyramid Peak). This traverse on the watershed is rough and spectacular and took most of the day. From there we descended in a south-easterly direction past Boesmansnek and down to the vlakte at 1150m, where we camped for the night.
On the long weekend at the end of April 2023, we were back in the area at Kruisrivier campsite. Gary Cundill was the meet leader, organizing different groups for hiking in the area. A small group (Clive Louw, Andre du Plessis and Dennis Lange) chose to see how much further the traverse could be extended to the east. The maps and Google Earth did indicate that the route would be even more challenging than the earlier traverse.
The plan was to return to the previous campsite on the vlakte, spend two nights there, and explore the watershed with a day pack this time. We parked our car at the Onderstehuis and proceeded up the clearly marked jeep track on the map.
The track did not go as far as indicated on the map, as, with the passage of time, the fynbos had reclaimed the wildness. There has not been a fire for many years, so the plan to go up a specific ridge (very bushy) was abandoned. We retraced our steps a bit, and instead chose a north-facing slope that proved to be a much more promising approach. Our new route to the campsite took 6 hours. This was much longer than the anticipated easy 4 hour wander up to the campsite, but all part of the adventure!
Campsite on vlakte with summit ridge in the centre
Breakfast in bed, early summit morning
The next morning early we climbed directly up the next peak at 1900m, just to the east of Boesmansnek. The route went straight up the ridge, and we dodged the few craggy bits on the right side. The going was good and we were up on the watershed in 3 hours. From here we could enjoy the spectacular views over both Groot Karoo and Klein Karoo.
The traverse further eastwards along the watershed was initially easy-going, but quickly became a proper knife edge with drop-offs on either side. There were plenty of boulder problems to deal with, and route finding was quite challenging. The clouds came in for a while, and added to the adventure feel. As expected, the real challenge would be to climb the peak with no name, at 2034 m. There were lots of difficult vertical descents to get to the nek just before the peak. Then there was a vague steep gully that went up the big face to the summit. This face is south facing, and we had found that day that these south-facing faces were still very wet and the white lichen was very slippery. We decided that the conditions were not promising enough to try our luck, and we retreated. I do feel that it is quite possible to continue the traverse by going up this gully, or alternatively descending some distance on the west side and going around the vertical challenges. However, we will leave that for the younger tigers.
The top picture shows the entire watershed ridge we climbed, with the 2034m peak on the left in the background.
The next pic shows the 2034m peak with the possible ascent gully on the left (in dry conditions). The descent to the nek cannot be seen.
Our descent to the campsite was pleasant and we enjoyed another pleasant night on the vlakte. We were back at Kruisrivier by lunchtime the next day. That night (final night) at the base camp we enjoyed a grand communal get-together, a bonfire and a braai.
Thank you to all and sundry, who made this a particularly enjoyable time out in the mountains.
Meet Leader ~ Clive Louw